By Syed Sharfuddin
The pandemic of COVID-19 has shaken humanity and created a global crisis of an unprecedented nature ever known to man in peacetime. However, alongside a justifiable fear, this extraordinary historical event has presented us with a unique opportunity for serious introspection, rather than hysteria and emotional response.
In the holy Qur’an, we find that Allah Subhanuhu wa Taala reassures us that life is ultimately dependent upon His Will. When a disaster strikes the earth, the fragile nature of life becomes ever apparent but we forget that it is Allah Subhanuhu wa Taala who gives life and causes death and that no one can escape Allah’s plan and decree.
This is not to say we should give up fighting an illness or evil when it threatens our lives and livelihoods. We should, with all our knowledge, resources and scientific research, try hard to find a cure for coronavirus, and Insha’Allah it will be found soon, but as humans we should remember that life and death is beyond our control, being subject to Divine Will. Allah Subhanuhu wa Taala emphasises this point in the following verse in the holy Quran:
“Say, Never (it) will happen to us except what Allah has decreed for us; He is our Protector.’ And upon Allah let the believers place their trust/reliance.” [9:51]
In another place Allah reminds us that the evil that strikes us is the result of our own radical anti-nature actions. Take for example the way we have poisoned our environment and done experiments on cell structures (DNA) in our bio labs in an unwise attempt to rewrite the rules of biological evolution.
Allah warns us about the consequences of actions we take when playing god on earth, using the abundant resources He has given us but being ungrateful for his mercy and grace.
“Then why, when Our punishment came to them, did they not humble themselves? But their hearts became hardened, and Satan made attractive to them that which they were doing.” [6:43].
The corona pandemic is also a reminder that no matter how far mankind has gone in sending satellites in the solar system and beyond, harnessing the obstacles of nature and continuing to push the boundaries in communications, nano-medicine, nuclear-warfare and the new frontiers of science and technology, we still remain weak and fragile as human beings. A tiny little virus, with no body mass, weight or life of its own can send the whole humanity running to their homes to save themselves from its invasion. Today, on one side, stands the coronavirus unconquered against the finest and best of God’s creations. But it will pass soon after it has conveyed the lesson that Glory and Power belong to Allah Subhanuhu wa Taala alone, and whatever we possess as ours is actually not ours but belongs to our Creator.
Allah has made humans fundamentally kind and good. These qualities always become overwhelming in times of crisis. It is a very encouraging sign to see how nations are uniting in solidarity against this calamity and how people are coming together to form volunteer groups to help the weak and sick in their neighbourhoods, just as they would do in times of war or a natural disaster. This is another lesson that the spirit of greed, hatred and war is a fake spirit. It is always the good that prevails. We should learn from this event to be always good and kind to our fellow human beings irrespective of creed, ethnicity, race, language, geographic location or gender.
During this global health emergency, mandatory or voluntary self-isolation gives us the opportunity to reconnect with Allah Subhanuhu wa Taala in moments of seclusion rarely found in today’s world, allowing us to rediscover the message of Quran through its recitation with translation in preparation for Ramadan, praying Jumma (Zohar) with our family (where Friday congregations have been suspended) or performing additional acts of worship such as Zikr and Duas that have been largely absent from our fast-track lives.
In these hard times we should also seek to serve our community, especially the sick, weak and the elderly and those struggling to survive economically and emotionally. We should observe the hygiene rules and communal and collective obligations our governments have imposed on us for public safety and health of the community. We should be more generous, more humble and more accommodating in our social behaviour now than we have ever been, other than in Ramadan. We should remember in our prayers those doctors, pathologists, lab assistants, nurses, paramedics and care workers who are on the front line treating coronavirus patients on a war footing and putting their own lives and health at great risk.
Let each one of us stand united in solidarity with humanity, and support our community by addressing the needs of our vulnerable fellow beings, while at the same time staying safe, sensible and wise. May Allah Subhanuhu wa Taala forgive us and have His mercy on mankind once again as He did when He removed the Plague from Egypt during Biblical times.