Four Lessons from Ramadan and COVID-19

This year Ramadan came at a most critical time in our lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 gave us a sudden jolt. It exposed the frailty of the human condition. This pandemic shook our over-confidence and dependence on our own devices.

It taught us that after all, we are not all that powerful and that we can never dispense with our Creator.

As we have bid farewell to this unique Ramadan under lockdown, let us reflect on some lessons we can learn from it.

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1. Time Is Flying

It is evident that Ramadan came and went too fast. That reminds us about the transient nature of this worldly life.

Allah tells us in the Quran about what will happen on the Day of Judgment:

{He will say, “How many years did you remained on earth?”

They will say, “We remained a day or part of a day. But ask those who keep count.”             

He will say, “You remianed but a little, if you but knew.”} (Al-Mu’minun 23:112-114)

We must never forget the lessons of the flight of time:  

 {By the flight of time, truly mankind is in loss, save those who believe, perform righteous deeds, encourage one another to the truth, and encourage one another to patience.} (Al-`Asr 103: 1-3)

2. Save Environment

COVID-19 teaches us that we cannot continue our relentless assault on the environment without paying a hefty price. Countless species of living beings have been reduced to extinction by us.

It does not stop there. The threat facing humanity because of our greed and wasteful habits is endangering the future of humanity. The environment, the land, and the sea and the ecosystem are all at the point of no return.

{Corruption has become rampant on land and sea as a result of people’s actions and He will make them taste the consequences of some of their own actions so that they may turn back.} (Ar-Rum 30:41)

 Degradation of the environment has now reached a tipping point. Scientists say unless we take immediate steps to reverse the process, we are all doomed.

In the words of Alex Steffen, the co-author of the Planetary Boundaries report,

“It’s clear the economic system is driving us towards an unsustainable future… and people of my daughter’s generation will find it increasingly hard to survive”.

He further states, “History has shown that civilizations have risen, stuck to their core values, and then collapsed because they didn’t change. That’s where we are today.”

Prophetic Wisdom

It is in this context we must invoke the lessons of Ramadan and Prophetic wisdom.

The Prophet taught us that each one of us ought to make a difference starting with the little things: consuming less, returning to the basics, curbing our greed, and using resources wisely.

Moderation is key. When the Prophet said that we should not waste water even while performing ablution, he was not simply speaking about wasting water; he was teaching us not to waste any resources. If we continue to waste, we will leave nothing for future generations.

COVID-19 has taught us how to manage without the extras. Let us stick to this habit, and go with less. Our mantra should be to: ‘simplify, simplify and then simplify some more’.

3. Practice Self-Restraint and Empathy

Ramadan is all about practicing self-restraint and developing empathy. Even as we hurt ourselves by treating the environment as an enemy to be conquered and defeated, we hurt ourselves when we treat our fellow humans as those to defeat and oppress.

Such a mindset is against God’s laws.  Just as we are one with nature; we are one with humanity. We are not independent of each other.

Let us practice empathy. The challenges facing humanity must be tackled collectively as a single human family. That is what Islam teaches us in the Qur’an.

We are lucky to live in a country where our leaders have demonstrated empathy. I refer especially to our Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has come out day after day to provide support for the vulnerable during this pandemic. Watching him, I remember the pious Caliph Umar who himself became gaunt and pale by taking upon himself the suffering of his subjects as they were facing a major famine.

That is the kind of leadership the world needs to save us from ourselves. Care for others as you would care for yourself.

Let the words of our beloved Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) inspire us:

Show mercy to those on earth: You will receive the mercy of the One in heaven.” (At-Tirmidhi)

At this time, let us remember the thousands, if not millions, who are forced out of their homes and often left to die in refugee camps, at sea or to rot on the ground. Muslims who fasted ought to do better than others in dealing with such crises.

By saying this I am not denying that there are individuals and organizations doing their best. They are the ones living Islam at its best. May Allah reward them and give us the honor of supporting them.

4. Be Hopeful

There is no reason to despair; faith in God is also about faith in ourselves; we always can improve our condition.

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Faith teaches hope; it teaches us to see the light at the end of the tunnel. However, to see the light, we need to train ourselves to look at the events with the eyes of the heart.

{Truly it is not the (physical) eyes that go blind, but it is hearts within breasts that go blind.} (Al-Hajj 22:46)

Let us open the eyes of the heart and learn from our mistakes. Let us focus on the things that matter and leave behind the frivolous.

Even as Ramadan came and went, this world will pass away. Then we will arrive at our final destination: To stand for judgment before the Lord of Reckoning (Maaliki yawmi al-ddeen). It is He who will dispense justice to all.  So, let us get ready to meet our Lord.

And let us mend our ways and work together for a better world and a better tomorrow.