Kerala: Hindu doc recites Kalima Shahada for dying COVID-19 patient

Dr Rekha attributed the gesture to her upbringing in the culturally rich UAE

Thiruvananthapuram: A Hindu doctor’s ‘humane act’ or a kind gesture for a dying COVID-19 gesture has earned applaud from several corners after she recited the ‘Kalima Shahada’ (In the vicinity of the dying person kalima is recited) to patient. The moment she finished the dua, ‘La ilaha illallah Muhammadur rasulullah’ (there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah), the woman took her last breath.

The incident took place in Kerala’s Palakkad district. The patient was a 56-year-old who was suffering from COVID pneumonia and had been on a ventilator for more than two weeks. Her relatives were not allowed into the ICU. 

“She had severe pneumonia. During admission, she was in a bad shape and placed on a ventilator. We tried our best but after 17 days, her organs started malfunctioning. There was no hope. We had a discussion with the family members. They gave consent to take her off the ventilator. They accepted the fate,” said Dr Rekha, an internal medicine specialist at Sevana Hospital and Research Centre in Kerala.

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Dr Rekha told the New Indian Express, “As I approached her, I felt that she was having some problems in leaving the earthly abode. With none of their relatives around her, I thought I should do something for the patient. Since I was brought up in the UAE, I knew about these prayers and practices.Then, I slowly recited ‘Kalima Shahada’ in her ears. I could see her taking a few deep breaths and then she flatlined.”

Dr Rekha attributed the gesture to her upbringing in the culturally rich UAE. “I was born in Kerala but raised in Dubai. I finished my schooling at The Indian High School Dubai. My parents and my relatives are in Dubai. I am the only one who moved to India for higher studies and settled in Kerala. My husband is a doctor in Thrissur,” she said.

“I have a strong bond with the UAE. It is like a second home,” she said. “My parents always taught me to respect all religions. When I prayed in a temple in Dubai, my parents taught me to acknowledge the prayers recited in mosques and I grew up in an unusual place where I had the freedom to follow my culture. Indian and Islamic culture is about respecting others. The mutual respect I got in the UAE, from the people, perhaps the reason for the profound respect I have for Islam as a religion.”

Dr. Rekha pointed out that in the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic, especially during the second wave in India, health workers have also played the role of family members for the patients.

“All our beds and ICU are full. I forgot the last time I slept properly. But during this pandemic, I have developed a personal relationship with patients. Chanting the Kalima is just a normal thing, which I would do any other day, if needed, like a family member.”

Sunni scholar Abdul Hameed Faizi Ambalakdavu praised Doctor Rekha on social media, writing, “The news is heart-wrenching especially at a time when people are beaten to death because of their religion. The doctor has set a new example for the country.”

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