IBN QAYYIM AL-JAUZIYYAH AND MARTIN LUTHER ON FAITH, RELIGION, AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IN TIMES OF EPIDEMIC/PANDEMIC: AN ISLAMO-CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE

Tyolumun Kinga-Upaa, SJ

Abstract


In this article, I produce a comparative reading of ibn Qayyim al-Jauziyyah (1292–1350) and Martin Luther’s (1483–1546) texts on protecting the healthy and caring for the sick in times of epidemics and pandemics. I point out the similarities between them and assert that, while both scholars did not explicitly argue for quarantine or physical isolation and social distancing as a religious duty, they did indeed lay a robust foundation for us to do so in the context of COVID-19, with new knowledge and technologies. In the first half of the 14th century, the renowned medieval Islamic physician, jurisconsult and theologian from Damascus and student of Ahmad b. Taymiyyah (1263-1328), ibn Qayyim al-Jauziyyah, published Islamic guidance on the prevention of contagious diseases by enforcing physical social distancing and by means of quarantine in times of plagues in a manual of prophetic medicine “al-Tibb al-nabawī”. The date of this publication is significant, as it corresponds to the time of the bubonic plague or black death that came from “the east” and spread all the way to Europe, killing between 25-30 million people. About two centuries later, Martin Luther, German professor of theology, composer, former priest and Augustinian monk, and a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation, addressed the same subject from a Christian perspective. Replying to his former student, Johann Hess (1490–1547), who wrote asking for advice on whether the clergy might stay or flee a plague ravaging their city, Luther comes to a similar conclusion to ibn Qayyim al-Jauziyyah. Both scholars begin by trying to unite factions within their communities on the question of what was appropriate in the context of their religion. They then go ahead to outline practical measures for protecting the healthy and caring for the sick, with each rooting these in theological principles unique to his tradition.


Keywords


Interreligious dialogue; Christian/Muslim Studies; Epidemics; Pandemics; Sociology of Religion

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7833/119-1-1779

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ISSN 2305-445X (online); ISSN 0254-1807 (print)

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