By Dr. M.I.H. Farooqi, New Age Islam
19 May 2020
During the last two thousand years, several pandemics
wreaked havoc on lives throughout the civilized world. Every section of society
suffered hugely regardless of Faith, Ideologies, Culture, Region, Power,
Occupation or Financial position. Pandemics like Smallpox, Plague, Cholera, and
Influenza were some of the most brutal killers which changed the course of
human history and weakened several civilizations to the extent that other civilizations
over powered them.
Smallpox, in its existence, was the most devastating
virus which killed between 300-500 million people around the world and
contributed to the decline of several societies. Ultimately Science defeated
this deadly Variola virus which completely disappeared from the face of Earth
Justinian Plague (542-546 AD). One of the worst
outbreaks of the plague that first
started in Constantinople, Capital of Byzantine Empire as well as the Sasanian
Empire and port cities around the entire Mediterranean Sea. It caused death of
about 25 -100 million people in Asia, Africa and Europe.
Black Death (1346-53). The most fatal pandemic
bubonic plague resulted in the deaths up to 75-200 million people in Eurasia
and North Africa. It killed 2.3 million
people alone in Europe (about one third of its population). The victims of
Black Death included Buddhists of China, Hindus of India, Muslims of West Asia
and North Africa and Christians of Europe. Powerful rulers and deeply faithful
believers as well as apostate were victims like a common man. Many thought that
the pandemics were the divine punishment-retribution for sins against God. But
in fact, so-called Wrath of God was a great Challenge to Science. Science
accepted the Challenge and ultimately identified the horrible bacteria Yersinia
pestis, responsible for Plague deaths, in June 1894. With a vaccine and
antibiotics, this dreaded disease is now in full control of Science.
Third Plague Pandemic was a major bubonic plague
pandemic that began China, in 1855 devastated many highly civilized nations
like Japan and India. It was responsible for 10 million deaths in India alone.
(Mainly in Bombay Presidency, 1896-1898 and Calcutta, 1898).
Spanish Influenza (1918) was the most severe pandemic
in recent history. Science discovered H1N1 virus responsible for the Spanish
Flu and established ways and means to control it.
Seven Cholera Pandemics have occurred in the past 200 years
resulting millions of deaths in Russia, Spain, India, Japan, Iran, Egypt, South
America and recently in Yemen. Science developed a vaccine to prevent spread of
Bacterium Vibrio cholerae, main cause for cholera. Oral rehydration with
electrolytes, intravenous fluids, antibiotics and zinc supplements have been
found to save lives afflicted with cholera.
Polio. Science has defeated almost completely Polio
virus (Poliomyelitis) which used to paralyze Children in thousands every year
throughout the world.
Emerging Viruses. Science is also very much concerned
of several newly emerging viruses which are posing serious threats of global
public health, such as the Ebola virus, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome
(SARS)-, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Human Immunodeficiency
Virus(HIV), Acquired Immune Deficiency
Syndrome /AIDS) Swine Flu Virus,
Chikungunya viruses, and Avian
The fact is that Science and Scientific Temper provide all
the solutions of serious situations faced by nations of the world from time to
time. Epidemics (Endemics or Pandemics), are Challenges from Nature. Do not
consider them as Wrath of God. Accept the Challenge and move forward. This is
what Nature wants from the Servants of God. Superstitious beliefs, irrational
behaviors by people to counter epidemic horrors only complicate the situation
and hinder the administration to act in right direction.
Save yourself through precautions. Jan Hai To Jahan Hai.
In this time of Nature's Calamity, what people need to do is to keep patience,
be tolerant, be humane, avoid conflict, practice self-restraint and show
endurance. Do not panic and despair.
Belief in Science and
Scientific Temper is the need of hour. Science defeated and controlled almost
all the deadly Viruses and Bacteria in the past and it will surely defeat and
control the present horrendous Corona virus soon, Insha Allah
Dr. M.I.H. Farooqi is Deputy Director (Retired), National
Botanic Research Institute, Lucknow
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