Pandemic and Ramadan
BY: Roouf-un-Nabi Dar
Months ago, deadly COVID-19 hit us so bad and so hard that the entire world has been brought on knees. There was no early warning system for this. The VIRUS came with absolutely no alarm, and has since put the world under lockdown.
Not everything is in man’s hands. Everything happens by the will of Allah. Same is true of the COVID-19. Allah says in Quran: “No calamity occurs, except by will of Allah. And whoever believes in Allah – He will guide his heart. Allah has knowledge of everything.” (Al-Taghabun 64:11)
COVID-19 is nothing but a calamity from Allah, and we should react to it the way Umar Ibn Alkhattab used to react. He would say: “If Allah strikes me with calamity I will thank Allah for four things: 1) That the test is not in my deen. 2) The calamity could have been worse. 3) It is an expiation of my sins. 4) Any loss after losing Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is nothing.”
Amid pandemic, it is altogether a different Ramadan this year. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) once told his followers to never enter or leave a town that has the plague to avoid spreading the disease. That advice seems timely for this year’s Ramadan.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in his Ramadan message said “the Islamic tradition of hospitality and generosity is a ‘remarkable lesson’ at a time when people in conflict zones and vulnerable populations face dire consequences. This will, of course, be a very different Ramadan. Many community activities will naturally be affected by measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Masajid in Mecca (including Kaaba), and in Medina (including Masjid-e-Nabvi), the holiest cities are already declared closed during Ramadan, as are most of the Masajid in the rest of the world. Muslim Ummah has shown solidarity with the rest of communities to fight the pandemic. This Ramadan means no gatherings in Masajid for ‘Taraweeh’ prayers, no large ‘Iftar’ dinners with family and friends. And possibly also, not the same Eid as we used to celebrate.
It is painful and disheartening for a Muslim to abandon mosques, that too in the holiest of months, the Ramadan. Things are different this Ramadan, and there are curbs on the socialization. But this is necessary to defeat COVID-19.
Fundamentally, there is no bar in connecting to our creator. In this time of social distancing, Muslims can reconnect to Allah and the Qur’an on a deeply intimate level. Interestingly enough, this was the practice of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He would isolate himself for days in a cave atop a hillock (Gar-e-Hirra) to introspect, reflect, worship and connect with Allah. During the last 10 days of Ramadan, He (PBUH) was known to self-isolate in a spiritual seclusion practice known as ‘Itikaaf’.
Actual spirit of Ramadan is connecting with Allah, submitting to Him, self-discipline, introspection, self-discovery and self-development. Ramadan during the global pandemic seems disheartening at a superficial level, but it arrives at an ideal time. We have a choice to embrace this Ramadan with a focus on deep connection, submission of will and one-on-one intimacy with Allah through prayer and reflection.
Though there are no congregational prayers, no ‘Iftar’ parties, no festivities, but the basics remain the same — that is to connect to the Almighty Allah — there is no bar on it. As we strengthen our faith this Ramadan, may it also spur us to be more determined to fight the deadly virus.
This Ramadan, we have no reason to be think about the smell of delicacies that are served during ‘Iftar’ and ‘Sehri’; instead we should be thinking about our neighbors, and all those economically disadvantaged people who are facing great hardship in the face of continued shutdown. We must make sure to turn this Ramadan as the most generous Ramadan by being generous and gentle with each-other and particularly those who need our help the most during this pandemic.
We will emulate the prophetic behavior by being responsible, staying at home, praying with family, being grateful and simply trying our best. It won’t be heroic or extraordinary, but during these challenging times, it will be enough. May Allah accept our good deeds.
- Author is pursuing M.Tech in Earthquake Engineering at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi, and can be reached at [email protected]