Letters To The Editor

"To be successful, you must accept all challenges that come your way. You can't just accept the ones you like." – Mike Gafka

Protect yourselves from the dangers of extreme heat

It’s that time of the year again – the time when we sweat through all our pores and wait desperately for rains to arrive. The summertime in Pakistan, especially Karachi can be brutal for all of us. Besides making us feel tired and zapped, it can even be downright harmful by increasing the risk of heatstroke. Last week, Karachi’s temperature rose above 44°C that too in the month of April. This makes me wonder how much the temperature will rise during the months of May and June. This is a truly alarming development and yet another demonstration of the unprecedented climate anomalies. The Met Office did its job by forecasting that heatwave conditions are likely to affect Karachi but it was unable to say anything beyond this. It should also list down guidelines for citizens to follow during such rising temperatures on how to protect oneself in this heat. Everyone can be affected by hot weather and it is important that you take care whenever the temperatures start to rise. A heatwave over a period of days, or even a single day of extreme heat, may cause illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke. It's important to stay aware of the weather during summer, especially when there are risks of heatwaves. Apart from staying aware one should: Drink plenty of water even if you don’t feel thirsty, keep yourself cool by using wet towels, spend as much time as possible in cool or air-conditioned buildings, block out the sun at home during the day by closing curtains and blinds, open the windows when there is a cool breeze, stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day and if you do have to go outside wear a hat and sunscreen and seek shade, wear light-coloured and loose-fitting clothing made from natural fibres like cotton and linen.

Mahnoor Arshad,

Ramadan in the age of a pandemic

For 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide, Ramadan 2020 brought unique challenges, as it coincided with the global covid-19 pandemic and implementation of social distancing measures. The Ramadan, month of fasting, requires adult Muslims to abstain from food and drink from dawn to sunset. However, last year, there was considerable debate about whether fasting would be safe during the pandemic; particularly with a higher than expected disease burden and severity of covid-19 in ethnic minority populations. Furthermore, traditional Ramadan communal practices came to a standstill, giving a sense of loss to the community. This year again, social distancing measures and partial lockdowns are being imposed with the arrival of Ramadan. Traditionally, Ramadan gives a sense of community, with communal evening meals and nightly congregational prayers at the mosque. With social distancing and closure of places of worship, many Muslims feel isolated, particularly as the covid-19 pandemic had already been taxing for mental health; with worry about contracting the illness, risk to loved ones and cancelled plans, as well as financial strain and social isolation all contributing to anxiety. Despite that, Muslims across the world are responding to this challenge, finding new ways of upholding the principles of the month, whilst following covid-19 guidance. The World Health Organisation highlights the pivotal role of technology in overcoming some of the difficulties of Ramadan during the pandemic, with many Muslims incorporating video-calls to loved ones and vulnerable members of the community into part of their daily routine. Islamic organisations worldwide also stream nightly prayers, while scholars share knowledge and encourage individual worship in unison with others globally, through videos. Other initiatives such as “virtual iftars”, where Muslims across the nation would break their fast “together”, will also allow Muslims to feel simultaneously socially and spiritually connected. But undoubtedly, previous Ramadan was and this Ramadan will be unlike that of any experienced in the lifetime of most Muslims.

Hareem Tariq,