Covid-19 and unintended consequences

By: Masood Malikyar

1) The U.S. Federal Reserve, as an emergency measure, slashed the prime rate to near 0 as the first response to Covid-19, in order to minimize disruptions and economic slowdown. Holy Quran forbade usury earlier by 14 centuries for a simple reason: it enriches the wealthy and further diminishes the poor; and therefore, it engenders financial imbalance and social injustice. Over time, it enables the global 1% to hoard the lion’s share of the wealth. That is why, in America alone, the vast majority of hard working folk live paycheck to paycheck – unable to meet their basic financial obligations during even a temporary period of unemployment.

2) Bars are closed all over the world. Islam forbids consumption of intoxicants in order to protect man’s intellect so that we may eschew the negative individual and social consequences of drugs and alcohol.

3) The largest world casinos in Vegas, Jersey, and Macau are closed too – no gambling is allowed in Islam. Gambling may benefit very few winners, provide jobs for some or scholarships to students, enrich casino owners and their shareholders, but at the cost of many millions of gamblers – often the poor – losing.

4) Health experts advise we should wash hands before eating. This is a very important Sunnah or tradition of the holy Prophet of Islam – an etiquette followed by most Muslims at each meal.

5) We are advised to wash hands frequently. Muslims do this at least five times a day – with or without Corona! Quran states:

إِنَّ ٱللَّـهَ يُحِبُّ ٱلتَّوَّٰبِينَ وَيُحِبُّ ٱلْمُتَطَهِّرِينَ

Verily, God loves those who turn unto Him in repentance and He loves those who keep themselves clean/pure.” (2:222)

6) Look around. Many women are wearing face masks. People are no longer disparaging Muslim women wearing Niqabs. While this is by no means a religious obligation, it is a choice a minority of Muslim women make. They want to stay away from prying and judgmental eyes as we do now from the plaguy Covid-19.

7) Governments in many countries including our very own in the U.S. are distributing money to unemployed individuals and interest free loans to small businesses. Zakat or prescribed alms is a religious obligation in Islam on every individual beyond a certain threshold of income and wealth. Those who fall below that threshold automatically become eligible recipients of Zakat.

8) Due to Corona, we are finally learning, at least I hope we are, that one cannot ignore problems out there because they’re not here or not here yet. Regardless of our stations on earth, we human beings are all interconnected. Ignoring poverty, injustice, pollution, or plagues in one part of the world is bound to equally hurt us in the other. The holy Quran states:

لَّيْسَ ٱلْبِرَّ أَن تُوَلُّوا۟ وُجُوهَكُمْ قِبَلَ ٱلْمَشْرِقِ وَٱلْمَغْرِبِ وَلَـٰكِنَّ ٱلْبِرَّ مَنْ ءَامَنَ بِٱللَّـهِ وَٱلْيَوْمِ ٱلْـَٔاخِرِ وَٱلْمَلَـٰٓئِكَةِ وَٱلْكِتَـٰبِ وَٱلنَّبِيِّـۧنَ وَءَاتَى ٱلْمَالَ عَلَىٰ حُبِّهِۦ ذَوِى ٱلْقُرْبَىٰ وَٱلْيَتَـٰمَىٰ وَٱلْمَسَـٰكِينَ وَٱبْنَ ٱلسَّبِيلِ وَٱلسَّآئِلِينَ وَفِى ٱلرِّقَابِ وَأَقَامَ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَءَاتَى ٱلزَّكَوٰةَ وَٱلْمُوفُونَ بِعَهْدِهِمْ إِذَا عَـٰهَدُوا۟ ۖ وَٱلصَّـٰبِرِينَ فِى ٱلْبَأْسَآءِ وَٱلضَّرَّآءِ وَحِينَ ٱلْبَأْسِ ۗ أُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ ٱلَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا۟ ۖ وَأُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلْمُتَّقُونَ

Goodness does not consist in turning your face towards East or the West. The truly good are those who believe in God and the Last Day, in the angels, the Scripture, and the prophets; who give away some of their wealth, however much they cherish it, to their relatives, to orphans, the needy, travelers and beggars and to liberate those in debt and bondage; those who keep up the prayers and pay the prescribed alms; who keep pledges whenever they make them; who are steadfast in misfortune, adversity and times of danger. These are the ones who are true, and it is they who are aware of God.” (2:177)

إِنَّ ٱللَّـهَ يَأْمُرُ بِٱلْعَدْلِ وَٱلْإِحْسَـٰنِ وَإِيتَآئِ ذِى ٱلْقُرْبَىٰ وَيَنْهَىٰ عَنِ ٱلْفَحْشَآءِ وَٱلْمُنكَرِ وَٱلْبَغْىِ ۚ يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ

BEHOLD, God enjoins justice, and the doing of good, and generosity towards [one’s] fellow-men; and He forbids all that is shameful and all that runs counter to reason, as well as envy; [and] He exhorts you [repeatedly] so that you might bear [all this] in mind.” (16:90)

9) Discos, night clubs, and houses of harlotry are shut down. Boyfriends and girlfriends who don’t cohabitate under a single roof fear to exchange kisses or hold hands. Islam, of course, forbids illicit sexual relationships in order to protect families, children, their health; to maintain social order; and to preserve bonds of lineage.

