Statement from the Executive Director on COVID-19

What an interesting time we live in!

It is astonishing to me how something as miniscule as the COVID-19 virus, which is visible only through an electron microscope, can turn our world upside down as it has.

As a Muslim, I am reminded of the Quranic verses on the power of the Creator:

For the dominion of the heavens and the earth belong to God; and God has power over all things. (Q3:189)

The Creator of the heavens and the earth who on having determined something, simply says to it, “Be!” and it is. (Q2:117)

My reaction to the upheaval surrounding this virus is acceptance together with hope for the new opportunities this situation provides. Ironically enough, this tiny virus is bringing all humanity together, revealing both how equally vulnerable we all are and how much we need to stand by and support one another.

What I’ve advised myself and the team at ING to do is to take this opportunity to slow down, self-reflect, and take the time to make the adjustments you need to as follows:

1) For one, we can acknowledge and appreciate the value of our health that we often take for granted when we are young, and even when we are old, especially if we have access to good healthcare. We should be grateful just for the blessing of being able to get up in the morning. But if you’re suffering from any physical or mental ailments, then look for healing in meditation or prayer (in addition, of course, to seeking qualified medical care). I recommend a great documentary on Netflix titled Heal about the power of the mind in healing. You can watch a number of similar documentaries on Netflix that will show how gratitude helps you to be healthier and happier.

2) If you are one of the many people who is now working from home, then use the time you are saving from your commute and meetings to catch up on things that you have put on hold. Make a list of those things and start working on them to try to get them done. Set realistic goals with the added quiet time you now have.

3) Find time to reconnect with yourself and with the Divine through prayer, meditation, or a good book. Choose an activity that will keep you away from the commercial news media. The more you free yourself from being preoccupied with day-to-day worries, the more you will be able to relax and connect with yourself, with others, and with the Divine. From time to time, check the latest updates on the coronavirus at the CDC website here as well as your local government. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, our local governments just released new Shelter in Place orders.

4) Take advantage of this opportunity to reconnect with your loved ones by finding ways to enjoy each other’s company while following CDC guidelines to be safe. Stay in touch with friends and extended family, even if it’s just by calling regularly to see how they’re doing. Check in on your neighbors especially if they’re elderly.

5) Consider volunteering to help others in need, especially those whose health is at risk. Look to the charitable non-profits in your area. If you reside in California, consider volunteering for us at ING. I’ve listed a few ways you could join us.

Most of all be present, and don’t let yourself be overwhelmed by fear. Through prayer, meditation, or simply through self-reflection and positive self-talk, strive to keep your anxiety to a minimum; excessive anxiety only weakens your immune system.

As a Muslim, I am also comforted by the belief that God’s loving purpose will always win out in the end. I remind myself with the verse:

So with distress there is relief. Indeed, relief comes with distress. (Q94:5-6)

Maha Elgenaidi
Executive Director