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The Man Who Died in Jannah | Yahya Ibrahim

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Al-Bayhaqi reported in “Shu’ab Al-Eman” that Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) narrated: “The Prophet ﷺ passed by a funeral procession near a grave and he asked: ”Whose grave is this?” They (the companions) replied: “It is the grave of so and so from Abyssinia (Ethiopia).”

Thereupon, the Prophet ﷺ said, “Laa Ilaaha Illa Allah [None has the right to be worshipped but Allah] he was driven from Allah’s earth and heaven to his soil from which he was created.” [Al-Albani classified this Hadeeth as Hasan in As-Silsilah As-Sahihah.]

The great Imam of Sunnah ‘Abdur-Razzaaq may Allah have mercy upon him reported in his “Al-Musnnaf” that Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be pleased him, said: “Every person will be buried in the soil from which he was created.”

The elements of the Earth from which you were fashioned, are the same elements of the Earth from which you are returned.

Let me tell you about an Algerian man named Bukhari who died in a Garden of Paradise.

To arrive at the Sacred Raudah – Garden of Paradise, that which spreads between the ancient, although still partially erect home of the Prophet Muhammed ﷺ and the location of his minbar (pulpit), requires tenacity, patience and opportunity. Thousands of people line up to get a chance to pray in the hallowed Raudah. All with good reason.

Abu Hurayrah reports that the Prophet ﷺ said: “The area between my house and my minbar is one of the gardens (riyaad, sing. raudah) of Jannah (Paradise), and my minbar is on my cistern (hawd)” Narrated by al-Bukhari, 1196; Muslim, 1391.

Most who attend to the Raudah want to pray two units of Prayer, and some intend to do it, according to historical evidence in particular locations and near particular pillars.

Yazeed ibn Abi ‘Ubayd said: “I used to come with Salamah ibn al-Akwa’ (RadiyaAllahu anhu) and he would pray by the pillar which was by the mus-haf, i.e. in the Raudah. I said, ‘O Abu Muslim, I see that you are keen to pray by this pillar!’ He said, ‘I saw that the Prophet ﷺ was keen to pray here.’” Narrated by al-Bukhari, 502; Muslim, 509.

The task of arriving there on any given Friday is even scarcer, as the best of days, attracts the locals in droves and masses from surrounding cities, not to mention the continuous flow of international visitors answering the invitation extended by the Prophet ﷺ.

He ﷺ said, “Do not travel to visit any mosques except three: al-Masjid al-Haraam [in Makkah], this Mosque of mine [in Madina] and al-Masjid al-Aqsa [in Jerusalem].” Narrated by al-Bukhari, 1189; Muslim, 1397.

Everyone flocks to al-Habib! Everyone, local or foreigner, seeks out the relief of prostration near where al-Mustapha ﷺ lived his glorious messengership.

He ﷺ said: “One prayer in this Mosque of mine is better than one thousand prayers offered anywhere else, except al-Masjid al-Haraam.” Narrated by al-Bukhari, 1190; Muslim, 1394.

1000 prayers. 1000 Jumah Prayers. 1000!

2 am of every day I am blessed to be in Madina, I arrive to Bab Jibreel (the Gate of the Angel Gabriel) and offer two rakat as soon as I see an opening that does not disturb anyone. Although some forget, the sanctity of Madina is primal.

Abu Hurayrah reported that the Prophet ﷺ said: “Madina is a Haram (sanctuary), so whoever commits evil therein or gives protection to an evildoer, the curse of Allah, the angels and all of mankind may be upon him. Allah will not accept any obligatory or naafil deed from him on the Day of Resurrection.” Narrated by al-Bukhari, 1867; Muslim, 1370

I then make my way towards the Raudah from the back moving forward as best as I can without hopping over the shoulder or cutting in front of anyone praying. Although it is almost four hours before fajr, the Masjid is still quite busy. At this time of night, however, the Raudah is not sectioned off as it is for the majority of the day. So arriving to it, with minimal disturbance of others and securing a spot is relatively assured, if you come this early.

I love to pray at the Ustuwaanah of Aisha RadiyAllahu anha.

