By Fethullah Gülen
April 29, 2020
The Muslim holy month of Ramzan will be different this year. Around the world, mosques will be closed, extended families will remain apart, and shopping malls, cafes and streets will be eerily quiet. Even as the world grapples with Covid-19, the yearly rituals of Ramzan will continue. Throughout the holy month, most of the world’s 1.8 billion Muslims will fast between dawn and sunset, spend time in Quranic recitation, self-reflection and prayer in an effort to come closer to God, and give thanks for our blessings.
And this year, our prayers will include special emphasis on the healthcare workers, emergency workers and other essential employees who are on the frontlines of the fight to protect our communities. The Quran likens saving a life to saving the whole of humanity, and Prophet Muhammad says that the best of humans are those who benefit other humans.
Perhaps the most difficult obligation for many, though, will be forgoing the long-planned gatherings of the season, in order to comply with precautions issued by authorities. But following these measures is a duty of our citizenship and a necessity of our social responsibility to respect God’s laws in the universe. For instance, Prophet Muhammad advised quarantining a town in the event of an infectious disease.
Each of us should take the extra time and space afforded by the pandemic’s social distancing measures as an opportunity for further examination of our connection with God, our families and our core values. This time offers a mandatory retreat from the busy nature of our daily lives and a chance to turn towards God, deepening our faith, knowledge and practice.
We must take this time to connect with our communities in new ways, including making our spiritual resources accessible to younger generations using their language and their familiar technologies.
As we enter Ramzan, it is paramount that we devote ourselves to helping those in need, rather than finding others to blame. Even as people, groups or nations with whom we have had past differences may be suffering, each of us must reject as inhumane the thought that anyone deserved a calamity.
In a globalised world, nobody is isolated from a potent problem, be it environmental, medical or economic. This is a time to share data, and to collaborate to find solutions, realise our interdependence as nations, communities and inhabitants of a global ecosystem – recognise that we all are members of the human family.
As we enter this holy month, it is crucial that we look forward with hope and not despair, which stifles people and progress. Humanity has overcome great challenges in the past, and we will find ways to overcome this challenge, too. If we focus on the opportunities this pandemic presents, we will be able to keep our spirits high and reach the end of this tunnel much quicker.
Our observance of Ramzan will necessarily be different this year. But in many ways it will be like any other year: We will fast, we will pray, we will recite our holy book and we will take time for reflection and charity throughout the holy month. May God enable us to benefit fully from the feast of bounty in Ramzan.
(Abridged from the original. The writer is a US-based Turkish Islamic scholar and author who inspired an international social movement called the Hizmet Movement)
Original Headline: Keeping the faith despite the Covid-19 pandemic
Source: The Times of India