The Coronavirus – Five tests in one
What are we supposed to make of this?
The first ayah which came to my mind in this calamity is in Surah Baqarah, when Allah Almighty said:
And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient (2:155)
This ayah describes our exact situation in detail.
Firstly Allah is saying without doubt He will test us with some fear, though this is not extreme fear.
1. Fear controls our actions
We can see fear all around us. People are terrified. It is reflected in their panic buying, piling up, hoarding food and loo rolls, which we probably don’t even need, but fear is controlling their actions.
Allah Almighty didn’t say it would be a great amount of fear, because the Huge Fear is al-faza’ul akbar, which is not in the dunya yet, that is the fear on the Day of Judgement.
Allah says that the believers will not be affected by this huge fear, and we pray that we will be those who will not feel that great fear on the Day of Judgement.
The Supreme Fear will not worry them, and the angels will receive them: ‘This is your Day which you were promised’. (21:103)
The second aspect of the ayah in Surah Baqarah is hunger. Though people are acting as if we have hunger (ju’) we do not actually have famine, alhamdulilah. Yet people are behaving as if we do have a famine and people are queuing up and desperately scouring the shelves for food, as I have never witnessed here before.
I went shopping yesterday and it was crazy. It reminded me of the Lebanese war which is a bad memory I have from 40 years ago, when I was 10 years old and we had to queue for hours to buy bread from the bakery or to fill our water containers.
3. Loss of wealth
Allah Almighty mentions that we will have loss in property and wealth. Just look at businesses, the shares and the stock market. It is not just in one country, but it has affected all countries, we have losses of billions and trillions, much worse than the economic crisis of 2008. I hope inshallah that we will recover sooner rather than later.
4. Loss of life
We have plenty of losses of life from the Coronavirus. This continues to rise, and we hope that it will stop today rather than tomorrow. But this is the reality.
5. Loss in crops
We have also seen this for a couple of years.
How to cope with 5 tests
One of these tests alone is enough to break you, but we have witnessed five at one time. And with these five in action, Allah Almighty is asking us to act with patience.
Despite all these calamities Allah Almighty says wa bashiris sabireen:
‘Give good news to those who are acting with patience’. (2:155)
The simple definition of patience is to be in control. Control of your thoughts, your tongue and your actions. What you think, what you say, and what you do.
If we receive calamities from Allah, with rida (acceptance) then we will have reward. If we receive the calamities with anger and complaining, then we will not have the pleasure of Allah. As per the hadith:
The greatest reward comes with the greatest trial. When Allah loves a people He tests them. Whoever accepts that wins His pleasure but whoever is discontent with that earns His wrath. (Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)
Signs for those who can see
This is Allah’s destiny. What is the message to us? What is Allah telling us?
Unfortunately not everyone can see the message. Allah Almighty said beautifully in Surah al Hijr that there are signs for those who can see them (the mutawasimeen):
Indeed in that are signs for those who discern. (15:75)
In these tests, some people can see the message from Allah Almighty, la’ allahum yarji’oon, for they bring us back to Him, and to make us humble, la allahum yatadarauun:
And We tested them with fortunes and misfortunes, so that they may return. (7:168)
We sent messengers to communities before you, and We afflicted them with suffering and hardship, that they may supplicate with humility. (6:42)
These troubles bring us back to Allah Almighty with humility. They are an antidote to arrogance. There is plenty of arrogance around us. Particularly among scientists who say there is no place for god in the universe. This is the height of arrogance. And Allah Almighty has shown them that this tiny virus can bring us to our knees in a single stroke, so be humble.
The virus has shown us how weak we are, and how little we know about so many things in our universe. Allah Almighty says:
And they ask you about the Spirit. Say, ‘The Spirit belongs to the domain of my Lord; and you were given only little knowledge.’ (17:85)
This shows the greatness and majesty of Allah Almighty. And shows our need to Him the Almighty.
Allah Almighty says:
O people! It is you who are the poor, in need of God; while God is the Rich, the Praiseworthy. (35:15)
We need to learn how to be positive, as the Prophet (peace be on him) was always positive. He always had a smile on his face as a sign of his optimism, even in the midst of calamity. We need to be optimistic, not pessimistic, even though we have those in our midst who specialise in being pessimists. Hopefully we are not one of them.
