It is an understatement to say that we all are living in an unprecedented time, lled with fear, uncertainty, and the unknown. COVID-19, mostly known as the Coronavirus, has taken over the world and has changed countries, societies, and our lives dramatically. The fear of the unknown has crippled most people. With so many new restrictions and safety precautions in place, life as we know it has changed drastically. As the world faces the most significant disruption of our lifetimes, people around the globe are grappling with the repercussions of the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Some may find this disheartening, but it is an ideal time for self-reflection and a chance to become closer to the Almighty God. Also, it can be shown to the world that Islam already has many of these provisions within the religion, which is what God wants from humankind. Islam’s cultural, spiritual, and theological dimensions offer not just to Muslims, but to all of humanity, a myriad ways of coping. Unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus, most believers of any faith cannot enter their houses of worship, although this does not diminish the weight of people’s prayers or beliefs. Nevertheless, there are a few religious organizations that are ignoring even the World Health Organization, which has said not to hold congregations of any kind. This is in line with the other precautions and strict recommendations put in place, such as, staying home as much as possible, going out only if necessary and with a mask on, and keeping a six-foot distance from others. Those who choose to ignore these precautions, whether as religious organization or as individuals, tremendously increase the risk of being infected with the virus.
We are all being told about the importance of washing our hands and keeping everything clean. Islam enforces good hygiene and cleanliness on a regular and everyday basis. If Islamic teachings are followed correctly, a high standard of cleanliness has already been established. While doctors all over the world are advising people to wash hands or use hand sanitizers as much as possible, the Khalifa of Ahmadiyyat, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said:
“As Muslims, if someone prays five times a day, they will wash properly five times a day through ablution (wudu)” (1).
This virus has caused many of us to turn towards God more than ever before. Of course, we do not know if this is a sign or if there is a particular reason from Him for this. But it has certainly made many, who may not have been religious or close to God, seek Him and/or come back to Him. While observing Ramadan during lockdown recently, most Muslims turned to Allah far more than any other month in the year. The goal and prayer during the Holy month of Ramadan is for all Muslims to continue this more pious and self-reflective way of living well after Ramadan is over. Staying home and not being able to go out to participate in any superficial or purely worldly pastimes will help us all to engage in more soul searching and continue our reach towards God. This is truly an ideal situation for different personal reasons. It could be merely a matter of perspective, where a shift into a spiritual state is what a person needs. Time away from other people and isolation at home may be the key to self-reflection for some people who may have drifted away from Islam and Allah (2).
As Muslims, we strive to find a way to be connected to Allah as much as we can. To continue our steadfast devotion to Allah during the entire year, we need self-discipline. This is not just for physical acts of fasting and praying five times a day. By fasting in Ramadan, Islam teaches us empathy and makes us realize how the impoverished and less fortunate feel every day. Coronavirus can have the same effect on our compassion for others. People are buying food and home essentials to last for several months. However, most people cannot a ord to do this. Many people live paycheck to paycheck with no savings at all, and many have lost their jobs due to the virus, thus getting no income at all. During this challenging time, it is essential not just to read the Holy Qur’an, but to act on its teachings: charity is exceptionally vital for all of humankind, Muslim or not. When Muslims fast, they feel the pain and anguish of those who either live on the streets in poverty or of those who make barely any money and can only feed themselves or their families a few meals each week, or can only eat the bare minimum. This is why Allah wants us to understand how lucky we are and to engrave in our hearts that we must help the less fortunate. There has seldom been a greater need in recent history to participate in acts of charity by giving whatever we can and helping others in need.
Due to the high number of people who have lost their jobs, more people need help. In times like this, people will inevitably, through no fault of their own, lose their wealth, income, and possibly even their lives. The Prophet Muhammad (sa) advised those in grief that “any property lost during tribulations will be considered charity and those who die as a result of pandemics will be considered martyrs of Paradise” (3).
Although giving charity is a pillar of faith in Islam, which all Muslims must abide by, it is more important than ever to provide for the unfortunate at this time. The “unfortunate” have now doubled in numbers.
Since so many more are struggling through the virus and there are statewide shutdowns for any business that is not considered to be essential for living, we need to be as generous as possible. We can help by donating money to a charity, but we need to do or give more. If you feel that you cannot spend money on others, there are other ways to help. Check on older adults (safely) to make sure they are well, offer to pick up and drop off groceries for neighbors, or just simply send a text or message to people, asking them how they are doing. One of the best things we can do for others is to pray for them.
Even though many of us are buying lots more food and essentials than usual and, therefore, spending a lot more money than average, we should not fear that by giving more charity, our wealth will decrease and cause a strain on us. Allah says He will never hurt or punish those who give, especially who give to please Allah. The Prophet Muhammad (sa) said:
“Wealth will not decrease by giving charity. And a forgiving slave will be rewarded by Allah with authority” (4).
The suffering inflicted by the virus will help make believers stronger in their faith and bring back those who have forgotten Allah. It can also help non-believers to come towards God through Islam. Allah will always protect and guide people who go towards Him. This is the beauty of Islam.
The spirit of Islam during the virus will hopefully and surely put us all on a journey towards the right path, through our self-reflection and self-discipline towards strengthening our belief in Allah, in Islam and soften our hearts for all of humankind. Allah has taught us to be kind to our fellow human beings and to take care of all people in this world, no matter what religious beliefs we have. Never since the advent of humanity and its recorded history has the world as a whole been so genuinely united just to be able to survive and to have the most primitive essentials like food, water, and shelter.
It is inevitable that some type of a iction will come into our lives. We cannot hide nor run away from it. The Holy Qur’an teaches Muslims to see life’s difficult circumstances as a test, which are temporary hardships to strengthen us. This perspective allows Muslims to show resilience in times of difficulty and tribulations, with su cient strength to make it to the other side intact (5).
Hazrat Khalifatul-Masih V (aba) has talked about how these circumstances can strengthen our belief in Islam and Allah. In addition, he says that this is the perfect way to inform others about the peaceful message of Islam:
“We must tell people that for the ultimate result to be good, we must turn towards God and realize that true life is that which is in the Hereafter” (6).
The big question is: After the struggle and challenge of COVID disappear, will we all continue to be united, remain steadfast in our devotion to God, and take care of all of humankind? The answer to this may not be apparent soon, but is undoubtedly the ultimate aim and goal for all of us, as God has taught us.
This article appears in the Summer 2020 issue.
2. Guptha, Manu Rishi, “Coronavirus Is Our Reset Button,” Entrepreneur, April 2020
3. Bukhari, Virtuous Merits of the Prophet (sa) and His Followers, Hadith 141
4. Muslim, Book of Virtue, Chapter: Enjoining Good Manners and Joining of the Ties of Kinship, Hadith 19
5. The Holy Quran (2:153-157)
Last modified: January 2022