Alhamdulillāh, by the immense Grace of Allāh, my family and I are recovering and coming out of our isolation periods after contracting COVID-19. We are unsure how we caught it as we have been very careful and have not mixed much, but I guess that when something is meant to reach you, it does so. Equally, if something was not written for you, it will not come to you. Needless to say, taking precautions and being sensible whilst following guidelines is still important, but we need to be balanced and avoid hysteria.
There were some difficult days, but with the help of Allāh and lots of support from family and friends, we managed to get through without complications.
The symptoms we felt were aches, pains, headaches, coughing, and a high temperature. The fevers and aches lasted about three days, after which came the coughing and fatigue, followed by a loss of smell and taste – probably the weirdest thing I have ever experienced. I have a history of mild asthma, and I had some chest pain similar to when I have any infection, for which I took my inhaler.
It was a bit of a surreal experience in the beginning, from realising we had symptoms and going to our local walk-in centre to get tested, to receiving the results. The process was very straightforward. You use the government website and go through your symptoms, then the website finds your closest test centre. There are available times for you to book your slot, and you attend and do the test yourself and drop your sample off. The staff at my local make-shift centre, which was in a university car park, were helpful, and the process was quick and easy. Thereafter, it was a wait for the results, which was unnerving. When we were positive, it was a bit of a shock subhān Allāh.
The NHS Test and Trace service sends you messages to fill in information about your whereabouts a few days and one week before your symptoms started. The service follows this up with calls to advise you about isolating. This did not feel intrusive to me, as the people were quite pleasant and I did feel checked up on.
Three weeks after the start of the symptoms, I still get ill sometimes. I have found that the cough lingers, and so does the fatigue. But all in all, my family and I feel that we have generally recovered well and are grateful that things did not get worse (and that our 4-year-old child did not become unwell, Alhamdulillāh).
I have compiled the following tips, which I have found to have been helpful. I share them here for the benefit of others.
1. Dhikr and du’ā
When you feel out of your depth, and you feel that your body and circumstances are out of control, remembering that Allāh is the Rabb and in His Hands are all matters is a great comfort. Asking others to make du’ā for you is also a source of love and barakah. It is an opportunity to reflect and get closer to Allāh whilst seeking His forgiveness and aid. Praying regularly breaks you from the cycle of being unwell, making wudū’ refreshes you, and the salāh connects you back to Allāh and enables you to physically move. ‘Ibādah never stops, and you never stop being a servant to Allāh. Your need for Allāh increases, and even if your mind is foggy and your body is weary, you keep going because the work towards Jannah never ends.
2. Rest and recuperation
We have such busy schedules and are often balancing multiple responsibilities, but during my illness I felt like all I needed was my bed and sofa. It is best not to resist this. Allow yourself to shut down temporarily. All the chores and items for your attention can wait, apart from important tasks that must be done to keep a home functioning. My husband still had work to do from home, and our older children still had school work to get on with. We did what we could, but in between this and the prayers, we slept and rested Alhamdulillāh. With family and friends doing our shopping and sending food, we got through the first week well. Because things were in good order before we became ill, we had some off days. I would have been worse if being ill meant a pile-up of housework or other responsibilities.
3. Meds to mend
Normally as a family, we try not to be reliant on medication until it is absolutely necessary. My husband is a pharmacist who understands the use of natural remedies and a good diet to boost immunity. With our symptoms of headaches and other pains, we took painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen, but we also used lots of organic manuka honey, blackseed oil and capsules, multivitamins, as well as extra vitamin D. I really urge people to be careful in taking anything not recommended by a reliable professional, and I strongly recommend ignoring many of the strange messages floating around that are backed by no references. It is quite infuriating to see people creating these fake news stories and pushing certain ideas that are baseless. Equally, some of the scare-mongering messages may mean well but only add to people’s fears and can make you panic unnecessarily. Calm and collected responses are what we all need, and being rational is always the best position for a believer.
4. Food for fuel
It is important to remember to fuel your body even when you don’t feel like eating and food doesn’t taste of anything. Medications will not work on an empty stomach, and your body will not be able to fight back against the virus and repair itself. I made sure we had fruit regularly, as well as juices and water. Simple food such as toast or sandwiches seemed to be the best at this time. In particular, grapes tasted really nice and seemed to be especially refreshing, mā shā’ Allāh. Anything too oily or spicy did not sit well and only irritated our throats and stomachs. We have since been able to get back to our normal dishes, Alhamdulillāh. As a Bengali-Pakistani household, the first proper curry was well enjoyed.
5. Don’t give up!
It is vital to have a positive mindset and remind yourself that this is all a test and a part of life. Illnesses can bring one down and lead to becoming pessimistic, so it is important to not give in to these feelings and lift yourself up. If we remember that illness is a form of expiation and that from every fever, ache, cough, and runny nose, sins are falling from us and our position with Allāh is greater, one has a sense that illness has a greater purpose. To combat anything that we are afflicted or challenged with, we need to become warriors, ready to stand up and fight back. With Allāh and His Angels by our side, we cannot lose. Medics often speak about how a positive outlook can really help overcome all types of illnesses, and this is well documented. I avoided reading and watching the news, as reports of rising case numbers and deaths did not help.
Generally speaking, I am quite a positive person, but dark thoughts did enter my mind. What would happen to my children without me? Would my husband get another wife? I reflected on the story of Prophet Ayyūb, who was tested with his health, wealth, and family. I remembered the countless people throughout the world enduring greater hardships. Mothers watching their children waste away with hunger. Wives knowing their husbands and sons are being tormented by evil regimes. I humbled myself that my tests were not these.
I accepted my decree, and that this illness was written to touch me. I hope I was able to gain something from it. I know it can be difficult with prolonged illnesses, but when we are in these situations, small improvements are big steps towards recovery. I also accepted that if this was my time to go, then I could do nothing to delay it. If Allāh wanted to take my soul, He would. All I could do was seek His forgiveness. I vowed that if Allāh brings me out of this, then I need to work harder to ensure a good position in the ākhirah, may Allāh give me the means.
I know this is a difficult time – many people have lost their lives and many households have been affected in the wake of this virus. But we know there is ease after hardship, and there are reasons for everything. The wisdom and good of a situation are often only realised in our response to it and at the end of the ordeal. We need to keep a level head and stick together, remember our Lord, and instil sabr within ourselves and each other.
Suhaib reported: The Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:
عَجَبًا لِأَمْرِ الْمُؤْمِنِ إِنَّ أَمْرَهُ كُلَّهُ خَيْرٌ وَلَيْسَ ذَاكَ لِأَحَدٍ إِلَّا لِلْمُؤْمِنِ إِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ سَرَّاءُ شَكَرَ فَكَانَ خَيْرًا لَهُ وَإِنْ أَصَابَتْهُ ضَرَّاءُ صَبَرَ فَكَانَ خَيْرًا لَهُ
“Wondrous is the affair of the believer, for there is good for him in every matter, and this is not the case with anyone except the believer. If he is happy, then he thanks Allāh and thus there is good for him. If he is harmed, then he shows patience and thus there is good for him.”
And Allāh said:
“Say, ‘Never will we be struck except by what Allāh has decreed for us; He is our protector.’ And upon Allāh let the believers rely.”
May Allāh grant everyone an excellent and complete protection and cure from all illnesses. May He rectify our conditions in this life and the next. Āmīn.
 Sahih Muslim
 Al-Qur’ān, 9:51
Umm Sulayman is currently a full-time mother, residing in Bristol but forever a Londoner. She has previously worked as a deputy head teacher and has been involved in community and dawah projects. Her interests are family, the environment, dawah, gardening & DIY.