Are Epidemics Divine Retributions?

Upon the occurrence of different kinds of epidemics, mass fatality, accidents, storms, earthquakes and catastrophes, two types of attitudes are observed. The learned and religious segments of society are of this opinion: Misfortunes entailing many wisdoms and reason strike by the decree of Allah Almighty.  First reason is to test the people in the face of difficult situation whether they show patience or not. Second reason is to reveal the great conduct and character of pious people so that public follow their noble acts.  Third reason is to elevate the ranks of pious people. Fourth reason is to admonish sinners so that they prevent sins and take advantage of the respite granted to them in the form of this life. Fifth reason is the punishment of sins, and immodesty, adultery and indecency are the major sins.

Some wisdoms and reasons have been mentioned above. Many other causes can also be added further. On the other hand, people like liberals, so called moderates, those having grudge against Deen, lovers of western philosophies and believing themselves to be the most sensible individuals, keep hurting the feelings of believers by producing weird type of content to snatch away their Iman[faith]. These people deride these facts, pass derogatory remarks upon the Divine punishment and give baseless arguments. Some people bring false arguments of non-Muslim western philosophers without reference and reasoning as if they themselves are the innovative production produced from the intellect of the western philosophers such as ‘Aristotle’ and ’Plato ’. On the contrary, these logics are nothing but some borrowed arguments which they pen down for earning purpose. Some of them decline to at such low ebb that when they come back after visiting any country, running interest-based banking, they comment like this: ‘Clerics preach that practising usury is like waging a war against Allah Almighty, it brings destruction but the country we have visited is a very peaceful land and there is no Divine war, instead people are living a prosperous life, thousand times better than us.’ In fact these types of people dare not to reject Glorious Quran directly, so they use the word ‘cleric’ instead.

In reality, ‘practising usury is a war against Allah Almighty’, is not declared by any cleric but rather it is mentioned in the blesse verse of Glorious Quran. Nevertheless, to satisfy Muslims, we as a Muslim are giving evidences in the light of Glorious Quran and blessed Ahadees, explaining what factors lead to calamities and misfortunes and whether Divine retribution is involved in it or not. 

Calamities intent on testing people

It is stated in Glorious Quran:

وَ لَنَبْلُوَنَّكُمْ بِشَیْءٍ مِّنَ الْخَوْفِ وَ الْجُوْ عِ وَ نَقْصٍ مِّنَ الْاَمْوَالِ وَ الْاَنْفُسِ وَ الثَّمَرٰتِؕ-وَ بَشِّرِ الصّٰبِرِیْنَۙ(۱۵۵) الَّذِیْنَ اِذَاۤ اَصَابَتْهُمْ مُّصِیْبَةٌۙ-قَالُوْۤا اِنَّا لِلّٰهِ وَ اِنَّاۤ اِلَیْهِ رٰجِعُوْنَؕ(۱۵۶) اُولٰٓىٕكَ عَلَیْهِمْ صَلَوٰتٌ مِّنْ رَّبِّهِمْ وَ رَحْمَةٌ -وَ اُولٰٓىٕكَ هُمُ الْمُهْتَدُوْنَ(۱۵۷)


And We will definitely test you with some fear and hunger, and with some deficiency of wealth, lives and fruits, and give glad tidings to those who are patient. (Patient ones are those) that, when they are afflicted with any calamity, they say, ‘We belong to Allah and only to Him we are to return.’ These are the people upon whom are the blessings of their Lord, and mercy; and it is they who are on the (Straight) Path.

[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)](Part. 2, Surah Al-Baqarah, Verse 155-157)

Trials distinguish between good and bad

It is stated in glorious Quran:

اَمْ  حَسِبْتُمْ  اَنْ  تَدْخُلُوا  الْجَنَّةَ  وَ  لَمَّا  یَعْلَمِ  اللّٰهُ  الَّذِیْنَ  جٰهَدُوْا  مِنْكُمْ  وَ  یَعْلَمَ  الصّٰبِرِیْنَ(۱۴۲)


Do you assume that you will enter Paradise whilst Allah has not yet tested your warriors,
 nor yet tested the patient ones?

