SAVING LIVES IS AN ACT OF WORSHIP

One of the most significant lessons we have learned from this pandemic is that we are all in this fight together. Our actions, or lack thereof, have a huge influence not just on ourselves, but also on our families, communities, workplaces, and mankind as a whole.

Despite this reality, the goal of vaccinating everyone against COVID-19 has become extremely difficult, particularly in this digital age when we are witnessing an enormous amount of unsubstantiated health content proliferating on social media. To me, this is really concerning and problematic. While I believe it is reasonable for people to be concerned about their health and to thoroughly research their options, I strongly advise that when listening to and reading about COVID-19 vaccines, it is critical to consider the accuracy of the content — ensure it is from a health organization and/or government source.

What is even more disturbing is that some of this misinformation is being disseminated by individuals with a specific goal, who are using people’s fears and anxieties to propagate conspiracy theories regarding COVID-19 vaccines. As a result, a growing number of individuals are refusing to receive the vaccination. It must be noted that while natural COVID-19 measures such as wearing a mask, sanitizing, social distancing, proper diet, and so on are all effective, vaccines against COVID-19 are our greatest hope of bringing the pandemic to an end. The benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the minor risks of any possible side effects. It is the same as taking paracetamol, antibiotics, or aspirin despite their side effects.

Subsequently, in addition to the plethora of misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines, others contend that requiring the COVID-19 vaccinations violates their human rights. At this juncture, this writer believes that the vaccinated have the right to protect themselves against the unvaccinated. According to one Human Rights principle enshrined in Guyana’s Constitution, Article 40 (1) states, “Every person in Guyana is entitled to the basic right to a happy, creative and productive life, free from hunger, disease, ignorance, and want. That right includes the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, that is to say, the right, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinions, color, creed or sex, but subject to the respect for rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest.” In another Article (25), it states, “Every citizen has a duty to participate in activities designed to improve the environment and protect the health of the nation.” As a result, I believe that while individual rights should be respected, the overall well-being of the general public must take precedence.

In light of the foregoing, we, the Guyana Islamic Forum for Education, Peace, and Religious Solidarity, the Electric Mosque’s Presentation of the Teachings of Islam, in collaboration with the Universal Peace Federation — Guyana, takes this opportunity to urge all of our brothers and sisters in Guyana and elsewhere to take the COVID-19 vaccinations. We fervently request that people who have not yet been immunized be vaccinated in order to achieve what is known as “herd immunity.” Herd immunity occurs when a significant amount of the population is vaccinated, resulting in too few people available to act as hosts and, as a result, the virus’s transmission stops. One of the most significant aspects of herd immunity is that it protects not just those who get immunization, but also those who are not vaccinated for whatever reason. As Almighty Allah says in the Holy Quran, “… if anyone saves a human life, it shall be as though he had saved all mankind” (5:32). With this in mind, let us look beyond ourselves and consider what is best for mankind as a whole. In the perspective of Almighty God, such a tiny gesture is equivalent to saving all of humanity. Just imagine!

Furthermore, we support the views of His Excellency Dr. Irfaan Ali, the government of Guyana, President Macron, and other nations calling for the implementation of the COVID-19 “passport.” We are all in favor of vaccinating all individuals who are eligible to be vaccinated, or of requiring vaccination passports to enter any social gatherings, such as schools, places of worship, restaurants, and business entities. Those who do not wish to cooperate may remain at home since they cannot endanger those who do. Additionally, to safeguard the vaccinated, the unvaccinated should give a PCR test result demonstrating that they are COVID-19 negative once every 14 days, or whenever necessary.

In Islam, taking care of one’s health is a religious duty. And, even more Divine is the one whose actions save the lives of others. Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him) has also taught us that, “In their mutual love, compassion and sympathy for one another, believers are like one body: when one part of it suffers a complaint, all other parts join in, sharing in the sleeplessness and fever” Al-Bukhari and Muslim. In a nutshell, we are all in this together. We are one body! COVID-19 is not just about our individual selves and our own bodies; in fact, none of us are safe until all of us are safe. In other Holy Scriptures, the Bible teaches, “Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.” Isaiah 58:10. Humanity, my dear brothers and sisters, is in trouble. Humanity is in a state of catastrophe. Humanity is in peril. Individually, let us all do what we can to help stop this pandemic, so that our collective acts may help preserve mankind. As such, we implore you to get COVID-19 vaccinated.

Sincerely,

Hajji Dr. Roshan Khan Snr.