Baha’i Sabbath: Jalal’ 9, 177 B.E. (4/17/2020)

The COVID-19 Lockdown: The Doors of Heaven are Open

“Heaven was opened and there were many doors.” (Quran – Surah Al-Naba’ 78:19)

Yusuf Muquit 23 March 2020

It must have come as sad news to many Muslims, Christians and people of other faiths in the UK that their places of worship were locked down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision was announced by the Prime Minister earlier this evening as part of a national lockdown on the country’s population, their shops and social venues to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease. As I have explained earlier in my other articles, the Qur’an has foretold this pandemic as the Fire of Hell which engulfs mankind due to its wrong ways.

The Qur’an speaks about the fire of Hell under various names among which the two I will be discussing are Saqar and Sa’eer. Saqar literally means the heat of fire or the sun. Sa’eer means a blazing fire, and its derivatives can mean extreme heat, insanity or severe hunger and thirst. Although both words are generally understood by Muslims to refer to the Fire of Hell in the afterlife, I believe that these words can also refer to other things which are relevant to the situation we are facing in the world today, as Hell manifests itself in many different forms both in this world and the next.

By looking at the Qur’anic verses related the Day of Judgement in light of the current coronavirus pandemic, I have become convinced that both Saqar and Sa’eer are prophecies for the coronavirus, COVID-19, which is ravaging mankind today. First of all, both words are related to extreme heat which is characteristic of the coronavirus disease which often causes very high temperatures. Secondly, the Qur’an gives certain other characteristics of this disease and pandemic which help us identify it.

Nay, they deny the Hour (the Day of Resurrection), and for those who deny the Hour, We have prepared a flaming Fire (i.e. Hell) (Sa’eer). When it (Hell) sees them from a far place, they will hear its raging (Taghayyuz) and its exhalation (Zafeer). And when they shall be thrown into a narrow place thereof, chained together (Muqarraneen), they will exclaim therein for destruction. Exclaim not today for one destruction, but exclaim for many destructions.

In the passage above the Qur’an personifies the Fire of Hell as if it were a living entity that can see people from a faraway place. This is true of COVID-19, as the virus began in Wuhan, China, and has been spreading from there to other parts of the world. China was considered a far away place at the time the Qur’an was revealed which is shown by the famous prophetic tradition “Seek knowledge even in China”. Although this tradition is considered of poor reliability or completely unreliable by some scholars, it demonstrates the fact that China was considered a faraway place in the early days of Islam when this tradition was reported. The aim of the tradition was to encourage people to seek knowledge even if it meant travelling as far as China.

The word ‘raging’ in the above verses shows the rage of mankind due to this pandemic, as it is disrupting their lives causing a lot of upset and confusion. The original Arabic word Taghayyuz may also mean ‘exasperation’ and when this is combined with ‘exhalation’, it gives the sense of difficulty in breathing which results from COVID-19. COVID-19 is a respiratory tract infection which may lead to pneumonia in which the air sacs of the lungs are filled with inflammatory fluid resulting in extreme difficulty in breathing.

The verse “And when they shall be thrown into a narrow place thereof, chained together (Muqarraneen)” is a clear prophecy for the national lockdown and quarantine that the government has imposed on all British nationals from tonight, including their shops and places of worship. The word Muqarraneen with its root letters Q, R and N resembles the word quarantine. The verse also says that when people are bound up together, they will call for destruction but they will be told not to ask for “one destruction” but for “many destructions”. This is a prophecy for the many deaths that will result from this pandemic.

In another passage, the Qur’an shows the global impact of this virus. It says:

Him shall I fling unto the burning (SAQAR). Ah, what will convey unto thee what that burning is! It leaveth naught; it spareth naught. It shrivelleth the man. Above it are nineteen.
(Surah Al-Muddathir 74:26-30 Marmaduke Pickthall Translation)

The above verses say that Saqar neither leaves nor spares anyone. In the same way, COVID-19 is not sparing any country, community or individual but is affecting them all. It is spreading around the world rapidly while the death toll is on the rise day by day. The verse translated above as “it shrivelleth the man” has another grammatically and linguistically accurate meaning which is “it is extremely glaring or vivid for mankind”. Another valid translation would be “it burns or changes mankind”. We can see how COVID-19 is affecting the whole world both economically and socially and soon it may also affect them politically. It is also clear for all of mankind to see through the news. The final verse gives the number 19 which identifies the disease very specifically so that mankind may remain in no doubt that this is the Hell that has been foretold in the Qur’an. As we know, the number 19 exists in COVID-19.

The Qur’an has clearly foretold the fate of the Muslims during the days of this Hell and punishment in the following verse:

“The Day they are dragged into the Fire on their faces [it will be said], “Taste the touch of Saqar. Indeed, all things We created with predestination. And Our command is but one, like a glance of the eye. (Surah Al-Qamar 54:48-50 – Sahih International Translation)

The above verse says that certain people will be dragged on their faces into the fire of Hell. The phrase ‘On their faces’ is a prophecy for the Muslims who are the ones that prostrate on their faces during prayer. The reason they have been singled out from other communities is because they are the one who are the most hard-hit by this pandemic. The verse then says “taste the touch of Saqar” which shows that they will die of the touch of this disease which spreads through physical contact as they do not pay attention to the health and safety guidelines prescribed by the government.

The above verses also show the swiftness of the command of God which comes to pass like the twinkling of an eye. When the Prime Minister announced the closure of all mosques and worship places, it probably only took him a second. This was an unprecedented event in the UK and worldwide, in which places of worship have been closed until further notice. Even the two holy cities of Mecca and Medina where Muslims visit for their greater and lesser pilgrimages have been closed to foreign visitors. What is the wisdom in these things happening?

Although the various religions of the world have contributed greatly to society, now the time has come for them to unite. For a long time, the various religions of the world, especially the Muslims, have remained isolated in their own narrow places without freely interacting with each other. However, now the time has come for them to open their doors and unite in the spirit of true fellowship and brotherhood. I don’t mean giving up their unique identities or ways of worship but they must open their doors to one another in the spirit of true human fellowship.

Mankind is suffering today as the Kingdom of God has been established in the world and exists among mankind which they must recognise. Around 150 years ago, Baha’u’llah diagnosed the spiritual disease of mankind and prescribed its remedy which was for it to unite and put an end to war. Today, the government of Baha’u’llah, which is God’s spiritual government, exists in the world and a KING is seated on the THRONE of this UNIVERSAL kingdom. The future of mankind in the shade of God’s Universal kingdom is foretold in the following verse.

Indeed, the righteous will be among gardens and rivers, In a seat of honour near a Sovereign, Perfect in Ability.

(Surah Al-Qamar 54:54-55 – Sahih International Translation)


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