COVID: One Year On
As we approach one year since the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic, it is an opportune time to take stock and reflect on what has transpired since then.
During this time, we have seen the complete failure of both the federal and provincial governments of Canada at managing the crisis. We have seen most people face unprecedented levels of anxiety and stress because of the uncertainty on how to deal with the situation. But for the Believers, there are glad tidings.
As we prepare ourselves for the holidays – – it is vital for us to be aware of the unique opportunity Allah (swt) has given us in these times. Of the most obvious of these blessings for many of us has been increased shared time with our family and loved ones.
Working from home, distance learning, the dearth of outside commitments, and especially the beginning of the holiday season all creates an abundance of time to be spent with our families. How can we make this time beneficial for ourselves and the ones we love?
Being Deliberate About Our Time
Allah (swt) owns and controls time, and its passage is beyond our capacity to alter. RasulAllah (saw) warned us:
“There are two blessings which many people waste: health and free time.” [Bukhari]
We must manage ourselves, our focus and attention, in relation to it. As we are inundated by all manners of distractions, demanding our time and attention, we must prioritize what matters and ensure they are getting the attention they deserve. This means making a list of our priorities, followed by deciding how we will cater to them in our given moments of the day.
So, while it is possible, and maybe even enjoyable, to spend time with our family partaking in halal entertainment, this should not be the focus of this precious “time together”.
Rather, we should use this unique opportunity to grow in our Deen and closeness to Allah (swt) in ways that may be more difficult in ordinary situations. But the Covid-19 pandemic is no ordinary situation.
Imagine for a moment that we are in front of Allah (swt) on the Day of Judgment. When we are looking back at this time, will we be wringing our hands in regret, consumed with grief, and anxiety about sports, entertainment and video games that we consumed our time on, or will we be in a state of relief, joy, and happiness that we spent this time earning our good deeds? Al-hamdullilah, we still have the chance to make the right choice right now! Allah (swt) warned us:
“You should know that the life of this world is only play and amusement, a show and boasting among yourselves, a quest for greater riches and more children. Its similitude is that of vegetation that flourishes after rain: the growth of which delights the tillers, then it withers, and you see it turn yellow, soon it becomes dry and crumbles away. In the hereafter there will be either severe punishment or forgiveness from Allah and His good pleasure. The life of this world is nothing but an illusion.” [TMQ 57:20]
The Inheritance of Prophets (as)
Our Beloved Messenger (saw) informed us:
“Scholars are the inheritors of the prophets.” [Tirmidhi]
This tells us that what the Prophets leave behind is a deep, transformative understanding of the deen.
Given the relative increase in the quiet hours of the day we have been granted, we should commit a portion of these hours to growing in our knowledge and understanding of the deen.
Reading the Quran along with a reliable tafsir and pondering over its meanings.
Studying the Seerah & Hadith to learn about the life of our Beloved Messenger (saw), and to learn the meanings of hadiths.
Studying Fiqh to know and apply the commands of Allah (swt) and obey Him the way that pleases Him.
Understanding the rational proofs of the Islamic aqueedah, where we learn about the miraculous nature of the Quran, and the rational basis of our conviction in Islam (which is a vital issue for our youth).
Understanding the Condition of the Ummah by being well informed on the struggles of our brothers and sisters across the globe.
This seeking of knowledge is critical to getting closer to Allah (swt) and is by no means an academic endeavor. The legacy of Prophethood is not the mere transmission of facts and information.
Rather, seeking knowledge is seeking the guidance, thought process, beliefs, and actions that lead to salvation. It is built in the hope for Allah’s Mercy and Pleasure, and a fear of His Punishment. It can take a while to internalize what we have learned in our thought process, so it can materialize in the actions of our hearts, minds and limbs.
Let us take the opportunity of this pandemic and the associated lockdowns to reflect on the gaps in our knowledge and character and give ourselves the time we need to make the transformation into a better version of ourselves.
A Family The pursuit of knowledge ought not be a solitary journey. If Allah (swt) has granted us the company of our elders, siblings, spouses, and children, we should use it to learn and grow through our shared time with each other.
This may mean that when a family member picks up an Islamic book, they should share its knowledge and wisdom with the rest of the family and should encourage the others to pick up one of their own.
This may mean reciting the Quran together, or listening to Islamic lectures over dinner. This means creating an atmosphere of iman and ilm in our households, as opposed to an environment of chaos, temptation, and distraction.
Engaging in lighthearted entertainment as a break from serious efforts is permissible, but entertainment should not be the focus of a family’s time together.
This atmosphere of iman will solidify and reinforce the concepts learnt in books and lectures. It will also pull family members closer together, as the discussions will be about deep and important issues regarding the purpose of life, our accountability towards others, and towards our Creator, and learning from the experiences and wisdom of each other.
Being Purposeful While staying at home can produce fatigue and a weakness to distraction, it is important to keep making an effort to remain purposeful with our time.
We are all aware of our own shortcomings in our knowledge, deeds, and character. If we can take this time to gather up the resources to build ourselves up in our knowledge and actions, we will adhere to our ultimate purpose of existence which is to draw closer to our Creator through belief, worship, and obedience in all our individual and collective matters.
Purposelessness and losing our emotional, intellectual or spiritual connection to Allah (swt) is more dangerous than any virus. Heedlessness in our minds and hearts is more destructive than any harm to our bodies. Allah (swt) warns us in the Quran,
“We have created many jinn and people who are destined for Hell, with hearts they do not use for comprehension, eyes they do not use for sight, ears they do not use for hearing. They are like cattle, no, even further astray: these are the ones who are entirely heedless.” [TMQ 7:179]
The ayah tells us that those who are given an opportunity to use their senses and their intellect to comprehend and live by His (swt) words, and still choose heedlessness are destined for punishment. May Allah (swt) remove from us even a trace of such heedlessness!
Time Moves Onwards When the pandemic started, few had any expectation or preparation for months of social and economic paralysis that would follow. Yet, due to the greed and mismanagement of the elite, and the complex nature of the virus, we are currently in such a state. Yet we should not forget, this too will pass Insha’Allah. As vaccines are deployed, and people patch together their lives and businesses back together, our months sheltering in our homes will become a distant memory. The question is:
What will we have to show for our time together?
As stated earlier, when we meet Allah (swt) while having wasted this time, what will we have to show from for our interaction with our neighbours, our masjids, and our community? Are we content to “return to normal,” or do we want to be better equipped to be steadfast in our deen? Do we want to be committed and principled in our relationships? Do we want to be of those who stand out in society enjoining good and forbidding evil?
May the time we spend together with our families testify for us on the Last Day, and not against us. May He (swt) keep our hearts pure in this life and the next. And may we be counted together as the Ummah of Muhammad (saw) at the Pond of Al-Kawthar. Allah (swt) says:
“Believers, guard yourselves and your families against a Fire fueled by people and stones, over which stand angels, stern and strong; angels who never disobey Allah’s commands to them but do as they are ordered. [TMQ 8:24]