Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

COVID-19: Context and Christ


These were the world wide statistics regarding the Coronavirus as of 11 April 2020: COVID-19 cases: 1,710,581 Deaths: 103,512. Recovered: 382,053.1 One third of the global population were under coronavirus lockdown.2 Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister spent three nights in intensive care with COVID-19.3 In times of such unprecedented crisis it is important to add context to these shocking data. This article is looking at the bigger picture and at some aspects of what the religions of Islam and Christianity have to say in the current crisis. Finally, it is examining Christ’s prophecies and remedies for it. They help us to cope successfully in the current situation.

The bigger picture

It is a very sad fact of life that death has been part of the human experience for a long time. However, some people have pointed out that according to the “European Mortality Monitoring Project” apparently no hugely increased mortality is observed in the reported figures for many of the COVID-19 affected countries. The website explains:

“The number of deaths in the recent weeks should be interpreted with caution as adjustments for delayed registrations may be imprecise. Furthermore, results of pooled analyses may vary depending on countries included in the weekly analyses.”4

Overall, the CDC5 estimates that between 12,000 and 61,000 deaths annually since 2010 can be blamed on the flu in the USA. Globally, the WHO6 estimates that the flu kills 290,000 to 650,000 people per year.7

There is room for different interpretations of the data. Some people have asked why the world is reacting with extreme measures when, for example, pandemic influenza also causes many deaths on regular basis. The reasons can be listed as follows. The coronavirus:

  • is about 10 to 20 times as deadly as influenza8
  • has potentially a more devastating impact on the poorer countries of the Southern hemisphere9
  • has no vaccine yet against it
  • seems to be more contagious (about 2 to 2.5 additional people versus about 1.3 people)
  • can be passed on by people before they show symptoms
  • causes an about 10 times higher hospitalisation rate
  • causes a longer need for hospitalisation (about 11 days versus 6 days)
  • has no established immunity from past cycles, making everyone potentially susceptible
  • may not follows seasonal flu patterns and could be an all year-round occurrence10

In light of these facts, the response of the world’s governments is indeed understandable. Although it is bringing with it its own dangers in the areas of mental health and the economy.

What religions have to say in the current crisis


The term “Hadith” refers to what Muslims “believe to be a record of the words, actions, and the silent approval of the Islamic prophet Muhammad.”11 It is a collection of sayings that is regarded as less definitive than the Quran, but is still very influential in shaping Islamic doctrine. According to some authentic Hadith, Islam conveys a rather confusing picture when it comes to infectious diseases:12

Narrated Sa'd ibn Malik: The Prophet said: There is no hamah13, no infection and no evil omen; if there is in anything an evil omen, it is a house, a horse, and a woman.14

Abu Huraira reported Allah’s messenger as saying: “There is no transitive disease…”15

Muhammad also made these comments regarding contagious diseases:

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger as saying: There is no infection, no safar16, no hama.  A desert Arab said: Allah's Messenger, how is it that when the camel is in the sand it is like a deer - then a camel afflicted with scab mixes with it and it is affected by scab? He (the Holy Prophet) said: Who infected the first one?17

Sahih Bukhari, the most trusted hadith collection, records:

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Messenger said, 'There is no 'Adwa, nor Safar, nor Hama." A bedouin stood up and said, "Then what about my camels? They are like deer on the sand, but when a mangy camel comes and mixes with them, they all get infected with mangy." The Prophet said, "Then who conveyed the (mange) disease to the first one?"18

It appears that when Muhammad got challenged about his false claim, he defended it with a rhetorical question. In that way he cynically disqualified the belief in infection yet again. In the hadiths mentioned the word translated first rather badly as no “transitive disease” and then correctly as no “infection” is the same in the Arabic original: “‘adwa”.