The Prophet ﷺ used to say his prayers here and Aisha reported that the Prophet ﷺ said: “In this masjid is one such spot that if people knew the true blessed nature thereof, they would flock towards it in such in a manner to pray there they would have to cast such lots (i.e. Qu’rah).

People asked her to point out the exact spot, which she refused to do. Later on, at the persistence of Abdullah bin Zubair radiyAllahu anhu she pointed to this spot.

It takes an hour that seems like much longer for me to finally arrive in the Raudah and at my favourite spot.

I pray and let others pray and move along, but I retain my treasured spot. After Fajr the Raudah is sealed upon those already in it for an hour, until the sunrises.

After Fajr, many in the Raudah discover that you cannot offer prayers until the sun fully rises again (Shooruk). Some elect to leave. The Raudah grows sweeter.

About 10 minutes after the Fajr concluded, a middle aged man, dressed in traditional white Algerian/Moroccan attire collapses in the heavy volume of people seeking to greet the Prophet ﷺ at the golden gate. The decision is made that the best place for him to recover is in the now calm Raudah.

As he is carried in, we all assume it will be a few minutes before the paramedics attend to him. His younger brother has a nervous look on his face. I go and sit near him and smile saying, insha Allah it will all be ok. He informs me his brother’s name is Bukhari.

He is a man who outwardly you would, mistakenly, assume him inconsequential, by the absence of any worldly markings and regalia.

I approach him and ask permission from the officers to provide some care. I massage his chest to see if there is any reaction, as I notice no heartbeat or breathing. I use my phone flashlight function to see if the pupils are dilating. A Morrocan physician also in the Raudah, and staying at my hotel comes over to help. We provide primary care and seek to revive Bukhari. We work on him for 10 minutes.

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Truly, it was like water pouring out of a vessel. His soul was light, easy and fluid.

It’s quiet. Inexplicably, quiet. The sound of the thousands is hushed prayers. We all recognise the virtue, insha Allah, of Bukhari. Those outside the Raudah look on at him in hope of a similar end, as all of us inside exclaim in prayer for one another. Truly, it was like water pouring out of a vessel. His soul was light, easy and fluid.

The hours others stand to arrive in al-Raudah were circumvented.

The squeezing in to find a foothold were by-passed.

The man who travelled from Algeria who could not find room in ar-Raudah and prayed outside on the marble, as his brother told me, was carried in by official guard.

The man that most of us would assume a simple pilgrim, was an honoured guest of Allah, insha Allah.

The man who lived a lifetime away and was visiting Madina for the first time, was laid down to breathe his last breath no more than 10 meters from the resting place of an Nabi Muhammed ﷺ.

A little before 7 am, on the blessed day of Jumah Bukhari drew his last breath of life, as he lay reclined in the Raudah of Rasul ul-Allah ﷺ.

I closed his eyes and prayed for him, although in my heart I wished that this blessed soul could have prayed for me before his departure.

Bukhari, rahimahullah, later that day, after being prayed on after Jumah prayers, was entombed in al-Baqi – the Graveyard near the Prophet’s Masjid.

Bukhari was made from Madina and to Madina he was returned.

Ya Allah allow me to meet Bukhari, the Algerian, in Jannatul Firdaous, Allahumma Ameen.

 

 

 

 

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Ustadh Yahya Ibrahim is Canadian by birth & education, Egyptian through a rich ancestry, Turkish via the blessing of marriage to Songul and Australian by Choice of residence and migration.Since his early teens, in the 90's, Ustadh Yahya has been talking about Islam to Muslims and non-Muslims. He was blessed with numerous opportunities to meet, translate, study and teach alongside some of the Islamic worlds top scholars.Ustadh Yahya is blessed now to be living in Perth, Western Australia with his wife and three wonderful children – Shireen, Omar and Adam. He is a regular lecturer to Muslim and non-Muslim audiences their and around the world. Recently, Ustadh Yahya was awarded by the West Australian State Government the "Individual Excellence in Community Service Award."Ustadh Yahya is a passionate educator with a decades experience in school leadership as an Asst. Principal & registered Teacher.He, also, serves the Muslim community at Curtin University and the University of Western Australia as the Islamic Chaplain and teaches Islamic Ethics & Theology,internationally, with al-Kauthar Institute www.alkauthar.org .

