A Punishment or a Mercy? What We Can Learn from COVID-19
For more on this topic, see Faith in the Time of COVID-19
The concept of punishment
Benefits vary at the individual level
A cautionary note about qadar (fate)
So is the coronavirus a punishment?
Muslim beliefs about the coronavirus as punishment
- The “Not much of anything” group did not see the coronavirus as a punishment, only slightly as a test, and saw a moderate number of blessings in it. This group comprised 18% of the sample and generally did not engage in religious acts as a way of coping.
- The “Test & Punishment, but Few Blessings” group saw the coronavirus as a test and punishment but saw few blessings in it. This group comprised 18% of the sample and generally included more people who reported high anxiety and nervousness.
- The “Test & Punishment, but Many Blessings” group was high in all three questions, seeing many blessings, and believing the coronavirus is both a test and punishment. This group comprised 28% of the sample and reported reading the Qur’an more often in general and specifically engaging in more religious acts as a way of coping. Men were more likely than women to be in this group.
- The “Only a Test” group was the smallest of the groups (9%). They did not see any blessings or the coronavirus as a punishment, rather it was only a test to them. This group was associated with engaging in fewer religious acts as a way of coping.
- The “Blessing and a Test” group saw many blessings and the coronavirus as a big test, but did not consider it a punishment at all. This group comprised 27% of the sample and was associated with reading the Qur’an more often in general and specifically engaging in more religious acts as a way of coping. Women were more likely than men to be in this group.
Responding to the coronavirus: Practical steps
Protecting ourselves from punishment
What would Allah benefit from punishing you if you are grateful and faithful? And ever is Allah Appreciative and Knowing.31
And Allah was not to punish them while you are amongst them, and Allah would not punish them while they continue to ask for forgiveness.34
Charity extinguishes the anger of God.37
Plague is like fire and you are its fuel. Therefore, disperse so the plague finds no fuel and gets extinguished.40
Who rescues you from the darknesses of the land and sea when you call upon Him aloud and in private, “If He should save us from this crisis, we will surely be among the thankful.”42