The next hadith is from a different hadith collection by yet another narrator. It explains further:

'Ibn Mas'ud narrated: "The Messenger of Allah stood among us and said: 'One thing does not infect another.' So a Bedouin said: 'O Messenger of Allah! If a camel gets mangy glands and we leave it at the resting place of camels, then all of the camels get mange?' The Messenger of Allah said: 'Who caused the first to get mange? There is no 'Adwa nor safar. Allah created every soul, so he wrote its life, its provision, and its afflictions.'"19

In the hadith that follows, a new dimension is added:

Abu Salama h. 'Abd al-Rahman b. 'Auf reported Allah's Messenger as saying: There is no transitive disease, but he is also reported to have said: A sick person should not be taken to one who is healthy. Abu Salama said that Abu Huraira used to narrate these two (different ahadith) from Allah's Messenger, but afterwards Abu Huraira became silent on these words: "There is no transitive disease," but he stuck to this that the sick person should not be taken to one who is healthy. Harith b. Abu Dhubab (and he was the first cousin of Abu Huraira) said: Abu Huraira, I used to hear from you that you narrated to us along with this hadith and the other one also (there is no transitive disease), but now you observe silence about it.

You used to say that Allah's Messenger said: There is no transitive disease. Abu Huraira denied having any knowledge of that, but he said that the sick camel should not be taken to the healthy one. Harith, however, did not agree with him, which irritated Abu Huraira and he said to him some words in the Abyssinian language. He said to Harith: Do you know what I said to you? He said: No. Abu Huraira said: I simply denied having said it. Abu Salama sad: By my life, Abu Huraira in fact used to report Allah's Messenger having said: There is no transitive disease. I do not know whether Abu Huraira has forgotten it or he deemed it an abrogated statement in the light of the other one.20

As has been shown, the majority of traditions, in various collections (Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi) and by various narrators recorded Muhammad as vehemently denying infections. However, a few traditions, like the one quoted above, mention that Muhammad did indeed talk about the dangers of transferrable diseases. Thus, a number of questions need to be asked regarding this last hadith:

  • Did Muhammad pass on contractionary advice to his followers?
  • Does, “A sick person should not be taken to one who is healthy” mean they should avoid seeing a doctor?
  • Did he change his wrong opinion after having been told that contagious diseases indeed exist?
  • Why did Abu Huraira first pass on both conflicting teachings of Muhammad (there is no and there is contagious disease)? Besides him, they were also reported by Ibn Umar, Jabar, Anas bin Malik.21
  • If this is a fabricated hadith, how many false sayings found their way into the hadith collections and why?
  • Why did Abu Huraira suddenly stop passing on the hadith that there is no contagious disease?
  • Did he deny having any knowledge of that hadith?
  • Was it because he saw the inconsistency?
  • Did Abu Huraira indeed forget it or did he think the false statement was abrogated in light of the truth that there are indeed contagious diseases?
  • Did he do what any faithful companion of Muhammad would have done?
  • Did he pretend to have forgotten what Muhammad said, once he realised his prophet was wrong?
  • Were Muhammad’s teaching about apostasy22 one of the main reasons why Abu Huraira and others up to today keep following their prophet?
  • If Muhammad makes competing claims and his followers obey the wrong one, could that not cause the death of many Muslims in a pandemic such as the world currently experiences?

The next hadith seems to promote quarantine as a response to plague:

The Prophet said, "If you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it; but if the plague breaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place."23

However, when the context is given, the above has little to do with sound scientific advice that one should not leave an infected area because then one infects other people:

Usama b. Zaid reported Allah's Messenger having said this: This calamity or illness was a punishment with which were punished some of the nations before you. Then it was left upon the earth. It goes away once and comes back again. He who heard of its presence in a land should not go towards it, and he who happened to be in a land where it had broken out should not fly from it.24

From the context we learn that Allah uses plagues to punish a country. Those who live in such a country must not flee because otherwise they show distrust in Allah by fleeing his punishment. Those who are outside that country must not enter it because it is under Allah’s judgement. A similar point is made in this hadith:

