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Launch of Zaid Karim Private Investigator!

Muslim Matters - 31 March, 2020 - 22:53
Zaid Karim, Private Investigator

Zaid Karim, Private Investigator – By Wael Abdelgawad

I’m so excited to share the release of Zaid Karim Private Investigator.

This novel has been three years in the making: from when I first began serializing it on MuslimMatters.org in early 2017, to its completion on MM nine months later, to the first wave of revisions based on comments by my editor Amy Estrada and the MM readers, to the final revision after further input from another editor, Rafael Lopez.

If you’ve already read it online, I encourage you to buy the new ebook or paperbook. There’s nothing like holding a physical copy in your hands. And there have been some changes.

One thing I’ve consistently noticed in the input I’ve received from MM readers is that a lot of you are doctors! My characters always seem to get injured, and apparently I often make mistakes when describing their treatment or symptoms. And the MM readers call me on it. I’m grateful for that, and I have always made changes to the story in response.

The final version is, in my opinion, tight as a drum. I added a few minor transitional scenes, and eliminated a lot of irrelevant musings by Zaid that tended to take the reader away from the action. Zaid has an irreverent and odd sense of humor, and that flavors the book, but Rafael Lopez pointed out that the inclusion of this humor during climactic moments sabotages the tension of the story, and he was right. So I ended up deleting some of those.

A key change from the MM version occurs during the climactic battle on Ouagadiri Island. I don’t want to give it away, but I’ll say that it was an important change, and had to do with how I see Zaid, and how he sees himself. Let me know if you read the book and catch the change, and what you think.

Here are some answers to questions I often receive about Zaid Karim Private Investigator, and about my writing process in general:

Q: How much of this book is fact and how much is fiction?

A: Telling the true story of my life would be problematic. So I fictionalize. Every novel I’ve written has some autobiographical elements, with fictional events and invented characters mixed it. Lately, in my short stories, I’ve been trying to branch out more and create characters that are wholly fictional. Well, let me amend that. I create characters whose lives are based on real-world social dynamics and believable situations. I want emotional honesty above all. The particular circumstances of their lives, however, are invented.

Q: How did you get the idea for this book? East Los Angeles

East Los Angeles

A: When I was twenty one years old I helped a friend track down and find his young missing daughter. But it was quite different from the narrative in Zaid Karim. For example, we started our search in East Los Angeles, first talking to people, then breaking down doors. Along the way we crashed our car in Mazatlan, had a nearly disastrous run-in with the Mexican police in Guadalajara, got in an argument with South African Tablighi Jamaat members at the Egyptian Club in Mexico City, were invited to a bizarre meeting of wealthy Mexican sufis, and ended up in the mountains of southern Mexico. That incident was the seed for Zaid Karim.

As for the setting in the latter half of the book, I lived in Panama for four years, and in fact I lived in El Valle de Anton, the idyllic little town where Yusuf Cruz lives. Though my house was not a mansion!

Q: Zaid’s kind of violent, isn’t he?

A: Yes, at times. He is young, and he’s been through a lot. He wants to change, but doesn’t know how. He needs some catalyst to transform his thinking. I suspect that novel that Alejandra gave him, On My Way to Paradise, will play a role. As he continues to grow, I believe we’ll see him evolve.

Q: So you plan to write more Zaid Karim mysteries?

A: Depends on how well this one sells. If you want to see more, buy ten copies: one for you, and nine for your friends, ha ha.

Q: What about a crossover between Zaid Karim and Hassan Amir?

A: It could happen. Zaid is Jamilah’s cousin, after all, and their stories happen around the same time.

Q: Who would win in a fight between Zaid and Hassan?

A: Lol, why would they be fighting? But here you go:

  • Gunfight: Hassan.
  • Sticks: Zaid.
  • Knives: Even match.
  • Empty hands: Hassan, by a mile.
Q: What’s next for Zaid Karim?

A: His body will need healing time and therapy, but knowing Zaid he will probably plow right ahead. He needs to investigate this so-called convert who is trying to radicalize the youth. We will learn more about the event that enabled him to be pardoned and released from prison early. We just might learn more about the strange comment made by Farah Anwar regarding Zaid’s mother, that she should have “aborted you and kept the lame one.” Zaid will almost certainly return to Panama, to find Angie and try to help her, especially now that he is a foster father to he daughter. Lastly, an important figure from Zaid’s past, a person of power and influence, might call upon him to investigate a crime he is uniquely qualified to handle. Stay tuned.

See the Story Index for Wael Abdelgawad’s other stories on this website.

Wael Abdelgawad’s novels, Pieces of a Dream, The Repeaters, and Zaid Karim Private Investigator, are available on Amazon.com.

The post Launch of Zaid Karim Private Investigator! appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

12 Tips For Suddenly-At-Home-Schoolers

Muslim Matters - 31 March, 2020 - 02:32

As each and every one of us grapple with the various changes that have been imposed by the global Coronavirus pandemic, families with school-aged children have their own set of new challenges. A top priority after working hard to keep everyone safe is to keep up with each child’s education needs while also trying to work from home yourself.

You may find your suddenly-at-home-schoolers status unproductive and taking you to new levels of frustration and exhaustion.  As a long-time homeschooler, I have a great deal of experience in this area and learned these ropes from intense amounts of reading and lots of trials and tribulations. Five of our children have been homeschooled and four of them exclusively from KG through high school. If you are working from home, I can also feel that pain. My husband and I have worked from home for more than 25 years and it is a balancing act of tremendous proportion. We are here to share the benefit of our individual and collective experiences.

Here are 12 tips and tricks from the field to help you maneuver into these uncharted waters

1. Remember that parent as teacher is NOT a new role.  You have always been your child’s primary teacher.  This cannot be overstated.  While you may recognize this role when your children are very young and fully dependent upon you, it actually continues as they grow.  We teach by our words but also, most poignantly, by our actions.  And actions sometimes speak louder than words. Our children watch and listen at every age. They make note of the consistency or lack of it.  They figure out if parents are on the same page or have different sets of rules and expectations (a fact accentuated if there are two separate households as a result of divorce).And they also pay close attention to our moods and are sensitive to our stress.

Keep in mind that your parenting – the source of a full range of emotion from incredible joy to incredible frustration – is a special gift from Allah, the One who knows best!

2. Expect that it will take time to transition. We are already a couple of weeks into this new paradigm and it still may feel strange for everyone. The needs are further compounded by the fact that both parents and children have been thrust into these new waters at the same time.  It takes time for all of us to settle into new surroundings, routines, and strategies for success. We may need new skills and resources. We may need a different level of cooperation and collaboration. We may all need to just take a deep breath, quite literally!

homeschooling

3. Home does not need to become a traditional classroom to accomplish learning.  You didn’t treat your child’s school like your home so don’t treat your home like a school.  Each traditional classroom has a particular set of rules and parameters that sets the stage for group instruction – static schedules move large numbers of children into place at the same time, rules and norms are established for behavior (crowd) control, written assignments are necessary to ensure understanding en mass, desks are lined up to fit a maximum number of kids into a set space, etc.These same kinds of constructs are not necessary and do not work at home.

Be flexible. There doesn’t have to be a particular time to do math work each day. There doesn’t need to be a row of desks to work on an assignment (a kitchen table is fine). Reading a book might be most comfortable at bedtime. Children can actually work and learn together rather than be separated by ages.  Downtime (and I mean screen-free time here!) can be where some of the best creative thoughts and learning germinate.

4. Maximize the resources that are available online. You have likely been provided with enrichment packages or online learning materials from your child’s school.  But without the regimen necessary to instruct large groups, your children are likely to work through this material in far less time than their regular school hours.  Consider looking beyond these materials to stimulate them. There are a wide variety of educational materials that are available online.  In fact, there is so much that it may seem overwhelming, but don’t get discouraged. It will be worth the energy if you can find educational materials and electronic games that making learning fun and that your children are eager to use.

5. Invite your children into the process of planning and organizing the tasks at hand.  Identify what needs to be accomplished when and by whom.  Call a family meeting to set the stage for the week ahead. Our family used a whiteboard, putting things into writing so that tasks and assignments would be visible, remembered accurately, and could be revisited as necessary. Ask for input from your children (no matter how old they are) and listen to their insights. It is best for them to have some ownership and it is much easier to hold them accountable that way. A morning huddle might also be in order, particularly if there are different needs on different days. Be sure to include areas such as food preparation and eating times, what is off-limits in terms of entertainment, and how to resolve conflicts if they arise.

6. Bring the best properties of home to learning.  Now is the time to think outside of the box and be open to learning in new ways.  There are creative ways to get to the same learning objectives as traditional assignments.Cheerios or jelly beans can but used as tools in a math problem as easy as working with items on a printed page (and they are an instant reward for a correct answer!).Think about ways to maximize teachable moments.We may all recognize that learning about the Coronavirus is a relevant science lesson, but so too is baking cupcakes (and that fraction and chemistry lesson also produces delicious results)!

On the literature front, if your child is tasked with reading a book that has also been made into a film, plan to watch the movie together when the book is finished, and then compare and contrast the two. Julie Bogart, the founder of a wonderful online homeschooling resource called Braver Writer, reminds us that “kids learn the best when they can express what they understand verbally to an interested adult.”  Every word in this piece of advice is important. Isn’t this what we expect them to do in a traditional school setting? It certainly applies at home as well.      

homeschooling

7. Make efforts to give your children your undivided attention. Children of all ages need it. How many times had you previously complained that you didn’t have enough time at home? Maybe being sheltered in place wasn’t what you had in mind, but it, without a doubt, provides the quantity of time to make parent-child bonding possible. The trick is to make the time also quality time. Have a tea party with your children complete with fancy desserts and flowers. Play a board game or complete a jigsaw puzzle. Take a phone-free walk around the neighborhood when weather permits. Listen to an audiobook together. You will be amazed by what you learn about your children when you do. They may also learn something new about you in the process.

8. When you have to work undisturbed make it also a special time for your children.  There will be times that you have to focus your own attention on work, whether it is home chores or attending to your paid work from home.  Don’t expect your children to just do their schoolwork while you are working. Educational tasks that are done alone can be lonely, especially when children are used to learning with other children their ages. Have a special group of toys, books, play dough, video games, or movies that can be utilized during these periods. If the time is seen as an opportunity for a special treat, your children will look forward to it rather than resent your divided attention. Be sure to also acknowledge their efforts and show appreciation for their cooperation. Positive reinforcement can go a long way here!

homeschooling

9. Plan to do your work when your children are asleep if possible. It is easier to concentrate without background noise or competing demands.  This may look different in each family.  For some, early morning works best; for others, after bedtime is more productive.  You may have to figure out what works for your family by trial and error.  And if two parents are trying to work from home, you will likely have to toggle shifts.  This may not be easy.

