Covid 19 pandemic, a big test for us all
By: Mohammed Lahlal
Covid 19 pandemic and its variants are still causing widespread devastations worldwide. When people breathed some relief after the invention of types of vaccines to attack the deadly virus and bring immunity to the body, new variants of coronavirus made their appearance to signal the battle against the virus is not yet over and it is too early to confirm the end of the plague. My aim in this article is not to look into the underlying causes of the virus spreading, but to focus on the lessons we should draw from this global trial and the current and future challenges we have to face, particularly in Muslim world as individuals, society and state.
As individuals, we should rethink our lifestyle habits which are largely marked by confusion, anxiety and heedlessness from our Lord and our journey to the Hereafter. One might think his happiness lies in the unrestrained pursuit of material acquisitions and worldly charms and pleasures. But, when one is hit by a trial such as a pandemic or any other calamity, he plunges into panic, fear and distress. God, the Almighty, always reminds us of the transience of this temporal life and the inevitable death and afterlife so that we repent, return to Him as humble servants and be grateful to the many blessings bestowed upon us, such as good health, comfort and well-being. As individual Muslims, we believe that nothing happening in this life is haphazard and without meaning; God, Exalted is He, sends signs of punishment and mercy so we draw lessons and make judicious steps for change. And no change is hoped for unless we rein in our ego and purify the heart from clinging to the fleeting charms of the worldly and climb the rungs of faith, then any misfortune or adversity is placed in its relative dimension of God’s will and it is God’s will that we have to seek ways to find cure to our ailment and alleviate the pain.
As a society, we are tested how strong the bonds of fraternity are and whether we constitute a solid community able to maintain solidarity and cooperation and face challenges together. When a society is founded on individualistic ends, it definitely fails the test of figuring out collective solutions. And this is exactly what we saw when the pandemic broke out, people hurried to shopping markets to hoard goods, some found it difficult to comply with health instructions and preventive measures and some others would instill more chaos and confusion by spreading misinformation on social media platforms. In times of plagues and disasters, civil organizations should help in the global effort to allay the sufferings, sensitize people of the danger, console those who have lost their beloved ones and devise creative methods to reach out to all citizens, mainly people living in dire conditions. A strong and energetic civil society always makes the difference, otherwise people with high social and economic volatility will continue to suffer and whatever steps the state might take to address the pandemic, will fall short of containing the spread of the virus and its consequences.
As a state, the biggest blunder is when a government alienate civil organizations and exclusively take all matters in hand. On the pretext of health emergency and restrictive safety measures, some governments seize the opportunity to impose more restrictions on freedom of expression and all forms of protest, they might go further as to pass unpopular bills that would hurt citizens’ livelihoods and aggravate their social well-being. It is easy to impose coercive measures, but what is required is that the government should assume its responsibility to listen to the grievances of citizens and figure out practical solutions to grapple with the aftermaths of the pandemic. What is more appalling is that some governments have no plan for emergency and rely on foreign aids to meet the needs, particularly in health sector. The pandemic has done nothing but exposed more the reality of our broken health service: a significant shortage of health personnel and medical equipment in public hospitals, and no serious funding of medicine research studies. Unless Muslim governments initiate a new policy of investment in health sector and education, we will witness more degradation and threat to people’s health safety.
To conclude this, we should say that coronavirus pandemic is a real test for us to raise deep spiritual, moral, social, political and economic questions. These are all connected, and we have to deal with them as such if we want to figure out more viable solutions to the protracted problems and pave the way to a global Muslim renaissance.