Usama b. Zaid reported that Allah's Messenger had said: Plague is the sign of a calamity (or: punishment) with which Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, affects people from His servants (or: tests some of his slaves). So when you hear about it, don't enter there (where it has broken out), and when it has broken out in a land and you are there, then don't run away from it.25

The next hadith goes a step further:

Narrated `Aisha: I asked Allah's Messenger about the plague. He said, "That was a means of torture which Allah used to send upon whom-so-ever He wished, but He made it a source of mercy for the believers, for anyone who is residing in a town in which this disease is present, and remains there and does not leave that town, but has patience and hopes for Allah's reward, and knows that nothing will befall him except what Allah has written for him, then he will get such reward as that of a martyr."26

Sometimes Allah punishes unbelievers through a plague. For Muslims it is a test. If they run from it then they fail the test. If they stay, they are communicating their trust in Allah who will only give them what they deserve. Allah will see their faithfulness and when they die from the infectious disease, he will give them the same reward as a martyr gets (e.g., 70 virgins in paradise, etc.). If only those who seek martyrdom and certain paradise through violent Jihad according to Surah Aal-i-Imran, 3:169 would take heed of this hadith. At least it would avoid countless avoidable suffering.

The Arabic word “taa‘oon” (translated as “plague”) is a specific disease caused by a bacterial, not a viral infection. However, according to Muslim scholars, it may also refer to any widespread disease (epidemic) that leads to the death of many people.27 Since these details have not been known in Muhammad’s time, it would be odd if Allah would only grant martyrdom to one but not the other.

Allah's Messenger said, "There are angels guarding the entrances (or roads) of Medina, neither plague nor Ad-Dajjal will be able to enter it."28

Travelling to Medina is not an obligatory part of the Hajj or Umrah. However, many past and present Muslims have traditionally included a visit to the city to see the grave of their Prophet Muhammad at the end of what for them is considered a once-in-a-lifetime journey.29

In light of this some questions need to be asked:

  • Why was a 51-year-old Afghan national in Madinah, Saudi Arabia, the very first casualty in the country? 30
  • If no infectious diseases can enter Medina why was the city included in a recent travel ban by Saudi Arabia?31
  • Would it not be better to invite Muslims to Medina, to protect them from the Corona Virus?
  • Why did 20,000 Hajj pilgrims die as a result of the global cholera epidemic in 1821? Many of them must have taken the opportunity to visit Medina too.
  • Why did 15,000 of 90,000 pilgrims die of cholera during Hajj in 1865 when there was another global cholera epidemic?32

It is beyond the scope of this article to look at the predictions found in the hadith concerning the end time. The Quran itself contains very few so called prophecies.33 They are all concerned with victories in battles and dominance of Islam. Since there is at least a 50% chance of victory in any confrontation, such “prophecies” are not very convincing, especially when compared with detailed prophecies found in the Bible.34 It is to that book and its main religion that we shall turn now.


The Bible is very clear as to what to do in case of infectious diseases. A whole chapter and numerous other passages in the Torah, written thousands of years before the advent of Islam, confirm principles we know to be true today. For example, referring to someone who caught an infectious disease it commands:

“... He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp." (Leviticus 13:46)35

Furthermore, besides being an instruction book on how to live, 26.8%36 of the Bible tells the attentive reader also what is going to happen in the future.37 While commentators differ with regards to details, they all agree on the second coming of Jesus and on the final day of judgement that follows.

Many Bible scholars also believe that the Bible foretells the establishment of a new world order with a global religion and a global government38 shortly before the return of Jesus Christ. Until recently people were asking as to how this would be allowed to happen. One of the reasons for such a centralised rule could be that a global problem of such magnitude, as is currently being presented by the Covid-19 virus, can only be solved globally. The widespread social and financial devastation is unprecedented. Therefore, the demand for a world government has already been made by former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.39

There is another prophecy that says one day everyone will be forced into a cashless payment system through some kind of chip implanted in the forehead or on the hand.40 Since the virus can survive on bank notes this could yet be another reason to move away from cash.41 Whereas the Israeli Jewish Health Minister's Cure for COVID-19 is the Messiah,42 many others put their trust mainly in a new vaccine against it.