10. Use your bodies.  Without PE classes, a walk to the school bus, or a trip to the playground, our children are not likely to get regular exercise.  And it may be the same for you. You probably are already challenged by the pent-up energy.  It is often stated that exercise influences the mind, body, and soul.  It stimulates blood flow, improves your mental health and moods, sharpens thinking skills, and more.  Did you know that movement can also impact learning?  Kinesthetic or tactile learning is a learning style that takes place by the students carrying out physical activities, rather than more statically listening to a lecture or watching demonstrations.  If your kids are learning their multiplication tables, for example, have them jump on a mini-tramp or jump rope at the same time.  Or sit in a circle and throw a soccer ball or football while they match up states with their state capitals.  There is a great deal of science that suggests this type of learning is productive in the short- and long-term.

11. Remember, children will always children.  They cannot give you more than they are developmentally capable of giving. We can look at depictions of children living in unimaginable poverty, amidst war, amongst the homeless, and struggling in homes with domestic violence. These children grow up without the pleasure of a normal childhood.  May Allah SWT watch over and protect them from harm.  In contrast and by the mercy of Allah, for many of our children, their biggest trials are with luxury and entitlement.  They are not used to thinking about details because they usually don’t have to.  Remember, children largely do not have executive organization functions (and that doesn’t change because you want or need them to!). They lack the poise, emotional control, common sense, and maturity to understand the full dimensions of the changes that have recently taken place.  They usually have no sensitivity to family financial matters, i.e. how much money comes in and how much it actually costs to maintain a stable family life.  This doesn’t just apply to young children. Teenagers can be oblivious and self-absorbed.  They require a ton of sleep during these times of physical growth, too, when hormonal changes are ravaging their bodies.  If you are not getting the results you are seeking, step back and ask this question – is my child even developmentally capable of meeting these new demands?

12. Lean in with your whole self.  There is no coincidence.  Alhamdulillah, we are in this place and time and we must work to make the most of the opportunities in front of us. Patience and perseverance are your best friends. And gratitude is paramount to keeping perspective and making the most of the many blessings that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) so mercifully provides. Parents, you need to put these principles into practice. Your children need to see these lessons manifested in your words and your actions.  And you need to believe with all of your heart and soul, that we will all – you, your children, your family, our community, and ummah – will be better for it, inshaAllah.

The post 12 Tips For Suddenly-At-Home-Schoolers appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

Some photos from this past winter

Indigo Jo Blogs - 29 March, 2020 - 19:16
A view from across a small pond, across a garden on a hill to a large three-storey 19th-century mansion.Scotney Castle house

I’ve been a National Trust member since last April (I joined more or less on the spur of the moment at Petworth, where I realised I had seen enough of the village and had never been inside the grand house and estate that borders onto it) and have posted a number of sets of pictures from its properties around the south-east of England. I was hoping to continue this as the trust originally planned to keep its gardens open during the Coronavirus outbreak, which would have made for some fine photo opportunities as Spring advances, but following the well-publicised excesses of the Saturday before last, they decided to close all of its gated properties and now we are told not to travel anyway. I visited a few of their attractions over the autumn and winter, including Winkworth Arboretum in Surrey where I took some very atmospheric pictures of the lake there, and Wakehurst Place, a property jointly managed with Kew Gardens in London, which also has very extensive gardens. In the couple of weeks before lockdown, I also visited Scotney Castle in Kent, which has a 19th-century country house and a ruined 12th-century castle and some very fine landscape gardens, and Bodiam Castle, a 14th-century moated castle with climbable towers, where I was among the last visitors before it closed due to the outbreak.

They can all be found on my Flickr account:

My other photo sets (including the ones I took at Petworth the day I joined) can be found from this index page.

I have a few others taken at Denbies Hillside in Surrey and the nearby Polesden Lacey mansion and garden, which I took in the autumn and has a bit of autumn colour (of which there was not much last year) which I will try and post in the next day or so.

Possibly Related Posts:


Guidance For Burials And Funerals During The COVID-19 Pandemic

Muslim Matters - 29 March, 2020 - 18:45

British Board Scholars & Imams is a national assembly of Imams, Scholars & Islamically literate Muslim Academics formed to facilitate intra Muslim dialogue on theology, jurisprudence and community welfare. The need for this has been recognised for many years, with the first informal gathering having taken place in 2013.

The board is an independent, non-political, non-sectarian and non-partisan network dedicated to a cooperation based on the principle of unity of purpose, as opposed to the uniformity of opinion. Download the PDF: Guidance for Burials & Funerals during the Corona Pandemic – BBSI.pdf

Contents
  1. Introduction
  2. The Significance of Funerary Rites
  3. Counsel and Consolation to the Bereaved
  4. Counsel to Health Care Professionals

    1. Keeping self and family safe physically
    2. Keeping mentally and spiritually well
    3. Actions to perform around/for a dying Muslim, especially if family unable to be present
  5. Safe and Dignified Interment

    1. Principles of precaution with the deceased’s body and infection control
    2. Storing, collecting and transporting the body
    3. Washing
    4. Funeral prayer
    5. Burial options
  6. Final counsel
  7. Appendices
Executive Summary
  1. The current circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic will require a collective response from the Muslim community, working with health services and local authorities, to manage the volume of deaths.
  2. There are certain mandatory funerary rites afforded to the Muslim deceased.
  3. In such circumstances, the Divine law permits certain relaxations of these rites.
  4. Families should be comforted that their loved ones receive the deaths of martyrs, and that any short-comings in normal funerary rites will not affect this.
  5. NHS and emergency workers (including funeral workers) should not forget their own physical and mental health, nor that of their families, in caring for others.
  6. The risk of transmission of COVID-19 from a deceased body is low and should not be feared, provided adequate precautions are taken.
  7. All such precautions must be taken by those handling the deceased’s body, whilst ensuring dignity is maintained. The needs of the living take priority over the needs of the deceased.
  8. There are several options for ritual cleansing from: full ghusl, minimal ghusltayammum, wiping over the body bag. Each should be considered in sequence, but if none can be done, burial without ghusl is permissible. [Please note: the ghusl is not compulsory according to a classical opinion found in the Maliki school – we are not recommending following this opinion unless it is necessary according to the health risks involved.]
  9. The body bag may be considered to fulfil the role of the burial shroud (kafan).
  10. Funeral (janaza) prayers should be performed by a minimum of people; alternatives include the absentee funeral prayer (salat al-gha’ib).
  11. A number of options for burial can be considered, including shared graves, transferral to other sites, and delay in burial. Preparations should be made in advance, especially in areas with a large Muslim population. Cremation must be avoided at all costs.
  12. The BBSI emphatically exhorts community organisations, mosques, and charities to mobilise the community so that they might get trained in funerary rites. Local communities are advised to take decisions on the basis of this guidance whilst factoring in local circumstances.
  13. We are all returning to our Lord, and should pray for those who have passed away collectively and individually, remembering always the life to come.

Please note: the official version for this advice is at http://www.bbsi.org.uk/covid-funeralguidance/ ‎, and that website should always take precedence in terms establishing updates or corrections.

1.Introduction

The BBSI is an apolitical national assembly of imams, traditional scholars and Islamically literate Muslim academics formed to facilitate scholarly intra-Muslim research and dialogue. Our aim is to provide authoritative ethico-theological guidance and leadership on matters relevant to Muslims, whilst promoting wider community welfare. It primarily seeks to do this by developing theological leadership that can authentically represent the rich scholarly inheritance of Islam, whilst responding flexibly to the context of modern times. Its ultimate aim is to both serve and represent the Muslim community in an ethical, inclusive, professional and scholar-led way. The BBSI especially takes seriously the responsibility to provide theologically grounded, practically focussed, holistic and – above all – cool-headed and far-sighted guidance to the community in times of generalised anxiety and panic.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, in consultation with community organisations, health and medical experts, the BBSI has been providing ethico-religious guidance to the community. With an increase in death rates inevitable due to COVID-19, Muslim communities in the UK are advised to work with their local authorities in assembling a volunteer group of individuals. These individuals must be (i) aware of Islamic burial rites, (ii) properly trained in the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and (iii) suitable to safely carry out the burial procedures.

This document provides guidance on the burial procedures: storing, collecting, transporting, washing (ghusl), prayer (salat al-janaza), and interring the body (dafan) to ensure that they accord with both Islamic and Public Health England (PHE) guidelines, taking into account the latitude of approaches in Islamic law and the principles of standard infection control precautions (SICPs) and transmission-based precautions (TBPs).

As with all BBSI guidance, it is directed primarily at imams, scholars and funeral workers, to help guide their decision-making processes, but equally is produced for the benefit of the general public. It should not be considered a religious verdict (fatwa), but rather comprises a comprehensive guidance that draws on the classical traditions of Islam to provide an overview of options available. We encourage those who read it to consult with their local scholars and utilise it to help their decision-making processes. We pray that it will be of benefit and consolation during this extremely difficult time for the British and international community.

2.   The Significance of Funerary Rights

For Muslims, death is a transition between one stage of life and another. The act of burial marks this passage and carries profound meaning for the dead as well as the living. Burying the dead is a communal obligation upon Muslims and it is a means through which dignity and respect are afforded to our fellow humans who have departed onto the next stage of their existence.

  • Dignity – God has bestowed a special status upon all humans, granting them dignity of the highest form in their bodies and honoring them amongst the rest of creation. Muslims believe that their bodies are a gift (amana) from God and will be returned to God. They take care to treat their bodies with respect during their lives, and to respect the bodies of those who have died. The funerary rites are designed to respect and maintain the dignity of the human form.
  • Desecration, harm, mutilation, disfiguring – Muslims are prohibited from causing or allowing any harm or mutilation to the human body both during life or after death. The funerary rites, such as washing, shrouding and praying are performed in order to honour the deceased, and burial acts to protect them from future harm.
  • Body and soul as a composite – for Muslims, the soul and body are inextricably connected from the womb of the mother to the womb of the grave and beyond. The human is understood as being a composite of body and soul, even after their physical separation at death.  Hence Muslims do not distinguish between the bodies of the living or the dead, in that both are afforded the highest levels of respect and care.  There is a deep metaphysical commitment that the soul is still aware of and able to experience what the physical body undergoes after death. Prophetic traditions further state that the dead can hear the greetings of those who visit them at their graves. Muslims are thus obliged to treat the dead with gentleness and care.
  • Rights of the dead – One of the rights that Muslims have over each other is that of funerary rites. It is a collective obligation on the living to wash, shroud, pray over and bury the dead, through respectful completion of the necessary rites and rituals as described in the primary sources of scripture and elaborated upon in the classical schools of law. These form part of a continuous tradition in Islam and carries deep religious, spiritual, historical and cultural significance for Muslims. These rituals may remind the wider public of other faith traditions who have similar beliefs around our final gifts to those who have passed. Alternatives to burial are unacceptable in Islam.

3.   Counsel to the Bereaved

As a community, we are going through very difficult times.  The death of a loved one is never easy. Despite the comfort of knowing that they are returning to their Lord in accordance with His divine Decree, grief at one’s loss is a perfectly normal response. This is even more the case in our current circumstance, where we may lose community members in large numbers. We may not also have the opportunity to bid them farewell in the traditional manner, due to fear of transmitting the virus, or adhering appropriately to government guidelines around isolating and lockdown.

