By Imam Murtadha Gusau
In The Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful
All praise is due to Allah, Lord of all creation. May Allah extol the mention of the Prophet in the highest company of Angels and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, his family, his Companions and all those who follow him exactly till the Day of Judgement.
Dear brothers and sisters, as you all known, the coronavirus spread from a town in China to various parts of the world and has proved to be a global disaster. It has rapidly killed thousands and affected millions of people worldwide, not just the poor and weak, but also the rich and powerful. This shows how lethal and penetrative this virus is.
The recent predictions are ominous suggesting that as many as 240,000 Americans could die. Because the United States did not impose restrictions early on, the coronavirus spread there rapidly, especially in Seattle and New York. While Asian countries like China and South Korea have controlled the spread of the disease, the world’s richest countries with the best scientists and infectious disease specialists in USA and European countries did not. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, head of Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, told members of US Congress that the early inability to test was “a failing” of the administration’s response to a deadly, global pandemic. Now 229 million people in at least 26 states, 66 counties, 14 cities are urged to stay home.
Everybody is advised to stay indoors, all schools and colleges are closed, all places of worship are closed, and all large social gatherings are banned. Many doctor’s offices are closed, elective surgeries are cancelled, and physicians are seeing patients through telemedicine as most hospitals are treating only emergencies. Flights are canceled, malls, night clubs, beer parlours, and shops are closed, and all restaurants are closed except for takeouts. All sports and outdoor events are canceled. Mosques and Churches are also closed.
People have lost jobs and their income. There are long lines at unemployment offices throughout America. New York is almost shut down and Manhattan has become a ghost town. Everybody is uncertain about what might happen in the coming weeks. People who have a physical illness or mental illness are more vulnerable especially the elderly, individuals with chronic diseases, history of anxiety and depression, and people with financial stresses. Feelings of anxiety and uncertainty are completely normal occurring under these circumstances.
We are grateful to philanthropists, medical professionals, grocery store employees, delivery drivers, pharmacy workers, mail carriers, firefighters, army, police, nursing home employees, journalists, religious leaders, traditional leaders and everyone else who is working to save lives. These are the front line worker who experience extreme stress due to concerns about their own and their family members safety.
Health care professionals and front-line workers directly engaged in caring for COVID-19 patients experience symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and distress. They are at high risk of getting infected and some of them have died. The ever-increasing number of confirmed and suspected cases, overwhelming workload, depletion of personal protection equipment, lack of specific treatment, feelings of being inadequately supported, and seeing unimaginable scenes of suffering and death may all contribute to the stress of health care personnel, especially those responsible for triage and making decisions about who will or will not receive ventilators. An article published on March 23 in The New England Journal of Medicine estimates that the number of American patients who will require a ventilator for the coronavirus could be as high as 31 per machine. Imagine having to explain to a family that they have to take a ventilator off to give it another who has a better chance of survival. There are clear guidelines and doctors follow them. But these guidelines do not protect physicians from psychological stress. Many physicians may suffer from post-traumatic stress and moral injury (trauma of violating your own conscience) for a long period after the Covid- 19 pandemic has gone.
Under these situations when we experience things that feel threatening to us, we don’t generally feel safe and we start to feel anxious. When we feel helpless about what will happen, it causes anxiety. Prolonged anxiety may lead to depression. People feel more on edge than usual. They feel angry, helpless, or sad.
Here are some suggestions to help cope with the stress caused by this epidemic. In some situations, people in great distress must seek professional counseling. One wife complained that “I feel like a pressure cooker in this house. It’s definitely way too much togetherness.” A pregnant lady complained about “What if we get the virus? What if you get it and can’t be there when he’s born? What if I get it and they isolate the baby”? Another obsessive-compulsive lady nags her family to constantly wash their hands and use hand sanitizer. A husband may be watching television to divert his attention and his wife shouts about the latest infection rates or death toll. One wife realised that her husband lost half of his money in the stock market which ruined him financially and was now also losing income from his business. She was concerned that he might harm himself. Unfortunately, we are also seeing an increase in incidents of domestic violence and child abuse. However, despite the rise, little is being done to stop this and women and children are at risk by staying with an abusive partner at home.
