This week, I looked back at my posts from a year ago and it seems quite surreal that the Covid pandemic is still very much with us. Arguably, in 2021 even more so. Omicron has been the year’s last performance. In all this time, we have lived like cats chasing our own tails. The end goal is ever-elusive.
When a personal tragedy befalls us, we need time to take stock, let it all sink in, then go through all the different emotional stages till we can purge ourselves of the thoughts or feelings that threaten to hold us back from the future. In a similar way, but on a far greater scale, the pandemic is something society is still coming to terms with. Try as we might to rid it from our minds (and our bodies), one way or another, I believe it is here to stay for some time still. This is not pessimism; it’s realism. So, like the personal tragedies that cause us to evolve as a better version of ourselves, I have hope that Covid will do the same at a societal level too, inshaAllah.
Having said that, I feel slightly more cautious about society’s ability to re-emerge as a purified version of itself since I know that humankind is impatient, myopic and suffers from selective short-term memory. Instead of relishing the good that has come out of this pandemic, such as having more time at home with the family, or respite from the environmental pillaging that has been going on, people like to focus on their frustrations. They want everything to “go back to normal”. I myself was guilty of those very same words when I was confronted with a new life-changing situation after divorce. Little did I care to admit that Allah is the best of planners and His design is a mysteriously awesome one. I too have been impatient with my own personal lot so I understand why society at large is no different.
However, there has to come a point when we succumb to one’s fate. It’s just a matter of time. Sometimes, we have to accept that the problem ahead is much larger than we anticipated. Rather than fight it, it’s better to confront the reality and learn to cope with what we have been given. A lot of time and energy could then be diverted onto more productive things.
It beggars belief that sceptics of the existence of God still prevail despite the pandemic. I know they’d argue that a loving God would not cause so much suffering in this world. Strange how when things go seemingly right for these same people, they never question why they deserve all the good that life has to offer. They only question when things go wrong – proof of the notion of feeling entitled to privileges. And if there is no supreme being, then why have these people themselves not found the mother of all panaceas for the Covid virus? Which individual then is responsible for unleashing this situation on the whole of humanity? So many questions which will always remain unanswered and yet which simply reaffirm the existence of Allah. I know that the life of this world is not the end game; it is just a conduit for what awaits us later. I have learnt this on a micro and macro level.
In recent days, I have been reflecting on the following verses from the Quran:
إِنَّ مَعَ ٱلْعُسْرِ يُسْرًۭا Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.
فَإِنَّ مَعَ ٱلْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.
Surah Ash-Sharh (The Relief, Chapter 94: 5-6)
Whilst I am no scholar, I can at least extrapolate from these ayahs (verses) that Allah promises that there will be difficulties and challenges in life but that they will occur simultaneously. Ease will offset hardship and the two don’t necessarily come in series. They exist in parallel. In other words, look around you! It’s clear that Allah brings us challenges but He also appeases us at the same time. It’s up to us to discern what good can be taken from a seemingly bad situation. What would this life be anyway if it were all smooth sailing? The repetition of the above ayahs makes this point emphatic and is in and of itself, a comforting thought.
So, the point of talking about all this now is to remind myself that life is full of silver linings and those silver linings that we must use to contain or circumscribe the difficulties we may encounter over time. Trouble will always be in a constant ebb and flow. This is the nature of the duniya (world). Yet our faith in Allah’s wisdom is the very thing that will help rationalise our thoughts and mollify our fear, anger and confusion. The Covid experience surely has taught us mindfulness. We can no longer take for granted a holiday abroad, a trip to the shops or spending time with loved ones. If we simply focus on the inconveniences that Covid has brought, we will surely sink into a depressing gloom. What we need to do is to stand back and ask ourselves, “What is the higher lesson in all of this?”
Coming through a personal struggle is a great preparation for something as inescapable as a global virus. For years now, I’ve gradually detached myself from the material pursuits of this duniya (world) realising that they will never bring euphoria or Utopia. The end of 2021 merges into the beginning of 2022. I don’t pin any hopes on the pandemic magically disappearing. I simply pray that we will all learn to reset our thought process, be mindful of what we have been blessed with and continue to live in a dignified manner whatever comes our way, inshaAllah.