While millions of dollars have been spent on COVID-19 vaccinations, not much has been done to address mental health dilemmas related to the pandemic. As necessary as public health actions such as social distancing are, they leave people feeling isolated and alone. The lack of face-to-face communication and reduced social interactions add on financial and non-financial burdens that augment stress and anxiety levels.
Previous to COVID-19 social isolation measures, many social systems were in place that allowed relief and support against mental health disparities. The most significant social networks were religious centers where people congregated with others from the same faith and spiritual background.
Amidst COVID-19 developments, many authorities in the global community called for the closure of religious centers as attempts to reduce transmission rates across their constituents. Despite their initial goal, not only did transmission rates not fall, they rose as masses took to the streets in protest of the government’s failure to sufficiently address safety needs.
Moreover, compliance with safety measures was reduced as morale declined, and rates of depression, anxiety, and hopelessness plagued communities.
As the holy month of Muharram begins, Shia Rights Watch reaffirms a need for spaces in which communities can congregate and express solidarity.
Shia Muslims spend the first ten days of the holy month of Muharram in ritual mourning commemorating the death of Hussain, son of Ali, grandson of the Prophet Mohammad.
Rituals within this month aim to educate masses on the importance of standing against human rights violations and campaigning against human rights abuses.
Gathering together is at the heart of Muharram rituals. This year, Shia Rights Watch emphasizes compliance with health and safety measures within Muharram congregations as a means of protecting Shia Muslim communities and promoting the right to religious expression.
Shia Rights Watch dedicates its efforts to protecting and promoting the rights of Shia Muslims all over the world.
In advance of Muharram, Shia Rights Watch has published two guides for Shia Muslim communities. The guides can be used to promote community health and safety amidst Muharram-related congregations.
Guide A. calls for individual action to reduce transmission of COVID-19.
Guide B. offers suggested measures for religious centers as they prepare for Muharram congregation. These measures are aimed to reduce the probability of COVID-19 transmission among ritual participants.
Shia Rights Watch encourages individual communities to adopt and adapt suggested measures to address their unique needs.