What can we do to relieve anxiety, fear and depression?
- Take the necessary precautions
Wash your hands for twenty seconds at a time, try not to touch your face, keep a distance of six feet from one another, don’t shake hands, open doors with your closed fist or hip, use disinfectant wipes or sanitizer when available, wipe the handles at grocery stores and at gas stations. Cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue and immediately discard. Use mask if you are going outside.
- Do not use unproven remedies
Social media is flooded with false claims of cures of coronavirus. These untested and unproven treatments may be toxic. Some of these false remedies include use of snake oil, drinking household bleach, gargling vinegar, taking some herbs, drinking the water of hair, or using a hairdryer to blow hot air into your nose. If you read or see something that purports to prevent or cure Covid-19, please go to a reputable source such as the Nigeria Center for Disease Control (NCDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO) to confirm.
- Things you can do to support yourself
Take breaks from watching the news or social media. Hearing about the coronavirus pandemic constantly can be upsetting. Try to eat healthy and do your daily exercises at home. This is one way to help stay grounded when things feel beyond your control.
- Stay connected and reach out if you need more support
Talk to trusted friends about what you are feeling. By sharing accurate information about COVID-19 you can help make people feel less stressed. Social distancing does not have to mean social isolation especially with modern technologies available to many of us. Video calls with friends and family can help. Take the time to calmly and confidently talk with your child about the coronavirus pandemic. Reassure your child that they are safe. When schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities – take time to relax and focus on the present.
Life and death are in the hand of Allah. At the minimum you should take care of the following items if you have not done so:
- Make sure you have an updated will including, a clear statement of your assets and liabilities, bank accounts, investments and businesses.
- Identify guardians and executor of your will.
- End of life decisions. Who should decide to remove the life support systems?
It is normal to feel stressed!
Fear, worry, and uncertainty about your own health status, as well as that of your loved ones, are common. Each one of us experiences anxiety and sadness at some point in our life and most of us are experiencing these now. It is especially important to be aware of the signs of stress so that you can act or consult a healthcare provider. Talking to those you trust is a helpful way to reduce feelings of isolation, anxiety, fear, boredom, or vulnerability during social distancing, quarantine, or other safety measures.
This pandemic reminds us that we are all equal, regardless of our culture, party, tribe, colour, region, religion, occupation, financial, or social status. By being “locked in,” we have developed a sense of supernatural control and oppression. This should make us aware that millions of people in the world have spent their whole life under oppression and misery. This experience should make us realise our powerlessness and weakness, and I hope we can give up our big egos and become humble. Just a single virus can make this world “stand still.”
Our reaction to COVID-19 is a sign of humankind’s smallness and vulnerability. I hope in addition to making us feel afraid and unsure, it is also making us more pragmatic and more open-minded, more sensible, more compassionate, and more understanding. We should maintain a sense of hope and improve our sense of control and endurance.
What does the Qur’an say about such a grave human crisis? If we go through the chronicles of the previous nations in the noble book, we find that many communities and nations were destroyed as a punishment to transgressions, sins, disobeying Allah, violating natural order and corruption, ingratitude to Allah and oppression of people. The people of Prophet Shuaib (AS), people of Prophet Lut (AS), the people of Prophet Salih (AS), the people of Prophet Nuh (AS), the people of Pharaoh and the people of Saba are some of the nations who were destroyed for their transgressions and sins.
I believe that there is a divine purpose behind everything that happens. It reminds us of the shortness of this life and of what is most important for us to do, which is to help each other, especially those who are poor, old or sick. We should realise that all we need to survive is water, food, and clothes; not all the luxuries we are so used to. We can be calm, or we can panic and see it as the end of the world and, consequently, cause ourselves more harm than good.
