During the month of Rajab, we recall the isra’ wal mi’raj (night journey and ascension) of the Prophet, peace be upon him. It was a remarkable journey of the best of creation to the majesty of the Creator, which transpired during this month, a year before the Prophet’s hijrah (migration). It occurred in the most trying period of the Prophet’s exemplary life and has served as an inspirational episode for people of faith through the ages. Here we are, 1423 years after the mi’raj, entering the first days of Rajab, in the 60th week of the COVID-19 pandemic, realizing that we are indeed living through a most challenging period of our lives and certainly a defining moment in human history.
The world seems unusual as we are in an unpredictable lockdown for an unspecified period due to an unprecedented crisis of unparalleled magnitude that has forced us to readjust our perception of reality; and its impact may permanently reshape human society. Mother earth is in an extraordinary situation with an international healthcare crisis and a possible humanitarian catastrophe; we are most certainly in a grip of a devastating global contagion. We are the victims of a virus that cannot be seen by the human eye; yet makes its presence known in every village, city, state, nation throughout the world and it has brought visible disruption to all of humanity. Every field of human activity; has been impacted by COVID-19. Our daily lives now seem to be on hold, much of our plans have been interrupted and many of our activities are suspended. We have adapted to quarantine and the new reality of social distancing. Everywhere we look, we sense trepidation, desperation and apprehension.
Witnessing the Butterfly Effect
At the time of writing, there have globally been 110 million reported cases of COVID-19 worldwide with a death toll of two and a half million; making this pandemic the greatest global crisis in the past 100 years. We are observing the Butterfly Effect, where an incident in one part of the world (Wuhan, China) has affected the rest of the world. We realize that we are now so internationally interconnected that our collective fate is more intertwined and inter-linked than ever before. We are certainly all in this together and no one is immune, re-emphasizing our common humanity and reminding us that what benefits one is to the good of the other, and what harms one is to the detriment of the other. All of our actions have an impact on ourselves as well as our surroundings. We should therefore never be indifferent to the consequences of our actions.
Lesson in Non-Discrimination
What is blatantly apparent is the non-discriminatory nature of the virus in attacking humanity. Though we are all facing the same crisis to varying degrees at the same time; in our own eyes, many of us still see ourselves as different; but no matter what our nationality, culture, socio-economic status; in the eyes of the virus, we’re all just the same. You see, the virus does not discriminate, but we do. So, in our suffering, in our helplessness, in our fear of being infected, in the pain of losing a loved one, human beings are all completely equal, seemingly helpless in the ocean of uncertainty and currently without definite answers. We are all in the same boat. This begs a question; if a virus can spread disease among all human beings without discrimination, how wonderful would it be, if we, likewise were to spread love among ourselves; infecting humanity with compassion?
Towards a Better World
As we navigate from Rajab through Sha’ban towards Ramadan, we beseech Allah to grants us patience for our distressfulness, resolve to overcome our helplessness, cure for our sickness, strength for our weakness, forgiveness for our sinfulness, relief from our stressfulness, calmness for our restlessness and contentment for our happiness. We entreat Allah for the healing of those affected and implore His mercy for those who have passed on. We pray that this crisis will end, that lives and livelihoods will be spared and that we emerge from this as better human beings; elevated by our individual experiences and collectively committed to creating a better world for all.
Shaykh Sadullah Khan serves as the CEO of Islamia College in Cape Town, South Africa. He completed studies in Law at University of Durban, South Africa, Journalism (UK) and Islamic Studies at Al Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt.