9 Social Responsibilities in Fighting against Coronavirus

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9 Social Responsibilities in Fighting against Coronavirus

Coronavirus is a tiny little virus whose power is not comparable to its size. Today, many countries around the world are dealing with this newly emerged virus, gradually finding out ways to fight it back. But as the statistics show, this virus is considerably less fatal than its ancestors, including SARS or MERS, with the death rate of 3.8% [1]. The only thing that worries people is its high-speed contingency and how fast it can transmit from one person to the other. In this global crisis, we, as Muslims, should ask ourselves what our responsibility in this situation is. What does Islam want us to do? Shall we sit and watch and let this molecular size thing defeat us and ruin our society? Of course not. As always, Islam advises us to be patient, take actions, and to find the lesson that is embodied in every hardship. As the Quran says, “Indeed ease accompanies hardship” (94:5). The ease that rests at the heart of hardship is only achieved after we realized this lesson, in this case, strengthening the social ties and reaching out to the essence of humanity.


In what follows, we will have a look at some of our most significant social responsibilities in dealing with any crisis, specifically speaking that of Coronavirus.


1.Observe Your Personal Hygiene in Social Interactions 


Personal hygiene is one of the cornerstones against catching diseases, and as many experts have so far emphasized, it is the most basic protective measure against Coronavirus. Islam is one of the greatest adherents of personal hygiene and continually advises Muslims to follow specific hygienic manners in their lifestyle. Performing Ablution (Wudhu) before each prayer (Salat) or performing ritual bath (Ghusl) are only two examples of the Islamic rules concerning hygiene. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) not only observed his own hygiene and tried to appear neat and tidy in the society, but also advised all Muslims to do the same. He said in a narration, “Cleanliness is a part of faithfulness” [2].


Now, how does personal hygiene affect our society and the people around us? Well, when you care about your hygiene, the risk of getting any diseases lowers significantly, and even if you become sick, you won’t transmit it to another person. Therefore, we can say that observing personal hygiene is more than an individual precaution, rather an essential social responsibility, especially at the time of epidemics. 

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So washing hands regularly, maintaining at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing, using masks if you are sick, avoiding handshakes, etc. are some of the most emphasized precautions against this disease [3]. 

 

2. Keep the Streets and Workplaces Clean


Another social responsibility that protects us against any disease is keeping our surroundings clean. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said in a hadith, “Allah is pure and loves purity (cleanliness)” [2]. 


Therefore, avoid throwing out garbage on the streets, especially the used masks and disposable gloves, since they might be the source of Coronavirus and infect other passersby. Also, disinfect your workplace before starting your job with whatever cleaning products you have to protect yourself and others against this virus. 

 

3. Take Care of the Elderly and People with Chronic Diseases 


According to recent studies, people over 60 years and the ones who already have a chronic condition such as diabetics, cardiovascular problems, cancer, or respiratory diseases are at the highest risk in suffering from Coronavirus, and it might affect them fatally. 


Respecting and helping the elderly are constantly emphasized in the Islamic tradition. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said, “Respecting the elderly equals to respecting me” [4]. It is narrated from Imam Sadiq (AS) that, “A person who doesn’t respect the elderly is not one of us” [5] and Imam Sajjad (AS) enumerated many rights for the elderly [i]. Respecting the elderly includes many things, such as speaking respectfully, putting them first, especially in critical situations, and helping them to satisfy their needs.

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In these difficult days, this is any righteous human being’s responsibility to help out the ones who cannot protect themselves easily. If we have an elderly parent, we should attend to them more than before. We might have elderly neighbors who cannot go out anymore for fear of getting the disease. We can do the shopping for them, buy whatever they need, or check up on them regularly.  

 

4. Help out the Needy and the Homeless


The other group, which is highly at risk of getting the Coronavirus is the underprivileged and the ones who don’t have a shelter. This is because they are deprived of the means of protecting themselves against this virus. 


As the holy Quran puts, one of the ways of attaining piety is through helping others and giving away (3:92). Also, it is narrated by Imam Ali (AS), “The faithful who help the destitute in the hardships and misfortunes of their life are loved most by Allah” [7]. These and many other hadiths and verses of the Quran, urge Muslims to consider the needy and help them in any way they can.   