[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)](Part. 4, Surah Aal-e-Imran, Verse 142)

It is stated in Surah Al-Ankaboot:

اَحَسِبَ النَّاسُ اَنْ یُّتْرَكُوْۤا اَنْ یَّقُوْلُوْۤا اٰمَنَّا وَ هُمْ لَا یُفْتَنُوْنَ(۲) وَ لَقَدْ فَتَنَّا الَّذِیْنَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ فَلَیَعْلَمَنَّ اللّٰهُ الَّذِیْنَ صَدَقُوْا وَ لَیَعْلَمَنَّ الْكٰذِبِیْنَ(۳)


Do people have this perception; that they will be left alone just by declaring, ‘We believed,’ and they will not be tested? We indeed tested those before them, so Allah will surely observe the truthful, and will surely observe the liars.

[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)](Part. 20, Surah Al-Ankaboot, Verse 2-3)

The Holy Prophet صَلَّى اللّٰـە عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said: The harder will be the test, the greater will be the reward. When Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ loves any nation, He puts it to test. So, whoever is content with the trial befallen by Allah Almighty, Allah gets pleased with him and whoever shows discontent with the trial befallen by Allah Almighty, there is displeasure for him from Allah. (Tirmizi, Hadees 2396)

Chosen servants of Allah Almighty

Calamities and misfortunes are the test for the chosen servants of Allah Almighty for elevating their ranks and presenting these personages as the best example for the people. Some examples are as follows:

٭   Despite a lifelong preaching, majority of people from the Ummah of Sayyiduna Nuh عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام did not believe in him.

٭   Sayyiduna Ibraheem عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام was thrown into the fire.

٭   Sayyiduna Ibraheem عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام took his beloved son ‘Sayyiduna Ismail عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام’ to mount for the sacrifice.

٭   Sayyiduna Ayyub عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام suffered severe illness and lost all his children and wealth.

٭   Sayyiduna Musa عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام travelled from Syria to Madyan.

٭   Persecution caused to Sayyiduna Isa عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام.

٭   Martyrdom of blessed Prophets عَـلَـيْهِمُ السَّلَام.

All these are the examples of experiencing sufferings and ordeals. Patience of these blessed personages serves as elevating their ranks and making them the role model for Muslims as it is stated in Glorious Quran:

قَدْ كَانَتْ لَكُمْ اُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ فِیْۤ اِبْرٰهِیْمَ وَ الَّذِیْنَ مَعَهٗۚ-


Indeed, there was a good example for you to follow, in Ibrahim and those with him,

[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)](Part. 28, Surah Al-Mumtahinah, Verse 4)

The Holy Prophet صَلَّى اللّٰـە عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said: When Allah Almighty allocates any rank for a human and he remains unable to attain it due to his insufficient deeds, Allah Almighty makes him experience suffering of his body, possession or children. (Abu Dawood, Hadees 3090)

The Holy Prophet صَلَّى اللّٰـە عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said: Whoever Allah wills good for [him], He afflicts him with sufferings. (Bukhari, Hadees 5645)

Blessed demise of the blessed companions عَـلَيْهِمُ الرِّضْوَان and pious predecessors رَحِمَهُمُ الـلّٰـه causes due to different pandemics is also linked with it.

Sins are forgiven by trials          

The Holy Prophet صَلَّى اللّٰـە عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم has stated: Whatever tiredness, disease, anxiety, grief, trouble and sorrow befalls a Muslim, even if a thorn pricks his foot, Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ forgives his sins because of it. (Sahih Bukhari, Hadees 5641)

On another occasion, the Holy Prophet صَلَّى اللّٰـە عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said: Muslim man and woman in connection with their life, children and wealth always remain under affliction until they meet Allah Almighty in the state they have no sin. (Tirmizi, Hadees 2399)

Genuine issue:

So far as concerned the matter that secular and liberal segment of society, despite being Muslims, get angrier at the point that sins lead to affliction, worries, pandemics etc. Moreover, the evil of immodesty, in particular, brings about the mentioned dire consequences. They have an ardent desire not to talk about this captivating, pleasing and passionate act of sin. Now read a detail answer of it. Sins and the acts of immodesty surely give rise to pandemics and calamities. If you are a Muslim, you must have to have faith in following blessed Quranic verses explaining these evil acts. This is not possible for a Muslim to accept half Quranic verses and deny the rest of them and preferably accept anti-Islamic philosophies.

