This is a personal message from Abdool Kadir of the Islamic Society of Great Britain with suggestions for action individually and as faith groups:
England is now engaged in a health war against an invisible enemy. We are entering unprecedented times, not seen since its over 5.000 official deaths. In such times of crisis, our faith traditions insist on spiritual calmness and inner serenity, always mindful that we must take the necessary precautions to protect ourselves and our loved ones in accordance with and beyond government directives. Our faith traditions also insist that we show utmost concern for all vulnerable people in our family network, in our faith communities and in our local networks and neighbourhoods.
We should correctly be fearful, but not be overcome with overwhelming terror and despair. With their centuries-long histories, all major faith traditions have extensive experience of past epidemics. Faith can be a sustaining force in this time of need, in this time of isolation. We commend to all British, especially those in partial or complete lockdown, to seek solace in
(i) participating in live-streamed acts of worship,
(ii) meditating and praying in the silence of their houses and apartments,
(iii) praying before domestic altars, statues and sacred images,
(iv) reading and reflecting on passages from the Holy Scriptures of one’s spiritual tradition and
(v) doing spiritual reading.
In this way, we can all adjust to aloneness and loneliness. And reflect on life and its meaning. The Covid-19 crisis reminds us all of the fragility and precariousness of life.
At this time, We pray for those who have already died and for their loved ones, and for all those who are ill from the virus as well as those are fearful in the face of the threat of illness and death.
We pray for the doctors, nurses and other health workers caring for the sick and perhaps risking their lives, and for the medical scientists working speedily for solutions.
We pray for the health care and emergency services chaplains and their support volunteers We fear for those who are living alone, especially if they are widowed, and for international students and all others on temporary visas – may they receive the necessary emotional and pastoral support in these times of trial. We are concerned for those living in regional and remote areas to whom we must reach out.
But more may be needed, not least in multicultural communities who may not have the necessary financial reserves to cope and survive.
We ask the faith-based welfare organisations to collaborate in mobilising their resources quickly and efficiently to meet the difficulties to be faced by families and individuals, particularly the homeless.
Lastly, we pray for national connectedness and teamwork in addressing the crisis and call upon all faith communities with their on-the-ground spiritual, pastoral and welfare resources in every British local, suburban and rural, community to respond quickly and appropriately. We pray.
Islamic Society of Britain South Yorkshire Branch