15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Sheima Sumer

    January 9, 2015 at 3:31 PM

    What a beautiful article, MashAllah. It is full of love of the Prophet (s) and the deen! I learned a lot from it, JazakAllah khair.

  2. Avatar

    naima

    January 10, 2015 at 12:42 AM

    Ya Allah…..wat asweet artcle heart touching you envy such soul i cant imagine hw one wishes to like such lucky soul….how lucky to be guest of Allah you achieved ur altimate goal..ya Akhi your lucky bro yahya plzz rem me ad my family to visit that beurifull place inshaa Allah rem me in your prayers my name naima plzzzzz brother may Allah make us too be his guest that stament was touching…to be guest of Allah …ya Allah…SubhanaAllah

  3. Avatar

    Sunny Salman Jamil

    January 10, 2015 at 1:14 AM

    Subhaan Allaah. What a blessed man you were able to come across!

    I must admit that the article was a difficult read due to punctuation and sentence structure.

  4. Avatar

    malaysianwifetomasrihubby

    January 10, 2015 at 4:27 AM

    I comment here by the urge to die like him and out of love to syeikh and wife….a bit regret this sweetly named uncle of ours cannot be prayed before solat jemaah …..I love his name and his soil of soul…..sollu alannabi….

  5. WAJiD

    WAJiD

    January 10, 2015 at 4:12 PM

    Asalaam Alaikum,

    MashaAllah – what an amazing and touching story. Had this scene taken place anywhere else in the world, it would have been a scene of distress, wailing and trauma.

    Instead, as you so nicely pointed out, it seems almost serene.

  6. Avatar

    Amatullah

    January 12, 2015 at 2:18 AM

    Ustadh Yahya Ibrahim,
    Could you pls get me more details of this blessed man. From his bro or something.. If you get to meet him or someone who knows about him. The way he lived his life, his traits and what people say about him. I am desperate to know more of this man. May Allah help us all become better spiritually, Aameen

    • Avatar

      Umm Sulaimon

      January 12, 2015 at 10:00 PM

      I agree! Please inform us of the lifestyle, character, and habits of this fortunate man if you are able to find out. Looking forward to hearing about the life of the man who died in jannah.

  7. Pingback: El hombre que murió en al-Raudah

  8. Avatar

    dr ikram

    April 1, 2015 at 3:42 AM

    Ohhh. How i wish i could die like that.how much i wish that i meet the angel of death in the best of his forms.i would not be able to bear his worst form.i wish i die in ramadaan,on a jumaa,in masjid e nabvi, while in sujood. Allah protect me n the entire ummah from the torments of grave.the most touching line of the entire article was that he was allahs guest.

  9. Avatar

    Bint Mihdhar Khalifa

    July 19, 2015 at 12:07 PM

    Allahumma rzuqni qablal mauti taubah wa indal mauti shahaada wa ba3dal mauti Jannatel Firdaus….. SubhanaAllah what a great place to die….. yarabi irham mautanal muslimin wal muslimaat.

  10. Avatar

    kulthum

    July 19, 2015 at 6:52 PM

    May Allah grant us good death like his and may He make us all meet in jannat ul firdous and meet bukhari

  11. Avatar

    Sadik

    July 20, 2015 at 9:50 AM

    Mashaa Allah, what a beautiful true story! Jazakallahu khairan ya Shaikh for sharing it with us. May Allah swt grant us this kind of blessed death.. Ameen

  12. Avatar

    Muhammad Iqbal

    July 21, 2015 at 11:55 PM

    Beautiful article, beautiful person and a beautiful end. SubhanAllah

  13. Avatar

    Shsista

    July 23, 2015 at 8:38 PM

    Need to learn islam

  14. Avatar

    Badr

    August 8, 2016 at 4:01 AM

    I was fortunate enough to be in a Seminar with Sheikh Yahya and listened to him relate to us this very same story first hand….SubhanAllah, I was moved so much by the story and so were everyone else in the lecture theatre of this blessed brother of ours and his honoured end in this dunya. I pray to the Almighty that the soil I was created from is somewhere inside any of the three blessed Harams. Allahuma Ameen.