We reap what we sow

Misfortunes, adversities and calamities also occur due to sins as it is stated in the Glorious Quran:

وَ مَاۤ اَصَابَكُمْ مِّنْ مُّصِیْبَةٍ فَبِمَا كَسَبَتْ اَیْدِیْكُمْ وَ یَعْفُوْا عَنْ كَثِیْرٍؕ(۳۰)


And whatever calamity befell you; that is because of what your hands have earned, and He pardons much.

[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)](Part. 25, Surah Al-Shura, Verse 30)

It is stated in another Quranic verse:

ظَهَرَ الْفَسَادُ فِی الْبَرِّ وَ الْبَحْرِ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ اَیْدِی النَّاسِ لِیُذِیْقَهُمْ بَعْضَ الَّذِیْ عَمِلُوْا لَعَلَّهُمْ یَرْجِعُوْنَ(۴۱)


Turmoil appeared in the land and the sea because of the evil deeds which people’s hands have earned, so that they taste the flavour of some of their (evil) deeds; perhaps they abstain.

[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)](Part. 21, Surah Ar-Room, Verse 41)

Now here is my question that all those who claim themselves to be Muslims, do they have faith in the mentioned Quranic verses or not? If the response is in positive then answer this question: Is befalling of misfortune as a result of misdoings not proven by Quran? Moreover the mentioned blessed Quranic verses do not talk about the previous Ummahs but here our Ummah is under discussion. Now let’s read the Divine order regarding the punishment causing due to immodesty in this world.

It is stated in Glorious Quran:

اِنَّ الَّذِیْنَ یُحِبُّوْنَ اَنْ تَشِیْعَ الْفَاحِشَةُ فِی الَّذِیْنَ اٰمَنُوْا لَهُمْ عَذَابٌ اَلِیْمٌۙ-فِی الدُّنْیَا وَ الْاٰخِرَةِؕ-وَ اللّٰهُ یَعْلَمُ وَ اَنْتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُوْنَ(۱۹)


Indeed those who wish that scandal should spread amongst the Muslims; for them is a painful punishment in this world and the Hereafter. And Allah knows, and you know not.

[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)](Part. 18, Surah Al-Noor, Verse 19)

Here is a blessed saying of the Holy Prophet صَلَّى اللّٰـە عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم regarding ‘spreading of diseases’ causing due to immodesty:

The Holy Prophet صَلَّى اللّٰـە عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said: When adultery or usury becomes rampant in a nation, it makes the punishment of Allah lawful for them. (Attargheeb Wattarheeb, Hadees 3630)

It is stated in another blessed Hadees, 

When you get into five things [evils], and I seek refuge with Allah Almighty that you get into these things. (First thing that is mentioned out of them), first [thing] is that the nation in which immodesty is committed openly, it spreads plague and such diseases which were not present amongst previous people. (Ibn-e-Majah, Hadees 4019)

In the light of the aforementioned blessed Ahadees and Quranic verses, it is quite evident that misfortunes and diseases also cause due to sins. Can we presume whether any specific disease or pandemic be associated to sins? So, when there are different causes of sufferings and calamities, generally, it can be said that misfortunes occur due to sins. But no definite commandment of any punishment can be set for any specific misfortune and any specific individual. However, there are possibilities but deriding the fact of punishment by liberals and seculars is totally unacceptable. The above-mentioned discussion must have dispelled many objections for example if pandemics are torments then why blessed companions عَـلَيْهِمُ الرِّضْوَان had to suffer them. Here is the answer, calamities or misfortunes did not occur as punishment for them instead for elevating their ranks. For those who say if pandemics are punishments then why common Muslims suffer them, here is the answer, it is an admonition for many Muslims, it is a source of seeking forgiveness for many sinners and it is a test for many Muslims, it is a punishment for many evildoers and it is a warning for many who have not suffered any trouble or it is a respite for many evildoers. Now here is another question, there are many transgressors or those deeply indulged in indecent activities are safe from these pandemics and calamities even though they should have been the first ones to get caught, here is the answer, Allah Almighty does not need your suggestion, He is [فَعَّالٌ لِّمَا یُرِیْدُ]. He is ‘Perfectly Wise’ and ‘All-Knowing’. He is not accounted for what He does or what He does not. However, people will be accounted for their deeds.

