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22/03/2020 5:56 pm

COVID-19: To all the religious clerics in Kashmir

By Javeed Ali


This piece is meant to all who are spearheading the various religious sects in Kashmir.

Esteemed Ulmas, Assalamu alaykum,

With all respect and humility, I want to share my point of view with you and I hope you will give a thoughtful consideration to it.

You are our honour and prestige. We always look for your valuable knowledge about our religious pursuits. You are always there to guide us spiritually and morally. You prepare us for hereafter and for that we are always indebted to you.

But this time we have a slight disagreement with the set of instructions that you have issued for us to follow. We understand that congregational prayers have got plenty of reward and no one can deny that. But Islam is a religion of logic. It’s based on rationale. At times, we are compelled to change the usual course to adapt to the prevailing situation for the good of all.

Coronavirus is a deadly pathogen. Its long incubation period makes it more fatal. It has proved its severity by causing maximum damage even in those countries where we have a world-class health care system. Spain at number 1 and Italy ranked at number 2 has the most effective health care system in the world but still it has not prevented them from the catastrophe of COVID-19. Even in Iran, which according to Bloomberg News has the 30th most efficient healthcare system in the world has to face a lethal battle against coronavirus pandemic. India is ranked at No. 145 in its health care system and the massive population makes it even more dangerous to contain the virus if it spreads on a big scale. According to experts, 300-500 million cases of COVID-19 will emerge by July if India doesn’t act with urgency. It’s a very scary situation. Please for God sake, don’t take it lightly.

Many medicos have died while combating it in Italy, China and Iran. Videos and images of doctors and paramedical staff crying bitterly while treating the COVID-19 infected patients were widely shared on social media platforms and it has really brought tears in our eyes. Even the people associated with health ministry globally were seen breaking down in tears while giving pressers on COVID-19.

We need to understand that so far no vaccine or drug has been developed for this pandemic. Scientists and researchers all around the globe are toiling hard to get to the bottom of it and find its vaccine. They are putting their lives at risk for the sake of humanity and we can also do a small favour to them by following their advice. They are not asking us to come to their health facilities to cure patients. They are just making a simple request by urging us to do self-isolation and social distancing. Now, it becomes our religious obligation to support their endeavour by doing self-isolation or self-quarantine. This is the only way we can stop the spread of coronavirus. And if won’t follow the instructions of health experts then we will be wholly responsible for the destruction of the region.

Respected Ulmas, You asked us to offer congregational prayers in Masjids while leaving the elderly ailing persons to stay at home. But this virus doesn’t differentiate between ailing and health. It has targeted everyone including the young sports athletes. Even if a single person of any age becomes infected with this infection, he or she becomes an imminent cause for massive spread of virus particularly in gatherings or congregations. Even if the sermon is for five minutes, still it is enough for virus to penetrate in our bodies and it doesn’t care whether we are offering Farz or Sunnat prayers. It can hit us anytime. Also, for the time being we can postpone our nuptial knots and if we survive after this pandemic then we will get enough time for our Nikkah or any other function.

Our revered holiest sites in Islam including Masjid-e-Nabvi (SAW) were closed over coronavirus fears in Saudi Arabia. Even the holy shrines were emptied in Iran just to halt the spread of coronavirus infection. Recently, many people were infected with COVID-19 in Malaysia when they attended a religious event at a mosque gathering. It could have been avoided if they would have followed the health advisories about COVID-19 pandemic.

Dear Ulmas, We can use this self-isolation time in a better way also. As you always advise us to disassociate ourselves from this materialistic world for our spirituality to groom, COVID-19 has provided us a better opportunity to accomplish it. Your lectures on morality and ethics are still needed and you can still deliver it through the social media platforms as the internet speed is comparatively better now. We still urge authorities to increase the speed further so that it becomes easy for you to share your lectures with us. Moreover, your services are much needed now as you can guide us how to help those impoverished people who are suffering from this necessary lockdown. These days people with sound resources can help those who survive on daily earnings. This is the best time to show our compassion and kindness towards poverty-stricken people.

Our small contribution of social distancing and self-isolation can make a big impact. Coronavirus won’t last long. It will perish after its spell and as Holy Quran says, “Verily, with every difficulty there is relief” (Surah No. 94, Verse No. 6).

-The author is a freelance writer and can be reached at javeedaliofkashmir@gmail.com

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