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Civil Rights

Podcast: Lessons from the Life of Malcolm X | Abdul-Malik Ryan

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One of the things that happens with historical figures who continue to remain well-known and influential years after they can continue to speak for themselves is that others seek to speak for them.  Attempts are made to co-opt their legacy, either in sincere efforts for good or in selfish efforts for ideological or even commercial gain.  This is especially true of Malcolm X, who is not only a historical and political icon but in many ways a “celebrity” remembered by many primarily for his style and attitude.

The only real and meaningful tribute we can pay to Malcolm X is to follow his example. Click To Tweet

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Once, while in class at college, an Arab girl I was sitting next to said quite loudly to another, “Hey, give this paper to the ‘abdah” referring to a black girl in the class. I wondered if she was even aware of what she was saying in English. Did she think that ‘abdah translates to “black girl” and never thought of its true meaning? Did she think that I didn’t understand?

 

Read by Zeba Khan, originally posted here on Muslimmatters.org.

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When Racism Goes Viral: The Coronavirus And Modern Muslim Orientalism

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Lumping an entire people together for collective punishment, reveling in their suffering, and sniggering at their food choices isn’t an exercise in science, Sunnah, or compassion. It’s good, old-fashioned orientalism.

In the eight weeks since it was identified, the 2019 novel coronavirus has infected nearly 12,000 people in China alone, 200 of whom did not survive. Symptoms are flu-like in nature, and global side effects include acute, apparently contagious… racism.

Online, in Muslim as well as non-Muslim spaces, social media feeds are sniggering “Eww, you eat gross things! Of course you’ll get gross diseases!” In the midst of this human tragedy, orientalist tropes about the Chinese are being sloppily repackaged as health concerns over the coronavirus, and served with a side of bat soup.

Yes, bat soup.

The coronavirus in question is found in bats, and thanks to the scientific expertise of social media, videos of Chinese people consuming anything from bat soup to baby mice and rats are popping up as “proof” of the disease’s cause.

However the coronavirus made the jump from bats to humans, the initial source of the outbreak seems to have originated from the Wuhan Seafood market, where a number of employees and a few shoppers were the first casualties to the infection. The 2019-nCoV is moving from person to person the same way the flu does, and what a person eats – or doesn’t eat – has no bearing on whether they contract the virus or not.

In an article titled, No, Coronavirus Was Not Caused by ‘Bat Soup’–But Here’s What Researchers Think May Be to Blame, Health.com writes:

“Coronaviruses in general are large family of viruses that can affect many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In rare cases, those viruses are also zoonotic, which means they can pass between humans and animals—as was the case with Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory system (SARS), two severe coronaviruses in people.

Initially, this novel coronavirus was believed to have started in a large seafood or wet market, suggesting animal-to-person spread, according to the CDC. But a large number of people diagnosed with the virus reportedly didn’t have exposure to the wet markets, indicating that person-to-person spread of the virus is also occurring. However, it’s still possible that the novel coronavirus began with an infected animal at the market—and then went on to person-to-person transmission once people were infected.”

Being uncomfortable with things you’ve never considered edible before isn’t necessarily a racist reaction. When my husband told me he ate a chocolate-covered cricket once, I hid my toothbrush for a week, but that’s not what’s happening right now. There is a deadly virus threatening a group of people, and the internet sees fit to make fun of them. Why? Because orientalism.

Orientalism is the “intellectual” framework through which Western societies create a clear and permanent line between Western superiority and “Oriental” inferiority. If orientalism were an Instagram filter, it would take any picture of any person, event, or thing, and distort its appearance to be “other,” and in some way inferior.

Orientalism is the “intellectual” framework through which Western societies create a clear and permanent line between Western superiority and “Oriental” inferiority. If orientalism were an Instagram filter, it would take any picture of any person, event, or thing, and distort its appearance to be “other,” and in some way inferior.Click To Tweet

The inferiorizing feature is step one, because in order to position yourself as a winner, the other guy has to be a loser in some way.

The otherizing is the step 2, and both steps are important because if you say that your little brother is a loser, in the end you’re still family and you’ve got his back. This would be inferiorizing, but not otherizing.

