Since you cannot hug someone from six feet away nor kiss them through a mask, it takes the warmth of love out of the greeting. We are all struggling to learn to live with the new norms of social distancing and masking in the post-COVID lifestyle – Pic by Shehan Gunasekara
By Mirza Yawar Baig
First of all, let me wish all of you Eid Mubarak. May Allah accept all your Ibaadaat, Tiwatil Qur’an, fasting, charity and reward you in keeping with his majesty and grace. Today in May, 2020, as we celebrate Eid ul Fitr, the one thing that I am conscious of is that this Eid is like no other in my life. This Eid is subdued and quiet. There was no gathering for Salatul Eid which we look forward to so much. A time to wear new clothes, eat dates and Sheer Khorma (the milk and vermicelli dessert we make for Eid in Hyderabad) and go to the Eidgah for the Salah.
In my case, I would be focused on leading Eid Salah in our masjid in Hyderabad. The Salah and Khutba would be followed by a group photo which we always took with our closest friends. This has been our tradition for the past 11 years. This year, the masjid will be empty and silent and there will be no group photo.
Here in Springfield, the Eid Salah is usually in the park. One of the most beautiful experiences of my life, which I have shared with this community several times, when I used to live here in the late ’90s and later when we visited here. Thanks to the diversity of the community, the gathering would be a riot of colours and fashions with people coming out to pray in their national dress and headgear. Men, women and little children, hugging, kissing, and greeting each other to express their happiness at the blessing of the festival at the end of the fasting of Ramadan al Kareem.
Today the park is empty. Since you cannot hug someone from six feet away nor kiss them through a mask, it takes the warmth of love out of the greeting. We are all struggling to learn to live with the new norms of social distancing and masking in the post-COVID lifestyle. We are moving from BC to AC – Before Corona to After Corona. We ask Allah to help us and to ease this difficulty and deliver us all from this test. As I speak, we are also very conscious of all those brothers and sisters and elders who left us, casualties to COVID-19.
Death is pre-ordained and those who died, attained Shahada (martyrdom) and will be in Jannah Insha Allah, but the pain of their parting, the empty space that they left in our hearts, can’t help but bring tears to our eyes. We accept the Qadr of Allah with equanimity and thanks and say Alhamdulillahi ala kulli haal. But we miss our nearest and dearest.
Last and by no means the least, we are most conscious of those health professionals, who knowing better than anyone else, the danger that they were exposing themselves to, went to work every morning, only to help those in need. To help the sick without asking what religion they followed. To help the sick without looking at their skin colour or whether they were rich or poor or anything else. Some of those were cured. Others died, alone, but for the doctor or nurse who stayed there to hold their hand as they started their final journey, we salute you. We pray for you and bless you. We have no words to adequately thank you and so we ask Allah to reward you in keeping with his majesty and grace. You are the real heroes and I hope when all this is over, people will continue to remember and honour you for what you did for us all.
I remind myself and you that there are three bases for the celebration of Eid ul Fitr:
We are thankful to Allah for having blessed us with Ramadan and with the ability to take advantage of it in good health. Reflect on what Ramadan brought for us: Fasting to increase our Taqwa, rewards of deeds increased to 70X, and Laylatul Qadr; a night the reward of worship in which is more than the reward of continuous worship for 1,000 months. We thank Allah that He gave us this Ramadan in seclusion with only our immediate family with us. We thank Allah for creating conditions where we were forced to reflect on our priorities to enable us to reorder them to make our lives more productive, beneficial, and graceful. He gave us Ramadan with the opportunity to resolve to bring about real changes to align our lives with the blessed Sunnah of Rasoolullah. We thank Allah and we ask Him to be pleased with us and to reward us.
The sign of our gratitude is the Eid Salah – the symbol of obedience to Allah not only in worship but in our entire lives. Salah is the symbol of Islam. The symbol of our Uboodiyat to Allah. Salah is the symbol that when we entered Islam, we undertook to obey Allah perfectly in everything, without question, as we do in Salah. Without question not because we are blind but because we see clearly who Allah is and our relationship to Him as His creatures and slaves. Islam is not blind obedience but obedience with real understanding of who Allah is and who we are. Without Salah there is no Islam. Salah is the evidence and proof of Islam.
Ramadan came to remind us about our relationship with Allah and to emphasise for us that our success in this world and the next lies in honouring our covenant with Allah by following the Way of Rasoolullah. Ramadan came to remind us that we need Allah for every breath we take and in thanks we make Sujood (prostate) to Him and Him alone. Ramadan came to remind us about obeying Allah over and above whatever desire we may have. That is why we did not eat or drink and bore the hardship with patience. We controlled our emotions and tongues and hands, always conscious that Allah was watching and that He didn’t need our hunger and thirst but had sent Ramadan to train us how to live our lives after Ramadan for the rest of our lives. To this goal we dedicate ourselves and ask Allah for His help.
We thank Allah for our material wealth by sharing it with those for whom we hold it in trust. We acknowledge that wealth is not given for us to use it any way we like, but for us to use it as we have been commanded by the One who gave it to us, Allah. Not only do we hasten to pay the compulsory charity i.e. Zakat but we also eagerly spend as much as we can, to help others, alleviate suffering, feed, clothe and bring relief to others. We thank Allah for giving us the opportunity to do all of this even more this year. We thank Allah that during all the difficult time, He ensured that we were among those who gave and never joined the ranks of those in need. We ask Allah to accept what we gave.
It was from Him and it is by His guidance that we gave it. We recognise that by giving we cleanse our wealth, cool the anger of Allah and spread goodness all around us. And by giving we fulfil the purpose of our creation: You were created for the benefit of all mankind.
Eid is a time for joining hearts. For meeting those we have not met for a long time. Of healing wounds. The way to do that is to forgive. Rasoolullah demonstrated that in Fatah Makkah where he forgave his worst enemies who had caused him material loss, mental torture, and character assassination; only because he invited them to goodness. Yet he forgave them. Allah is Ar-Rahman (The Most Merciful); Rasoolullah is Rahmatulil A’alameen (Mercy for the Universe); so, what should the Muslim be? Let us ask if we reflect this mercy which is the signature of Islam.
Islam is the name of the brotherhood of faith and the brotherhood of humanity. The Muslim is the brother of every other Muslim and the brother of every other human being. We can only do that if we learn to look at the good in people and forgive the bad.
We can only cure evil by loving those who do it, enough to care about what happens to them because of that. You can’t cure drug addiction by hating addicts. Much less by killing them. You can’t cure cancer by hating cancer patients. You can’t cure hatred by hating back those who hate you. You cure anything by loving the one afflicted by it enough to help him to get over that ailment. For that you must be willing to take some pain yourself. That is the meaning of brotherhood. That is why you need forgiveness.
Let us remember this when we celebrate Eid ul Fitr today and make sure that we spread goodness all around us everywhere.
(The writer is the Khateeb and Imam of Mahmood Habib Masjid and Isalmic Center in Hyderabad, India. He is an author, teacher, leadership development consultant, and life coach. More details on www.yawarbaig.com.)