It is our duty to consider the wellbeing of these people, as well. They might not have enough money to buy antiseptics, or any other hygienic products or may not be able to observe their hygiene properly. We can donate them some of this stuff or take them to some safe places that would shield them against this viral disease. 

 

5. Take Care of the Workers 


In Islam, workers have many rights that have to be observed by their employers. One of these rights, according to Imam Sajjad (AS), is to support and guard them against harms [8].


Therefore, if you are an employer, it is your responsibility to consider the wellbeing of your workers. This could range from disinfecting the workplace regularly, providing the necessary hygienic products, or even sending them home if possible. But this might end up in a financial crisis for the workers as well. So try to consider a part of or whole salary for your workers for this period of obligatory recess. 

 

6. Do Not Spread Fake News


“Do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed hearing, eyesight, and the heart—all of these are accountable.” Quran (17:36)


The message is clear! Do not say or repeat what you are not a hundred percent sure of. From the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak, we are faced with considerable media bombarding, especially in social networks, many of which are only speculations or pure lies. The result of spreading this false news is the rise of public anxiety and stress levels, making them more prone to the disease.

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You should know that Coronavirus is a newly emerged virus, and the data about its source, symptoms, medications, etc. are not complete and authentic yet. It takes much time for the experts in this field to gather reliable information. Therefore, we should only trust authoritative sources such as the World Health Organization website or other official news agencies and medical experts. 


7. Avoid Hoarding the Essential Medical or Hygienic Products


The demand for some essential products may rise considerably when facing epidemics, in this case, Coronavirus. For instance, everyone needs masks, detergents, disposable gloves, etc. 


In this situation, some profiteers might go for hoarding these essential products to make them more expensive. Or some ordinary people might buy them excessively to store for themselves. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) condemns the act of hoarding severely and considers the one who practices hoarding an infidel [10]. In another narration, he believes that the hoarder is doomed to poverty and leprosy [11].   


The times of hardships are when we should be more careful about our fellow human beings. Therefore, we should be satisfied with our share of these products and let other people have their own share as well. 

 

8. Avoid Unnecessary Visits to Hospitals  


Due to its similar symptoms to the common cold, many people would panic when they feel a sore throat, have a runny nose or sneeze, and they rush toward the nearest hospital. And in many cases, their test results are negative.
According to the WHO website, you should, “Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover. If you develop fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition” [3]. 


Lining up in the hospitals keeps the doctors from attending the ones who have more critical conditions. Moreover, it heightens the risk of getting infected. Therefore, we should avoid going to hospitals unless we have the symptoms mentioned above. 

 

9. Stay Positive and Spread Positivity 

 

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“Behold! Allah’s help is indeed near” Quran (2:214)


At the end of the day, and after considering all these precautions, we should put our trust in Allah and hope in the good fate He had destined us. When we feel our belief in Allah with all our hearts, we would feel less stressed and more positive. This will not only help us to overcome the anxiety surrounding this disease, but also give us the strength to spread this positive attitude in our society. Remember that you should never lose hope in Allah [ii]. 

 

Notes:

[i] “The right of him who is older than you (kabir) is that you show reverence toward him because of his age, and you honor him because he entered Islam before you. You leave off confronting him in a dispute, you do not precede him in a path, you do not go ahead of him, and you do not consider him foolish. If he should act foolishly toward you, you put up with him, and you honor him because of the right of Islam and the respect due to it.” [6] 

[ii] “… Do not despair of the mercy of Allah” Quran (39:53)

References:

[1] Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/who-china-joint-mission-on-covid-19-final-report.pdf
[2] Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.21, p.257. 
[3] https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public
[4] Muhammadi Reyshahri, Mizan al-Hikmah (Scale of Wisdom), hadith no.9927. 
[5] Muhammadi Reyshahri, Mizan al-Hikmah (Scale of Wisdom), vol.2, p.106, hadith no.10084. 
[6] Imam ‘Ali Zayn al-‘Abidin, Treatise On Rights (Risalat al-Huquq), The Right of the one Older than you.
[7] Ibn Shu’bah,  Tuhaf al-Uqul, p.376.
[8] Imam ‘Ali Zayn al-‘Abidin, Treatise On Rights (Risalat al-Huquq), the right of the one who works for you. 
[9] Nahj al-Fasaha, p.293, hadith no. 690.
[10] Nahj al-Fasaha, p.278. 
[11] Ibn Majah, Sunan ibn Majah, vol.2, p.728.

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