But if you say that other kind of guy is a loser, then you have no common ground. And when the other kind of guy is in trouble, you need only gloat and make nasty comments on Twitter. That’s inferiorizing with otherizing. Orientalism can be loosely translated as US vs THEM, normal versus weird, and local versus invasive foreign, or exotic.

The otherizing of orientalism is so subconsciously embedded in people that it even creates auditory illusions to maintain the “otherization” of the subject being viewed. As crazy as that sounds, everyone has their own experience. Mine for just last month played out as follows. A homeless man approached my window and said “Ma’am, do you have two dollars?”

I smiled and responded to him, “I have exactly two dollars!”

As I dug around for my wallet, he cocked his head and said, “Your accent. There’s something different about it. Something… foreign, exotic?”

“It’s Chicago,” I said, handing him two dollars.

He blinked a few times. “What’s Chicago?”

“My accent. It’s Chicagoan. English is my first language. My accent is from Chicago.”

He narrowed his eyes at me suspiciously, this gatekeeper of Chicagoness. “What part of Chicago?”

“North side, Lincolnwood area,” I said. “I grew up on Devon Ave.”

“Pulaski Park!” he beamed, pointing to himself. “I’m from Chicago too!”

We smiled at each other, basking for a moment in our mutual Chicagoness. Then I waved and drove away, adding his insistence of my  exotic“otherness” to the dozens of other peoples’ who have heard my perfectly flat, perfectly blandly midwestern accent and perceived something foreign. I call that one “hearing with your eyes.”

I have lost track of people who have tried to insist that I have an accent. One woman even went so far as to imply that I was lying about being a native English speaker, that I must have some other first language, because there’s “Something else in there, I can hear something foreign! But you’re very articulate though.”

(To form your own opinion on my exotic accent or the lack thereof, visit the MuslimMatters podcast here!)

Compliments like “You’re so articulate!” or “You’re so different!” give you partial credit for your exceptionality, while still discrediting every other member of your general race, religion, region, or hemisphere. The left-handed compliment has a long history, and follows a predictable pattern. Take, for example, this excerpt from The Talisman, a crusade-genre fiction published in 1825.

In this scene, our gallant, invading knight finds himself unable to defeat the enemy “Saracen,” aka – Muslim defender of the Holy Land. In grudging admiration, the knight concedes:

“I well thought…that your blinded race had their descent from the foul fiend, without whose aid you would never have been able to maintain this blessed land of Palestine against so many valiant soldiers of God. I speak not thus of thee in particular, Saracen, but generally of thy people and religion. Strange it is to me, however, not that you should have the descent from the Evil One, but that you should boast of it.”

Translation: “Your people and your religion are the spawn of satan, but not you. I speak not thus of thee in particular. You’re so cool for Muslim!” Spoiler alert: turns out it’s Salahuddin.

From the crusades to colonialism to America’s chronic invasion of Muslim lands, the misrepresentation of people from Over There is both a cause and effect of policy decisions. Orientalism creates the “bad guys” necessary to justify the “good guy” response by “proving” the bad guys to be so weird, inferior, and intrinsically bad that it becomes necessary to call for the good guy cavalry. That gives the good guys permission to take over the resources that the bad guys are too incompetent to manage anyway, and overthrow the governments they’re too stupid to run, and free the women that they’re too barbaric to appreciate.

One excellent reference on this is Dr. Jack Shaheen’s brilliant documentary Reel Bad Arabs, which summarizes a hundred years of Hollywood’s orientalist portrayal of “Arab Land,” a mythical, exotic, treacherous, incompetent, and seductive place, whose capital city is apparently Agrabah which, in 2015, a public policy poll found that 30% of GOP voters were in favor of bombing.

Another side effect of orientalism is the refusal to allow for individual accountability and the insistence on collective blame. “Western” men who harm and oppress women are rightly labeled as jerks and abusers who don’t represent Western morals, ethics, or ideals through their individual actions. Same for white racists, extremists, and criminals in general.

However, Muslims jerks who do the same are awarded representative status of the entire Muslim population (1.9 billion) and Islamic tradition (1441 years). The perception as all Muslim men based on only the worst of them seems ludicrous on paper, and such generalizations are no longer acceptable to make about race, but are still perfectly popular to make about minority religious groups.

