Faith and the flu

Marvin Joseph MARVIN JOSEPH/TWP One doctor sees the practice of medicine as a great interfaith activity. Let me guess; a … Continued

Marvin Joseph

MARVIN JOSEPH/TWP

One doctor sees the practice of medicine as a great interfaith activity.

Let me guess; a flu-like illness inflicted you or someone you know in the past three weeks, regardless of your faith background.

What else would you expect? CDC is now reporting widespread influenza (flu) activity in over 41 states. Unfortunately, thousands will succumb to this deadly virus.

Being an infectious disease specialist, I have passionately provided free flu shots for over a decade. Mosques, churches, homeless shelters, private schools, you name it. For many, the sweetness of “free” mitigates the soreness of the needle.

My philanthropic passion stems from my faith: Islam. Our Muslim youth group has cleaned over 50 highways nationwide under the “Adopt-a-Highway” program, raised over 2,000 units of blood, fed over 60,000 people, and logged over 30,000 man-hours in community service. So when people ask us: where are the moderate Muslims? We say: Where have you been?

Just as raising 2,000 units of blood could potentially save 6,000 American lives, providing free flu shots could also prevent thousands of lives. Remember, flu’s annual death toll ranges between 3,000 – 49,000 people, depending upon the viral strain.  

I was once invited by a friend to perform vaccinations after a Christian worship service. But for inexplicable reasons, the pastor, though he was aware of the plan to vaccinate, never shared that information with the congregation. His explanation to me afterwards made little sense and once he started inquiring about my faith background, I think his motivation emerged. He wasn’t comfortable with me, a Muslim, in his church. He said he’d call me. He never did.

The American in me thought of my non-Muslim friends who have supported me in this growing Islamophobic atmosphere. I thought of my secretary who prayed for my safe return when I was leaving for a vacation in Pakistan. I thought of my Christian friend who traveled with me to Wisconsin to attend a Muslim youth retreat. I thought of pastors who have invited me to talk to their congregations to build interfaith harmony! Aren’t most Americans magnanimous people?

And the Muslim in me – who simply wanted to help the needy – was not dejected either. Prophet Muhammad taught, “Deeds are judged by motives.” In Islam, intentions are rewarded even more than the actions. Cleaning dishes in a soup kitchen is worthless if the intention is a photo-op.

So after waiting for a couple of weeks to hear from the pastor, I moved on. The ruthless flu virus was not going to screen Americans for their faith before attacking. I gave the flu shots to the worshippers at Bait-ur-Rehman mosque located in Silver Spring, MD. Free of charge. Free of expectation. Free of faith.

Charity begins at home. But that’s not where it should end. Thus, I will continue to reach out to soup kitchens, churches, and synagogues only as a part of my civic duty.

It’s probably late to get a flu shot this year but if your congregation is interested in faith neutral, free flu shots next year, please let me know. Supplies are limited.

Dr. Faheem Younus is a clinical associate professor at the University of Maryland. He is the founder of Muslimerican.com. He can be reached at [email protected]; you can follow him on Twitter at @FaheemYounus.

About

Dr. Faheem Younus is a clinical associate professor at the University of Maryland. He is the founder of Muslimerican.com. He can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @FaheemYounus
  • BeyondTheology

    Thank you for living and sharing your faith tis way!

Read More Articles

colbert
Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

emptytomb
God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

noplaceonearth
An Untold Story of Bondage to Freedom: Passover 1943

How a foxhole that led to a 77-mile cave system saved the lives of 38 Ukrainian Jews during the Holocaust.

shutterstock_148333673
Friend or Foe? Learning from Judas About Friendship with Jesus

We call Judas a betrayer. Jesus called him “friend.”

shutterstock_53190298
Fundamentalist Arguments Against Fundamentalism

The all-or-nothing approach to the Bible used by skeptics and fundamentalists alike is flawed.

shutterstock_178468880
Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

shutterstock_186795503
The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

shutterstock_185995553
How to Debate Christians: Five Ways to Behave and Ten Questions to Answer

Advice for atheists taking on Christian critics.

HIFR
Heaven Hits the Big Screen

How “Heaven is for Real” went from being an unsellable idea to a bestselling book and the inspiration for a Hollywood movie.

shutterstock_186364295
This God’s For You: Jesus and the Good News of Beer

How Jesus partied with a purpose.

egg.jpg
Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.

SONY DSC
Dear Evangelicals, Please Reconsider Your Fight Against Gay Rights

A journalist and longtime observer of American religious culture offers some advice to his evangelical friends.