لَهُ مُعَقِّبَاتٌ مِّن بَيْنِ يَدَيْهِ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِ يَحْفَظُونَهُ مِنْ أَمْرِ اللَّهِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّىٰ يُغَيِّرُوا مَا بِأَنفُسِهِمْ ۗ وَإِذَا أَرَادَ اللَّهُ بِقَوْمٍ سُوءًا فَلَا مَرَدَّ لَهُ ۚ وَمَا لَهُم مِّن دُونِهِ مِن وَالٍFor each one are successive [angels] before and behind him who protect him by the decree of Allah. Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. And when Allah intends for a people ill, there is no repelling it. And there is not for them besides Him any patron. [Qur’an, 13:11]
Dear brothers and sisters,
As we witness tighter measures being upheld and firmer restrictions on socialising and congregational activities, schools being shut and exams cancelled, all in effort to fight the spread of Covid-19, one remembers all those who have been living in dire conditions and survived for years whilst their suffering went unnoticed. All the while we became accustomed to seeing those unfortunate people in our world, failing to provide solutions for their difficult predicaments.
Isolation might be an opportunity to ponder and reflect. It can be a wakeup call to re-evaluate our compassion towards the less fortunate. Those around the world whose lives were struck by calamities. Indeed, calamities come in different shapes and forms, but with one thing in common – they change one’s perspectives, priorities, and perception of others.
The afflicted include the thousands of Syrians stuck inside their besieged cities, routinely and repeatedly pounded by bombs belonging to the evil powers of our world. The hundreds of thousands of refugees who flee their homes in hope of leaving death and destruction behind, only to discover that death is shadowing their every step towards freedom. Similarly, the besieged people of Gaza endure the brutality of the long-lasting occupation. Innocent prisoners, in their thousands, lay in constricted cells alongside the forgotten many, incarcerated in solitary confinement for years, unable to make sense of anything around them.
Those afflicted include those who feel the world has abandoned them and wait for death to end their ordeal. Their crime is calling for freedom, democracy and justice; in countries where injustice thrives and oppressors rule.
In isolation, imposed by a threatening virus, unseen to the naked eye, yet has brought the world to its knees, one can relate and experience a tiny fraction of their emotions and fears. One can experience how danger became their daily norm, for indeed, over the coming months we might experience the same. This is an opportunity for humanity to reap the benefits of this calamity, by showing compassion and remembering the forgotten.
The aforementioned are facing the same threats of the virus we are. But did we take a moment to consider how they are dealing with this outbreak? Do they not deserve the same level of attention and care as our communities and societies? Or have we become like front-line doctors working under extreme conditions, having to choose who is most likely to survive before offering help?
This might be Allah’s awakening for us to remember those afflicted by pain, worry, panic and disease while their lives are shattered, and their dreams scattered. Maybe we needed to actually live an element of their lives, as maybe only then can we understand their hardships, and maybe then, we can work harder to show empathy and care and create avenues to ease their suffering.
These are important thoughts and insights that one must endeavour to reflect upon during times of trial and calamities. We might survive, but will we survive empty or full of lessons? And will these lessons change how we carry on our lives? Will we live a full life for ourselves and for others who live under extreme conditions? Will we feel differently next time we see their images in the media and on our social platforms?
Essentially, will this virus change us for the better or otherwise?
Raghad Altikriti | MAB President
Muslim Association of Britain
18th March 2020