The explanation of this hadith was translated by Abd-Allah
33. `Aishah reported: I asked the Messenger of Allah about pestilence and he said, “It is a punishment which Allah sends upon whomsoever He wills, but Allah has made it as a mercy to the believers. Anyone who remains in a town which is plagued with pestilence maintaining patience expecting the reward from Allah, and knowing that nothing will befall him other than what Allah has foreordained for him, he would receive a reward of shaheed.”
Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) says in his explanation of this hadith:
Among the ahadith that the author (Al-Nawawi) (may Allah have mercy on him) has included regarding being patient is this hadith of Aisha that she asked the Prophet about the plague, so he informed her that the plague is a punishment which Allah, Glorified and Exalted, sends upon whomever He wishes from His servants.
And the plague: It was said, by some scholars, that it is a specific disease. And it was said, by other scholars, that it is general and refers to every disease which comes upon a land and infects its inhabitants and the people die from it.
Either way, whether it is a specific disease or general for every disease like cholera and others, this plague is a punishment which Allah sends. However, it is a mercy for the believer that if a plague comes upon his land but he remains in it patient and expecting (the reward from Allah), knowing that nothing will befall him except what Allah has decreed for him, then Allah will write for him the equivalent of the reward of a shaheed, and that is why it was reported in the authentic hadith by Abdul-Rahman Ibn Awf (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet said: “If you hear about it (the plague) in a land then don’t go to it, and if it befalls a land in which you are in then don’t leave it and run away (from the plague).” [Bukhari]
If the plague befalls a land then we do not go to it, because going to it is throwing one’s self into destruction. But if it befalls a land then we do not leave it in an attempt to escape from it (the plague), because no matter how much you try to run away from the Qadar of Allah, that (attempt to) escape will not protect you from Allah at all. Remember the story which Allah told us about those who left their homes, and they were thousands (in numbers), trying to escape from death. Some scholars have said in explanation of this verse: That a plague befell a land so the people left it, so Allah told them ‘die’ and then He brought them back to life, so as to show them that there is no escape from the decree of Allah except to Allah.
So in the hadith of Aisha there is proof for the virtue of being patient and expecting (reward from Allah), and that if a human being makes himself patient and remains in the land in which the plague has befallen and then he dies from it, Allah will write for him the equivalent of the reward of a shaheed. And that is from the blessing of Allah, Glorified and Exalted.