Coronavirus Pandemic

Hindu doctor, raised in Dubai, recites Kalima Shahada for dying Covid patient

Ashwani Kumar/Abu Dhabi
Filed on May 21, 2021 | Last updated on May 22, 2021 at 09.43 am
Supplied photo

Former UAE resident, Dr Rekha Krishnan, attributed her gesture as a result of her upbringing in the culturally rich Emirates.

As her dying Muslim patient lay on a bed at a Covid ward in India, Hindu doctor Rekha Krishnan — who was raised in Dubai — felt what seemed like ‘divine intervention’. She recited the ‘kalima shahada’ (the Islamic oath of faith) for her. And the moment she finished the shahada, ‘La ilaha illallah Muhammadur rasulullah’, the woman took her last breath.

Family members and relatives were not allowed inside the ward, so Dr Rekha was the only person with her 56-year-old patient Beevathu in her final moments.

“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 the south Indian state of Kerala.

“While I was standing there, helplessly watching her leave the body, I felt very sad. I didn’t know what her last memory of her family was. I started a silent prayer for her soul and then chanted the kalima. If her daughter or a family member was there, they too would have done the same thing. It was not a religious act but a humanitarian one. What touched me the most was the moment I finished the prayer, she took her last breath. The way this happened, made me feel that someone made me do it, like a divine intervention,” she said over the phone from Pattambi, Palakkad district.

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.

The former UAE expat have two kids, a girl and a boy, who are both on a vacation with their grandparents in Dubai.

“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. While I prayed at the temple in Bur Dubai, my parents taught me to acknowledge the prayers held at mosques and imbibe the positive energy. The upbringing I had there was exceptional where I had the freedom to follow my culture. The Indian and Islamic culture is all about respecting others. The mutual respect I got in the UAE, from the people, is probably the reason for the profound respect I have for Islam as a religion.”

Dr Rekha underlined that amid this pandemic, especially during the second wave in India, health workers have also assumed the role of family members for 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.”

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