All around the world, the pandemic of COVID-19 has turned everyone’s lives upside down. Between having to self-isolate, worrying about health issues and dealing with hectic circumstances, there’s no denying that we are all going through a challenging time right now.
On top of precautionary measures like lockdowns and travel restrictions, several countries across the globe (including Singapore and Malaysia) have had to shut down mosques and suspend Friday prayers and congregational prayers. Even the holy cities of Saudi Arabia have taken these actions, which also means that the year-round umrah pilgrimage has been halted as well.
Religious authorities and scholars have issued fatwas on these safety measures, and the directives were made based on religious textual evidence and hadiths of the Prophet.
Note: Muslims around the world are adjusting life in facing COVID-19. You can refer to the fatwas made by Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia's religious authorities on their respective websites.
Abu Huraira reported:
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: He who eats of this plant (garlic) should not approach our mosque and should not harm us with the odour of garlic. (Sahih Muslim)
If we’re advised not to go to the mosque becauseof the odour of garlic that may disturb others, what more when there is an infectious disease? As drastic as mosque closure may seem, avoiding clusters in mosques can prevent further spreading of the disease and it also helps to protect our loved ones, especially the elderly, from getting affected.
Did you know that this is not the first time in history where a virus has had a significant impact on Muslims? That’s right, the plague of Amwas was the first epidemic to claim the lives of hundreds of sahaba (companions of the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.) and tens of thousands of people in the 7th century. With plenty of similarities to the current state of our world, it is a period where we can learn a lot from how the companions of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. dealt with its hardships and difficulties.
So, as Muslims everywhere try to adapt to the new realities of religious life during COVID-19, questions about navigating the current situation linger in the air: How can we adjust our daily habits and remain spiritually strong in the midst of coronavirus? What are some of the ways to get close to Allah in the courseof this period? And how does Islam guide us through times of hardship?
Ustaz Md Fakhrur Radzi Md Noor and Ustaz Abdul Rauuf Maskhazin from Asatizah Youth Network (AYN) answer these questions
and share some handy tips in Muslim.Sg's Just Ask! AYN session on Facebook live.
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What does Islam teach us about facing challenging times like this?
When confronted with challenges during hard times such as the COVID-19 period, we should turn to one of the main teachings of Islam, which is that everything happens by the will and divine wisdom of Allah (s.w.t.). Allah says in the Quran:
“So verily with every difficulty, there is relief”
(Surah al-Inshirah 94:5)
With non-stop updates and constant changes happening around us, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by stress and anxiety. In combating this, we have to simply remind ourselves of Allah’s presence inour lives. Doing zhikr andIstighfar are some of the ways to get closer to Allah, and you’ll find that performing these practices can ease our hearts and minds while keeping calm and positive.
How can we adjust to new norms?
Adapting takes time, especially when faced with major changes like the ones brought on by the coronavirus. Maintaining some semblance of order with the things you can control is a good way to adjust to new norms.
For starters, you should always practice good hygiene. Taking daily showers, wearing fresh clothes and keeping oral cleanliness are some of the things that can help ease yourself into the new normal.
On top of that, performing the five daily prayers plays a huge role in the process of adjusting to changes. There are so many benefits of praying in a congregation. Although mosques may be temporarily closed, we can pray at home in congregation with our family members.
If there’s one significant change that’s going to take some adjusting to for Muslims, it’s the absence of weekly Friday prayers. With the closures of mosques, you might be wondering, “What will happen if you don’t attend Friday prayers three times in a row?”
According to thishadith by the Prophet (s.a.w):
مَنْ تَرَكَ ثَلَاثَ جُمَعٍ تَهَاوُنًا بِهَا طَبَعَ اللَّهُ عَلَى قَلْبِهِ
“Whosoever misses three Jumu’ah prayers without a valid necessity, Allah will seal his heart.” (Sunan Ibn Maajah)
And this other narration of the same hadith, also by the Prophet (s.a.w.):
مَنْ تَرَكَ الْجُمُعَةَ ثَلَاثًا مِنْ غَيْر ضَرُورَةٍ طَبَعَ اللَّهُ عَلَى قَلْبِهِ
"Whosoever misses three Jumu’ah (Friday) prayers by taking it lightly, Allah will seal his heart." (Sunan Tirmizi)
These hadiths only apply to those who miss Friday prayers without any valid reason and considering the current circumstances, the cancellation of Friday prayers is made for legitimate reasons. So, you shouldn’t be anxious about missing Friday prayers during this period.
How to get close to Allah S.W.T in this period?
Despite the circumstances of this unfortunate period, this is the perfect chance for us as Muslims to grow closer to Allah (s.w.t). With more time on our hands, there are plenty of things we can do in order to foster a closer relationship with Allah. From reading the Quran and reciting dhikr to seeking Istighfar and spending time with family, you should make the most out of this isolation period to reflect and connect with Allah.
These current times may be tough, strange andcertainly scary to many people but one thing’s for sure - as Muslims, turning to our faith during this period is the first step to navigating the new realities of religious life.
If you want to find out more about keeping your faith when facing challenges, head over to Muslim SG’s Facebook page where you can watch the full video discussion and other Just Ask! AYN videos. Also, make sure to stay tuned for AYN Facebook live sessions every Thursday at 9.30pm.