Even corona has not brought people closer to Allah

By: Ashraf Mumtaz      Published: 12:20 PM, 9 Jun, 2020
Even corona has not brought people closer to Allah

When coronavirus broke out in Pakistan a few months ago after taking a large number of lives in some other countries, a debate started whether the pandemic is a blessing, a warning or a punishment from Allah. People belonging to different walks of life came up with divergent views on the subject.

Religious leaders said in TV talk shows that it would be a blessing if it drove people away from sinful lives and brought them closer to their Creator. Otherwise, they said, it would mean it has come as a curse, punishment.

There was another point of view that the contagious disease could be a warning to the erring people to mend their ways and mould their lives according to tenets of Islam.

The experience of the past three months shows that the virus has not “softened” people’s attitude towards religion and they are today what they were before the outbreak.

No step has been taken for collective repentance, which could have been the most effective way of seeking Allah’s pleasure. Neither it was proposed by any quarters nor implemented.

The number of people did not go up in mosques even during the just-concluded holy month of Ramazan, which otherwise is always a month of change. In this month even those people come to mosques who stay away for the rest of the eleven months.

Since during this Ramazan the government had strictly enforced social distancing policy, it can’t be said with certainty whether thin attendance in mosques was the result of the new restrictions or some other factor.

Even today people offering prayers in mosques have to stay at a distance of some six feet, an arrangement because of which only a few dozen people can offer prayers at a mosque which otherwise has a capacity to accommodate hundreds.

The writer personally knows a number of people who regularly offer all prayers in mosques. However, after the outbreak of the Covid-19 they have quarantined themselves at homes.

The persuasive argument that they should offer prayers in mosques as the time, mode and place of every mortal’s death had already been decided by the Creator of the Universe could not convince such people and they stick to their “stay home” decision.

The writer talked to a number of people to elicit their views whether the pandemic had brought about any positive change in the thinking and attitude of the people and whether they were better Muslims now than before.

A leader of the Jamaat-i-Islami was of the view that the contagion has not brought people closer to Allah. Had it been so, he argued, landlords would not have charged their tenants during the period of adversity, prices would have come down, profiteering would have become a story of the past, and crime incidents would have disappeared. But there is no such thing on the ground.

The pandemic, he said, has caused depression among people.

The Imam of a mosque near Lahore’s Qartaba Chowk takes corona as a conspiracy against mosques and seminaries. According to him, the countries behind this conspiracy want that funds meant for mosques and seminaries should be diverted to other sectors.

He likens the facemask to silencer of a motorcycle which, if blocked, will damage the machinery.

He doesn’t wear the facemask but is facing no health problem.

Khwaja Muhammad Farooq, about 70 something, who offers prayers in mosque in all situations, thinks the pandemic has brought about no positive change in society. He recalled the 1965 war between Pakistan and India had transformed society within no time. But, he regretted, there is no change in situation now despite the outbreak of the pandemic.

He quoted a then Lahore Fort police official as saying that not a single crime had been reported to the police station for weeks, which meant that there was a real change in society.

AR Butt, a legal practitioner who spent a good part of his life in some Arab countries, isolated himself shortly after the outbreak of the pandemic. He doesn’t go to mosque, arguing that life is more valuable than worship. To substantiate his argument for not going to mosque in the changed situation, he says even breaking of fast is permissible in certain situations.

In his opinion it is the personal satisfaction of a believer that matters more. If somebody is satisfied by offering prayers at home or in mosque, it is the individual’s choice.

A media report says the coronavirus has changed the lives of people of Rawalpindi, especially the children. Early rising has become a story of the past. Now more people sleep during the day and work at night. As a result, timing for breakfast, lunch and dinner have also changed.

Now that lockdown has been eased, same old activities are witnessed in bazaars, with little regard to the precautions suggested by the government. Prices of almost all items have shot up. Crime rate is on the rise. Many people are seen without facemasks and there is little regard for social distancing order. This is very unfortunate.

If even a fatal contagion like corona has not brought people closer to Allah, one fails to understand what will? And what kind of treatment can people expect for themselves in the Hereafter when even an atom’s weight of good and evil deed will be counted/evaluated?