Now there can be another question, when it cannot be called a form of punishment with certainty, why to make repentance and Istighfar. Answer of this query lies in the blessed Sunnah and the noble teachings of the Holy Prophet صَلَّى اللّٰـە عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم. For making ‘Taubah’ and ‘Istighfar’, it is not necessary that it is fully proven that the prevailing suffering is a Divine punishment; instead making ‘Taubah’ and ‘Istighfar’ upon the possibility of it being a Divine punishment is an act of Sunnah. Here, let me share a beautiful act of the Holy Prophet صَلَّى اللّٰـە عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم.

Sayyidatuna Aaishah رَضِیَ اللّٰـەُ عَنْهَا said: When a windstorm would break out, the Holy Prophet صَلَّى اللّٰـە عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم would make this Du’a:

اَللّٰھُمَّ  اِنِّی  اَسْئَلُکَ  خَیْرَھَا  وَخَیْرَ  مَا  فِیْہَا  وَخَیْرَ  مَا  اُرْسِلَتْ  بِہٖ  وَاَعُوْذُ  بِکَ  مِنْ  شَرِّھَا  وَشَرِّ  مَا  فِیْہَا  وَشَرِّ  مَا  اُرسِلَتْ  بِہٖ


‘O Allah, I ask you for the goodness of this wind and the goodness of the rain etc., within it and I seek goodness for which purpose it is sent. O Allah! I seek refuge with you from the evil of this wind, and I seek refuge from the thing within it, and for which purpose it is sent.’

And when it would thunder, the color of the blessed face of Holy Prophet صَلَّى اللّٰـە عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم would change and he would sometimes come inside and sometimes go out, out of fear. If it would rain, his fear would dispel. I humbly asked: Ya Rasoolallah! When people see clouds, they become pleased as it seems a sign of rain but you feel a burden. The Holy Prophet صَلَّى اللّٰـە عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said, ‘O Aaishah [ رَضِیَ اللّٰـەُ عَنْهَا ]! How can I become rest assured that there is no punishment? People of ‘Aad were punished with wind. They were glad to see the punishment (that it [Wind] will shower rain for us out of it whereas there was a punishment). (Muslim, Hadees 899)

Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ says in Glorious Quran:

فَلَمَّا رَاَوْهُ عَارِضًا مُّسْتَقْبِلَ اَوْدِیَتِهِمْۙ-قَالُوْا هٰذَا عَارِضٌ مُّمْطِرُنَاؕ-بَلْ هُوَ مَا اسْتَعْجَلْتُمْ بِهٖؕ-رِیْحٌ فِیْهَا عَذَابٌ اَلِیْمٌۙ(۲۴) تُدَمِّرُ كُلَّ شَیْءٍۭ بِاَمْرِ رَبِّهَا فَاَصْبَحُوْا لَا یُرٰۤى اِلَّا مَسٰكِنُهُمْؕ-كَذٰلِكَ نَجْزِی الْقَوْمَ الْمُجْرِمِیْنَ(۲۵)


So when they saw the punishment advancing towards their valleys, spread like a cloud on the side of skyline, they said, ‘That is the cloud which will shower rain upon us.’ Said Hud ‘Rather, this is which you were asking to be hastened; a windstorm in which is a painful punishment.’ ‘(This windstorm) destroys all things by the command of its Lord.’ So in the morning no one could be seen except their empty houses; this is how We punish the criminals.

[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)](Part. 26, Surah Al-Ahqaaf, Verse 24-25)

So, when the Holy Prophet صَلَّى اللّٰـە عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم would hear the sound of thunder, he would make Du’a:

اَللّٰهُمَّ لَا تَقْتُلْنَا بِغَضَبِکَ وَلَا تُہْلِکْنَا بِعَذَابِکَ وَعَافِنَا قَبْلَ ذَلِکَ


‘O Allah, do not destroy us with Your wrath, and nor do You destroy us with Your torment, and grant us safety before that.’ (Tirmizi, Hadees 3450)

So, it is learnt that repentance [Taubah] and Istighfar will be made despite the possibility (not the confirmation) that it is the punishment in the form of misfortune and adversity. Now ponder over the prevailing pandemic and ask yourself whether it is occurred due to sins or not, and whether we should make ‘Istighfar’ upon it or not. The blessed Sunnah of the Holy Prophet صَلَّى اللّٰـە عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم demands us to fear it as it might be a Divine punishment. The blessed Sunnah teaches us that we should make ‘Istighfar’ upon it.

O Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ! Let not our heart deviate and grant forgiveness to all Muslims.




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