The COVID-19 pandemic shows no signs of abating as the virus continues to mutate rapidly and has inflicted unprecedented damage on the world economy. It has caused almost everything to come to a standstill—as borders closed, hugs are discouraged, and families displaced. Grandparents cannot see their newborn grandchildren, and countless businesses have already shuttered for good.
Thankfully, the Singaporean response to the pandemic has been decisive and effective. While Singapore is one of the first countries to have confirmed cases of the disease, the numbers have remained relatively low in terms of positive cases and an even lower death toll. The three phases introduced by the government and the Trace Together app have been instrumental in keeping the tiny country safe from a disease that was quickly devastating even bigger nations.
As Singapore attempts to return to normal, the constant threat of the virus is still present, particularly given its more virulent variants. However, this doesn’t mean that life has to go back to being in a bubble. With the right precautions in place, Singaporean Muslims can continue to practice their faith and live life as normally as possible, given today’s restrictions and circumstances.
Here are some tips so Singaporean Muslims can stay safe throughout the pandemic:
1. Vaccinate — Vaccination is very important as it boosts your immunity and contributes to herd immunity. Achieving herd immunity is key to vastly reducing the transmission rate of COVID-19. Singapore uses Pfizer and Moderna, two brands that are among the safest and best choices in the market today. Yet despite their popularity, many are still questioning the vaccines’ efficacy and safety. For many Singaporean Muslims, the concern is more practical: are the vaccines halal? Thankfully, both vaccines have been declared halal as there is absolutely no pork in the vaccines, making them safe for Muslims worldwide.
2. Practice safety protocols —The World Health Organization and the Singaporean government have been releasing safety best practices since the pandemic started. The protocols may have varied slightly depending on which phase the country is currently in, but its basics remain the same: Practice social distancing, avoid social gatherings or spending time with people outside of your household, and wear suitable masks. Avoid going out if it is not important. Wash your hands properly and use alcohol-based hand sanitizers as necessary.
The use of alcohol is controversial as some would contest that it is prohibited in Islam. However, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, also known as Majilis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS), issued an irsyad on managing the highly contagious disease. Drawing from Singapore’s experience with SARS in 2003, the irsyad decrees that alcoholic substances used in medical treatments—such as alcohol in sanitizers—are not prohibited by Islam.
3. Follow the health protocols as mandated by the mosque — It is good news that mosques are open in Singapore at this very critical time. While many traditional Muslim holidays are expected to be practiced distantly, at least the Friday prayers and other services are available to the congregation.
MUIS also released a fatwa that is heavily influenced by the SARS outbreak. According to the fatwa, unwell congregants are not required to come into the mosque and are encouraged to stay at home. They are excused from joining the congregational and Friday prayers if they are ill, as Islam excuses them from doing so. As the virus could survive on surfaces if these are not properly sanitized and disinfected, the fatwa encourages congregants to bring their own personal clean prayer mats and for females to bring their own prayer clothing. Lastly, the fatwa discourages the shaking of hands. Singaporean Muslims are instead encouraged to hold their hands close to their chests as a sign of respect, instead of shaking hands. All of these are precedented with the religious guidance released during the SARS outbreak and are all in accordance with the teachings of Islam.
4. Embrace technology — The role of technology cannot be understated, as the Trace Together app has been instrumental in contact tracing efforts and identifying all cases before they can spread. At a time when physical distancing is practiced, you should also harness technology to make things easier for you. Many apps deliver food, fresh produce, or groceries to your doorsteps. Then, there are apps like Muslim Pro, which allow you to practice your faith without being encumbered by the restrictions. The Muslim Pro App can give you accurate prayer times, allow you to listen to the Quran, help you find halal restaurants, and show you which mosques are open. It is the ultimate app that every Singaporean Muslim must have, as it contains everything you would need to practice your faith safely. There are also fasting and prayer trackers, as well as a helpful Qibla compass and daily Duas.
Hopefully, with these tips, Singaporean Muslims will stay safe throughout the pandemic as they continue to practice their faith and perform their day-to-day activities.
Do follow the prevailing laws and the necessary safe distancing rules set by the authorities.
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