Take this opportunity to be more grateful for the favours of Allah Almighty, which we take for granted. For something just as simple as shaking hands, which we are not allowed to do now because it is one of the ways the virus can be transmitted. Or hugging, or going to the mosque and praying in jammah or praying jummuah; visiting your parents and being in the presence of elders; shopping without queues, and full shelves.
In just one second, Allah Almighty can take away these favours. We need to be more grateful. We need to appreciate the favours of Allah more. And supplicate more. Be close to Him. You never know when you will depart from this world. We have seen many dying and no one can guarantee we won’t leave tomorrow.
What have you prepared
A companion asked the Prophet (peace be on him) ‘When is the Hour ya Rasul Allah?’ The Prophet (peace be on him) could have easily replied that Allah knows, and he didn’t know. But he asked the man a question in return and said, ‘What have you prepared for that Hour?’ So he taught him, that we have no control on the Hour, so focus on what you do have control over. Do your preparation. Anas bin Malik narrated:
A man asked the Prophet (ﷺ) “When will the Hour be established O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)?” The Prophet (ﷺ) . said, “What have you prepared for it?” The man said, ” I haven’t prepared for it much of prayers or fast or alms, but I love Allah and His Apostle.” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “You will be with those whom you love.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
How can we prepare for the Hour
We should be prepared for the hour by doing more ibadah.
Meanwhile, take all the proper precautions. Self isolate if you have symptoms. Regardless of symptoms stay home unless it is a necessity to go out. Don’t go to the mosque because this will spread the virus. Follow the guidelines, wash your hands, don’t hug and kiss.
Have tawakkul and be cautious
Deal with the means, don’t rely on them. Have deep tawakkul reliance on Allah. Of course Allah will protect us inshallah, but this does not mean that we act as if there is no virus. It is irresponsible to continue socialising or to continue activities, attend gathering and fixtures. Having reliance on Allah means tying your camel as well. In this instance, it means social distancing.
You cannot separate behaving with proper precaution from relying on Allah. They are inseparable twins. It is insane to expose yourself to the virus and say it is out of tawakkul.
Focus on the positive
You need to change your focus from the negative to the positive.
You have more time with your children, your families and your loved ones. Do something beneficial and productive with your time. Get closer to Allah rather than moaning and complaining and escalating fear in the family. This will not help anyone.
Allah Almighty says:
Who, when disaster strikes them, say, ‘Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.’ (2:156)
Allah replaces loss with better for those who trust Him
When Umm Salamah made the dua to Allah to compensate her for the loss of her husband, He rewarded her beyond her dreams.
Umm Salamah may Allah be pleased with her said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) saying, “When a person suffers from a calamity and utters: ‘Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’un. Allahumma ujurni fi musibati, wa’akhlif li khairan minha (We belong to Allah and to Him we shall return. O Allah! Compensate me in my affliction and give me something better instead of it), then Allah surely compensates him with a reward and a better substitute.”
Umm Salamah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: When Abu Salamah (may Allah be pleased with him) died, I repeated the same supplication as the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) had commanded me (to do) and Allah bestowed upon me a better substitute than him, the Messenger of Allahﷺ. (Muslim)
Protect yourself, act responsibly, deal with the means, be optimistic, have tawakkul, invest time with your family, appreciate the favours of Allah, and be grateful. Allah Almighty has promised that if we are grateful, He will increase our favours.
And when your Lord proclaimed: “If you give thanks, I will grant you increase; but if you are ungrateful, My punishment is severe.” (14:7)
We ask Allah to protect our families loved ones and our neighbours and our country. And bring us closer to him and make us understand and make us among those who reflect and make us optimistic not pessimistic. Ameen.
Shaykh Haytham Tamim’s Friday Reminder on behalf of the BBSI on 20th March 2020
This is not a substitute for jummuah. This is a reminder to keep people connected with the ritual of going to salah and listening to the reminder. The British Board of Scholars and Imams is not saying that you can listen to this khutbah and then pray 2 rakahs afterwards for jummuah.
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