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Dealing with the Pandemic: Dealing with the collective pain and Grief with the tools of Iman

There is no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has challenged every single person in a myriad of ways. The coronavirus wreaked havoc on the health and well being of everyone all over the world and there have been very few who have been spared the effects. Whether it is dealing with grief as a result of loss brought upon by the virus or the stress of the economic impact, this year has been difficult. The stress of this pandemic has been multifold and took on different legs. The first was the consequences of the virus in the lives it claimed and the effects it had on people’s health. Then came the economic impacts of the pandemic on so many people’s lives- most notably the poor and the indigent across the world. Whether you were spared being infected by the virus or were saved from the direct effects of the turmoil wreaked by the pandemic, this last year has affected each and every single one of our lives. For me, the pain of losing a litany of loved ones has been overwhelming. Just when you think that it can’t get any worse, you hear news of more and more people passing away often suddenly. Added to our individual pain and suffering, there has been a collective pain endured by suffering happening all over the world, whether it is famine in Ethiopia, the war in Yemen or Apartheid in Palestine. There are too many world-crisis to list. You would not be blamed for feeling helpless and despondent during this time. This last year has tested us in unimaginable ways and pushed our resilience to the max. The first tool I tapped into is understanding the profoundness of the verse of the Quraan in Sura Baqarah that Allah will not burden a person more than he can bear. “ALLAH DOES NOT BURDEN A SOUL BEYOND THAT IT CAN BEAR” لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا By understanding that this period is a test from Allah that will not last forever is the first effort at overcoming the burden. Some weeks have felt good while other weeks have felt like I was drowning in a cesspit of grief and agony and unable to lift myself from this. The second tool I reached for was reminding myself that if the problem and the test comes from Allah then the solution lies with Him too. As Allah says in Surah Talaaq: “And whoever fears Allah - He will make for him a way out and provide for them from sources they could never imagine. And whoever puts their trust in Allah, then He ˹alone˺ is sufficient for them. Certainly, Allah achieves His Will. Allah has already set a destiny for everything.” وَمَن يَتَّقِ اللَّهَ يَجْعَل لَّهُ مَخْرَجً وَيَرْزُقْهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا يَحْتَسِبُ وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ فَهُوَ حَسْبُهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بَالِغُ أَمْرِهِ قَدْ جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدْ رً By deeply reflecting on these ayaat, it allows me to take every test in my stride and search for ways to deal with the problem at hand. I have since found that listening to Quraan daily has become a relief for anxiety. I have created a Spotify playlist that is my companion during working from home and on daily walks. Surah Maryam and Surah Al Imraan have become my ‘best friends' during this time. I have found that often when you are feeling low or down, you become disconnected from Dua. It is almost as if you feel ashamed to ask Allah to ease your burdens and suffering. I have found that simply repeating duas when triggered by anxiety or stress has become so helpful that it is now a habit.

The dua of Yunus (as) is something I reach for so naturally now that it has become second nature: لاَّ إِلَـهَ إِلاَّ أَنتَ سُبْحَـنَكَ إِنِّى كُنتُ مِنَ الظَّـلِمِينَ

More recently, in my journey to deal with anxiety and stress I have been reading on the importance of meditation. Daily meditation has become such a millennial fad that you often forget that muraqaaba is a practice of the prophet Muhammed (SAW). I find it very difficult to sit in complete silence and have recently found it very fulfilling to sit for a while and listen to Zikr. Allah reminds us in Sura Ra’d that: “Allah s.w.t. reminds us in the Quran: Those who believe and whose hearts find comfort in the remembrance of Allah. Surely in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find comfort”. الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَتَطْمَئِنُّ قُلُوبُهُم بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ ۗ أَلَا بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوب I rely on my local masjid’s Soundcloud for beautiful zikr that I listen to in the evenings following a long day. To get through this pandemic we need resilience and hope and for me, that is firmly rooted in imaan and belief. Death and grief test your faith and your belief in Qadr (destiny) like nothing else can. Holding on to your belief when the world feels like it is sinking underneath you is often daunting. But trust me, it is the most important thing we have, may we hold onto it as tight as we can.

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