Language Options:



al kafi 1705


Assalamualaikum. Is it permissible for us to say that the COVID-19 is a punishment from Allah SWT? The reason is some people are of the opinion that we can’t say it is a punishment but it can only be stated as a test or calamity. Hope for an explanation.



Waalaikumussalam wrt, wbt.,

Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.

Regarding this issue, the first thing that we should understand is the definition of punishment from Allah SWT. According to al-Mu’jam al-Wasith, the word punishment means: The punishment that brings about suffering and torment on a person.

Thus, according to the above definition, we know that anything that is a burden, torment and suffering is called a punishment from Allah SWT. Hence, in a hadith from Abu Hurairah RA, the Prophet PBUH said:

السَّفَرُ قِطْعَةٌ مِنَ الْعَذَابِ، يَمْنَعُ أَحَدَكُمْ نَوْمَهُ وَطَعَامَهُ

"Traveling is a kind of torture, as it prevents one from sleeping and eating! So, when one has finished his job, he should return quickly to his family."

Sahih al-Bukhari (5429)

Considering the above hadith, the Messenger PBUH himself describes travel as a form of torture (punishment). The reason is it is normal for a person who is travelling to feel tired and he will not get enough rest, sleep and sometimes his food and drink supplies will not be sufficient due to the long journey of travel.

Coming back to the above-presented question, we will share the statement of Allah SWT in the Quran:

وَلَنُذِيقَنَّهُم مِّنَ الْعَذَابِ الْأَدْنَىٰ دُونَ الْعَذَابِ الْأَكْبَرِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ

“And we will surely let them taste the nearer punishment short of the greater punishment that perhaps they will repent.”

Surah al-Sajadah (21)

Imam al-Thabari in his commentary on the above verse الْعَذَابِ الْأَدْنَىٰ cited the words of Ibn Abbas R.Anhuma who said:

مَصَائِبُ الدُّنْيَا وَأَسْقَامُهَا وَبَلَاؤُهَا مِمَّا يَبْتَلِي اللَّهُ بِهَا الْعِبَادَ حَتَّى يَتُوبُوا

“Every calamity, illness and tribulations are a form of a test from Allah SWT for His slaves until they repent.”

Refer Tafsir Al-Thabari, Ibn Jarir (18/627)

Hence, it is clear from the above statement from Abdullah Ibn Abbas who also include all illnesses on earth as a part of torture or punishment in this world. The reason is the effects from a disease will strain, tire and trouble a person apart from it being a great suffering. Thus, these are the characteristics of a punishment. This is in line with a hadith narrated by A’isyah R.Anha who said: I asked Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) about the plague. He told me:

أَنَّهُ عَذَابٌ يَبْعَثُهُ اللَّهُ عَلَى مَنْ يَشَاءُ، وَأَنَّ اللَّهَ جَعَلَهُ رَحْمَةً لِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ

“It was a Punishment sent by Allah on whom he wished, and Allah made it a source of mercy for the believers,”

Sahih al-Bukhari (3474)

Thus, punishment is clearly stated here to refer to something that is a great suffering for whoever Allah SWT wishes, regardless of whether he is a believer or otherwise. At the same time, the tribulation afflicted on believers is also a form of a blessing in disguise for him to increase his status by Allah SWT’s side.


To conclude, we would like to state that it is not an issue to state that the COVID-19 pandemic is a form of punishment. The reason is the disease will result in difficulty in breathing, high fever and other health complications for a person infected with it. However, in this case, we are not allowed to say that those who are infected by the COVID-19 virus are being punished by Allah SWT for their sins and transgressions. The reason is it is one of the matters of the unseen and not within the knowledge of humans. Accurately put, punishment in this context describes something that burdens or cause pain and suffering as we have explained in its definition.

Lastly, we pray to Allah SWT to bless us with the correct understanding in practising this religion. Amin.