CAIR Asks Muslim Prayer Leaders to Urge Swine Flu Precautions U.S. mosque leaders called on to offer health tips after daily, Friday prayers
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 4/29/09) - A prominent national Muslim civil rights and advocacy group today called on Islamic religious leaders, or imams, to use daily and Friday congregational prayers in the nation’s mosques as a platform for providing information about preventing the spread of swine flu.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said imams are in a unique position to offer public health information to American Muslims because they lead congregational prayers every day in the more than 2,000 mosques nationwide.
CAIR is suggesting that imams stay up-to-date on the spread of swine flu in their areas and stress the possibility of temporarily avoiding Islamic cultural traditions such as handshakes or hugs of greeting during a local health crisis. Imams are also being asked to be aware of swine flu symptoms that include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue.
“In times of crisis, public health and safety takes precedence over normal actions and activities that could lead to the spread of infection,” said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad. “Imams, because of their access to those attending mosques every day, are well-placed to offer advice to community members based on input from public health authorities.”
Awad added that Islam’s Prophet Muhammad encouraged actions designed to prevent the spread of contagious diseases. The Prophet told his community, if disease breaks out in a particular area, “do not leave that place, and when you hear of its spread in another place, do not go there." (Al-Tirmidhi) Another Islamic tradition, or hadith, quotes the Prophet Muhammad saying: "A sick person (with a contagious disease) must not be brought among the healthy." (Fiqh-us-Sunnah)
The Washington-based council is asking prayer leaders to offer flu prevention tips provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which include:
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hands cleaners are also effective.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread that way.
Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
If you get sick, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.
CAIR, in consultation with Islamic scholars, is also suggesting that imams and mosque officials consider taking other preventive actions recommended by the CDC when swine flu is confirmed in a community, including:
Worshipers who develop flu-like symptoms should be strongly encouraged to seek medical advice by phone and to self-isolate themselves in their homes.
Cancellation of classes in Islamic schools should be considered if there is a confirmed or a suspected case of swine flu in the school population.
Gatherings at mosques, even otherwise-mandatory Friday congregational prayers, should be temporarily cancelled if there is a risk of spreading infection.
SEE: When Human Infection with Swine Influenza A (H1N1) Virus is Confirmed in a Community
CAIR, America's largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 35 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
Friday, April 24, 2009
A Biographical Sketch
Nihad Awad is the Executive Director and co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest non-profit Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States.
In 1997, Mr. Awad served on Vice President Al Gore’s Civil Rights Advisory Panel to the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security.
In 2004 he was named one of National Journal’s more than 100 Most Influential People in the US, whose ideas will help shape the debate over public policy issues for the next decade.
Mr. Awad is a regular participant in the U.S. Department of State’s “International Visitors Program” which welcomes foreign dignitaries, journalists and academics who are currently visiting the President of the United States.
Mr. Awad has testified before both houses of the U.S. Congress on matters involving Muslims in America.
He is a member of the United States Institute of Peace’s Advisory Committee on US-Muslim Relations and currently enjoys the position of U.S. Representative of the Vatican-affiliated International Committee on Muslim-Christian (Catholic) Dialogue.
For the 2000, 2004 and 2008 presidential elections, Mr. Awad was a key figure in the American Muslim Political Coordinating Committee (AMPCC) and, subsequently, the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections, an umbrella organization of the largest American Muslim organizations, which helped to create the first Muslim voting bloc for a presidential election.
He has also spoken at prestigious educational institutions, including Harvard, Stanford, Yale and Johns Hopkins Universities. He was also a featured speaker at the 2002 Reuters Forum on global cooperation at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. In addition, he actively works with local and national interfaith leaders and organizations in the interest of promoting positive relations among people of diverse faith communities.
Mr. Awad spoke at the 2005 International Islamic Conference hosted by King Abdullah II in Amman, Jordan.
Mr. Awad spearheaded the “Not in the Name of Islam” anti-terrorism fatwa (religious ruling) issued by the Fiqh Council of North America and endorsed by the 300 largest mosques and Islamic centers in the United States, a crucial milestone in the history of the American Muslim community.
He has been frequently interviewed on national and international media such as CNN, BBC World Service, PBS, C-SPAN, National Public Radio, The New York Times, Washington Post, Voice of America and Al-Jazeera. CAIR news releases are disseminated to hundreds of thousands of people worldwide on a daily basis.After the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, Mr. Awad flew to Oklahoma to aid in the relief effort. He personally met with Governor Frank Keating and gave the governor a sizable donation for the relief effort and victims’ fund on behalf of the American Muslim community.
Mr. Awad has also personally met with Presidents William Clinton and George W. Bush, as well as former Secretaries of State Madeline Albright and Colin L. Powell, to discuss the needs of Muslim community.Numerous law enforcement agencies, organizations and Fortune 500 companies—including Nike and DKNY—have benefited from CAIR educational seminars on Islamic traditions and culture. In addition to resolving employment discrimination issues involving American Muslims, Mr. Awad has also conducted over 100 public relations and media training seminars in the US.A
A few days after September 11, 2001, Mr. Awad was one of the few American Muslim leaders invited by the White House to join President Bush in a press conference at the Islamic Center of Washington, the oldest mosque in Washington, DC.
Mr. Awad is the author of the paper, “Muslim-Americans in Mainstream America,” published in the Feb/Mar. 2000 edition of “The Link” magazine.Mr. Awad is also featured in Silent No More by former United States Representative Paul Findley (R-IL); a book chronicling the history of the American Muslim community.
To contact Mr. Awad, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-642-6419
453 New Jersey Ave. SE
Washington, DC 20003, USA