At first, we would like to present an introduction to HIV/AIDS that reveal the nature of this epidemic. Then, we shed some light on the instructions and teachings of Islam that have been laid down by Allah (Glory be to Him) to prevent mankind from diseases and epidemics including HIV/AIDS as long as people are committed to them accurately. We will come to know who would be the safest people from HIV/AIDS; are they Muslims or Non-Muslims?
What is HIV?
HIV (or Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is like other viruses, including”flu” or the common cold. But there is an important difference as your immune system can clear most viruses out of your body. That is not the case with HIV; the human immune system cannot seem to get rid of it. HIV can hide for long periods of time in the cells of your body and destroys a key part of your immune system, the body has to have this system to fight infections and disease, but HIV invades them and uses them to make more copies of itself and then annihilates them.(1)
This reveals the seriousness of this disease that makes the body vulnerable to all sorts of dangers and diseases as the body becomes weaponless and unable to secure it from deadly germs.
What is AIDS?
AIDS (or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) is the final stage of HIV infection. People at this stage of HIV disease have badly damaged immune systems, which put them at risk for opportunistic infections (OIs).(2)
HIV is spread when blood, semen, or vaginal fluids from an infected person enter another person’s body, usually through sexual contact, unprotected vaginal or anal intercourse with an infected person, from sharing needles when injectingdrugs, or from mother to baby during birth.(3)
One of the important reasons for the spread of this epidemic among people and its transmission from one to another is uncontrolled sex whether adultery, sodomy, sex with animals or needle of drugs; through the use of non-sterile injecting equipment. Homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, gay, sex workers who have sexual relationships with men etc. are more likely to be infected with HIV/AIDS. It is clear that all these and similar practices are prohibited in Islam. There are very clear statements in the Glorious Qur’an and blessed Sunnah on this subject.The encyclopedias of Hadith include some evident and authoritative sayings and traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and there are some Qur’anic verses that prohibit all kinds of intoxicants including drugs and wines.
Unlawful sexual intercourse or zina in Islam is strictly prohibited and leads to punishments. Muslim communities appear to have lower rates of infection with HIV/AIDS. Some recent articles conclude that the rates are lower in Muslim countries because Muslims are less likely than non-Muslims to have premarital sex.(4)
After we have explained the nature of HIV/AIDS and the most important methods of transmission from one person to another, now we would like to shed light on the preventive measures that have been elucidated by Islam fourteen centuries ago. The involved international organizations are making good efforts in order to eliminate this epidemic. However, Islam is characterized with two important aspects; Islam calls human beings for prevention and protection, keeping them away from the epidemic or problem before it inflicts, in spite of that if the problem occurs, then Islamic teachings lay down principles for its elimination and treatment. Islam always gives priority to prevention over the treatment, it focuses on the reasons and causes before the effects and results while the international organizations that are working on eliminating these epidemics, try to eliminate the effects and results after the problem or epidemic has occurred and became a threaten to the human life.
Islam has forbidden all kinds of sexual intercourse outside of the marriage contract, prohibiting all sorts of unnatural sexual acts including: sodomy, lesbianism, adultery, etc. At the same time, we find Muslim and non-Muslim experts regard sexual contact and exchange of drug needles amongst the most important means of spreading this disease.
The Use of Condoms and HIV/AIDS
It may be objected here that the use of condoms prevents the spread of these epidemics in the case of adultery and forbidden sexual intercourse.
However, I think that the objector has completely overlooked that in spite of efforts to educate people about the use of condoms still the ratio of HIV/AIDS in non-Muslim countries is high, as was confirmed by the reports.
The reason for this is that many people do not care about these preventive steps, do not you see that cigarette packets in general bear a graphic photographic warning, however people do not refrain from using it.
Also the sexual relationship always is characterized with craziness when a person loses his control on his temper. This fact is known to all. Thus, the danger exists in the most prohibited sexual intercourse.
