As salaamu 'alaykum and welcome to the Aafiyah family. We are glad to have you. First, a bit of an introduction...My name is 'Demi Fauziyyah. I am a homeschool mom of three, a public health researcher, and long-time resident of Prince George's County. With the help of many brilliant minds, The Aafiyah Project was found earlier in May 2020. This was right in the midst of Maryland's stay-at-home order and trying to understand the new global pandemic we have come to know as COVID-19.
Remember early 2020?
Just to take you on a quick memory lane...remember end of March 2020? Yes, right around the time that news about the COVID-19 pandemic really began to hit home and everything began to shut down…schools, masajid, community centers, workplaces, businesses etc. By April, the state of Maryland, and pretty much all of the United States, issued stay-at-home orders due to the pandemic. The future looked bleak as most stayed home in fear of what lurked out there in form of a virus. By the month of May, we began getting more concrete data of how COVID-19 disproportionately affects African Americans.
As the numbers for COVID-19 cases began to pour in, this glaring reality of health disparities could not be ignored. In state after state, African Americans were noted to be the demographic group most affected by COVID-19. According to data reported by Maryland Department of Health, African Americans accounted for 29% of the cases and 41% of confirmed deaths in its June data (1). More disturbing is the fact that Prince George's County, one of the nation's most affluent majority African American county in the country (2), is the county most affected by the pandemic in the state of Maryland.
It is important to note that health disparities is not a new phenomenon. Unfortunately, it has always been part and parcel of the American healthcare system. What COVID-19 did was remind us that the health disparities problem remains a constant, just waiting for the next health crisis. Some of the conditions that make African Americans more susceptible to COVID-19 include our reality of systematic inequalities that drive limited access to health care, a mistrust of the health system, and a litany of pre-existing health conditions (e.g., heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and chronic lung disease) that exacerbate Corona infection to name a few.
What to do...
The Prophet (salallahu 'alayhi wa salaam) urged his uncle, Al-Abbas, to make the following dua when he asked to be taught a supplication:
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ الْعَافِيَةَ
"ALLAHUMMA INNI AS' ALUKA AL'AFIYAH"
Meaning: “O Allah, I ask you for Al Aafiyah.”
The dua roughly translates to: “O Allah, I ask you for Al-Afiyah.” Aafiyah is an Arabic term understood to encompasses the well-being of an individual. It includes being in the state of good health, being safeguarded from afflictions, and having adequate sustenance. Guided by the power of this dua, The Aafiyah Project's aim is to make a long-term commitment to addressing the health disparities crisis and have a lasting effect on the well-being of African American Muslims, including black immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean who are just as susceptible to these inequities.
It is my hope that you will join us in our effort to make a lasting change. You can stand with us in many ways by: 1) remembering us in your dua; 2) volunteering with us on various activities and programs addressing health, wellness, and scholastic achievement in the community; and 3) donating to our cause.
1. Maryland Department of Health. (Accessed June 30, 2020). Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Outbreak. https://coronavirus.maryland.gov/
2. Brown, DeNeen L. (January 23, 2015)."Prince George's neighborhoods make 'Top 10 List of Richest Black Communities in America'". The Washington Post. Accessed June 30, 2020.
Written by 'Demi Fauziyyah ADEBO-Adelaja