Some think that newly developed “Quantum Tatoo” technology could be used to vaccinate every person worldwide, to monitor vaccinations and those who refuse the vaccine,43 to enable the use of digital currency and to give an identity44 to everyone at the same time. The establishment of 5G, a new generation of wireless communication, could provide a platform to put all these ambitious plans into practice soon.45

Christ’s prophecies

Jesus said: “There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events ...” (Luke 21:11)

The Corona Virus is indeed foretold in the sense that pestilences (infectious diseases) are prophesied by Jesus for the end times. Besides numerous earthquakes46 there is currently a huge famine in Africa and Western Asia.47 Devastating locust swarms may be heading towards China.48 All this is not much known due to the Corona Virus dominating our Western news.

Of course, all these facts have to be put in context: The Bible states that the end times started with the resurrection of Jesus, more than 2000 years ago.49

Some will say, "Great earthquakes, famines and pestilences have always existed."

Jesus replies to them: "But all this is only the beginning, like the first labour pains in childbirth." (Matthew 24:8)

Yes, it is true that this kind of suffering has existed before50, actually since Adam and Eve were first in disobedience to God. They wanted to become like God and this resulted in spiritual death: separation from fellowship with God. It was followed by physical death and both came as a result of sin.51 This grave punishment points to the absolute Holiness, Sovereignty and Justice of God. He created a good world but then something happened to it: Men rebelled against Him. Now it is not good anymore.

As with birth pangs, the suffering the world faces at this stage of its history is generally increasing. This is also due to economic and mental side effects caused by the globally occurring lock down measures, taken to fight Covid-19. The data shown in a chart below is put together, based on two different sources:

Infectious diseases52



Confirmed Cases

Death rate





HMN1 Flue





2012 - present




2014 - 2016


40 %




2439 (congenital syn)


2020 (as of 11 April)


6% (ongoing)

Nobody knows for certain when the final day of judgement is coming. The Corona Virus could just be one of more labour pains. Regarding the timing of the end, it may well be that there is an element of mystery about it, in order for us to focus on trusting in God alone.

One thing is clear: At difficult times in history, as we currently are faced with again, God often simultaneously judges and loves us. Interestingly, there are a number of similarities between the plagues God unleashed on the nation of Egypt53 and those described before the day of judgement in the last book of the Bible.54 The attentive reader will realise that all of these judgements were and are being directed at the false gods people choose to worship.

By currently destroying our idols of success, autonomy, health, security, wealth, independence, sports and entertainment, God reminds us that none of these things could ever save and fulfil us in the first place. Yes, there is judgement but there is also an offer of grace at the same time. We come to the painful realisation that we are small before the sovereignty of God. Our mortality is looking straight into our eyes, and calling us to humble ourselves before him.55 He offers us to seek Him.

More important than knowing exact dates and times, is to be ready for whenever Jesus will come back. Through prophecies God wants to prepare us for what is to come during the end times. Two things stand out:

1.       Deception

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.” (Matthew 24:4-5)

Ever since Jesus spoke those words, deception has indeed been ripe everywhere. Many different religions and cults have arisen. From time to time God gives what seems to those who have eyes to see clear warnings to abandon them. One such example happened to the Mormons, a religious sect, during the Corona Crisis in the USA:

“Utah earthquake causes Angel Moroni on Salt Lake Temple to lose his trumpet”56

That alleged angel gave supposed new revelations to Joseph Smith, one of many false prophets.57 He later founded the cult of Mormonism as a result. There are some similarities to the Old Testament story of Dagon, the god of the Philistines. God caused a statue of Dagon to fall on the ground as a sign of Divine disapproval.58

Fifteen Jews, thirty-four Christians, ten Muslims and nine others have so far mistakenly claimed to be the Messiah in the sense of being the promised Saviour.59

When faith in the true God is abandoned, it is often replaced with superstition that finds its expression in what is called the ‘spirituality’ of the new age. According to those beliefs god is in everyone, all ways lead eventually to him and positive thinking is very important. Needless to say, that such faith is totally contrary to the Gospel taught by Jesus Christ.