Many see the Covid-19 virus as a great disaster. Actually, it is giving us an opportunity to change and adopt a right path. Allah has given us free will to learn from this experience and to choose our path. We should revisit our priorities in life and reevaluate our paths to serving humanity as the supreme goal of life.
* What COVID-19 teaches us about Allah
Coronavirus pandemic, no guided missile technology or drones can stop it. No military might can battle it. No political influence can slow it down. No money can bribe it. No person’s rank will matter to the inevitably spreading COVID-19.
Today, Allah is showing us His might, and how truly fragile and weak the human is before Him. No matter what we build, no matter how strong we believe we are, no matter what advances we make in science and technology, Allah always has been and always will be greater than everything.
* True power is only with Him, not with any world power. He is Al-Qawiy, Al-Malik.
* True constant domination is only with Him, not by any military power. He is Al-Qahhar.
* True safety is only with Him, not within any dwelling, bunker, face mask, or vaccine. He is Al-Mu’min.
* True guardianship is only with Him, not with cameras and guns. He is Al-Muhaimin.
* True might is only His. He is Al-Aziz.
* He is also the only One Who can restore anything and bring peace. He is both Al-Jabbar and As-Salam.
* He is the only One Who can heal any sickness. He is Ash-Shaafi.
* He is the only One Who can sustain us before, during, and after a crisis. He is Al-Qayyum.
As much as we are instilled with doubt of His existence and the blurring of His guidelines of morality through entertainment and thought leaders, He inescapably remains exactly Who He is, in all His Glory and Purity.
This is one thing that unites the human race: our weakness before Allah. Our inability to conquer something so microcosmic, that we would not even be able to see it without special equipment. And yet, with all of our technology, science, and resources, we literally cannot stop it. This is a sobering moment for anyone who dares to reflect on the greater meaning behind all of what appears to be chaos.
I ask Allah, The All-Mighty, The All-Healing, The All-Merciful to protect us all on this earth from the rampant negative effects of the disease itself, and from the panic it’s causing.
I ask Allah, the Ultimate Healer to bring us all to the other side of this pandemic healthier and stronger than before.
I ask Allah, The Instiller of Safety to allow us to emerge from this unharmed.
I ask Allah, the All-Loving to allow us to remain mentally healthy and strong during this anxiety-inducing time.
I ask Allah, the All-Merciful to have mercy on those who are poor, destitute, the homeless, refugees, single parents, low-income households, those suffering from physical or mental illness, those who have lost loved ones, those who feel alone, those who are far from You, I ask You, oh You Who are Most Mercy-giving, to drench them in Your mercy, to bring them and us closer to You through every hardship You allow us to experience.
Oh Allah, allow us to grow ever closer to You, to be in remembrance of You, to recognise the signs of Your might as opportunities to submit to You, to respond to Your gift of moral guidance, so that we may live lives that are blessed and pleasing to You, oh Lord of the worlds. Our lives and livelihoods are in Your All-Capable Hands. I ask You, dear Lord, when there is no one else to turn to, to grant us strength to be fair to others in need, to treat others as we would want to be treated, at a time when it is so easy to lose sight of the importance of giving to those not in our family.
Ya Allah, just as You have shown us through Your last Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) that all humans are important and worthy, guide us to be kind and generous to our neighbours and to strangers. Ya Allah have mercy on all those who have passed before us, and give patience to those who have lost loved ones. Oh Allah above all of this, guide us so that when we emerge from this time, You are pleased with us, and we are healthier for it.
Forgive us for our shortcomings, and reunite us and our loved ones on the Day when there is no shade but Yours, under Your shade, and let us enter Your highest level of heaven, without being questioned. Send Your peace and blessings on our beloved, immaculate example of a man, Prophet Muhammad, and all his followers, until the day we meet You. Ameen.
All praise and gratitude is due to Allah, Lord of the worlds. May the peace, blessings and salutations of Allah be upon our noble Messenger, Muhammad, and upon his family, his Companions and his true followers.
Written by your brother, Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, from Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: email@example.com or +2348038289761.
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