Nonetheless, we take solace from the words of the Prophet (s) when he said: ‘The one who dies in a plague … dies as a martyr in the path of God.’ (Al-Bukhari, Muslim). In every distress we go through there is a divine blessing and wisdom. This narration indicates that the one who dies from an infectious disease receives the reward of a martyr, which is a tremendous rank.

By scholarly agreement, such people are still afforded all the funerary rites, but families may be  concerned about those rites not being performed properly during this very difficult period. There is a lot of confusion around what can and cannot be done, and also what might happen to the deceased if the funerary rites are not fully performed. This is understandable given the situation; however, we assure you that the Islamic tradition makes it abundantly clear that the souls of your loved ones will suffer no ill effects from any shortfall in this regard arising out of these circumstances. Furthermore, the tradition is clear that in such situations the community is not considered to be held accountable for what is beyond their ability to manage.

Rest assured: our and your prayers reach the Lord who hears all and answers every supplicant who calls unto Him.  We beseech Him for His mercy and pray in this time, as in all times, for His Grace and Beneficence.

4.   Counsel to Health Professionals and Chaplains

The BBSI recognises and tremendously appreciates the tireless and selfless work that all of our NHS workers – from medics to cleaners – are doing to keep us all safe and healthy.  We want you to know that our membership is supplicating for all of you; praying that God rewards you with the best of rewards for this noble service you are engaged in; beseeching Him to keep you and your families safe.

It should be noted that, notwithstanding the various narrations about avoiding places of contagion, we know that the Prophet (upon whom be blessings and peace) treated a leper by placing his blessed hand in the same bowl as that of the afflicted (Al-Tirmidhi). Please, therefore, be aware that what you are doing is fulfilling a specific sunna as well as the general Sunna of assisting those in need. We pray that this work be a means for you to be drawn nearer to Him, in accordance with His Wisdom.

We would also advise you to take all precautions necessary to keep yourselves and your families safe during this very difficult period, especially if you have elderly parents, in which case you should consider quarantining yourself from them as far as possible.

Given the lockdown measures currently in place, it may well be that those who pass away from COVID-19 will do so alone, in a hospital bed, not surrounded by family or loved ones.  Whatever your field but especially if you have access to such patients in their last stages, you are their family. Please take a little time, if possible, to minister to their spiritual needs at this critical stage of end of life. If possible, and if safe to do so:

  • Comfort them and counsel them to hope in God’s mercy and turn to Him, seeking His pardon, for they are returning to their Lord as martyrs, beloved in His presence
  • Encourage them gently to recite the shahada and occupy their time in:
    • Prayer (in the hospital bed, in any direction, with any slight head movement)
    • Vocal remembrance (if possible given their breathing difficulties) or
    • Silent dhikr (of the mind or heart, with a tasbih/sibha if that helps).
  • For those in their very last stages, recite the shahada without encouraging or exhorting them to do so, and if you are able, recite Surah Yasin to ease their passing
  • Tayammum: It may be that, as the rate of death increases, funeral services will be overwhelmed and ghusl will not be performed for the deceased. Only if it is possible:
    • Keep a small, clean stone (about palm size ideally) with you.
    • Once the patient has passed away, make the intention of tayammum.
    • Rub your gloved hands on the stone and pass once over their face,
    • Then rub again and pass over their forearms. Make sure to discard the gloves and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
    • This will fulfil the responsibility of ghusl of the deceased if it is impossible for it to be done later on, and will be a means of you single-handedly lifting the burden of this responsibility from the community.

Lastly, the BBSI recognises that this period is going to be emotionally and psychologically very difficult for all those working on the front line of dealing with this crisis. It may be that you are transferred out of your comfort zone, need to work additional hours to cover unwell or isolating colleagues, and be confronted with a significant amount of death. This can be extremely stressful for anyone, even healthcare professionals who often feel that they should be able to deal with such situations. We have a number of doctors in the BBSI, and can assure you that nothing equips you for the experience of disaster medicine.

If you find yourself nearing breaking point, please reach out to services that are available, whether psychological or spiritual, and seek help. We will work with other organisations to try and ensure that this service is available to you, and assist you in whatever way we can, with our prayers if nothing else.

5.   Fulfilling the Rights of the Deceased

There are general rights that the deceased have over the living: to pray for their forgiveness and acceptance; fulfilling their wishes and bequests as laid out in their wills; performing acts of worship, such as recitation of the Qur’an and asking God for the reward to be granted to them; and doing acts of lasting charity on their behalf.

There are also specific rights that the deceased have over the living, which are communal obligations.  These largely revolve around the funerary rites, and which this guidance details. There are several stages of interring the deceased’s body, each of which will be explained in detail: (1) storage, collection and transportation, (2) ritual cleansing (ghusl), (3) shrouding (kafan), (4) performance of the funeral prayer (janaza), and (5) burial of the deceased.

The BBSI emphatically exhorts community organisations, mosques, and charities to mobilise the community so that they might get trained in funerary rites. There are several online resources available for this.

The BBSI recognises the very courageous work being done by funeral workers, who will largely be on the front line of dealing with the deceased. We also understand that you have a great deal of anxiety about handling the bodies and the risks of contracting COVID-19 yourselves. There is a lot of uncertainty about this issue in the public, though top health experts and medical professionals have officially assured us that there is little to fear provided adequate PPE is utilised.  This guidance takes as its priority the safety and health of those entrusted to perform the funerary rights of the deceased, and we ask Allah to reward you tremendously for the service you are providing: you are as those who guard the frontiers of the land from attack.

For these specific funerary rites, given the still-contagious nature of the virus and the possibility of contracting it from the body of the deceased, we strongly advise that there are those who should not be involved.  This excludes presence at the funeral prayer and the site of the burial itself.

Exclusion criteria

There are certain categories of people who should avoid performing any of the funerary rites with the exception of the funeral prayer.

  • Anyone elderly (over 60)
  • Anyone with an underlying health condition (See Appendix A).
  • Those who are in frequent contact with the above mentioned individuals
  • Those who have not been properly instructed in the risks of dealing with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 positive bodies
  • Those who have not received basic training in dealing with infectious bodies, which includes methods of handling the deceased, safe working procedures, donning and removing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), personal hygiene, and steps to be taken if something goes wrong.

In the course of work, individuals involved in burial-tasks should carefully monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19. Any individual who fits the description of those the government has advised to self-quarantine or self-isolate should not participate in these burial tasks. (See Appendix B)

It is very important, and possibly obligatory, under Islamic law for those vulnerable to the virus to act so as to avoid contracting it, especially in the situation where others are able to fulfil the rights of the deceased.  We recognise that family members, under normal circumstances, play a leading role in these funerary rites, which also allow us to process our grief. However, the circumstance of the pandemic is different: it is a religious principle that one must avoid exposing oneself to, and exposing others to harm (la darar wa la dirar).

A.   Collecting & Transferring the Deceased
  • It is of utmost importance to treat the deceased with dignity and care at all times.
  • The burial team should be the minimum number of people required to carry out the task safely and effectively. They should gather all appropriate information regarding the deceased prior to collection, his/her condition, potential infection risks, and any other information relevant to those who will be handling the body.
    • A hazard notification sheet is often provided detailing this information. It should be read and consulted carefully. Due to the sensitive nature of the information contained in the hazard notification sheet, it should only be shared with those who require information to safely handle the deceased. Burial teams should wherever applicable take the duty of confidentiality seriously.
  • To minimize risk, the deceased may be placed in a body bag during collection and transfer. Individuals should avoid directly touching the deceased and minimize moving the body.
    • At the time of writing this guidance, Public Health England (PHE) has NOT mandated the use of body bags for COVID-19 victims, though it is standard practice in some hospitals for all the deceased during this pandemic.
    • The BBSI recommends precaution and strongly advises burial teams to consult the medical personnel on call regarding the use of body bags if the deceased is not already placed in one.
  • In cases of likely risk of bodily leakage or delays leading to bodily decay, a body bag MUST be used.
  • During collection and transfer, individuals should abstain from activities that increase the risk of contracting the virus. They should:
    • Not bring their hands into contact with their mouth, nose, or eyes
    • Cover all abrasions and cuts, especially on the hands, with waterproof dressings,
    • Have available disinfectant material;
    • Wear appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
  • PPE equipment includes: gloves, eye protection, face masks, waterproof gowns and sleeves, and, in some cases, respiratory protective equipment (RPE).
    • Equipment should be stored properly, fit for purpose, worn properly, correctly fitted, and disposed of after use.
    • Individuals should be trained in the donning and removal of such equipment.
    • For more on this see the guidance from Public Health England. (See Appendix C and D)
  • Burial teams should pay attention to the equipment they use. They should have dedicated equipment (vehicles, trolleys, etc.) for use with infected bodies. Equipment used should be of a type easy to decontaminate and disinfect.
  • Equipment that has come into contact with the deceased should be disinfected regularly and after every use, such that the vehicle, tables or stretchers, surfaces and reusable PPE. Single-use items should be discarded safely and immediately after first use.
  • After collecting and transferring the deceased, members of the burial team should: remove any protective clothing; dispose of such clothing safely; and wash their hands with soap thoroughly.
B.   Washing (ghusl) Who should perform the washing?

Washing of the deceased is a part of the Islamic ritual of honouring the deceased and a communal obligation on the Muslim community. Although this would ordinarily start with the family members, in this context those properly trained in PPE and with access to the appropriate equipment would need to take the lead.

Minimally, two people of the same sex as the deceased should be available for the washing, though more would ordinarily be required. Those selected to carry out the ritual cleansing should be from the ‘safe list’ noted above. Importantly, they should be aware of the Islamic rules on washing the deceased. Those on the exclusion list should not participate in the cleansing of the body.

What is the procedure for washing the COVID-suspected deceased?

Provided the funeral washers take precautions, washing the COVID-suspected deceased is safe. As of the writing of this guidance, it should be noted that Public Health England has NOT made it a requirement for the COVID-suspected deceased to be sealed in a body bag and have deemed hygienic preparations and even post-mortem to be permitted for those positively diagnosed with COVID-19.  This is in line with their guidance for infectious diseases in general; it should be noted that COVID-19 is less infectious from deceased bodies than HIV, SARS, and Ebola, as well as other such similar serious diseases. The concern with COVID-19 is the likely volume and rate of funerals that will be required. Family and washers should be assured that all of the following guidance is both safe and in accordance with Islamic law.

A COVID-suspected body may be received from the morgue in one of two circumstances: with or without a ‘DO NOT OPEN’ tag.

