Praying Away Ebola

"There has come unto you an exhortation from your Lord, a healing for that which is in your breasts, a guidance and mercy for the believers". (Surah Yunus 10: 57) Ebola was first discovered in 1976 by a scientist in the US. It was named after a river in what is now called Republic of Congo. The first European victim of Ebola was a 75year old Roman Catholic priest, Miguel Pagares.

The first recorded case on Nigerian soil is Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian/American citizen visiting Nigeria. World Health OrganizationWHO recently said death cases as a result of the Ebola virus in Africa had increased to 887 deaths. The WHO statement added that there are 1,603 cases of infection with the virus in four West African states, of which there are 485 cases in Guinea, 468 in Liberia, 646 in Sierra Leone and 4 in Nigeria. I was a bit late hearing about Ebola, it only came to my consciousness some three years ago while undergoing the mandatory NYSC. We learnt it was caused by rodents and any contact with the virus could mean death within six days, the story is a bit different now. Prevention from contracting Ebola whether by bathing with warm salty water solution or by chewing bitter cola continuously could be hazardous to our health. It has not been proven medically to prevent or cure the disease. Ebola has killed around two-thirds of those infected with two outbreaks registering fatality rates approaching 90percent. The latest outbreak has a fatality rate of around 55-60percent and two have recently died in Nigeria; the Liberian man and the nurse at the First Island hospital, Obalende, Lagos. While I am not advocating that you do not seek proper medical care for any ailment you might be suffering from, let me still say that the Holy Quran is itself a cure for diseases ranging from spiritual to medical and even emotional. Also from the sunnah, we can derive practices that can help to reduce the rate of contracting the disease. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) enjoins all Muslims to always wash their hands while waking up in the morning, before and after food. These are also hygiene practices needed to protect ourselves from Ebola and several other ailments.

The Prophet (pbuh) also instructed us to "Seek medical treatment, for Allah has provided a cure for every illness." This Hadith should be taken as encouragement to seek medical treatment along with making Du'a, imploring Allah to cure one's illness. Moreover, when the Prophet was ill, he sought medical treatment. This shows that trying to overcome illness by an effective medicine or herb is necessary to preserve the body against the attack of germs and viruses. Honey, olive, black seeds are important plants and foods that Allah has blessed and is useful for several afflictions even a rash. Zaitun(olive) is a cure for seventy diseases while honey and black seeds( Habbatu sauda) cures all ailments except death. Black seeds experienced an upsurge in popularity in the US due to increasing publicity in magazines and health related media. It has been used traditionally for thousands of years in the Middle East, Far East and Asia as an herbal health aid. It is popularly approbated as 'the seed of blessing'. Let's keep these remedies within reach. We mere mortals can only try, but Allah cures, "Allah huwa al shafi".

Humans should not be arrogant by attributing cure to ourselves and not Allah. In the same way humans cannot refuse to take measures to cure disease claiming that Allah will take care of it. It is true that Allah cures but in some cases that cure operates through the agency of humans. Sometimes the measures that humans take to cure a disease may not be sufficient on their own to alleviate the condition; it is Allah's intervention and mercy that brings about the complete cure. The two infected Americans who worked for Christian Aid Agencies in Liberia have shown signs of improvement since being given the drug Zmapp, researches are still ongoing to provide solution to the outbreak but that is a glimmer of hope. There sure is light at the end of the tunnel. Some West Africans countries are now been denied visa for Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) owing to the spread of Ebola.

This step taken by the Saudi Hajj Ministry is a right step at the right time to prevent further spread of the disease. However, it is pitiful for intending Pilgrims from this region. You plan and save and look forward to one day make the hajj, just when you get ready, you cannot go because of some dreaded disease. It is sad indeed. Quarantine is a preventive practice not known to mankind until the last century, yet it was one of the practices of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) revealed to Him by Allah to prevent the spread of plaque. "Plaque is a calamity that was sent to Bani Isra'il (Israelites) or upon those before you. So if you hear that it breaks out in a land, do not go there. If it breaks out where you are, do not run out that land (Al-Bukhari). Dear brothers and sisters let us obey Allah's commandment and worship Him like we see Him to rid ourselves of all calamities in this world and torments of fire. Say this supplication- "O Allah, O Lord of mankind, remove the affliction, send down cure and healing, for no one can cure but you, so cure in such a way that no trace of illness is left" ( Muslim). Maa Salaam. "And when I become sick, He heals me" (Surah Shu'ara 26:80)

Ganiyah Kareem is a scientist and a make up artist

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