2.       Persecution

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.” (Matthew 24:9)

According to Open Doors, “Around the world, more than 260 million Christians live in places where they experience high levels of persecution, just for following Jesus. That’s 1 in 8 believers, worldwide. The numbers are astonishing.”60

How can we prepare spiritually and emotionally for what is to come? Our next section will answer that question.

Christ’s remedies

Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)

Dr Peter Saunders, CEO of ICMDA,61 commented on the situation regarding the Corona Virus in the UK:

“It is a fundamental principle of medicine that there is no treatment without diagnosis. We need more testing kits rapidly deployed. It is incredible that even at this late stage we don’t really know who has the disease and who doesn’t.”62

This is true and devastating not only in the physical realm but it is just as true and devastating in the spiritual dimension. Only those who realise they are sinners will accept “Dr” Christ’s remedy.

Sin is defined as “an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law.”63

Much can be said about the various levels of sin.64 Essentially, the topic can be summarised as the “I” standing in the middle of the word “SIN.”  It symbolises my own selfishness, expressing itself in thoughts like, “I am doing it my way. I am my own god. I do what I think is right to do.”

The fact that everyone has some sense of what is fundamentally right and wrong points to a universal law giver, to God.65 Those who still doubt His authority and sovereignty ought to read the Bible to find out more about Him. Another way to be in awe of God is to look at the fast and mysterious universe He created and maintains.66 Yet at the same time He is able to interrupt life as we know it worldwide through a tiny virus about one-half micron tall!67 Surely by now, “your will be done” and, “please show me your remedy” are the only right responses He deserves.

The remedy is as radical as the illness. The “Sin Virus” is infinitely more dangerous than the “Corona Virus.” As mentioned before and confirmed here, it causes eternal death, separation from God as a punishment:

“For the wages of sin is death ...”

However, the same verse continues:

“... but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

God is merciful and loving in the midst of judgement. Eternal life is a gift of God. It cannot be earned by good deeds as religions teach.


The reason is simple: When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they spiritually and physically died and as a result were separated from Him.68 Since they are our leaders, we too suffer under their bad leadership.69 Therefore, as their children we too are affected by the “Sin Virus.” We are all dead in the sight of God. Dead people cannot do good deeds when examined from His holy, just and perfect perspective! The only One left who can turn around this tragedy is God Himself. That is exactly what He did through Jesus Christ on the cross! There He paid the punishment for our sins as the ultimate act of isolation Himself though His death.70

Jesus is much more than a prophet! He was not afraid to heal a man with leprosy by touching him and saying, "be clean". A sick woman who became ritually unclean touched him and got healed. Jesus touched a dead girl and raised her to life again.71 His healing touch went out from Him, making those clean and whole who were unclean, diseased and even dead! Instead of being affected by our inpurity, His purity is contagious!

To all who repent (= mourn their own sins, turn from unbelieving thoughts and deeds) and believe (= that Jesus paid the penalty of sin with his death on the cross on our behalf), the words of our Saviour apply:

"Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.” (Luke 21:28)

As followers of Jesus Christ, we must keep repenting and believing, asking and examining ourselves:

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not set his mind on what is false, and who has not sworn deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. (Psalm 24:3-5)

Let us examine ourselves. Especially those of us who live in wealthy and wasteful countries have become self-satisfied. Just as God did with His people in the Old Testament on numerous occasions, he condemns our arrogance, overeating and unconcernedness; our refusal to help the poor and needy; our self-importance and the detestable things we do before him.72

Abraham Lincoln, 16th president of the United States, put it this way:

“We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied, enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and persevering grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. It behoves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”73

Whoever repents and believes as described above, God calls out to him many times:

"Have no fear!"

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (John 14:27)

"My peace I give you."

