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Islamic Hygiene Advice During Covid-19

Prayer and trust in God are always paramount to a Muslim's faith, but following science and good hygiene is effective in reducing the s...


Prayer and trust in God are always paramount to a Muslim's faith, but following science and good hygiene is effective in reducing the spread of Sars-Cov-2, or as we know it, Covid-19.

It's a strange state of global affairs. We're all paranoid, terrified even of this virus creation, a mutated coronavirus, which has led to a near breakdown of life - who is carrying it? Who created it? Will I die from it?

While we're taking personal measures of isolation and distancing, we need to rely on one another to follow the guidelines published by the World Health Organisation and NHS more than ever. Above all, rely on God since this too is His.

We should be aware by now that the virus was first reported in China, it's a global pandemic and potentially affecting everyone exposed to it. Although there is no vaccine or cure, simple hygiene is proving to reduce its spread. As Muslims, trust, knowledge and cleanliness all hold their respective places in Islam, but this is a remarkable time to link them all. If not just for the sake of faith, then for our communities.

1. Wash Your Hands: Soap Kills Covid-19

Muslims already wash their hands for the five daily ablutions (Wudu) before prayer. Bear in mind this does not necessarily involve soap but now it should. Why?
...because the virus is a self-assembled nanoparticle in which the weakest link is the lipid (fatty) bilayer. Soap dissolves the fat membrane and the virus falls apart... and [...] becomes inactive. - The Guardian
Why does soap work on Covid-19?

Be more mindful of water splashes because it can carry the virus and land on surfaces like steel, glass, plastic, and fabric that the next person may touch. Evidence suggests it can survive for hours on these surfaces, if not longer. Follow this NHS video tutorial on how to wash your hands properly.

I have to add here that while medical-grade protective equipment is provided for relevant professions, your average face mask and rubber gloves are still known to pick up the virus. Use sanitiser as soon as possible. See the WHO illustration below for visual aid.


2. Avoid Handshakes: Say Salam with a Smile

Handshakes and hugs are integrated into Muslim gatherings so avoiding them is a bit tricky. Regardless of who we meet, a handshake or hug with 'as-salam `alaikum!' (peace be with you!) is spiritually rewarding to 'shake the sins away' (Hadith, paraphrased) and a unifying embrace; it would be considered rude not to.

However, now we know the virus is transmitted through physical contact, all physical Zikr gatherings and handshakes need to be stopped - they can be done at home. Follow the respectful substitute with a hand-on-heart gesture, a salute, or a courteous bow. Muslim women know all about this, ask one.

This directly affects our masjids and madrassah routines as children attend to read Qur'an or play activities, our elderly may have social dependence on these centres and we attend classes; therefore as much as it hurts, shoulder-to-shoulder prayer gatherings have rightfully been cancelled.
It's vital the Fard acts of Islam like these need to be redirected into our homes where Allah's name can be glorified even more.
If you see anyone behaving against these guidelines from the UK government, be kind and firm in asking those in charge to stop interactions.

Again, out of respect and consideration, now is the perfect time to check on the vulnerable and older members of your neighbourhood. Do they need supplies, soap, a top-up on their gas meter? It's a beautiful Prophetic action to look after your elders and without having to step into their homes, it is an important moment to show your presence.

3. Cough with Caution: 'The Droplet Spread'

There's a scientific reason behind socially distancing yourself and sneezing the "right way". The virus's main transmission route is in water droplets that are coughed or sneezed out, as opposed to being totally 'aerosol' [1]. You may have a virus and not present any symptoms, but your cough, spit or sneeze could carry the virus to others: children, elderly, those with underlying medical conditions, pregnant women - who suffer the illness after.

A single cough can produce up to 3,000 droplet nuclei, whereas a sneeze can produce as many as 40,000 (source: NCBI). *Atchoo* say Alhamdulillah.

These droplets then land onto surfaces touched by others who are not infected or are breathed into another person's airways. This is why the World Health Organisation has advised to not touch your face - specifically the mouth, nose, ears or eyes, as that's how it reaches the respiratory and immune systems.

How Does Coronavirus Behave? (Al-Jazeera)

However long the virus can last, while it is in the air in droplets, anyone within two metres of the cough or sneeze can breathe it in and become infected. An uninterrupted droplet from a sneeze can travel around 60 metres, but most are caught in tissues. - Dr. Amir Khan, Al-Jazeera.

I feel most of us in the UK are sensible. Most of us. There has always been an epidemic far more severe and global than any virus and it goes by many names. Stupidity, hatred, prejudice, racism, greed. Wherever one person suffers another is capitalising off it and this needs to stop before we worry about the economy or foreigners or microscopic organisms.

Our government has shown it can end homelessness within days by boarding those individuals into hotels and paying businesses towards it. It has shown it can recruit local police to implement a national rule to protect and guide people back into their homes. The funds being provided by the Chancellor and Treasury proves that when the rich are affected, leaders will try to restore balance. With all this, I hope we can maintain this level of awareness, generosity and determination when the virus is not looming on national TV.

For those who believe, remember God and turn to Him. He is always there.


And [Allah] will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah - then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent. Qur'an, (65:3)


Footnote
1. Tests confirm the Sars-Cov-2 is also transmitted through aerosol. The New England Journal of Medicine, March 17th, 2020


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