Misconceptions about contagious diseases

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Hazrat Mir Muhammad Ishaqra

عَنْ أَبِیْ ھُرَیْرَۃَ۔ رَضی اللہ عنہ۔ قَالَ قَالَ النَّبِیُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم‏ لاَ عَدْوَى، وَلاَ صَفَرَ، وَلاَ هَامَةَ۔‏ فَقَالَ أَعْرَابِيٌّ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ فَمَا بَالُ الْاِبِلِ تَكُونُ فِي الرَّمْلِ كَأَنَّهَا الظِّبَاءُ فَیُخَالِطُھَا الْبَعِیرُالأَجْرَبُ فَيُجْرِبُهَا‏۔ فَقَالَ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَمَنْ أَعْدَى الأَوَّلَ

Hazrat Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, said that the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said, “There is no ‘adwa [i.e. no contagious disease is conveyed to others], nor [is there any evil omen in the month of] Safar, nor Hama.”

A bedouin asked, “O Allah’s Messenger! What about the camels which, when on the sand [desert] look like deers, but when a camel with an itch mixes with them, they are all infected with itchiness?”

On that, the Holy Prophetsa said, “Then who conveyed the disease [itch] to the first camel?” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Book of Medicine)

[In his commentary of the above hadith, Hazrat Mir Muhammad Ishaqra said the following:]

Most of the opponents of Islam are mistaken by the Holy Prophet’ssa statement of لاَ عَدْوَى [There is no contagious disease]. They raise issue with this statement and allege that the Prophetsa of Islam said “There is no contagious disease”, whereas experience and observation negates this belief as there are plenty of contagious diseases.

In reality, this hadith which says لاَعَدْوَى does not mean that “no disease is contagious”, rather it means “not every disease is always contagious”.

In other words; it is not necessary that a disease always passes onto someone who is healthy.

A bedouin said to the Holy Prophetsa:

فَمَا بَالُ الْاِبِلِ تَكُونُ فِي الرَّمْلِ كَأَنَّهَا الظِّبَاءُ، فَیُخَالِطُھَا الْبَعِیرُالأَجْرَبُ فَيُجْرِبُهَا

“Are you not aware that hordes of our camels roam with great jubilance like that of deers on the sand of the desert, and then suddenly a camel who has an itch mingles with the rest and then all the camels develop an itch. But you [O Prophetsa] say that there are no contagious diseases”.

Upon hearing this from the bedouin, the Holy Prophetsa never told the bedouin that he was wrong and that no disease is contagious. But said فَمَنْ أَعْدَى الأَوَّلَ i.e if every disease is
contagious, then from who did the initial camel (with the itch) catch the disease? Then, in another narration of this hadith, the wording is فَمَن اَجرَب الاول, meaning, “Then what animal made the first camel develop an itch?”

So, in this way, it becomes clear that the first camel had to be the one who first developed the itch, and it developed the itch by itself. By hearing this explanation [from the Holy Prophetsa], the bedouin remained silent and understood the matter.

Thus, allegations develop as a result of a lack of thinking and reflection. The Holy Prophetsa never said an itch was not contagious; his answer showed that he believed some diseases are contagious. His reply of فَمَنْ أَعْدَى الأَوَّلَ and فَمَن اَجرَب الاول, “Who made the camel itchy originally?” shows that he was explaining how not every disease is always, necessarily, contagious.

And so if the Holy Prophetsa himself clarified the matter, what room is left for contention? With this in mind, this hadith means that not every disease is always contagious. Yes, some diseases are contagious.

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