10) Churches, temples, synagogues, and other places of worship have closed their doors. Ju’ma or the Friday congregational Muslim prayer, on the other hand, has a substitute called Dhuhr or the mid-day prayer. While other prayers are preferably done at mosques or Masaajid, one can perform these at any place including the home or the outdoors. According to a narration in the book of Tayamum from Jabir ibn Abdullah RA, the prophet SAW said:

وَجُعِلَتْ لِيَ الأَرْضُ مَسْجِدًا وَطَهُورًا

The [whole of the] earth was made for me [and my followers] as a Masjid [place of worship] and a place of purity (Sahih Al-Bukhari Book 7 Hadith 2)

11) Warring parties are seeking armistice. Homes are no longer as inviting to home invaders. Car thieves are left with empty lots. Even criminals are practicing social distancing. Quran prohibits injustice, lusting after and or confiscation of what belongs to others.

12) The skies are blue again. Rivers, lakes and oceans are not as polluted as before. Rich hunters are no longer flocking to Africa to kill large game. We are not destroying the environment at the old rate. One of the definitions of Islam is peace. Peace with God, peace with one’s self, peace with other human beings, peace with Allah’s creation and the environment.

13) Wall Street’s greed faced an abrupt awakening. Bourses all over the world reported losses of over 13 trillion Dollars in a matter of just two weeks. Stock markets had turned into giant gambling casinos thriving on trillions of Dollars invested into speculative vehicles always benefiting equity investment firms and financial institutions. Millions of those at or near retirement lost their safety nets. How soon have we forgotten the global calamity caused by rampant greed in 2007/8?

14) Many frivolous activities have stopped. Extravagant spending is a thing of the past. Even the blood diamond market has been hit hard. People only shop for essentials to survive and avoid most other activities for fear of their demise. Islam is all about moderation and against extravagance.

15) Newfound respect for abandoned parents and grandparents in nursing homes, civil servants, teachers, gig-economy and health workers is on the rise. Even in highly individualistic societies, people are now longing to visit family members in nursing homes on their deathbeds but cannot. Islamic tradition has always held tremendous admiration for, teaching, medical, and civil service professions. Quran demands kindness and respects to parents:

وَقَضَىٰ رَبُّكَ أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوٓا۟ إِلَّآ إِيَّاهُ وَبِٱلْوَٰلِدَيْنِ إِحْسَـٰنًا ۚ إِمَّا يَبْلُغَنَّ عِندَكَ ٱلْكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَآ أَوْ كِلَاهُمَا فَلَا تَقُل لَّهُمَآ أُفٍّۢ وَلَا تَنْهَرْهُمَا وَقُل لَّهُمَا قَوْلًا كَرِيمًا

For thy Sustainer has ordained that you shall worship none but Him. And do good unto [thy] parents. Should one of them, or both, attain to old age in thy care, never say “Ugh” to them or scold them, but [always] speak unto them with reverent speech.” (17:23)

16) The mighty feels as weak and as scared as the destitute always does. Corona is leveling the playing fields. The smallest of Allah’s creations is annihilating the most giant of human hubris. Allah Almighty says in Quran:

وَلَا تَمْشِ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ مَرَحًا ۖ إِنَّكَ لَن تَخْرِقَ ٱلْأَرْضَ وَلَن تَبْلُغَ ٱلْجِبَالَ طُولًا

And walk not on earth with haughty self-conceit: for, verily, thou canst never rend the earth asunder, nor canst thou ever grow as tall as the mountains!” (17:37)

17) While celebrity worship has not changed, cinemas and concert halls remain closed. People are en masse turning to God. Clueless still as to how the virus mutates and persists or how to decimate it or to forestall its effects; people are fast realizing their weakness in the face of one of Allah’s least of creations. The question remains whether they would turn away from worship of the material world and towards the worship of the one who created it. The very reason for our creation is to worship God according to the Holy Quran.

This is all a test from God. As Muslims, we believe death comes from Allah Almighty and we accept is as a mere expression of the Devine Decree. What we have lost are the social aspects of Islam. We are in isolation as the rest of mankind, but we must use this time for further introspection and as an opportunity to get closer to Allah.

Muslim or not, we must learn to respect each other, side with the oppressed; and promote justice and good virtues. Let us be grateful for the abundance of goodness bestowed on us daily. We are interconnected indeed, and depend on each other to survive! We are all children of Adam and Eve. Let us struggle against rampant greed and injustice together as brothers and sisters in blood.

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلنَّاسُ ٱتَّقُوا۟ رَبَّكُمُ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَكُم مِّن نَّفْسٍ وَٰحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالًا كَثِيرًا وَنِسَآءً ۚ وَٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّـهَ ٱلَّذِى تَسَآءَلُونَ بِهِۦ وَٱلْأَرْحَامَ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّـهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيبًا

O ye people! fear your Lord, Who created you from a single soul and created therefrom its mate, and from them twain spread many men and women; and fear Allah, in Whose name you appeal to one another, and be mindful of your duty to Allah, particularly respecting ties of relationship. Verily, Allah watches over you.” (Quran 4:1)


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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Excellent ! Well articulated . It elucidates the current situation including Covid-19, the religion, the financial demise and the rampant inequalities.

  2. I love your article and pray that we change and turn towards God (Allah) and not away to return to life of greed

  3. Thanks, Kirstie. Amen (Ameen).

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