Let us consciously do this exchange by bringing our fear to the cross and taking with us His peace!

Repentance and faith brings release from fear!

While, followers of Jesus according to the Bible may not be saved all the time physically74 from diseases like the one caused by the Corona Virus, their eternal security is guaranteed. After Jesus died on the cross for our sins, he rose from the dead on the third day. He said:

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

God does not say “no” to us. We say “no” to him. Will we harden our hearts or surrender our hearts? As long as we live it is not too late for a U-turn. Until our last breath these words apply:

"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved". (Romans 10:13)


The Corona Virus has started an unprecedented global crisis with the potential of dividing time into a new version of BC (Before Corona) and AC (After Corona). The various national governments of this world are justified to fight against this threat with extreme measures. Yet there is an even bigger picture emerging when one turns to religion for direction. Islam presents unclear guidance regarding infectious diseases. While the Bible does not provide detailed medical instructions for this case, it does acknowledge the danger of infectiousness and handling it appropriately in the time and circumstances we live in.

More importantly, the Bible prophecies accurately describe what we are experiencing. We are also shown a unique way to turn to God. It helps us to cope in the current situation and with the deadliest “Sin Virus” we all suffer from:

A)  Admit that you are a sinner (Romans 6:23)

B)   Believe that Jesus died for your sins (1 Peter 2:24 A)

C)  Call upon the Lord (Romans 10:13)

D)  Dedicate your life to Jesus not to sin (1 Peter 2:24 B)

Please contact the author if you have taken the “ABCD” escape route into a new life. God willing, he will be able to help you further. Alternatively, do send your questions or comments:


This article is also available as PDF in English and in German translation.




1 (all links were correct when accessed 7 April 2020)


5 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention USA

6 World Health Organization


9 Concern raised by Dr Gregory Poland, starting around 4:40 mins: Around 1:15 mins: “... 67 days for the first 100,000 cases to occur globally, 11 days for the next 100,000 and just 4 days for the next 100,000 cases.”

12 The author is indebted to Dr David Wood who spoke about these inconsistencies in a number of his videos, such as:

13 Superstitious belief that the spirit of a person is in a screaming owl (Hama in Arabic).

16 Superstitious belief that Stomach pain (safar, Arabic) is caused by an evil spirit.

19 Jami` at-Tirmidhi 2143

20 Sahih Muslim, 2221A:


23 Sahih al-Bukhari 5728:

26 Sahih Bukhari 6619:

28 Sahih al-Bukhari 1880:

35 on a lighter note, we are even commanded to wash our hands in James 4:8.

36 According to “The Encyclopaedia of Biblical Prophecy” by J. Barton Payne, there are 1,239 prophecies in the Old Testament and 578 prophecies in the New Testament for a total of 1,817. These prophecies are contained in 8,352 of the Bible’s verses. Since there are 31,124 verses in the Bible, the 8,352 verses that contain prophecy constitute 26.8 percent of the Bible’s volume. Source:

40 Revelation 13:16-18

49 1 John 2:18

51 Genesis 2:17

53 Egypt is a type used to describe the world in the Bible.

55 Dr Peter Lillback, president of Westminster Theological Seminary made these points around 16 mins:

57 Matthew 24:11

58 1 Samuel 5:1-6

61 International Christian Medical and Dental Association. It brings together national fellowship of Christian doctors and dentists in over 80 countries worldwide.

67 0.0002 Inches. God has not just allowed this virus but actually is ultimately in charge of sending it as can be seen with other judgements found in the Bible (Revelation 6:1, 8:1,2, 16:1, 2 Samuel 24:15-15, Job 2:4-8, Luke 22:31, 1 Peter 4:19).

68 Genesis 2:17

69 In the same way we benefit from good leadership, even though we do not personally contribute to it.

70 John 1:29

71 Matthew 8:1-3; Mark 5:21-43

72 Ezekiel 16:49-50


74 Hebrews 11:37

Articles by Oskar
Answering Islam Home Page