Our religion reminds us that the plight of the believer is strange. Even in times of calamities, there is good and wisdom. We are to put our trust in Allah.
American Muslims Respond to the Coronavirus Global Pandemic
The Coronavirus, also known as SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19, has brought even the most arrogant nations to its knees. A global pandemic that has ignited fear and anxiety everywhere we look. As pictures of empty groceries across the United States circulate, our dystopian reality continues to disturb us.
As news of jummah and congregation cancellations are announced, our spiritual hearts are stifled. However, as Muslims now is not the time for panic and avarice. Now is the time for introspection, communal responsibility, and unfettered compassion. Self-indulgence is deeply in opposition to our Islamic decrees. It is what will enable the disease to ravage our communities.
Islamic organizations and leading American imams across the nation are issuing words of respite and feasible advice to the Ummah. They are offering us spiritual solace and practical guidance on how to protect ourselves and those around us from the disease. They are reminding us how to respond as Muslims to unprecedented adversities.
The Islamic Society of North America: Joint Statement On Coronavirus
The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), alongside The Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA), American Muslim Health Professionals (AMHP), National American Imam Federatin (NAIF), and Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA), issued a joint statement in response to the global Coronavirus pandemic. They have recommended that the Muslim community take serious precautions by suspending communal events like jummah, congregational prayers, and Sunday school temporarily.
The statement included emphatic reminders of the sanctity of life according to the Islamic Shariah, and prophetic guidelines on how to handle epidemics. They reiterated that social isolation and quarantine are among the preventative measures that are stated in authentic hadith.
The statement reminds us:
Protecting human life is one of the fundamental objectives of Islamic Shari’ah. This concept takes precedence over all other objectives of Islamic faith as life represents the foundation of our existence. Therefore, at times, preservation of human life and human rights is far more significant than continuity of even essential practices of devotion.”
According to the FCNA:
It is our moral duty as Muslims that we take all steps necessary to safeguard ourselves and others around us from this terrible disease.”
In accordance with an Islamic and public health perspective, the statement also lists aggressive preventative measures we should be taking as individuals and as a community. These include:
- Canceling congregational prayers.
- Canceling “Sunday school” or halaqas.
- Limiting meetings and utilizing web conferencing.
- Canceling conferences and social gatherings.
- Those who are sick and have any symptoms of illness must avoid going to crowded public places.
- Frequent handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use hand sanitizers.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a single-use tissue (throw out after using and wash hands immediately afterwards) or use your flexed elbow when coughing and sneezing.
- Mosques should take extra precautions, like the availability of sanitizers, frequent scrubbing, and disinfecting areas of worship.
- Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.
- Do not shake hands, embrace, or kiss others, especially those who are sick and if you are sick.
You can read the full statement here.
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) Responds
On March 13th, 2020, CAIR called on American-Muslims concerned about this global pandemic to contact their elected officials to urge swift passage of a Coronavirus economic relief package. The legislation would provide relief such as unemployment insurance, sick leave, medical leave, and tax credit for small businesses.
In a statement, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said:
We urge congressional negotiators to put aside partisanship to do what is necessary to protect the lives and livelihoods of all Americans impacted by the growing coronavirus pandemic. Now is the time to work together and pass legislation that will help all Americans weather this unprecedented national crisis.”
They are urging constituents to take action, providing a detailed template on exactly what to say. You can read it in full here.
Imams Respond and Offer Solace
Notable imams across the country are speaking out on the global pandemic. They are issuing their statements on how to protect both our bodies and our iman, as well as offering profound reflections for us to find moments of placidity in the chaos.
Yaqeen Institute, founded by Imam Omar Sulieman, is offering a webinar on how to manage our spirituality and mental health during the Coronavirus outbreak, as well as several other resources. You can find the Yaqeen Institute resources here.
Omar Sulieman continues to update us through insightful lectures and tweets on how to remain hopeful, how to derive blessings from this reality, and how to remain calm.
Dr. Yasir Qadhi, who is an Islamic scholar and theologian, reminds us that social isolation is an example of the sunnah in times of plague. He says: “Social isolation during times of plagues was EXACTLY what the Companions themselves did during the infamous Plague of Emmaus in 640 CE. It did cause an emotional reaction; but it was ignored. Emotions don’t save lives; policies do.” He also tweeted:
[1/2] Saudi Arabia is the latest of many countries (inc. Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey, Morocco, etc.) to have shut down all of the masjids for ALL prayers in light of the #coronavirus. While I endorse this from a logistical point, my heart is broken from a spiritual perspective😢.
— Dr. Yasir Qadhi (@YasirQadhi) March 17, 2020
And Allah Knows Best
Nationwide lockdowns, curfews, death tolls, and void grocery shelves are enough to inject forlornness into anyone. However, our religion reminds us that the plight of the believer is strange. Even in times of calamities, there is good and wisdom. We are to put our trust in Allah.
“If Allah helps you, there is none to overcome you. And if He abandons you, then, who is there to help you after that? In Allah the believers should place their trust” (Quran, 3:160).
The only way to overcome the insidious Coronavirus is by believing in Allah’s mercy and by practicing consistent empathy. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said:
“Whoever relieves a believer’s distress of the distressful aspects of this world, Allah will rescue him from the difficulties of the Hereafter. Whoever alleviates [the situation of] one in dire straits who cannot repay his debt, Allah will alleviate his lot in both this world and in the Hereafter. Whoever conceals [the faults of] a Muslim, Allah will conceal [his faults] in this life and the Hereafter” (Muslim).