  1. In the case of a DO NOT OPEN tag, those performing the cleansing rite should don PPE and wipe over the sealed body bag from head to toe, after having applied some water to their gloved hands.
  2. In the case where there is NO ‘do not open’ tag, and in light of PHE guidelines, it is possible for the deceased to be given a minimal washing with the following conditions:
    1. that those washing the body wear all the appropriate PPE and are properly trained in its donning/removal,
    2. that all reasonable means are taken to minimize risk of transmission, such as avoiding procedures that are aerosol-generating (like moving the body around),
    3. that the deceased does not suffer from any other condition that creates a significantly higher-risk of transmitting disease, and
    4. that those in charge of burial are able to provide a safe and dedicated space for washing that is properly disinfected/decontaminated after every washing procedure.
  3. The minimal washing consists of:
    1. Minimal movement of the deceased’s body
    2. Avoiding removing the disinfectant covering from the face
    3. Pouring water over the deceased’s body from neck down
    4. Flowing hair may be washed or wiped
    5. Avoiding performance of istinja or pressing the abdomen to extrude contents
  4. If any of the steps above cannot be safely undertaken, including not having access to adequate PPE, then the option to wipe over the body bag should be utilised.
  5. If one is either (1) advised by morgue staff that the risk of infection is extremely high, or (2) the rate of then – as a last resort – the deceased can be buried without either ghusl or wiping.
Shrouding (Kafan/Takfin)

Ordinarily, shrouding is carried out immediately after ghusl, and it is recommended to use three white sheets (cotton or partly synthetic) for men and five for women. This is unlikely to be possible for a COVID-suspected deceased. In this case, the BBSI affirms that the body bag will fulfill the religious requirement of shrouding.  An additional shroud may be wrapped over the body bag, though this is not required, and the body then placed in the casket. The outer part of the casket should be wiped with the appropriate disinfectant as part of transfer procedures.

Funeral Prayer (janaza)

Who should pray and where?

The ideal in our tradition is that there be a large gathering of people, including family members, to pray over the deceased following the ritual washing (ghusl) of the body. However, the communal obligation is also fulfilled even if only one Muslim (male or female) prays over the deceased.

It is envisaged that there may well be significant restrictions on gatherings, and that mosques may be closed for some time to come. In such a case, the funeral prayer may be performed in the cemetery, even though this is not ideal. The options are as follows:

  1. Group performance of the janaza prayer with the family, whilst maintaining appropriate social distancing strategies, at the cemetery prior to burial.
  2. Performance of the janaza prayer by a very small number of individuals (such as the washers), in the presence of the deceased’s body. One individual praying over the deceased fulfils the community obligation (fard kifaya).
  3. Performance of the funeral prayer in absentia (salat al-janaza ‘ala al-gha’ibin) by other family members and well-wishers, which is valid in the Shafi’i and Hanbali schools of law. [This does not remove the communal obligation mentioned in (2) above – at least one person should fulfil that, if possible.] Hanafis and Malikis should consult their local scholars about following this option.

Muslims should always be aware that actions are in accordance with their intentions, and that ‘one who intends a virtuous deed but does not perform it is like one who performed it.’  If you would have gone to the funeral had you been able to do so, but were unable owing to your health, the need to socially isolate or community lockdown, you will be rewarded as though you had gone.  For further details on how to perform the funeral prayer, please refer to Appendix E.

Burying the Deceased
  1. Who should not perform the burial?

The burial may be attended by anyone, bearing in mind government guidelines about social distancing and community lockdown. The actual burial of the COVID-suspected deceased’s body should not be performed by those on the exclusion list, as noted previously.

  1. Where is the deceased to be buried?

In the shari’a, the minimal burial is for a body to be placed in the earth in such a manner where:

  • The living are protected from the effects of bodily decay, such as the smell of the body
  • The deceased’s body is protected from mutilation or damage, such as by animals.

The basis is that a Muslim is buried:

  • in a Muslim graveyard, or the section demarcated for Muslims within cemetery grounds,
  • in his/her own individual grave,
  • without transferring the body an excessive distance from one area to another, and
  • without an undue delay.

The COVID-19 crisis is unprecedented. Given the higher rates of deaths occurring from this illness, Muslim communities will be forced to make decisions regarding burial procedures that are non-ideal. It should be noted, however, that classical jurists have given significant scope to depart from the ideal funerary rites in cases of need and necessity. Below, we provide guidance on a few issues pertaining to burials that will likely be pertinent to Muslim communities in the coming weeks.

(a) Mass Burials:

  • A Muslim’s body should ideally be buried in his/her individual grave.
  • In times of general need (defined as any situation in which burying bodies individually in their own separate graves creates undue difficulty or harm), the shariah explicitly permits burial of multiple bodies in the same grave.
  • For a mass burial, it is ideal that:
    • Men are buried in one shared grave and women in another, or, if they are placed in a single shared grave, men to one side and women to the other. If this is difficult, it is permitted to bury them in one grave intermixed.
    • It is advised that each body be separated from the other with a barrier, even a small one formed with dirt, whenever possible without undue difficulty.
    • Muslims are buried together in their own cemetery, or, if not possible, in a grave separate to those from other faith traditions.
  • Burying the deceased in a shared grave is preferable to an excessive delay in burying them in their own grave. See further related points in ‘Burial in a non-Muslim cemetery’ and ‘Delaying Burial’.

(b) Burial in a non-Muslim cemetery

  • Muslims should ideally be buried in a Muslim cemetery.
  • If this is not possible for a valid reason such as lack of space, it would be permitted to bury a Muslim in a non-Muslim cemetery
  • When possible, a shared grave in a Muslim cemetery is to be given preference over an individual grave in a non-Muslim one. See related points below in ‘Transferring the Body’ and ‘Delaying Burial’.

(c) Transferring the Body

  • It is permitted to transfer the deceased in cases of need or for a valid purpose, such as lack of space or capacity locally, or a bequest to be buried in one’s hometown.
  • Decisions to transfer the body should be made in close consultation with the family of the deceased, relevant authorities, and the communities/sites to whom/where the deceased will be transferred to.
  • When possible, transferring the body for burial without delay, even a long distance, is preferable to an excessive delay.
  • When possible, transferring the deceased to a Muslim cemetery, even if a long distance, is to be given preference over a nearby burial in a non-Muslim cemetery.

(d) Delaying Burial

  • The default is to carry out the burial procedure as quickly as possible.
  • Slight delays are permitted if there is need, such as when the burial team is seeing to the funerary rites of others or when waiting for a space to be allocated for the deceased in a Muslim cemetery.
    • When possible, a slight delay to ensure burial in a Muslim cemetery is to be given preference over an immediate burial in a non-Muslim cemetery provided the deceased can be safely stored.
  • Excessive delays should be absolutely avoided.
    • It is preferable to transfer the deceased elsewhere, or bury him in a shared Muslim grave, than to excessively delay funerary rites and burial. This is a matter that requires sensitive consultation with the family of the deceased.
  • In cases where there are no other options and it is not possible to bury without delay, it would be permitted to delay the burial and other funerary rites. The deceased in this case should be kept stored in a manner that prevents bodily decay, is safe, and upholds their dignity. For this, the relevant authorities and experts should be consulted and communities should anticipate and plan for scenarios where this will be likely.
  1. How is the COVID-suspected deceased to be buried?
  • The burial and any activities associated with it should proceed as normal, but it should be restricted to the gravesite.
  • Before transfer to the gravesite, the outside of the casket should be disinfected. Individuals tasked with carrying the casket to and from the transport vehicle should don the appropriate PPE, such as suitable single-use gloves. They should dispose of this equipment after first use and thoroughly wash their hands with water and soap or hand sanitizer.
  • While transporting the deceased, it is recommended to engage in dhikr and supplication for the deceased.
  • The funeral should be attended by a minimal number of people given current government guidance.
    • Some councils have set limits on the maximum number of people that may attend a funeral. As such, those arranging the funeral should consult their relevant local authorities regarding this.
    • If there is no set maximum set by the government or local authorities but only a general instruction to keep funerals small, it is recommended to follow the guidance of the Deceased Management Advisory Group (DMAG), which has advised that funerals only be attended by immediate family or a few individuals.
    • It may give some solace to those unable to physically attend the actual burial to have it live-streamed, though one cannot actually join the funeral prayer via live-stream. For those who wish, the absentia funeral prayer remains an option.
  • Attendees should be told to observe all social distancing, self-isolation, and personal hygiene guidelines advised by the government.
    • This means that for the time being the elderly, those with underlying health conditions, and those required to observe 14-day self isolation should not come to the funeral site, especially if the service will be attended by several people.
    • The BBSI understands that this will be extremely difficult for people who were close to the deceased, but wish to reassure them that true proximity is when hearts are entwined, not merely proximity of bodies.
  • Viewing of the deceased before burial is permitted, including the face provided this is medically permitted, as the risk of infection is very low.
    • However, the deceased should under no circumstances be touched or kissed.
    • See the Royal College of Pathologists advice for this (PPE, social distancing).
  • The deceased should be lowered into the grave as normally done in funeral services.
  • It is recommended by many jurists that the deceased be given an admonitory address (talqin) after burial, which may be expressed in any manner that conveys a meaning similar to what is related below:
    • Remember the covenant by which you exited this world; the testification that there is no god but God who has no partners and that Muhammad is the messenger and slave of God. Remember that the Day of Judgment is coming and that God resurrects those in the graves. Say: ‘I have accepted that my Lord is God, that Islam is my religion, that Muhammad is a true Prophet, that the Ka`bah is the true direction for prayer, that the Qur’an is my guide and that all believers in God are brothers.’
  • It is recommended to recite some Quran over the grave after burial and make a supplication for the forgiveness of the deceased.

Word of Counsel

May God be praised – He is the Maker of the heavens and of the earth; the Creator of all things, and the One who sent His Chosen Messenger, our liege-lord, Muhammad, the most noble of all creation. God is the Eminent, the Forgiving, the Manager of all affairs, the Maker of destinies; who has brought all His creation into being, and makes it thus they change from state to state, and moves from one abode to the next.

God has established that we have not one life, nor even two – but five ‘lives’, in that there are five abodes of existences that we pass through. We all too often forget that, and we are tempted to think that the life of this world, al-dunya, is the life, the only life, when, in fact, it is the most passing and fleeting of all.

Rather, by God’s Mercy and His Grace, we have already lived through the abode of the life before this one, where all the souls were gathered, and we all took the covenant with our Lord, recognising His Unity and his Lordship. And from among those souls include the community of Muhammad – the community that you come from. Wahb ibn Munabbih narrates that when our liege-lord Moses asked his Lord about the community of Muhammad, God replied: “ It is the community of Ahmad (another name for Muhammad), whose people are content with whatever little provision I give them, and I am content with whatever little good works they do. I make each one of them enter the Garden by their testimony that ‘there is no god but God’.

And then we go through this world that we are in; and then we shall be placed in our graves; and then we leave our graves for the Resurrection and Gathering, until the moment that all of us reach our final abode. Remember of that time in the Gathering that our Prophet (s) declared: “Each Prophet has one prayer which must be answered. They have prayed, but I have concealed my prayer, so that it may be an intercession for my nation, including, God willing, all those who died without partnering anything to God.”

