THE IMPORTANCE OF COOPERATION AND UNITY IN ISLAM: THE CASE OF COVID-19

By: Dr. Ramzi Bendebka

Sometimes, according to His wisdom, Allah will put His servants through trial and test with different types of plagues and diseases at different times and in different places.  Currently, COVID-19 is a global threat to human health and human existence with more than two million infections around the world.  Governments and societies are trying hard to find methods and practices to effectively engage communities in the attempts to control the virus. This article highlights the role of cooperation and unity from an Islamic perspective as a mechanism to control and minimize the risks of COVID-19.

We know very well that Allah will protect and save all of us. But at the same time we also need to do our best and maximize our efforts to successfully solve the problem and effectively manage our societies. As a result of this understanding, we must recognize the efforts being made by the government and leaders, security and police forces, doctors, nurses and all the people in the healthcare field who are struggling to save lives and control the spread of the virus. In order to control the virus, all the aforementioned people are sacrificing a lot, especially their lives, time, families and efforts. They are working very hard to save people’s lives everywhere in the country, without distinction of race, religion, political belief and economic or social condition. The effective way to appreciate and to be thankful for their sacrifices is to cooperate with them and to be united with them for the benefit of our society and nation. 

Unfortunately, the spread of the virus has concurrently allowed the spread of stigma, hate and selfishness in some people. For that reason, WHO Director-General Dr. TedrosAdhanom Ghebreyesus said that: “We must be guided by solidarity, not stigma. The greatest enemy we face is not the virus itself; it’s the stigma that turns us against each other. We must stop stigma and hate”. In relation to this, the ultimate objective of Islamic teaching is to unite people and make them as one. Allah said: 

And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is severe in penalty [Qur’an 5: 2].

And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided. And remember the favor of Allah upon you – when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favor, brothers [Qur`an 3: 103].

Therefore, cooperation is not a choice in Islam; it is a must and a duty especially in the time of a pandemic. On the other hand, conflicts of interest, prejudices, exploitations and misuse of power are forbidden in Islam because all play a role in dividing people. In these difficult and hard times that we are facing, unity and solidarity among people are much needed, more than in any other time. Therefore, the best practices of Allah’s commands during the pandemic are to obey rules and follow the advice from the experts in the field who are fighting against the virus. We must cooperate with them and stay at home as the government has asked the people to do, to allow containment of the pandemic. We should always help each other and those in need, in proper ways, to show our unity and solidarity. Oneway of cooperation is to facilitate the work of the people in the field because they are in the best position to lead and guideus inovercomingthis plague. They need our cooperation in this matter and we need them to be safe. As Muslims, this is not only because it is a win-win situation, but it is a duty that can be used in the future to cooperate in other aspects of life and develop the nation.  

Dr. Ramzi Bendebka is a lecturer in the Department of Fundamentals and Inter-Disciplinary Studies, IIUM (Kuantan Campus).

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