Orientalism enables the belief that Muslims are terrible terrorists who are terrible to their women. If they say otherwise, it’s because their religion is terrible and lying about it is part of the religion too. They don’t deserve their own lands or resources, they’ll just use them for more terribleness. We should go in there and save them from themselves! And also, make lots of predictable, idiotic romance novels and movies in which a poor, beautiful Oriental Female is rescued through the power of Love and Freedom. Because just as violence is the natural state of the Muslim man, oppression is the natural state of the Muslim woman. Miskeena. Habibti.

Human beings can be horrible to each other. No ethnic, religious, or racial group is any exception. The problem arises when individual horribleness is elevated to collective attribution, and that collective attribution is used to justify collective punishment, as well as collective suffering.

When millions of Americans get sick from the flu, and tens of thousands die every year, why aren’t we making fun of the weird things that white people eat? Like Rocky Mountain Oysters (which are bull testicles) and sweetbreads (which are bits of an animal’s pancreas and thymus glands)?Click To Tweet

When millions of Americans get sick from the flu, and tens of thousands die every year, why aren’t we making fun of the weird things that white people eat? Like Rocky Mountain Oysters (which are bull testicles) and sweetbreads (which are bits of an animal’s pancreas and thymus glands)? What about snails, frog legs, crawfish, chocolate covered ants, and those tequila-inspired lollipops with an actual worm candied in the center?

The filtering effect of orientalism means that our weird foods – be it maghz masala and katakat– are quirky and fun, but their weird foods are disgusting and totally cause to celebrate infectious disease.

If the tables were turned and a deadly coronavirus originated from say, Saudi Arabia, would it be alright to ridicule Muslims for what they ate, or how they lived? What if that specific coronavirus actually originated in camels.

Yes, camels. The Islamophobic internet would have a field day with that one. Yes, we ride camels and prize camels and even eat camels – and they’re delicious I might add – but if a deadly virus originated from camels, found its way into humans in the Middle East, and from there caused death and destruction in other countries- would it be our fault? Would we deserve scorn? Would the suffering and death of our people be justified by how “gross” it is that we eat camels, even if only a few us actually do, and the rest of us prefer shawarma?

Pause for dramatic emphasis. Open the Lancet. Read.

“Human coronavirus is one of the main pathogens of respiratory infection. The two highly pathogenic viruses, SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV, cause severe respiratory syndrome in humans and four other human coronaviruses induce mild upper respiratory disease. The major SARS-CoV outbreak involving 8422 patients occurred during 2002–03 and spread to 29 countries globally.

MERS-CoV emerged in Middle Eastern countries in 2012 but was imported into China.

The sequence of 2019-nCoV is relatively different from the six other coronavirus subtypes but can be classified as betacoronavirus. SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV can be transmitted directly to humans from civets and dromedary camels, respectively, and both viruses originate in bats, but the origin of 2019-nCoV needs further investigation.

The mortality of SARS-CoV has been reported as more than 10% and MERS-CoV at more than 35%.”

MERS-CoV, or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome –Coronavirus emerged in 2012, traveling from bats to camels to humans, killing 35% of the people who contracted it. It originated in Saudi Arabia and found its way across the continent all the way to China. So could the Chinese internet have been justified in ridiculing our deaths because we ate camels?

Could they legitimize posting “gross” videos of whole, pit-roasted camels? Could they say it was science, not racism, as they moved on to our other “gross” foods, like locusts and the dhab lizard?

Read more about the Sunnah of the Dhab Lizard.

Locusts and lizards have as much to do with MERS-CoV as mice and rats have to do with 2019 novel coronavirus, but doesn’t our grossness in general mean we deserve our fate?

No, it doesn’t. Making fun of what people eat isn’t science, epidemiology, or the sunnah. It’s racism, and it is hugely disappointing to see Muslims hurt others with to the same tropes that are used to hurt us.

