Haji Nsereko Mutumba
It is now a week since Uganda registered its first Coronavirus case.
This happened hours after President Museveni directed that all education institutions be closed and urged all Ugandans to guard against the killer virus.
The announcement that a Ugandan male aged 36 had tested positive for Coronavirus was bad news by all standards, but it was also a wake up call to Ugandans that COVID19 is for real.
The numbers from China, Italy, U.S, France among others show that much as it can be managed, COVID19 is fetal, it spreads like wildfire and no-one once exposed, is immune.
Our only immunity is to follow the guidelines given to us by the government of Uganda and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
At Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC) Headquarters Old Kampala, we did not only implement the presidential directive of halting congregational prayers; we are also practicing social distancing.
Most members of UMSC staff are working from home, apart from the Office of The Mufti, office of the Secretary General, Finance Office, Office of the PRO and the Security desk.
The Muslims of Uganda are coping well with the preventive measures against COVID19 because most of the measures are part of their daily routine.
Cleanness is a requirement in Islam, and one of the practices that ensures this, is ablution – washing hands and the face five times a day and using water and soap after every visit to the toilet.
Social distancing is an Islamic practice that has been around for over 1400 years.
In Islam, social distancing in done through the Islamic dress code which leaves no or a very small room for body to body contact.
Muslim women who wear the Niqab (full-face covering) for example are less likely to be infected by viruses like COVID19 because of their protective dress code.
In another social distancing practice, Muslims are discouraged from greeting by shaking hands or touching unhygienic surfaces as measures of keeping their ablution – maintaining physical and spiritual cleanness.
Social distancing is also practiced in Islam when muslims, especially members of the opposite sex who are not married or close relatives are required to leave a physical distance between them when seating, praying, working, walking etc.
The Islamic University in Uganda is the best example in implementing this kind of social distancing.
Prophet Muhammad PBUH encouraged self quarantine saying that, one who patiently stays at home during times of plagues will receive the reward of a martyr even if he/she dies or not.
By staying at home, you are a martyr because you are protecting yourself from the risk of infection and eventually saving your life and the lives of those around you.
By staying at home, you are a martyr because if you are infected, the virus will not spread beyond your home, thereby saving the lives of many.
I therefore urge my fellow Muslims in particular to heed to the President’s directives by staying at home and taking all the necessary precautionary measures.
For an pandemic like COVID-19 which has no vaccine and no cure, prevention is our only option and for now, the best prevention measure is staying at home.
The writer is the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council Spokesperson. He can be reached on 0772409504.