That intercession is for the life to come; that life that is spoken of in the Qur’an (44:51-7) as: “Those who had taqwa will be in a secure place, in gardens and watersprings … a favour from your Lord: that is the supreme triumph.

The Prophet (s) noted to us: “the Garden comprises one hundred degrees; between each two degrees is like between Heaven and earth. Firdaus is the high degree, from which spring the four rivers of the Garden. Above it is the Highest Throne. When you petition God, therefore, ask for Firdaus!” and, “A herald shall announce: ‘O people of the Garden! It is time for you to be healthy and never fall ill. It is time for you to live and never die. It is time for you to be young and never grow old. And it is time for you to be happy and never be miserable.’”

May God make us all of its people, through His Generosity, His Grace, His Mercy, and Grace.

Bibliography/Sources Consulted Primary Sources

Abu Bakr al-Kasani. Badaʼiʻ al-sanaʼiʻ fi tartib al-sharaʼiʻ. Edited by ʻAli Muʻawwad and ʻAdil ʻAbd al-Mawjud. Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-ʻIlmiyya, 1997.

ʻAli ibn Sulayman al-Mardawi. al-Insaf fi maʻrifat al-khilaf ʻala madhhab al-Imam Ahmad. Edited by Muhammad Shafiʻi. 12 vols. Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-ʻIlmiyya, 1997.

Mansur ibn Yunus al-Buhuti. Kashshaf al-qinaʻ ʻan matn al-Iqnaʻ. 6 vols. Mecca: Matbaʻat al-Hukuma, 1974.

Muhammad Amin ibn ʿAbidin. Radd al-muhtar ʿala al-Durr al-Mukhtar. 7 vols. Cairo: Bulaq, 1323-26 A.H.

Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Rahman al-Hattab. Mawahib al-jalil li-sharh mukhtasar Khalil wa-bi-hamishihi al-Taj wa-al-iklil li-Mukhtasar Khalil. 6 vols. Libya: Maktabat al-Najah, 1969.

Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Dasuqi. Hashiya ʿala al-Sharh al-kabir. 4 vols. Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 2002.

Muhammad ibn Ahmad ʿIllaysh. Minh al-jalil sharh Mukhtasar Khalil. 9 vols. Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1984.

Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Khatib al-Shirbini. Mughni al-muhtaj ila maʿrifa maʿani alfaz al-Minhaj. Edited by Muhammad Aytani. 4 vols. Beirut: Dar al-Maʿrifa, 1997.

Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Sarakhsi. al-Mabsut. 30 vols. Beirut: Dar al-Maʿrifa, n.d.

Muwaffaq al-Din ibn Qudama. al-Mughni. Edited by ʿAbd al-Fattah Muhammad Hulw & ʿAbd Allah ibn ʿAbd al-Muhsin al-Turki. 15 vols. 3rd ed. Riyadh: Dar ʿAlam al-Kutub, 1997.

Numerous authors. Fatawa Hindiyya. 6 vols. Beirut: Dar Ihya’ al-Turath al-ʿArabi, 1980.

Sulayman ibn Umar al-ʿUjayli. Hashiyat al-Jamal. Edited by ʿAbd al-Razzaq al-Mahdi. 8 vols. Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-ʿIlmiyya, 1996.

Yahya ibn Sharaf al-Nawawi. Rawdat al-talibin wa-ʻumdat al-muftin. Edited by Ishraf Zuhayr al-Shawish. 10 vols. Beirut: al-Maktab al-Islami, 1985.

———-. Kitab al-Majmuʻ. Edited by Najib al-Mutiʻi. 10 vols. Cairo: Dar al-Nasr, 1971.

Secondary Sources

Health and Safety Executive, Managing infection risks when handling the deceased Guidance for the mortuary, post-mortem room and funeral premises, and during exhumation (2018).

Public Health England, COVID-19: Guidance for infection prevention and control in healthcare settings. Version 1.0. (last updated on March 23rd, 2020).

The Royal College of Pathologists, Transmission-based precautions Guidance for care of deceased during COVID-19 pandemic (issued 25th March, 2020)

The Association of Healthcare Cleaning Professionals’ (AHCP) Revised Healthcare Cleaning Manual.

Appendix A – Who is at high risk from coronavirus

Coronavirus can make anyone seriously ill, but there are some people who are at a higher risk. For example, you may be at high risk from coronavirus if you:

  • have had an organ transplant
  • are having certain types of cancer treatment
  • have blood or bone marrow cancer, such as leukaemia
  • have a severe lung condition, such as cystic fibrosis or severe asthma
  • have a condition that makes you much more likely to get infections
  • are taking medicine that weakens your immune system
  • are pregnant and have a serious heart condition

Source: NHS (last reviewed on 24th March 2020)

Appendix B – Self-isolation if you or someone you live with has symptoms – Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Do not leave your home if you have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) or live with someone who does. This is called self-isolation. If you are self-isolating, you must:

  • not leave your home for any reason, other than to exercise once a day – but stay at least 2 metres (3 steps) away from other people
  • not go out to buy food or collect medicine – order them by phone or online, or ask someone else to drop them off at your home
  • not have visitors, such as friends and family, in your home

If you have symptoms of coronavirus, you’ll need to self-isolate for 7 days or until your temperature returns to normal. You do not need to self-isolate if you just have a cough after 7 days. A cough can last for several weeks after the infection has gone.

If you live with someone who has symptoms, you’ll need to self-isolate for 14 days from the day their symptoms started. This is because it can take 14 days for symptoms to appear. If more than 1 person at home has symptoms, self-isolate for 14 days from the day the first person started having symptoms.

If you then get symptoms, self-isolate for 7 days from when your symptoms start, even if it means you’re self-isolating for longer than 14 days. If you do not get symptoms, you can stop self-isolating after 14 days.

Source: NHS (last reviewed on 24th March, 2020)

Source: Public Health England, COVID-19: infection prevention and control guidance (last reviewed 23rd March, 2020)

Appendix E – Performing the Funeral Prayer Hanafi method
  1. The janaza prayer is fard kifaya (communal obligation) – it is fulfilled by a minimum of one (1) person.
  2. It is sunna for the imam to stand in front of the chest of the deceased.
  3. The necessary components of the prayer are the 4 takbirs and standing up.
  4. It is sunna to read the thana after the 1st takbir, salutations on the Prophet after the 2nd takbir, dua for the deceased after the 3rd and it is wajib to do the salam after the 4th takbir.
  5. The hands should only be raised for the 1st takbir
  6. Sura al-Fatiha can be prayed after the thana with the intention of dua’ and not qira’at
  7. Supplicating for forgiveness is not required for a child or an insane person; on the contrary the dua should be made that the children are a source of salvation for us.
Shafii Method

The funeral prayer (salat al-janaza) is a communal obligation, requiring a minimum of 1 person to pray it. For those that are unable to attend the salat al-janaza in person, they may pray the absentee funeral prayer (salat al-gha’ib). The following will apply:

  1. The body of the deceased should be placed between the imam and the qibla, with the head to the right and the feet to the left. The imam should preferably be in front of the head of the body, if the body is a man, or to the midpoint of the body, if the body is a woman. (This condition does not exist for those praying salat al-gha’ib).
  2. One stands, intending to pray an obligatory funeral prayer, with the intention occurring at the time of the opening takbir. (For those praying salat al-gha’ib, they intend to pray a sunna prayer that is salat al-gha’ib.)
  3. The opening takbir (Allahu akbar) is then followed by the reciting of surah al-Fatiha (quietly, to one’s self);
  4. Then this is followed by a second takbir, which is then followed by quietly saying ‘alhamdulillah’, and then (quietly, to one’s self) recitation of the prayer upon the Prophet, upon whom be blessings and peace, in the same way that one would do so in the second half of the tashhahud in the ritual daily prayer;
  5. Which is then followed by a third takbir; which is then followed by (quietly, to one’s self) supplicating for the deceased. It is recommended one says, “Allahumma la tahrimna ajrahu wa la taftina baʿdahu wa-ghfir lana wa lahu” (“O God, do not deprive us of his reward, nor afflict us after him. [O God,] grant us and him forgiveness.”)
  6. Which is then followed by a fourth takbir; which is then followed by (quietly, to one’s self) praying for all the Muslims;
  7. Which is then followed by saying aloud ‘as-salam ‘alaykum’ to the right, and then to the left.

 

The post Guidance For Burials And Funerals During The COVID-19 Pandemic appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

Coronavirus must bring about public health improvements

Indigo Jo Blogs - 28 March, 2020 - 23:07
 lifts to car park, public toilets and shopmobility".The doorway giving access to Eden Walk’s toilets (up two flights of steps).

One of the things that I have found very noticeable since the beginning of the current Coronavirus outbreak, since well before ‘lockdown’ or even social distancing but back when they were telling us to wash our hands much more often than we are currently used to doing, is how difficult our environment actually makes this. Social distancing and ‘lockdown’ have not replaced the necessity of more frequent hand washing. For years, I’ve refused to eat in restaurants that have no toilet or hand-washing facilities, especially when I would have had to handle the food (fried chicken or anything with bread for example). However, the past few weeks, we have felt the imperative to wash our hands, with soap, even before we put our hands to our faces in case something we have touched may have been contaminated. I don’t normally wash my hands before doing food shopping; I wash them before preparing the food and I don’t worry about, say, having touched the outside of food packaging. But that’s all changing now.

Yet … our built environment still makes it difficult to wash your hands. We are told to take twenty seconds, but finding a toilet in a public place takes much longer. The only wash basins are in out of the way places, usually commercial premises which only allow customers to use them (and some even have code locks so that outsiders cannot simply come in and use them). In shopping centres, they are rarely on the ground floor: in Kingston, the toilets in Eden Walk are on the second floor, up an obscure stairwell that leads to the car park. This location alone would deter many people from even seeking it out. In the Bentalls Centre, they are also on the second floor (where the old food court was) although there are also toilets in Starbucks on the ground floor which I have never been refused access to. There are some toilets in the car park on the way to the Sainsbury’s off Richmond Road, though similarly it is in an ill-observed and poorly-lit location that would also deter use (though they are clean). In Sainsbury’s, they are at the far end of the store (at the front, but a long way from the entrance). Waitrose has none; John Lewis (same company, same building) does, but that part of the building has been closed.

There are so many places where food is served, whether ‘naked’ or packaged, that have no facilities to wash your hands. Many filling stations have coffee machines and hot food stands, for example. Some filling stations have closed their toilets over the years, either to save on maintenance costs or to make more room for the mini-markets owned by supermarkets that take up the service building instead of the usual old few bits of food and motoring accessories you used to find. Until recently, this did not bother me; most of the food I bought was either packaged or was coffee which I didn’t physically touch. Now, I worry that my hands are just near my coffee after handling someone else’s steering wheel. On the way to work yesterday, I stopped at a filling station for a coffee. I took out my hand wash from my bag, rubbed some of it over both my hands then looked round in vain for the toilet. I had to use the water jet for the screen wash (and they’re not made for washing your hands under; you have to squeeze it to get the water out). The station (on the A316 outside Richmond) was massive. I am guessing it will get the “Little Waitrose” treatment in the next year or so.

