Belief In Allaah’s Decree of Diseases And Sicknesses


Assalamu Alaykum

In a Hadith, it’s mentioned to the nearest effect that, one should not flee from an area where there is a plague.

Initially I thought the reason for this would be that a person should have conviction that he will only be affected if Allah Ta’ala wants him to be affected, hence he should not flee, i.e. the plague does not automatically spread itself. It will spread through the permission of Allah.

However, a friend of mine stated that the correct reason is to prevent the spread of plague to other areas.

There are other Ahadith on this subject, which as a lay person I am finding it difficult to interpret & reconcile.

For example, there is the case of the camel & scabies where Rasulullah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam stated to the nearest effect that who made it so that the first one got infected?

Then there is, what I believe to be another Hadith which states that the sick should not be mixed with the healthy.

As a lay person I would appreciate two things. One is confirmation & reference that the aforementioned Hadith that I have come across are authentic according to Hadith scholars & secondly, and more importantly, how can the aforementioned be interpreted & reconciled?

Jazakallah for your assistance.


Wa Alaikum As Salaam,

The hadith regarding not fleeing from the plague is that which is narrated from Usama bin Zaid (R.A). In this tradition, Usama (R.A) states that the Prophet (s.a.w) said, ‘When you hear that there is plague in a land, do not enter that land. And if the plague befalls a land and you are in it, then do not leave it.’ (Saheeh Al Bukhari Hadith # 5728. Book of Medicine – Chapter of what is mentioned about the plague).
This hadith shows that when a plague is present in a land, then a person should not enter that land, since doing so will be putting oneself into destruction, which is prohibited in the Quran. About this, Allah says: “and do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction”. (Surah Al Baqarah (2) verse 195.)
The hadith further states that when a plague occurs in a land and you are in it, then you must not leave that land. This means that one must not leave in an attempt to escape from the plague, trying to run away from it. The reason is that one should not run away to escape from the decree (Qadr) of Allah. No one can escape the Qadr of Allah, and running away will not protect one from being afflicted, if this is the Qadr of Allah. The reason is not to prevent it from spreading to other cities. A plague cannot spread on its own. It can only spread with Allah’s permission.

Regarding the hadith about the camel and scabies, Abu Hurairah (R.A) narrates that the Prophet (s.a.w) said: ‘There is no Adwa (contagious decease/infection), there is no Safar (evil omen in the month of Safar) and there is no Hamah (no bird is issued from a dead person’s skull as widely believed in the pre Islamic era of ignorance).’ Upon this, a desert Arab said, ‘O Messenger of Allah (s.a.w), then what about my camels? They are like deers on the sand, but when a mangy camel comes and mixes with them, it infects them with mange.’ The Prophet (s.a.w) said, ‘Who infected the first one?’ (Sahih Al Bukhari Hadith # 5717. Book on Medicine – Chapter, There is no Safar.)
The hadith explains that the One (Allah) who caused the first camel to be mangy, is the same One who caused the other healthy camels to be in the same manner. This infection with mange was not caused by the mangy camel. It was solely based on Allah’s decree and action. However, the Prophet (s.a.w) explained in another tradition that precaution must be taken to avoid difficulties and sicknesses, and this is not against one’s belief in Allah and His Qadr (decree).
About this, Abu Hurairah (R.A) narrated that the Prophet (s.a.w) said, ‘Do not mix the sick animals (those suffering from a disease) with the healthy ones.’ (Sahih Al Bukhari. Hadith # 5774 – Book on Medicine, Chapter ‘There is no infection/contagious disease). This hadith shows that the mixing of diseased animals with healthy ones can lead to the transmission of disease with Allah’s permission, and so, the Prophet (s.a.w), as a precautionary measure instructed this. It is in this context, the Prophet (s.a.w) also said, ‘Run from the leper as you will run from a lion’. (Sahih Al Bukhari Hadith # 5707. Book of Medicine – Chapter on leprosy). While explaining this hadith, Hafiz Ibn Hajar Al Asqalani writes: ‘This order is based on a recommendation and precaution.’ (Fathul Bari Vol. 10 Pg. 196 Qadeemi Kutub Khana Karachi Pakistan).
This act of running away from the leper must be adopted as a means of precaution to avoid the spread of this disease. However, everything occurs only if Allah wills it.

All the above quoted ahadith are authentic, and they all explain that everything including death, through a plague and being infected with a spreading disease are all based on the Qadr (decree) of Allah. He alone controls everything, and nothing can occur without His will and permission. While this is the belief of every Muslim, the Prophet (s.a.w) has mentioned certain precautionary measures that one should take which serve as the physical means adopted while placing one’s reliance and trust in Allah. It is in this regard, the scholars have written: ‘When the Prophet (s.a.w) said, ‘There is no contagious disease’, he meant that disease on its own cannot spread. The people during the pre-Islamic period believed diseases spread on their own and were not connected to the decree of Allah. Through his statement, the Prophet (s.a.w) nullified their beliefs. It was for this reason that once he sat down and ate with a leper and (while doing so) said, ‘Having confidence in Allah, and placing trust/reliance on him.’
This, he did to explain to them that it is Allah who gives sickness and provides cure. He also prohibited the people from going close to the leper by saying, ‘Run from the leper as you will run from the lion.’ This, he did, to explain to them that this is from among the physical cause that Allah Has established as the norm, so that things can be attributed to their causes. Hence, in prohibiting one to sit with the leper and prohibiting the mixture of the sick and healthy animals, he (s.a.w) established the physical cause, and in his action of sitting with the leper, he showed that the physical cause does not take effect on its own. But it is Allah who, if He wishes, can seize its ability (which He Has placed in it) so that it has no effect. And If He wishes, He can leave its ability and permit it to take effect. (Fathul Baari – Sharh Al Bukhari Vol. 10 Pg. 198 Qadeemi Kutub Khana Karachi Pakistan).

Imam Al Baihaqi has also written, ‘As for what is evident from the prophet (s.a.w) that he said, ‘there is no contagious disease’, this is based on the fact that the People of the pre Islamic period believed that the spread of disease was connected to something other than Allah. They attributed it to the disease itself and not to Allah. But sometimes, Allah, through His will and desire, makes the mixing of the sick with the healthy, to be a cause for the emergence of a sickness. It is for this reason, the Prophet (s.a.w) said, ‘Run from the leper as you will run from a lion.’ He also said, ‘Do not mix the diseased with the healthy.’ He said about the plague, ‘Whoever hears that there is plague in a land, do not go there.’ (Notwithstanding the fact that these may be physical causes), everthing is with the Qadr (decree) of Allah. Ibn Salah as well as many other scholars have also given this explaination.’ (Fathul Baari – Sharh Saheeh Al Bukhari Vol. 10 Pg. 198. Qadeemi Kutub Khana Karachi Pakistan).

And Allah Knows best

Mufti Waseem Khan