14 February 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today I am going to speak about the responsibilities of Muslims in managing the coronavirus outbreak.
Muslims all over the world share the responsibility of minimising the transmission of the virus. Our religion teaches us the place great importance to the interests and wellbeing of the society we live in. Public health is a collective responsibility. The health services provided by NHS, but we also know that the coronavirus outbreak cannot be left to the NHS personnel alone.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Together with the coronavirus misinformation, racism, fear, and conspiracy theories spread also. We Muslims have a responsibility to minimise the transmission of these social viruses, which may have lasting effects on the texture of our societies even after the virus itself is beaten.
Today I will speak about precautions we as Muslims can take against the spread of the virus. Then I will speak about the precautions we have to take against the fearmonger and hate preachers that usually haunt the Muslim populations more than the rest of our society.
In the Hadith I read our beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “By Allah, he is not a believer! By Allah, he is not a believer! By Allah, he is not a believer.” It was asked, “Who is that, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “One whose neighbour does not feel safe from his evil” (Sahih Bukhari). In Muslim only the last part of the hadith is transmitted.
The Arabic term translated as “evil” in this Hadith is “bawaiq”. Bouq is actually an instrument that is blown into, puffed into. A kind of trumpet. For that reason, bawaiq is interpreted largely as “evils that come from the mouth, from the tongue or the use of language”.
Today humanity is challenged by an evil that spreads through the breath. And we Muslims have a duty to stop it from spreading any further.
Our healthcare duties start first and foremost at not spreading the virus if we suspect that we have it. Typical symptoms of coronavirus include fever and a cough that may progress to a severe pneumonia causing shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.
Current official recommendation is this:
If you have a cough, or fever or shortness of breath and have visited any of the infected countries in the last 14 days stay indoors and call NHS 111 informing them of your recent travel to the city.
The infected countries are currently: China, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Macau.
Once again brothers and sisters,
If you have been to either one of these countries and have a cough, or fever, or shortness of breath… Any one of these symptoms, however mild they might be, might be signs of infection. Don’t go to your GP, don’t ever go to A&E. Current infections in Brighton happened because an infected person went to his GP. Yesterday in Lewisham we had another case where an infected person went to an A&E service in an Uber taxi.
Staying indoors is not only about the openly infected person. Anybody who has spent some time with you must stay indoors also. It is not permissible to send your child to school until you are tested negative brothers.
A particular issue is to help NHS by means of giving them a list of people you might have contacted after you might have been infected.
Brothers and Sisters,
Many infected people realize that they are infected only after it is already too late. The early symptoms of the illness are quite mild, and many people think they simply have a flu, or cold and they can overcome it by just resting and taking vitamins.
And in most of the cases the body will overcome the disease. But in the meantime there are precautions that we all can take to prevent any possible infection.
1. A first precaution is minimising hugging and facial kissing and hand kissing and hand shaking. We are Muslims and hugging and hand shaking is a part of our culture. But Islam is a religion of ease. These are not religious obligations, whereas preventing spreading of a disease is. So please, let us have a year of minimum handshakes and huggings.
2. A second precaution is to carry tissues and catch you cough or sneeze. Scientists are still working on how this particular coronavirus is spreading, but if it is spreading like most of the flu viruses, then, catching your cough and sneezing is the best way to stop it. In this time of global epidemic, every Muslim has a duty to carry a tissue brothers and sisters. But if you don’t have a chance to take out your tissue, use the sleeve of your cloth, or the edge of your scarf to catch your breath.
3. A third precaution is to wear facemasks. This is only if you are afraid that your breath can harm other people. Otherwise simple surgery facemasks won’t protect you from the virus.
4. Brothers and Sisters, if you are not feeling good, coming to the mosques is not a must on you. If you doubt that you might have captured the virus and are still coming to the Friday prayer, and if you cause infection of other people in the bus and in the mosque, wallahi the sin you have earned will be thousand times more than the reward you will take from a prayer in the mosque.
5. We are approaching the Ramadan. And all signs suggest that in April and May our country will have its own domestic epidemic. Muslim congregations must take extra precautions for the Ramadan. We will work with the NHS and other government institutions on how to get ready for Ramadan, and will ask maximum cooperation from our congregation.
Brothers and Sisters,
Let me say a few words on the precautions we can take to prevent ourselves from capturing the infection.
1. We can minimize using public transportation at the rush hours. If you own a business you can help by giving your employees some flexibility about the times they have to come and leave the business space.
2. If we have to use public transport, we can minimize contact with surfaces that can be infected. But we have to use the handrail on escalators, or the handles in the tube when we are standing. The solution is not to make another mistake. You can use a glove, or use the edge of your scarf to handle things.
3. Even when you touch the infected surface you won’t be infected until you bring your hands to your mouth or eyes. You can kill the virus by simple precautions like washing your hands with soap as soon as you reach to your destination. Buying a tube of antibacterial water based cream can also help.
4. Travelling is a human right. We cannot stop people from travelling to the infected countries. And next week is the half-term in our primary and secondary schools. There might be families who are planning to visit their relatives in these countries. Our government is going to impose special measures on travellers from those countries. So, before deciding on your trip, check the measures and if you are not ready to observe them, cancel your trip. I will put this hutba on our website and you will have the link of the relevant government document about latest advice on travels. https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/…/novel-… and https://www.gov.uk/…/wuhan-novel-corona…
Brothers and Sisters,
I also mentioned the spread of misinformation, racism and conspiracy theories about the coronavirus. Unfortunately, due to our historical difficulties Muslims are more open to conspiracies than others. Spreading claims on social media if you are not sure of the authenticity of the claim is at best a backbiting, at worst slander. And when a slander is about a whole nation, like the Chinese, or the Americans wallahi that kind of slander is worse than many grave sins.
We have heard of cases where Muslims joined others in racist remarks about the Chinese people. Racism is categorically prohibited in Islam. Suggesting that this happened to the Chinese people because of the injustices done by the Chinese regime to our Uyghur brothers and sisters is throwing a stone to the darkness. The victims of this epidemic are plain citizens of China. Such comments do not help at all, and only says that whoever said them has lost the real test of the calamity we are challenged right now.
Brothers and Sisters,
Coronavirus is not spreading through Chinese people. To the best of my information, none of the cases we have in this country are Chinese. Isolating Chinese people who are living in this country, or demonising every person that looks like Chinese is racism. And such an act will harm the very fabric of our society. We Muslims have suffered in the past when due to the acts of some so-called-Muslims out there we were victimized in our streets here in the UK. We should not repeat the same mistake.
I will end my hutbah with the prayers we learned from our beloved Prophet (pbuh) against such diseases.
“In the Name of Allah with Whose Name there is protection against every kind of harm in the earth or in the heaven, and He is the All-Hearing and All-Knowing.”
“O Allah, I seek refuge in Thee from leprosy, insanity, elephantiasis, and evil diseases.”