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Imām al-Ṭaḥāwī (d. 321H) on Contagion

Posted by Abu Iyaad
Written September 2020
Filed under Tawḥīd

Imām al-Ṭaḥāwī (رحمه الله) said:[1]

Likewise what we have related at the beginning of this chapter of his statement: “Let not the owner of sick camels pass them by the healthy camels of another”, in case that ailment afflicts the healthy camels, and the owner of the sick camels may not say: “If I had not passed them by [the healthy camels of that person], nothing of this disease would have passed to them.” And if he had not passed them by the [healthy camels], then perhaps the [ailment] would have afflicted them, just as it afflicted them when he did pass them by.

Thus, he ordered the abandonment of passing the healthy by the sick for this reason, [this reason] from which people are not safe from that it should occur in their hearts and [not safe from that such] statements should occur in their speech along [the lines of] what we have mentioned.

He (رحمه الله) also said:

...the prohibition of leaving the land of plague and the prohibition of entering it is with a single meaning, which is [the fear of people] harbouring omens (ṭiyarah), and not [for fear of] contagion...

Imām al-Ṭaḥāwī outlines the contagionist view and proceeds to explain its incoherence, whilst also providing evidence for the strongest reconciliation between the various texts which comprise the negation of contagion in principle. As for the texts that advise not mixing sick camels with healthy camels and the avoidance of the the leper, these directions are to prevent people from harbouring omens and falling into errors in creed, in their thought and speech, not because of fear of disease or contagion.

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Imām al-Ṭaḥāwī on Contagion
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1. Sharḥ Maʿānī al-Āthār (Ālam al-Kutub, 1st edition, 1414H) 4/303-315.

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