My point is: toilets have to be more accessible. Hand washing must be readily available. It must be easy to do, so that you would barely think twice about washing your hands before you handle food, especially food that will not be cooked. It must be plentiful, so that there is no great queue. It must be on the ground floor, in a well-observed, well-lit area near the entrance. It must be well-maintained and not stink. This does not just apply to shopping areas; very many areas where people work do not have adequate toilets or washing facilities, especially when many of the workers are visitors (distribution and cargo depots, for example — and some companies have started refusing drivers access to their toilets recently in the name of Coronavirus prevention). It is quite likely that this virus will be a threat to public health for many months even after the current wave and accompanying movement restrictions and social distancing rules pass, and there will be others. We should be able to find somewhere to wash our hands, quickly and easily.

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Propaganda Kills: Holding China Accountable For Its Role In The Coronavirus Pandemic

Muslim Matters - 27 March, 2020 - 19:57

15 mins read

In a new report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian describes the operating manuals for China’s mass internments and arrests of Uighur Muslims in the occupied territory called Xinjiang (East Turkestan). She describes what the world continues to ignore: China’s ethnic genocide—the destruction of culture, traditions, and mosques— the very fabric of Uighur heritage. 

This is a shocking attempt at reshaping an entire people’s identity. Once reduced to less than animals, it is no surprise that Chinese Communisty Party’s (CCP) evil is now extending to harvesting organs from Uighurs. There is increasing research such as the findings of the China Tribunal led by Sir Geoffrey Nice, QC, a former chief prosecutor of Slobodan Milosevic, that also leads to assertions of physical genocide. 

While the Uighur destruction story has been unfolding for more than a decade and despite courageous reporting to bring it to the attention of the world, the abuse continues unabated. Why?

China’s rampant propaganda machine: Tell China’s story well

The answer lies in China’s propaganda machine, which is unparalleled in its scope and funding. China has committed to spend $6.6 billion on global coverage, emphasizing Chinese power, generosity and centrality to global affairs. While all expenses paid trips, buying airwaves, advertorials, sponsored journalistic coverage and “heavily massaged positive messages from boosters” are no new tactics, unlike other government propaganda machines, China does not accept a plurality of views. The press becomes the eyes, ears, and tongues of the Chinese Communist Party.

The build up of soft power is strategic. A five month investigation by the Guardian reports that, “Beijing has also been patiently increasing its control over the global digital infrastructure through private Chinese companies, which are dominating the switchover from analogue to digital television in parts of Africa, launching television satellites and building networks of fibre-optic cables and data centres – a “digital silk road” – to carry information around the world.Since August 2019.” 10 million of Africa’s 24 million pay-TV subscribers watch low-cost StarTimes, which is CCP-owned. ProPublica has tracked more than 10,000 suspected fake Twitter accounts involved in a coordinated influence campaign with ties to the Chinese government. Remember Twitter is banned in China. A Reuters investigation across four continents found at least 33 radio stations in 14 countries that are part of a global radio web structured in a way that obscures its majority shareholder: state-run China Radio International, or CRI. The carefully scripted content is broadcast worldwide in more than 60 languages and Chinese dialects. 

The 480 CCP funded Confucius Institutes in various universities in six continents are staffed with visiting teachers from China and offer language classes, cultural programming and outreach. They teach that Taiwan, Tibet and East Turkestan are integral parts of China and ignore human rights. However, many see them as a part of the propaganda machine and have been criticized by professors concerned about academic freedom and institutional autonomy. The CCP admits as much, Politburo standing member Li Changchun said. “[Confucius Institute] has made an important contribution toward improving our soft power. The ‘Confucius’ brand has a natural attractiveness. Using the excuse of teaching Chinese language, everything looks reasonable and logical.”

One just needs to look at China’s neighbor Pakistan, home of 4 Confucius Institutes, Xinhua Urdu News channel and a $60 billion CCP investment, to see the effect of wholesale Chinese brainwashing. Like the rest of the Muslim “Ummah”, Pakistanis decry the human rights abuses against Kashmiris, Rohingya,  Palestinians, etc., but when it comes to human rights abuse against Uighur Muslims, a majority of Pakistanis dismiss it as “Western propaganda”.

Much of this is because of a systematic response team run by the China Economic Net, a Beijing-based online news organization, and the Islamabad-based Pakistan China Institute. The system disseminates information to counter “negative” news about the neocolonial Belt and Road initiative. The think tank also runs China-Pakistan Media Forum, and for 5 years has been bringing Pakistani and Chinese journalists together to counter negative news.

Pakistan may be an extreme case, but it is not unique. Most of the world is either unaware or uncertain about the extent of the abuse against Uighurs. 

This reflects the extent to which China has been successful in hiding its dirty secrets.

Will there be another cover-up on COVID19?

More than 23,000 people are dead globally from COVID-19. Since the first Dec. 30 announcement of a new disease in Wuhan, the CCP has spun a narrative.

Recently three lawsuits were filed against the CCP government. In one, attorney Robert Eglet claimed that China’s government should have shared more information about the virus but intimidated doctors, scientists, journalists and lawyers while allowing the COVID-19 respiratory illness to spread.

CCP’s propaganda machine is now attempting to cover-up China’s role in the coronavirus pandemic; it has gone into hyper mode. In a must-watch short documentary on New York Times, reporters identify three dominant themes that China wants to promote to the world: spinning optimism, protecting China’s image, and disputing the origin of the virus:

Spinning optimism and protecting China’s image:

Everyday we are hearing stories of Chinese medical goods and medical teams reaching other countries to provide assistance in fighting the virus. This is certainly laudable, but one must not forget the context of these stories that are glowingly reported by Chinese news sources and officials on Twitter. This is part of the government spin to turn the Chinese government from the creator of the problem to the Good Samaritan. It is akin to setting someone’s house on fire and then sending in the fire trucks. One can acknowledge that the fire-trucks are helpful, but should one forget who started the fire?

The source of the COVID-19:

Despite China’s massive attempts at shifting the virus origins outside China, the overwhelming evidence points to Wuhan as the epicenter of the pandemic.  If there is one video to watch to understand how this virus came into being, then it is this from Vox.

Everyone remembers SARS from 2003, a zoonoses – human infection of animal origin. What most people didn’t know is how SARS came into being. Historically, small farmers in China ate wildlife that they caught on the farms. However, after China designated wildlife as a “natural resource” in the late 1980s, it led to its mass-scale industrialization, worth billions. As it is, China has a poor record in food supply chain controls, and by allowing this unprecedented commercialization of wildlife, it opened the doors for exotic viruses to find their way into humans.

With the breeding industrialization, wildlife markets were established and wildlife started flooding regular wet markets (where meat, fish, and produce is sold) leading to its mixing with staple animals under atrocious conditions. This allowed viruses to move from one animal species to another, eventually leading to the SARS outbreak. The SARS virus was traced to a wet market in Foshan, Guangdong province, most likely passed from masked palm civets and/or bats to humans. This is a wildlife regulation problem.

While China shut down the markets immediately after SARS, it decided to reopen them in a short time. Greed trumped humanity. It was only a matter of time that some new virus would jump species and find its way into humans. And that is exactly what happened. A study found that the novel coronavirus now known as COVID-19 that has been found in patients infected in the outbreak that began in Wuhan, China, is almost totally identical to one that infects bats.

Racism towards people of Chinese heritage

It is important to keep in mind that ordinary Chinese people have faced the brunt of the initial virus outbreak. Their frustrations and anger was captured in tweets by New York Times correspondent Amy Qin from Wuhan. There is no excuse and basis for discriminating against the people of China. They are very much part of the common humanity with the rest of the world who are suffering due to the grave and criminal blunders of the Chinese government. It is important to acknowledge that some individuals are promoting racist tropes against the Chinese, and this must be opposed, while not allowing the Chinese government to get away with a cover-up.

Some of the racist tropes making rounds online are about food choices in China. What Chinese people eat is their choice. People all over the world eat all types of animals. Some folks may find the consumption of camel, kangaroo, and desert lizard disgusting, even while Muslim diet permits all three. We may not like what others eat, but we are not in a position to dictate those choices. What we can emphasize though universally is that the meat industry must provide sanitary conditions to animals, and their slaughter should also be conducted in a humane way. For example, cooking animals alive or clubbing them to death are practices that can be universally condemned, but what cannot be allowed is to engage in racist tropes about what people eat.

One must also note that while the Chinese do have a wider spectrum of animals they will eat, “the majority of the people in China do not eat wildlife animals”. As Peter Li points out in the VOX video, “those people who consume these wildlife animals are the rich and the powerful –a small minority.” 

The cover-up is harmful

Coronavirus has brought the world to its knees. People have lost their lives and livelihoods. Poor countries are even at greater risk of being completely devastated if the virus takes hold, as it did in Wuhan or Italy. 

And it could have been prevented.

A University of Southampton study found that “if interventions in the country [by Beijing] could have been conducted one week, two weeks, or three weeks earlier, cases could have been reduced by 66 percent, 86 percent and 95 percent respectively – significantly limiting the geographical spread of the disease”.

Instead of focusing on controlling the disease, the Chinese government was focused on PR. Instead of managing the disease, President Xi was busy managing WHO’s response, which parroted Chinese government propaganda that “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus.”

So China not only allowed conditions for the rise of the deadly virus, its actions led to a far more severe outbreak than a transparent and controlled prevention program would have allowed. It co-opted the WHO into its propaganda and we must call China out for its actions.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater

Despite the clear evidence of China’s role in both the rise and spread of the virus, there is a severe pushback (some from Chinese propaganda and some from “woke” channels) against calling China out on the pandemic. While calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” is very problematic, it is also not helpful to absolve China of its attempted cover-up and then get out of hand.

Concern for ordinary Chinese people is sincerely intentioned. However, holding China accountable is not racism. The world gave China the benefit of doubt on SARS, but the fact that something similar happened again is inexcusable. China has been getting away with abuse within its boundaries, and if it gets away with the coronavirus cover-up, who knows what other abuses and viruses the world will see in the years to come.    

Holding China accountable means that it should not business as usual after this is all over, as Shadi Hamid rightfully points out in an excellent succinct essay, published in The Atlantic.

It means that the abuse of Uighur Muslims must stop. Those in US, here is a call you can make to help close the camps

It means that wildlife industrial operations must be stopped permanently.

It means that China must compensate the world for wreaking havoc, especially funding recovery of poor nations with no strings attached 

Finally, and most importantly, it means that China’s propaganda machine must be checked and countered. Major news outlets must directly and explicitly fact-check Chinese propaganda. CCP’s bizarre attempts at raising concerns about racism, while it is in the middle of destroying an entire race, should be exposed for what it is: an attempted cover-up. It shouldn’t get away with it this time.

