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Preserving your life is a religious duty

Judaism and Islam both teach the importance of preserving the lives of others, and your own life. Avoid coronavirus infection risks.

Posted 1 November 2020

Earlier today, I gave my 58th "Thought for the Week" broadcast on BBC Radio Manchester.

Sometimes I think of a subject weeks in advance. This time, I rejected a couple of ideas, and then woke up one night last week with the theme clear in my head, weaving some important messages together.

Thought for the Week

Since the start of the coronavirus lockdown, BBC Radio Manchester have had their guests appear remotely. Accordingly I recorded the text of my Thought and sent it to the BBC in advance, while appearing live by electronic link to discuss my newspaper review.

Accordingly, as well as reading it below, you can also hear it.

Hear my "Thought"

Read my "Thought"

From the book of Genesis onwards, marriages appear regularly throughout the Bible.

Think of Jacob. He worked for seven years for his future father in law, because he wanted to marry Rachel. Instead, Jacob was duped into marrying Leah. He then had to work for another seven years to marry Rachel.

Think of Ruth. She was a widow, and a foreigner. She found a new husband in the Israelite Boaz. God blessed Ruth by making her the ancestor of King David and all of the other Kings of Israel, and the ancestor of Jesus.

The very first miracle Jesus performed was at a wedding celebration, when he turned water into wine.

Marriages, and marriage anniversaries, are often big occasions. Last week saw both my 70th birthday, and my 42nd wedding anniversary.

The celebrations involved just me, my wife and our eldest son who lives with us. That reflects the strange times we are going through, with the pandemic. We receive no visitors, and we visit nobody else.

Both Judaism and Islam stress the importance of preserving life. [See the Jewish teaching of "Pikuach nefesh" and the article "Islam and Preservation of Human Life."]

Both the Talmud and the Quran teach that saving the life of one other person is like saving the life of all mankind. If you have to choose between risking your life or other lives, or instead following health guidelines, both religions are categorical about your duty.

You may ask: “How long can we keep going like this?”

For the answer, let me paraphrase Mario Draghi, former President of the European Central Bank: “We will do whatever it takes.”


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