No, it doesn’t. Making fun of what people eat isn’t science, epidemiology, or the sunnah. It’s racism, and it is hugely disappointing to see Muslims hurt others with to the same tropes that are used to hurt us.Click To Tweet

Orientalism is alive and kicking both of our communities in the teeth — Chinese and Muslim – but to further complicate the matter, there’s the ongoing genocide of the Uighur Muslims in China, and that’s rooted in orientalism too.

The Chinese government has imprisoned 3 million Muslims in concentration camps, a number equal to the entire Muslim population in America. It is not unexpected that some people wishfully assume the 2019 novel coronavirus epidemic to be the comeuppance that the Chinese government deserves for its cruelty, but that’s sad and wrong on many, many levels.

People cheering the coronavirus on fail to understand a few very big, very important things about the situation. I will list them, because the internet is no place for subtlety and these points have to stand out for those who would sail over the entire article so they can trash it in the comments. They are as follows:


  1. The entire population of China is no more responsible for the actions of its government than you are for yours. If you hate Donald Trump, his border wall, the separation of families, the Muslim Ban, cuts to medical benefits, and corruption in general but STILL live in America, then you understand that a great, frustrated, and powerless mass of citizens can have little to no effect on its government’s choices. Such is politics. Such is life. Such is China too.

    This guy is all our fault specifically. So I hope we all die of the flu.

  2. The coronavirus’s lethality is exponentially higher in people with poor health and weak immune systems. Like the flu, the coronavirus is overwhelmingly most lethal to children and elderly. The coronavirus is not targeted at, nor limited to the Chinese leadership for its crimes against humanity. Unfortunately, that is not how epidemics work.
  3.  The spread of Coronavirus – like all respiratory infections – is greatly accelerated through close living quarters as well as poor sanitation and hygiene. The 3 million Uighur Muslims interred by the Chinese government are imprisoned in distressingly cruel, cramped, and unhygienic conditions. Their close proximity as well as population density mean that if the virus makes it into the captive population, hundreds of thousands – if not millions of Muslims – would die. Don’t root for the coronavirus. It does not discriminate based on religion or race, even if you do.

And now we come full circle. When Muslims ridicule the Chinese for “being gross,” they are simply echoing the same racist, Orientalist talking points that labeled the Chinese – and later the Japanese – as the “Yellow Peril,” a filthy, faceless, monolithic mass deserving all of our scorn and none of the individual considerations that we insist on for ourselves.

Given the abuse that Muslims have been subject to by orientalist tropes, it should make us all the more aware of its dangerous cultural impact. We know what it’s like to be looked down on, laughed at, and blamed for our own suffering. We know what it feels like to have our foods gagged at, our accents mocked, and our cultural clothing turned into Halloween costumes.

Worse still, we know, very painfully and very currently, what it looks like for an entire people to be treated as a disease in and of themselves. China has declared Islam to be a contagious disease, an “ideological illness,” and on this very basis is it holding 3 million Muslims hostage. In an official statement loaded with situational irony, the Chinese Community Party officially stated,

“Members of the public who have been chosen for reeducation have been infected by an ideological illness. They have been infected with religious extremism and violent terrorist ideology, and therefore they must seek treatment from a hospital as an inpatient.

… There is always a risk that the illness will manifest itself at any moment, which would cause serious harm to the public. That is why they must be admitted to a reeducation hospital in time to treat and cleanse the virus from their brain and restore their normal mind … Being infected by religious extremism and violent terrorist ideology and not seeking treatment is like being infected by a disease that has not been treated in time, or like taking toxic drugs … There is no guarantee that it will not trigger and affect you in the future.” – source

The dangers of racism and orientalism are real, and the victims number the millions. Knowing how much damage orientalism causes in our community, we must commit to never, ever stooping to the same ideologies that are used to justify our own oppression. No matter how many bats people eat, or how evil their government can be, people are individual people. We stand on equal footing, equally deserving of respect, compassion, and acknowledgement of our humanity.



The Orientalist mindset that diminishes and distances us from each other strips us of our dignity, whether we are its victim, or its the perpetrator. Such racism is antithetical to the Prophetic compassion and mercy that Islam demands from us as Muslims. When Muslims celebrate the suffering of innocent people as some sort of epidemiological revenge for the suffering of innocent people, that’s not Islam.

That’s prejudice.

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