 (Hena Zuberi contributed to this piece)

The post Propaganda Kills: Holding China Accountable For Its Role In The Coronavirus Pandemic appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

Benefiting From The Majesty Of Divine Will | Thirteen Points In Making The Best Of The Situation

Muslim Matters - 26 March, 2020 - 23:45

In the Name of God most Merciful Most Compassionate

Peace Be Upon Prophet Mohammad, His Family, Companions and Brothers. Ameen

“God will never punish them while they are seeking forgiveness” (al-Anfāl, 8:33)

As we observe imposed isolation or social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus that has disrupted life as we know it, maintaining and elevating our faith becomes both a necessity and a great opportunity. The awakened believer is the one who never excludes the hand of God in everything that happens in the world–good or bad. We ask Allah Almighty to show us kindness and mercy in everything that He decrees for us.

“And We have already sent [messengers] to nations before you, [O Muhammad]; then We seized them with poverty and hardship that perhaps they might humble themselves [to Us]. (42) Then why, when Our punishment came to them, did they not humble themselves? But their hearts became hardened, and Satan made attractive to them that which they were doing. (43) So when they forgot that by which they had been reminded, We opened to them the doors of every [good] thing until, when they rejoiced in that which they were given, We seized them suddenly, and they were [then] in despair. (44)” (al-An’ām, 6:42-44)

Now is the time of seeking forgiveness and repenting to Allah. Now is the time we seek the counsel of our rich tradition in how to deal with collective and universal calamities and hardship. The awakened believer looks at what Allah brings about in His universe with a Divine Light and resists the calls of ignorance and heedlessness in any form they appear.

From the pure well of Prophetic guidance we draw thirteen beautiful, practical, and spiritual counsels:

The pandemic that is frightening everyone is the creation of Allah released by His Power for reasons He only knows. Losing sight of this basic fact is a sign of the blindness of our inner eyes. And your Lord creates what He wills and chooses; not for them was the choice. Exalted is Allah and high above what they associate with Him. (Al-Qaṣaṣ, 28:68)

1. When the Masjids are closed and Jumu’ah is suspended and the Honored Ka’bah and the Prophetic Mosque are emptied and there is rampant panic, the guided believer rushes to Istighfār. Let’s repeat and teach our children and households one of these Prophetic expressions of seeking forgiveness:

                 Astaghfirullāh wa Atūbu ilayhi, at least 100 times a day. (Muslim)

أَسْتَغفِرُ اللهَ وَ أَتُوبُ إِلَيْهِ

or

               Rabbī Ighfir Lī wa Tub ‘alayya Innaka Anta Attawābu ArRahīm, at least 100 times a  day. ( Al-Tirmidhī, Abū Dāwūd, Ibn Mājah)

رَبِّ اغْفِرْ لِي، وَتُبْ عَلَيَّ، إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ التَّوَّابُ الرحيم 

The Best time for Istighfār is before Fajr.

Let’s be among those who seek the forgiveness before dawn that God praised in the Qur’ān:

“Those who say, “Our Lord, indeed we have believed, so forgive us our sins and protect us from the punishment of the Fire,” the patient, the true, the obedient, those who spend [in the way of Allah], and those who seek forgiveness before dawn.” (Āl-‘Imrān, 3:17)

2. Pray two Rak’āt of repentance often throughout the day.

3. Make our living spaces spiritual abodes by designating a place in the house as a Muṣallā. This is a forgotten Sunnah that the companions of the Prophet, God bless him and grant him peace, established. Let’s revive this Sunnah in our homes.

4. Perform prayers at the beginning of the time in congregation with an Adhān and Iqāma (assign our children to do so). If we can’t pray together while we are all quarantined in our houses then we surely have a bigger problem than coronavirus.

5. Stay after the prayers in your place and make Du’ā’ and Istighfār.

6. Don’t miss any Sunnah prayers before or after the obligatory prayers.

  • Make it a habit to pray Ḍuḥā prayer after sunrise or by midmorning as 2, 4, 6, or 8 Raka’āt.
  • The Prophet, God bless him and grant him peace, used to say that the prayer of Ḍuḥā is the prayer of the Awwābīn (repenters). (Muslim, Ibn Abī Shaybah, al-Ḥākim, Ibn Khuzaymah).
  • 4 Raka’at before Dhụhr and 2 after. 2 Raka’āt before Aṣr. 2 Before Maghrib and 6 after. 2 before Ishā’ and 4 after.
  • Make your Witr a Prophetic Witr: 11 Raka’āt before Fajr. If you can’t wake up, then pray it after Ishā’.

7. Read the Qur’ān every day even if just for 15 minutes.

8. Constant Dhikr and remembrance of Allah Ta’ālā with all kind of expressions while giving precedence to the expression of Tawḥīd لا إله إلا الله   since it is the best expression of Dhikr as the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said. (Al-Tirmidhī)

9. Be a good subordinate and adhere to your community’s collective decisions and experts regarding gatherings, Jamā’ah prayers, Jumu’ah, social distancing, and cleanliness. Our recalcitrance and selfishness sometimes appears in a religious form. At times of hardship going against the consensus is spiritually damaging even when we realize that we might be partially right. Not all debates have to be won.

من أطاع الأمير فقد أطاعني 

“Whoever obeys the leader has indeed obeyed me.” (Muslim, al-Bukhārī)

10. The best among us are those who are the best to their spouses. Spending more time with each other should add to our compassion and respect for each other. Let us understand that   everyone going through this situation is experiencing a level of anxiety that might affect their normal behavior. Many of us are not used to staying at home for such a long period. Let this be an opportunity to connect with each other and strengthen the bonds of the family. Let’s Fear The Thieves !! (See point 12.)

11. Attend at least one of the online events that your community is offering even if you know everything that is known about the religion. Showing the sentiments of solidarity by attending these events encourages those who spend time preparing and sacrificing their time to continue their Da’wah work that is necessary for the community.

12. Fear the thieves for yourselves and your loved ones: None of the suggestions above will bear any fruit in advancing our cause with Allah and in bringing us towards a genuine reconciliation with ourselves if we spend all day with WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Netflix and such. In the digital wasteland and on our phones or glued to the TV all day, sharing and re-sharing nonsense makes us lost, nonsensical and trivial people. The last thing we want to find ourselves doing is spreading forgetfulness and heedlessness under the guise of spreading useful information.

Let’s not readily and voluntarily enlist as the agents of Shaytan at the time we have to be servants of God. Think before you send anything shared with you because you will be asked about it. One post a day is too much for those who are busy with all the obligations we all have. By now, everything that needs to be known about the epidemic has probably reached all corners of the globe. Let’s be wary of succumbing to the appeals of our lower selves or nafs and finding ourselves losing this great opportunity with Allah. The same advice goes for our children as it is a great opportunity for them to be creative in how they constructively spend their leisure time.

13. Give in charity, no matter how small, to your local and national Muslim organizations who might be going through difficulty meeting the needs of those who have lost their wages due to the freezing of the economy. This is both a pandemic and an economic crisis and sadaqa is our spiritual remedy to financial matters.

The post Benefiting From The Majesty Of Divine Will | Thirteen Points In Making The Best Of The Situation appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

A soft lockdown

Indigo Jo Blogs - 24 March, 2020 - 23:49
An almost empty shopping street with a mostly red-brick pavement. A Foot Locker shop is prominent near the foreground, with a Russell & Bromley shoe shop behind it.Clarence Street, Kingston, 4pm Monday (23rd March)

So, last night Boris Johnson went on national TV (programmes were interrupted or rescheduled on at least two channels) and announced that the British public was being ‘instructed’ to stay at home other than for buying groceries, seeing to medical needs, caring responsibilities and for a bit of exercise, and that all shops other than those selling food and pharmaceuticals (in particular, clothing and electronics) have to close. This followed an outrage on social media at the spectacle of large numbers of people thronging parks such as Richmond Park in London, eating and drinking ‘takeaway’ food at picnic tables or just outside a cafe, and heading out to holiday homes and beauty spots in Wales and to the coast, following Johnson’s decision to order pubs and clubs to close and cafes and restaurants to stop allowing people to eat in last Friday and to encourage people to stay at home if possible. On Monday morning, with the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, having demanded that people stay off the roads unless they are “key workers”, and having reduced bus and Tube services, images circulated on social media of packed Tubes and the traffic news reporter on BBC London proclaimed that the roads were busy and “they can’t all be key workers”.

I have the impression that this decision was as much a reaction to the social media clamour over those scenes than to the facts. It was only last Friday, after all, that most of the schools finally closed (after mounting public calls) to other than children whose parents are deemed “key workers”. I was in Kingston town centre yesterday (Monday) afternoon and the place was almost deserted. All but a handful of shops in the Bentall’s centre were closed: Smith’s, an opticians, Boots and (strangely) a couple of jewellers were still open, but the department store, the Apple Store and all the food outlets had shut. Outside, most of the shops were also closed and those that were not were going to be closed from today anyway, often in response to staff protests about having to deal with bosses and customers who were oblivious to their health, especially last Saturday. The crowding on public transport, widely complained of by those forced to endure it as well as by the Twitter mob who had the privilege of being able to work from home, happened because people still have to travel to work because not every job in fact can be done from home.

The definition of “key worker” seems to have expanded somewhat: last week I saw a list that included delivery drivers. Usually, it refers to particular professions which are often underpaid but socially necessary, such as teachers, social workers and nurses — professions that traditionally are often if not usually the domain of women. We hear the phrase in such contexts as “key workers cannot afford to live in St Albans because of the sky-high house prices”. But as people are being encouraged, and now forced, to buy anything except food and medicines online, delivery drivers actually need to work as well. Many bosses have resisted calls to close shops and pay workers for the time they will not be able to work; construction sites have carried on working (Sadiq Khan claims he argued for them to be included in the ‘lockdown’, but was overruled). If there is no guarantee of being able to pay the bills without working, people have to work.

The ‘lockdown’ hardly merits the name, anyway. A friend whose daughter has been in a number of secure or locked mental health units wrote on Facebook that her daughter told her, “a lockdown is when they lock all your doors and won’t even let you into the garden, like they do in all places [I’ve] been”. The term originates in prisons, to my knowledge. This does not approach the degree of restriction that people in Italy or Spain have to put up with, where people can only go out alone for groceries or medicine, or to walk their dog (but not take their children for a walk), or to do a protected job (which they have to be able to prove); they are not even allowed to use shared areas of housing blocks. A curious omission from the Monday announcement, and from the media coverage of it, is any reference to the legal basis for the demands: what Act of Parliament or court order justifies it? Last I heard, a speech by the prime minister does not constitute a change in the law. In Kingston today, where I cycled (alone) to get some groceries, there were no police to be seen and only one shop had a queue, although a picture taken in St John’s Wood showed a queue outside a food shop with police alongside them “scrutinising people’s behaviours” from the safety of a van. (This echoes the fears that friends have expressed, that policing of the lockdown will target minorities and ignore the white suburbs, like Kingston.) I found no cafes open, but despite Johnson’s demand that electronics and clothes shops close, a branch of M&S, which has a food hall but the other five sixths of its floor space is taken up by clothing, was open, including the clothing sections. I did not visit Sainsbury’s or Tesco, which sell electronics as well. (John Lewis, which sells clothing and electronics, was closed but Waitrose, the food division, was open.)

