The COVID-19 pandemic is putting much strain on people’s mental health. And, as countries launch mass testing, more and more cases will be identified, which is a good thing so necessary actions can be taken. However, given the stigma, the pressure is even more for those who test positive.
Here are some reminders based on the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) on how to support community members–and their families–who are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.
Speak good or keep silent
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “He who believes in Allah and the Last Day must either speak good or remain silent.” [Muslim]
When a neighbor or relative is visited by health officials for testing or confinement, there’s a tendency for some of us to rush into talking with them or their families to know what exactly is happening. While concern for their welfare may be driving us to do this, more often than not there is also our own fear and need to know more about the virus that unknowingly comes along with it. It is important to keep ourselves in check to avoid adding unnecessary stress which can happen when we ask too many questions or even when we rush into making them feel that everything is normal or fine. Remember: Some people need time to fully absorb and process the experience.
Leave that which does not concern you
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “Part of a person’s being a good Muslim is leaving alone that which does not concern him.” [Tirmidhi]
While related to the first reminder, this particularly reminds us to respect the decisions made by the patients and their families. Sometimes, especially when we feel close to the patient, we feel entitled to speak our mind or to feel hurt if we were not among those with whom they shared the news. Why didn’t you tell me? Why didn’t you consult your uncle? I don’t understand how everyone seems to know it but us. Why did you choose that hospital? This should not be the case. As long as they communicate with the concerned agencies and take the necessary precautions, that should be enough for us. In fact, our main concern should be that they get through this ordeal successfully. Remember: The news can really come as a shock that they didn’t even have enough time to think of what to do or who else to contact.
Make the quarantine easier for them
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said, “Whoever relieves the hardship of a believer in this world, Allah will relieve his hardship on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever helps ease one in difficulty, Allah will make it easy for him in this world and in the Hereafter.” [Muslim]
This is a perfect time to show our love and support for one another while gaining the pleasure of The Almighty. Imagine if both parents test positive and their children are left at home to observe the quarantine. Similarly, imagine if an adult son had to be taken to the hospital while the elderly parent is left alone at home. While we cannot be there to comfort them during these stressful times given the need for social distancing, there are still many ways to show support. Write them letters while sending some food. Call them up and check on them from time to time. Let them know that you are here for them and that they can contact you if ever they need assistance. The list can go on. We all know how comforting it feels to have someone there for us during our struggles. Let’s pay it forward, shall we?
These are just some of the many reminders on how to be kind, especially during times that test our patience and faith. May we all internalize and actualize them to make things easier for one another, always for the sake of Allah.