Also the condoms are not available so abundantly that is needed in the world as UNAIDS reports say: “UNFPA estimates that the current supply of condoms in low- and middle-income countries falls well short of the number required (the condom ‘gap’). Despite the gap, international funding for condom procurement has not increased in recent years.”(5)
Furthermore, a 24-year-old sex worker whose name has been hidden by me, however, the BBC has mentioned it, says:
“I had unprotected sex when I was very drunk one night and the following morning I didn’t go to the same clinic.” (6)
Another sex worker who has been a prostitute for six years says: “We don’t have money, and when you meet a client who offers to give you more money than you usually get, you have sex without protection even when you don’t know his HIV status.”(7)
This is the painful truth, but the Islamic preventive measures are always effective, as it bears a religious aspect that addresses the mind and heart of the people, which is more convincing and persuasive than external protective steps.
The teachings of the Glorious Qur’an and blessed Sunnah in all subjects are so fresh and relevant as they were revealed or said just now, especially, the teachings and instructions regarding sexual relationship and drugs although they were revealed and said more than fourteen centuries ago. This led a number of specialists in modern science to convert to Islam with full satisfaction and spiritual zeal. This verifies the truth of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in his prophecy and denotes clearly that he was appointed by Allah (Glory be to Him) as the last and final Messenger of Allah with honesty and truth.
On the other hand, we find Hinduism bearing a permissive nature in the subject of adultery, for example; Hinduism permits the custom of Neyoga (नियोग) which is an illicit relationship with a strange man without a marriage contract.This act is permissible for a Hindu widow to get progeny especially boys; rather, Hinduism permits a widow or wife of an unproductive husband to make such sexual relationship with ten foreign men without any marriage. In addition to that, this shameful act has been regarded as meritorious and good doing as would be proved in this article.
Prohibition of adultery in Qur’an and Sunnah
And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality and is evil as a way. (Al-Isra’ 17:32)
It is worth mentioning that the Glorious Qura’n has used the phrase “do not approach” no the phrase “do not commit” as it warns of mere approach of adultery which denotes exaggeration in prohibition. That is why, every action, means, cause, motive and way that may lead to the adultery itself, is prohibited in Islam. Any physical contact with a strange girl or boy like, kissing, embracing, shaking hands, being alone with him/her, mingling with opposite sex without reason is also prohibited in Islam. In addition to that, Islam prohibits mere looking at a girl or boy with sexual intention or emotion. Islam always gives priority to the cause over the effect. Thus, Islam has closed all doors of actions that may lead to the adultery.(8)
Do not you think that Islam has prevented human being from a most important source of infection with HIV/AIDS that has become one of the biggest challenges to human life? Even if we keep the religious and spiritual aspect aside and look in the issue merely in the context of medical benefit, do not you agree whether a Muslim or non-Muslim if you are abiding by the Islamic teachings and instructions on the sexual behavior you are safer and more fortified against HIV/AIDS and many other epidemics that have not been discovered up till now.
It is also important to be pointed out here that the abovementioned verse is preceded and followed by two verses; the first forbids killing children for fear of poverty and the last verse prohibits killing any soul of human being. This indicates that the crime of adultery is surrounded by many types of causes that threaten the human life on earth. Whether they are named HIV/AIDS or denoted by any other names.
Furthermore, Allah (Glory be to Him) says:
And those who do not invoke with Allah another deity or kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed], except by right, and do not commit unlawful sexual intercourse. And whoever should do that will meet a penalty.(Al-Furqan 25:68)
The unlawful sexual intercourse has been mentioned after the act of killing the soul. This verifies that unlawful sexual intercourse entails many reasons and causes that result in the epidemics and infections and deaths.
(1) http://aids.gov/hiv-aids-basics/hiv-aids-101/what-is-hiv-aids/ (Last accessed on 1-12-2013).
(3) http://www.webmd.com/hiv-aids/guide/human-immunodeficiency-virus-hiv-infection-cause(Last accessed on 2-12-2013).
(4) http://muftah.org/the-cultural-and-religious-debates-surrounding-hiv-aids-in-the-muslim-world/(Last accessed on 1-12-2013).
(5) http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/presscentre/featurestories/2009/march/20090319preventionposition/. (Last accessed on 18-12-2013).
(6) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-24942903(Last accessed on 18-12-2013).
(8) Cosmic Signs in the Glorious Qur’an and its Scientific Significance, an article by Dr. Zaghloul Al-Najjar, Al-Ahram daily Arabic news paper, issue No. 43666, 2006, June 26.