By: Sarwar Alam
Prince Charles has backed the Muslim community to come through the “challenges” posed by the coroanvirus pandemic as a nationwide lockdown continues during the holy month of Ramadan.
The Prince of Wales spoke of his “heartbreak” after hearing of the tragic story of 13-year-old Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, who passed away last month due to Covid-19, “without the comfort of having his family by his side”.
Images of Abdulwahab being buried without any family members present as they were in self-isolation made national news.
The young Muslim boy, who had no underlying illnesses, died at King’s College Hospital in London days after testing positive for Covid-19. He is believed to be among Britain’s youngest confirmed deaths in the coronavirus pandemic.
Prince Charles said many Muslim families in the UK continue to be “cruelly” affected by the coronavirus epidemic.
“I have every confidence in your remarkable capacity to rise the challenges posed by this crisis,” he added.
He was speaking during a “virtual iftar” organised by Naz Legacy Foundation to mark five years of the Naz Legacy Interfaith Iftars on April 24.
Addressing an audience of almost 10,000 guests, including 8,500 watching on stream TV and others on Zoom and Facebook Live, the royal spoke of the sacrifices the Muslim community will make during Ramadan.
“Many British Muslims will spend this Ramadan on the frontline of the Covid-19 crisis working with NHS or in other key roles. I know several highly experienced and invaluable doctors and nurses from the Muslim community who lost their lives to this pernicious virus. “To their families and colleagues, I convey my deepest possible sadness,” he said.
The prince also offered his ‘heartfelt gratitude’ for those on the frontline fighting the pernicious virus.
“During Ramadan, Muslim families will be coming together to share food and prayers and many of them will be inviting their neighbours and friends to join them. But, due to the ongoing public health crisis none of these will be possible in the usual way,” he said.
“I begin to imagine therefore how desperately difficult and sad this must be for all of you who cherish these special months and everything that it normally brings.”
Prince Charles said he was moved to hear about all the “wonderful” work being carried out by Muslim volunteers and local initiatives through mosques, including working in partnership with various churches and other faith groups, to support all members of all communities in such difficult times.
“Older people I know hold a very special place within many tight-knit Muslim families. Many of them were particularly affected by the disease and younger people are being affected too. Every brave man, from whatever course, is made even harder for families by the current restrictions on funerals. I can only too well understand how agonising this must be for those affected,” the prince said.
“Under these importantly challenging times my wife and I can only offer you all our kindest and most special wishes,” he said.
He also mentioned the contribution of Muslims to the life of the UK, which was ‘appreciated and valued’.
While concluding his remarks, the Prince quoted the Qu’ran and said: “God does not burden any soul with more than it can bear” and wished the community to rise in the Ramadan spirit of charity and selflessness.
The Naz Legacy Foundation is a UK-based charity which seeks to promote “excellence in education and positive integration” into British society. The foundation was established to continue the legacy of the late Naz Bokhari OBE.