Lockdown. Perhaps not the most auspicious start to the new year. Or so we might think.
As I write, the majority of the population in the UK is living a life with strict limitations on movement in public. Shops, schools, universities and countless offices are lamenting the loss of their normal inhabitants. Instead, people have been forcefully confined to their own four walls and though the routine is not new, it is one which many are still struggling to adapt to. As a result, ‘mental health’ has become a buzz word in conversations. I myself often feel that the escalated urgency of the COVID-19 situation has caught me in my unguarded moments and taken me down an emotionally rough road upon which I do not wish to travel.
But lockdown has brought with it an unprecedented silence. It is not just the ethereal silence found in the streets or parks or shopping malls; it is a silence of the type within ourselves that has allowed a spiritual cleansing. I have found that the silence in my own life has been a welcome visitor – where the absence of idle gossip or irrelevant banter with others has led to a deeper contemplation of the purpose of my being. There is no doubt that the entire country is in a sombre mood. Where people used to engage in frivolous conversations or idle pursuits, instead, in their place today, we see more introspection. People seem too hesitant to allow themselves laughter any more. It almost feels disrespectful when we know that others have suffered personal tragedies or losses through this pandemic.
The virus has achieved the unthinkable in one fell sweep. As a Muslim, I firmly believe that the final prophet was Mohammad (peace be upon him) and that his message was to convey the Oneness of Allah. Though that message was delivered, that is not to say that Allah will not continue to send His warnings to mankind. Through the ages, we know of storms, floods and diseases which were delivered upon nations who transgressed His orders. Today, I am totally convinced He has done the same again. The question is: How many of us will concede this is a warning from Allah?
And so, I return to the Silence. It has provided that necessary space (for those who choose to care to understand it) to contemplate events till now and how they will move forward in their own lives from this point on. Silence provides a vacuum. No noise. No distractions. Just peace. For the discerning one, it would not go amiss that that vacuum is now a pure receptacle waiting be filled with a meaningful substance. That, in my opinion, is where Allah becomes the focus of our lives again. As the flotsam and jetsam of life is cleared, we can allow Allah to be firmly planted back to where He rightly belongs – at the centre of our everything.
Silence is the absence of sound. This past year we have all experienced a silence of sorts. It is the very absence of distracting sounds in our lives that has allowed the soul to ‘speak’ to the heart. In a normal world, the logical (or even illogical) mind often rules the heart and drowns out the voice of the soul which silently battles for a place at the podium too. And now, finally, under drastic global pandemic conditions, the soul stands at its rightly claimed spot – at the vanguard of the inner personal battle, determined to fight our inner demons. This is a time to let the soul speak. We need to reacquaint ourselves with the superior and spiritual dimensions of our existence again. We have been given the chance to declutter our lives.
I still try to remain positive in this strange period that we find ourselves in. Alhamdulillah, there have been unexpected but pleasant surprises along the way. Undoubtedly, the best outcome has been that the pandemic has definitely shaken me from a sluggish spiritual stupor. If we can all claim to be on a journey of reawakening, then there should be less regrets and more hope for the future. Insha’Allah.