Together in Tribulation: British Muslims and the COVID-19 Pandemic

This report seeks to highlight the specific issues Muslim communities faced during the first seven months of the pandemic. These include having the highest COVID-19 mortality rates by faith group and the particular circumstances which put many British Muslims at the highest risk, the suspension of mosque activities and the economic and social implication this has had, the adaptations made to traditional funeral and burial processes, mental health repercussions, and the way in which Muslims were often negatively portrayed in the media reporting of the pandemic. 

This report also seeks to demonstrate how Muslim communities across the nation have responded to the impact of the pandemic thus far despite the hardships they faced, and showcase a mere handful of the incredible, innovative and impactful initiatives set up by Muslims to support their local communities and beyond.

Although the pandemic has shown the immense strength of Muslim communities, there has been a number of lessons which have been learnt so far, which can inform preparations to be better equipped in dealing with subsequent peaks of the pandemic and future surges in cases.

(i) There is a need for collective leadership and strong coordination between different sectors and service providers of Muslim communities. It is fundamental to have a coordinated and aligned response where resources and best practice could be shared.

(ii) There is a need to strengthen the burial sector, which can be met by investing in cold storage or external spaces in case of spikes in burial demands and establishing a centralised system in which the deaths of every Muslim in Britain can be recorded and from which this data can be analysed to get a better understanding of British Muslim communities and their needs.

(iii) With an increasing reliance on technology, it is essential that support is provided to those who are not technologically literate in order to help them to access services and programmes that have now moved online.

(iv) Community members should be encouraged to keep up their regular donations to their mosques, Islamic institutions and other charitable causes to help ensure the long-term financial sustainability of these institutions which are at the heart of the lives of so many Muslims.

(v) It must be ensured that every segment of British Muslim society is aware of and understands the public health messaging in order to keep safe. Alternative methods of communication should be explored, including translating all key public health messaging into community languages, having this relayed by Imams and community leaders from the pulpit, facilitating conversations between Muslim healthcare professionals and community members to directly answer questions and provide a greater understanding of the measures that must be taken to remain safe.