Fighting the Sniffles this Winter

By Sidra Abbas

Runny noses, hoarse coughs, pounding headaches and unstoppable sneezes, do these sound familiar? Either you or someone around you has been victimized by these symptoms to some degree. Large, overcrowded Islamic gatherings at the various Islamic centres and even homes, typically those during the first days of Moharram, have become the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and infection to spread.

It takes only one ill azadar to spread their sickness to everyone around them. Then it’s like a chain reaction. When one person in the crowd is coughing or sneezing, a week later ten others will be experiencing the same dreadful symptoms! This is why you will see many azadars with the flu or cold all around the same time.

So why not safeguard from these illnesses and get the most out of Moharram? Let’s beat the sniffles this year by adhering to some simple, effective health tips.  As obvious as these tips might seem, they can prevent you from being sick if practiced diligently!

1) Maintain your distance! Be especially conscious of children, as they may not have learned to cover their mouths upon coughing and God knows where their hands have been! However don’t take this to the extreme, we don’t want our brothers and sisters to feel neglected.

Imam al Sadiq (peace be upon him) teaches us the etiquette of visiting the sick. He says: “Whosoever visits a sick person, 70,000 angels escort him while they seek for forgiveness for him, until he returns back to his house.1

2) Wash your hands! Soap, and rinse with warm water for 15 seconds. This is the secret of every healthcare professional. Health Canada advises that this should be practiced after coughing, sneezing or using a tissue, before and after eating, and after using the bathroom. Under special circumstances, momineen are advised to wash their hands upon entering and leaving an Islamic gathering. For best results and rewards, combine hand washing with wudhu. Rinse your hands in warm water, add soap, lather, rinse and begin the rewarding process of cleansing your soul and helping out your immune system.

3) Drink plenty of fluids! Avoid dairy products. Water and low sugar fruit juices will help keep your body hydrated and fight the infection. As for dairy, this pertains to milk, yogurt, cheese, and even traditional dishes such as “kheer” (rice pudding) as they are mucous producing factors and can potentially make you feel even more congested.

4) If your mind gives up, so will your body. Have a positive attitude as this will definitely boost your immune response to the infection. Studies have proven that merely having the belief that you will feel better influences your likelihood of actually getting better. Heard of the placebo effect? It is simple enough, assert something in your mind and your body will readily comply. Believe that you will get better and you will.

The Holy Prophet (saw) has said: “Four things are from among the treasures of Paradise: to hide one’s need; to give sadaqah secretly, to hide one’s calamity, and to hide one’s pain.2 He teaches us not to be extravagant about our pain.

And if all fails, it ain’t so bad being sick. In fact, Imam al-Ridha (peace be upon him) has said: “Sickness is purification and mercy for the believer and a punishment and curse for the disbeliever.3 Stuffy noses and sore throats pay off after all.

If you are having a hard time finding relief from headaches and every tablet you take is having no influence on you, take it as a sign and stop trying! Imam al-Sadiq (peace be upon him) is reported to have said “A night’s headache removes all of one’s sins, save the major one’s.4 The longer the headache, the more beneficial is it to your soul!

It is amazing to witness that sickness does not destroy the spirit of strong-willed azadars of Imam Hussain (peace be upon him), who despite being sick continue to attend majalis and pay their homage to the Imam (peace be upon him). After all, a little spiritual upliftment is worth all the pain in the world.

1. Mīzān al-Hikmah, v. 4, pg. 2888
2. Bihār al-Anwār, v. 81, pg. 208
3. Ibid
4. Bihār al-Anwār ,v. 81, pg. 200

Other references:

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