In a speech prior to Friday prayers in Qom, Iran on July 24, 2020, Iranian Shi'ite cleric Sayed Abbas Mousavi Motlagh, a seminary lecturer and expert on religious affairs, said that the coronavirus was secular and was released with the aim of harming believers and leading religious societies towards secularism.
Another cleric, Ayatollah Abbas Tabrizian, who is anti-Western medicine and calls himself "the father of Islamic medicine," posted on his Telegram channel on July 17 a set of Islam-based guidelines for the use of masks to control the spread of the virus. Tabrizian stated that sharia requires that women use face coverings because they do not have to support a family and are at home most of the time, while men, who must be away from home earning a living, cannot spend hours every day with their faces covered because of the buildup of carbon monoxide on their faces, doing more harm than good. He also explained that only women spread diseases, and that another reason, and that in addition to the moral requirement that they cover their faces, they have a religious requirement to do so as well.
A week after his statements were released, Ayatollah Tabrizian claimed that they had been published by one of his students, and had not originated from him.
The following are the main points of both clerics' statements:
Sayed Abbas Mousavi Motlagh: "This Evil Virus Is Man-Made And Is A Plot Against Man And Against Humanity" Whose Aim Is To "Lead Society Towards Secularism"
In his speech prior to July 24 Friday prayers in Qom, Sayed Abbas Mousavi Motlagh – whose rank is hojjatoleslam, just below the rank ayatollah – said:
"This evil virus is man-made and is a plot against man and against humanity. According to the honorable [Supreme] Leader [Ali Khamenei], this is an evil virus, for several reasons. The main reason is that this virus is secular. That is, one of its destructive impacts is changing cultures, particularly deeply religious cultures. This means that in addition to being a political and economic virus, its [aim] is to change the religious cultures and lead society towards secularism...
Hojjatolislam Sayed Abbas Mousavi Motlagh delivering his speech. Source: Tasnim, Iran, July 25, 2020
"The enemies of the religion and of [Iran's Islamic] Revolution aspired to [implement] a project to shut down [the holy sites]. But this project has failed. [They] sought, and are still seeking, to shut down the holy places, the tombs of the prophets, the mosques... while according to official statistics, less than one-half percent [of people] at these holy places may be exposed to infection..."
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Ayatollah Tabrizian: "Men Do Not Catch Or Become Infected With [Diseases] At All From The Air, Or From Another Person; [Carrying Disease And Infecting Others] Is Unique To Women"
On July 17 on his Telegram channel, Ayatollah Abbas Tabrizian, an Iranian cleric who opposes Western medicine and calls himself "the father of Islamic medicine," posted a set of of Islam-based guidelines for the use of masks to control the spread of the virus.
A week after his statements were published, he claimed that they were not his but had been posted by one of his seminary students.
The following are the main points of the statements:
"Today, in all human societies, the fight against the coronavirus is one of governments' main fears. What clearly shows modern medicine's ineffectiveness is the rising [coronavirus] mortality rate worldwide.
"Islamic medicine, and its scientific doctrine, has successfully offered the best path for treating various diseases, and the experiences, observations, and statistics of recent months prove this... In the face of this evil virus, we have decided to reference the words of the Ahl Al-Bayt [according to the Shi'a, the Ahl Al-Bayt comprises the Prophet Muhammad and his household] who were very strong, [in the matter of] the use of face coverings, and to follow their instructions. This article seeks an answer from the Ahl Al-Bayt to the question of whether masks are necessary at all levels of [Iranian] society.
"In order to explain this, we will look first at Islam's strict instructions for head coverings, and then at its Islam's secret wisdom. In Islam and the sacred sharia law, [women's] wearing of the hijab is appropriate from the outset in order to prevent various diseases like cholera and other examples like the coronavirus. In Islam, head coverings are recommended, and sometimes required, for men and women, because the obligation for women is to wear the hijab and to cover their heads in social settings [where strange men are present] or in a non-private setting, and for men, wearing a turban, that is, a head covering, is especially recommended in dirty places such as bathrooms. (Likewise, it is required, or recommended, that women wear the niqab, and in today's interpretation, it is required and recommended to wear a mask when leaving the home, which has the advantage of preventing diseases and cholera.)
"The explanation for this advanced wisdom of sharia law with regard to the strategy of the Islamic health system is as follows: Because pathogenic microorganisms circulate in the air, they settle first of all on people's heads and strands of hair, and then are conveyed via the mouth and nose to the body, and cause diseases. Therefore, in order to prevent various diseases, such as cholera and the like, in general, to use the religious doctrine, primarily for covering the head in dirty places. Thus, covering the head is essential and necessary for both men and women, in order to prevent various diseases and cholera.
"The important point is that... maintaining the [rules of] hijab and covered hair for women in public and outside the home is, in addition to being a sharia ruling, a hidden wisdom which, as aforementioned, protects women's health and life, and body and soul. But for men, the fact that Islam stresses the turban or a head covering in itself confirms the divine interest in protecting men's health.
"The next question, that may appear suspect, is as follows: Why does Islam make no essential differentiation between men and women in [the matter of] head coverings, recommending that women must absolutely cover their faces with a mask, but does not recommend or require men [to do so], even banning them from covering their faces – that is, [is wearing a mask] repellent?
"Looking at the statements of the Ahl Al-Bayt and at reality, the answer is very clear: Because of the need to support a family, men are usually very active outside the home, and if they cover their faces, and are required to do so, they use a lot of CO2 that builds up behind the mask over a longer time, which can cause harm and diseases. In other words, this activity does more harm than good, and therefore the sacred sharia law considers wearing a mask repellent. Women, on the other hand, usually are not responsible for supporting [the family] and spend most of their time at home, and therefore there is nothing preventing them from using masks outside the home, and it is even desirable.
"The result is:
"A short look at the school of the revelation [of the words of the imams] leads us to the important point that their instructions are viable and solve [the problems] until the end of time, and their statements really are universal, transcending time and space.
"Perhaps it can be said that men do not catch or become infected with [diseases] at all from the air, or from another person. [Carrying disease and infecting others] is unique to women, and woman-to-man contagion comes from close relations. Thus, if only women wear masks, this seems to be sufficient to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and men need not wear them.
"If sharia law recommends that women cover their faces, and emphasizes that men not do so, then in addition to the moral interest this is absolutely in line with the Islamic health system...
"The office of Ayatollah Tabrizian."
Tabrizian's Office: The Statements Attributed To Him Were "Posted By One Of His Students" And Are "Not In Any Way The Opinion Of Ayatollah Tabrizian"
After this post sparked an uproar, Tabrizian's office released a denial of what it called the statements attributed to him on his Telegram channel, adding that they had been posted by one of his students:
"Dear ones, take note, the article posted recently on the channel of this office, titled 'Masks and the Coronavirus'... was posted by one of his students... and is not in any way the opinion of Ayatollah Tabrizian."