Despite the threat of tougher actions if the terms of the ‘lockdown’ are not adhered to, I do not expect Johnson to make good on his claims. It would require the government to guarantee people’s social security — their homes and access to food — while they are unable to work, and it is simply not in his or his party’s ideological DNA to do so. Like Donald Trump, they have been far more concerned to keep the economy going and to ensure that as many people as possible have jobs to go back to after the outbreak is over. With all the talk of the government doing “whatever it takes” to protect businesses and jobs, they have not spelled out where the money for any of this will come from; indeed, businesses have been given a “VAT holiday” and the tightening up of the rules on who can be considered self-employed (which also closes a tax loophole) has been delayed for a year. For what I suspect is the same reason, they have not tested anyone who shows no symptoms of the virus nor traced the contacts of those who tested positive (of the few who were tested, which has only been done in hospital, never in the community). They have also taken over the franchised railway services in order to protect the franchisees, a move some have interpreted as re-nationalising the system but is quite the opposite.

Their intention appears to be to be seen talking about comprehensive measures to help people through the pandemic, but only to do what does not cost money, while blaming the public for the consequences. There is no effective response to this crisis that will not cost money and is compatible with the low-tax, laissez-faire libertarian ideology which has been dominant in this country for the past four decades, much less with the disdain for expert authority that has been cultivated by the British popular press for about the same time. When people are conditioned to believe that “evidence they don’t like is a myth invented by the metropolitan elite”, it should come as no surprise that when the government suddenly appeals to expert opinion to try to persuade the public to change their behaviour.

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Coronavirus: Muslim ‘Ulama – A Failure of Leadership

Inayat's Corner - 22 March, 2020 - 10:56

Just a few days ago, I lamented how slow some Muslim “scholars” were in recognising the danger posed by the coronavirus and questioned why many of them had not yet called for the suspension of congregational prayers in our mosques. After all, last Monday (March 16th 2020) the government – following advice from our leading scientists – had updated their guidelines to make clear that we should now “avoid all unnecessary contact” and called on people to stop going to places where people congregate including pubs and restaurants and cafes. It was naturally obvious to all human beings with active brain cells that this “unnecessary contact” must also include all forms of communal worship. Hence, the Muslim Council of Britain, the Anglican Church and the United Synagogue (the largest Orthodox Jewish grouping) all very sensibly issued a call for an immediate suspension of communal prayers at their respective religious places of worship.

Sadly, this was not taken up by many Muslim religious “scholars”. Some associated with the Dar al-Ulums (ironically “Houses of Knowledge” in Arabic) in Blackburn and Bury advocated that mosques should remain open for congregational prayer “until and unless the government places a total restriction on religious places.” Yusuf Shabbir who runs the Islamic Portal website associated with the above two institutions wrote an article entitled “How can Coronavirus be stopped?”. His answer was not to say that we should immediately adopt strict social distancing measures and avoid all unnecessary contact as our scientists had advised. In a 10-point plan he said the answer was to perform the five daily prayers, fast, pay zakat etc.

Over at Islam21c.com, Haitham al-Haddad issued a fatwa on Friday 20th March 2020 saying the following:

I have stated on many occasions that I categorically disagree with the full closure of mosques (when there is an alternative such as reducing congregations), the reason being that no one has the right whatsoever to control the Houses of Allah. He assigned them for Himself. One of the scholars of the second generation (tābi’īn), Amr Ibn Maymūn al-Awdi said: ‘I found the companions of the Prophet ﷺ saying: The mosques are the houses of Allāh on the earth and it is a duty on Allāh to honour those who visit them’.

In the days following the MCB’s statement last Monday, many mosques to their credit announced that they would not be holding the congregational Friday prayers on their premises and said they were suspending all daily congregational prayers until further notice. Their actions have undoubtedly contributed to reducing the numbers of people that will be affected by the coronavirus.

However, many other mosques decided to continue holding daily congregational prayers and to go ahead and hold the mass Friday prayers. A video has been circulated online showing a large queue of people waiting to go inside Masjid Umar in Leicester (where many mosques remained open for congregational prayers) for Jumu’ah just two days ago, for example.

This represents a colossal failure of leadership and a failure to understand the most basic teachings of Islam and the sanctity of human life. People like Yusuf Shabbir and Haitham al-Haddad simply do not deserve the title of religious scholars. They are not. They are actually a menace to other human beings – as stupid people often are.

Just last month, a Tablighi Jamaat mass gathering in Malaysia facilitated a massive outbreak of coronavirus which the country is now desperately trying to contain and which doctors believe has now spread to other neighbouring countries. Two-thirds of Malaysian CV cases have now been traced back to that religious gathering.

This is because CV is often asymptomatic. You may look to be perfectly healthy but you can still be a carrier of the virus and pass it on to others. This is why the government and scientists have been so strongly urging us to avoid all unnecessary contact with others.

Earlier today, some of the religious scholars associated with the institutions I have named above issued a new announcement in which they now grudgingly appear to accept that their congregation should now pray at home though they say the mosques should still remain open for “a limited group (four or five) of appropriately selected individuals” to continue to perform the congregational prayers. How they intend to ensure that these individuals will not be or become carriers of coronavirus is not made clear.

In the coming days many of us in the UK will lose our loved ones – especially the elderly and those with weakened immune systems – to this virus. It is regrettable though not unsurprising given their past performance in previous years that many of our religious “scholars” failed this crucial test of leadership regarding protecting human lives. If this tragic episode encourages UK Muslims to become more prepared to question, criticise and challenge the views of people like Yusuf Shabbir and Haitham al-Haddad and other religious leaders who advocate stupidity then that will at least be one positive outcome from this terrible crisis.

May God grant us all knowledge and the ability to utilise it for the greater good of others. Ameen.

Coronavirus: panic buying and the dangers to disabled people

Indigo Jo Blogs - 20 March, 2020 - 22:43

The medication review I talked about in my previous post happened today. The surgery texted me at 8am to tell me they would be carrying it out over the phone rather than face-to-face. This was after I had turned down paid work yesterday evening so that I could make it to this appointment, something I mentioned to the doctor who told me that they had only decided to carry out the consultation over the phone this morning because “things are changing every day”. I could see when I booked the appointment that the situation would escalate considerably by the end of this week, so I’m surprised it took this long to implement that policy.

A group of people sit on benches in front of a glass lift outside a McDonald's restaurant, where seats are on top of tables. Some of the people are eating food from McDonald's. A flight of steps down to the basement is visible in the foreground and an escalator up from the ground floor is visible in the background. Directly above the McDonald's is an optician's shop.A group of people sit outside a McDonald’s in the Bentalls centre, Kingston, some of them eating.

Britain so far has no formal ‘lockdown’ policy of the sort which has been imposed in Italy, Spain and France. However, gradually, companies that serve the public are changing the way they operate: even before the government’s announcement tonight (closing pubs and all other leisure facilities and restricting restaurants to takeaways and deliveries only), some chain cafes and restaurants have switched to takeaway only, to not accepting cash, to not accepting reusable cups (which they have previously encouraged with discounts). Both Starbucks and Costa will serve you coffee in one of their disposable cups and still give you the discount if you present a reusable cup. I walked past a Caffe Nero in Kingston this afternoon and there were still people eating and drinking at the tables outside (and probably inside), making no attempt at the social distancing we are all being encouraged to practise. McDonald’s was one of the first to ban in-house dining, but at the branch in the Bentalls centre in Kingston this week, people were still sitting in the indoor mall just outside McDonald’s eating the food they had brought there.

There is increasing social pressure to stay at home: even Boris Johnson at his daily press conference this evening had slogans on each of the three podiums, “stay at home”, “save the NHS”, “save lives”. I am seeing a lot of appeals on social media to stay at home because going out spreads the virus. Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, posted an appeal on Twitter not to even go to work unless your job is ‘critical’. However, it’s difficult to minimise your time away from home when it’s so difficult to find basics in any supermarket. Some open 24 hours, others from first thing until 11pm, and the things everyone wants are gone within a couple of hours. It’s nearly impossible to find bread, butter, eggs, common vegetables (luxury vegetables like olives are still plentiful) and, worst of all, soap. Yesterday I must have visited 11 or 12 shops, big and small, supermarkets and pharmacies, in this area and did not find much of what I needed. This took me five hours which I had wanted to spend at home, ironing or writing this. For all the talk of the virus being a big win for the planet, with pollution levels down and dolphins appearing in the seas off Italy for the first time in ages, this situation is benefiting neither public health nor the environment.

The lack of availability of soap is the biggest scandal here: soap kills the coronavirus, it’s essential to protecting ourselves from it, yet shops seem to be ordering no more of it than they usually do. There is a mixture of panic buying, hoarding and simple increased use at play here; people will have started washing their hands at times they previously would not have, or would not have used soap (e.g. before they eat, rather than just after they use the toilet). I visited three branches of Boots in the Kingston area today and not one had any and far from having a large supply of it on a stand prominently signed “SOAP”, they had about three shelves for the stuff which was at the back of the store, past all the hair and holiday products and luxury skincare items. Shops all have these signs asking customers “think before you buy!” but a policy of only selling any customer three units of any high-demand item means it will run out very quickly. Some places still have sanitiser, but I don’t like using the stuff; I want something I can wash off, and in any case, anti-bacterials are useless against viruses and produce resistant bacteria.

Quite a number of my friends have children and other relatives who have learning disabilities, particularly in combination with autism. Many of them have fought long and hard to get them home to them or into places where they can live in the community. Yet the things that they enjoyed doing are now being made impossible and unlike the rest of us, they may not understand why; for example, going to the pub with family members or carers for a drink. Others are finding that carers are resigning or self-isolating. Some care homes both here and elsewhere have imposed lockdowns and barred residents from seeing their families either at the home or elsewhere. The government’s new Coronavirus Bill which they intend to pass into law very quickly contains ‘temporary’ amendments to the Mental Health Act which makes it easier to section (detain) someone (though some of the existing ‘safeguards’ are often worthless, as with the two doctors who in practice almost never disagree) and suspends local authority duties under the Care Act to provide care for disabled adults. The latter has serious ramifications for those with physical impairments, of course, but to deprive a person with a learning disability of social care when it could lead to difficult behaviour stemming from the confusion and sudden change in routine puts them in serious danger of ending up in an ATU (assessment and treatment unit) or other mental health setting, which as experience shows, need not be anywhere near home or easily accessible.

The government has a huge majority and the bill is expected to go through on the nod. I accept the need to stem the transmission of this virus; thousands have died in countries where it has taken hold. But people have died worse deaths in ATUs than from COVID-19 and there are other categories of ‘vulnerable’ people besides the elderly and medically fragile.

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