Hindu doctor in Kerala recites Islamic prayer for COVID-19 patient on deathbed

Dr Rekha Krishnan, a Hindu by faith, chanted an Islamic prayer, which is often recited by people from the Muslim community to believers who are on their deathbed.
Dr Rekha Krishnan
Dr Rekha Krishnan
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Beevathu, a 56-year-old COVID-19 patient, was critically ill and under treatment with ventilator support at a private hospital in Kerala’s Palakkad district. On May 17, as she was gasping for breath, there wasn’t anything more her doctors could do, but wait for the inevitable. However, minutes before she passed away, one of her doctors did one last thing for Beevathu. Dr Rekha Krishnan, a Hindu by faith, recited an Islamic prayer, which is often recited by people from the Muslim community to believers who are on their deathbed. This kind gesture by Dr Rekha Krishnan, which is considered holy by the Muslim community, has won hearts of hundreds of people.

Seeing the patient gasping for her breath in the last few moments of her life, Dr Rekha recited the Islamic prayer, Shahadat Kalima. As she recited the lines from the prayer, the patient slowly succumbed. “It was an impulsive act of kindness,” Dr Rekha, who works in Sevana Hospital and Research Centre in Palakkad’s Pattambi, tells TNM. She is now being showered with appreciation on social media and elsewhere.

"As I saw her sinking away, my heart went out to her family,” she says. For nearly 17 days when Beevathu was undergoing treatment, her son and son-in-law would turn up in the hospital every day, ignoring the heavy rains or lockdown, just to ask after their mother. “Even if they won't be able to get inside, they would stand near the parking lot, just to see me and enquire about her condition. They were also aware that her health won’t improve, yet, they would come daily to meet the doctor to get some peace of mind. When I thought what they would have done in her final moments, I suddenly chanted the prayer," she recounts.

Dr Rekha says she grew up in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), due to which she knew the Islamic prayer. She adds that being a person who respects both Hindu and Muslim religion alike, she did not think about the religious impact of the act. “When I was reciting the Islamic prayer, I did not consider her religion or mine. I thought about it only when I started receiving appreciation. I am a person who observes fasting during the month of Ramadan and the annual Mandalam festival. Those who live in the UAE can relate to what I feel. There is a lot of mutual respect for all religions there; we live as a community,” she says.

The 35-year-old medical practitioner also says that she never thought what she did would become news or would be noticed by people. The incident came to light after Dr Rekha shared it with a friend.

“For me, it was a personal thing. It is not meant to come out in whatever way it is now, as this is someone’s loss and a family is grieving. I would never want to publicise that. But the overwhelming response I’m receiving shows how our people still want communal harmony," she says.

"If something good has come out of this incident, it is that a big majority of people who think we all should move ahead as one. When we see a lot of religious divide on social media, it used to dishearten me since I always respect other religious faith. But this response is a reassurance,” Dr Rekha says.

She also says how witnessing scores of death is affecting the health workers too. “When we see a lot of deaths, it affects us, the doctors, contrary to the general notion that it doesn't move us. COVID-19 is like a curveball. We were not prepared for this. It is a depressing situation when patients are dying every day. It is a loss for the family and I hope no doctor has to go through this,” she says.

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