The Coro­n­avirus (Covid-19) out­break has been declared a pan­dem­ic by the World Health Organ­i­sa­tion (WHO). In the UK, there are 1391 con­firmed cas­es and 36 deaths at the time of writ­ing (15/03/20)[1]. The virus is more dead­ly for the elder­ly and those with car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, dia­betes, immune sup­pres­sion, and chron­ic lung dis­ease[2].

Although social dis­tanc­ing poli­cies have not yet been enforced by the Gov­ern­ment, they are like­ly to be intro­duced soon. This will have a sig­nif­i­cant impact upon mosques, madras­sas and com­mu­ni­ty centres.

To build resilience with­in our com­mu­ni­ties, we need to act now and devel­op mech­a­nisms to take care of the vul­ner­a­ble and sup­port one anoth­er dur­ing these dif­fi­cult times.

Helping the vulnerable and socially isolated

In order to pro­tect those at high risk from Coro­n­avirus, they should be encour­aged to stay at home as much as pos­si­ble. We rec­om­mend the fol­low­ing for:

  1. Estab­lish a net­work of healthy volunteers

a. Mosques should use their com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels (social media, What­sApp etc.) to recruit healthy vol­un­teers to shop for the vul­ner­a­ble and social­ly iso­lat­ed. It is espe­cial­ly impor­tant that the vul­ner­a­ble do not leave their homes.

b. Keep shop­ping trips to a min­i­mum by coor­di­nat­ing with oth­ers. Rather than there being a large num­ber of shop­ping trips, make a small num­ber of trips by com­pil­ing mul­ti­ple shop­ping requests into a sin­gle trip.

c. Wipe down shop­ping items where pos­si­ble before deliv­er­ing them.

d. Take care when deliv­er­ing them; ensure that con­tact with the vul­ner­a­ble or social­ly iso­lat­ed is kept to a min­i­mum. You may wish to leave the shop­ping at their doorstep.

e. Con­sid­er using a fundrais­ing plat­form if necessary.

f. Vol­un­teers should com­plete the WHO Coro­n­avirus online train­ing.

  1. Check up on your neighbours

a. Every­body should check on their neigh­bours. Sup­port them by car­ry­ing out shop­ping trips for them or noti­fy the vol­un­teer net­work if you are unable to do so.

b. If every­one does this, the com­mu­ni­ty and vol­un­teer net­work will be well aware of those who need assis­tance. Do not assume that they already have sup­port in place.

c. If you are even mild­ly unwell, or are social­ly iso­lat­ing, then do not check on your neigh­bours in per­son. This risks spread­ing the virus.

Maintaining community services through technology

  1. Cre­ate mul­ti­ple com­mu­ni­ca­tion channels

a. If your mosque, madras­sa or com­mu­ni­ty cen­tre does not have a dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tion medi­um (such as What­sApp announce­ments, Telegram group, social media, mail­ing list), this needs to be insti­tut­ed immediately.

b.Maintain sev­er­al com­mu­ni­ca­tion chan­nels for dif­fer­ent atten­dees. For exam­ple, there should be a chan­nel for the gener­ic con­gre­ga­tion, anoth­er for madras­sa stu­dents, anoth­er for any reg­u­lar class­es, and so on.

  1. Use tech­nol­o­gy to main­tain ser­vice delivery

a. Con­sid­er invest­ing in stream­ing plat­forms to con­tin­ue teach­ing ser­vices, lec­tures etc. Web­sites such as Vimeo are ide­al­ly for stream­ing class­es. Although social dis­tanc­ing pol­i­cy has yet to come into effect, we should be pre­pared ahead of time.

b. Sim­i­lar­ly, use ser­vices such as Drop­box or Microsoft Onedrive to dis­trib­ute doc­u­ments, whether that be home­work, offi­cial­ly guid­ance, forms etc.

c. The spe­cif­ic apps men­tioned are sug­ges­tions. The main mes­sage here is to use tech­nol­o­gy to main­tain as many com­mu­nal ser­vices as pos­si­ble. This is an oppor­tune moment to inte­grate a bet­ter use of tech­nol­o­gy into our communities.

d. Not every­body will have access to tech­nol­o­gy. Utilise your local net­work of vol­un­teers to dis­sem­i­nate infor­ma­tion by check­ing on friends and neigh­bours through phone calls.

Staying informed

  1. Only share infor­ma­tion from offi­cial and reli­able sources. This will pre­vent the shar­ing of fake news.

a. Access the World Health Organ­i­sa­tion (WHO) web­site for the lat­est updates, advice on pro­tect­ing yourself.

b. Com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers and civ­il soci­ety organ­i­sa­tions should under­go the online train­ing avail­able on the WHO web­site.

c. Access the UK Gov­ern­ment web­site for offi­cial guides, advice, and statistics

d. Fur­ther advice is avail­able on the NHS web­site, more specif­i­cal­ly regard­ing symp­toms and responses.

e. Con­sult mem­bers of the com­mu­ni­ty who are health­care pro­fes­sion­als when con­sid­er­ing sig­nif­i­cant decisions.

Not forgetting your spiritual self

Take all the pre­cau­tions that have been advised by the health bod­ies; but more impor­tant­ly this is a time to con­tem­plate on one’s life and turn to one’s Creator.

  1. Con­tin­u­ous­ly engage in dua for your­selves and for all those affect­ed through­out the world; nev­er under­es­ti­mate the pow­er of Dua; Allah Almighty states:

Or, who lis­tens to the dis­tressed (soul) when he calls on Him, and who relieves his suf­fer­ing?”. (An ‑Naml: 62)

Some of the Duas pre­scribed in the Sun­nah to be read as much as pos­si­ble are:

  • ‏ بِسْمِ اللهِ الَّذِي لاَ يَضُرُّ مَعَ اسْمِهِ شَيْءٌ فِي الأَرْضِ وَلاَ فِي السَّمَاءِ وَهُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ،‏
    (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)
  • أَعُوذُ بِكَلِمَاتِ اللَّهِ التَّامَّاتِ مِنْ شَرِّ مَا خَلَقَ ‏.‏
    (I seek refuge in the Per­fect Words of Allah from the evil of what He has created)
  • اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الْجُنُونِ وَالْجُذَامِ وَالْبَرَصِ وَسَيِّيءِ الأَسْقَامِ ‏
    (Oh Allah, I seek refuge in you from vitili­go, mad­ness, lep­rosy and all major illnesses)
    1. What­ev­er con­di­tion befalls you be stirve to be patient and con­tent with what Allah Almighty has writ­ten; remem­ber the nar­ra­tion of Prophet Muham­mad ﷺ:

    Amaz­ing is the con­di­tion of a believ­er! For there is good in every affair of his and this is not the case with any­one else except for the believ­er! If he expe­ri­ences  occa­sions of hap­pi­ness and con­tent­ment, he is grate­ful to Allah, and there is good in it for him, and if he is inflict­ed by suf­fer­ing and trou­ble and endures it patient­ly, there is a good in it for him.” (Mus­lim)

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