Written by Khushboo Jamal
“Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar…” called the muezzin for the Maghrib prayer in Madinah. Practically everything closed at the time of prayer as streets filled with pedestrians making their way to answer the call to prayer in such a peaceful, serene manner.
As the prayer ended, I remained seated in the courtyard of Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, just taking in all that I could. The sky was a beautiful gradient transitioning the sunset into a night sky. The comfortably cool breeze of December filled the air. In the distance, I saw strangers sharing dates and other snacks. I glanced to my right and the row was filled with sisters from Malaysia, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Turkey, and so many more countries, all sitting in harmony, with one simple reason for being there – to connect with their Creator. There was absolutely no differentiation between status or wealth. There was no discrimination. We were all equal and it was beautiful. Disconnecting myself from social media and all worldly distractions was the best thing I could have done for my mental wellbeing during my time in Makkah and Madinah.
Flashing forward to the situation of the world in 2020, the major outbreak of COVID-19 changed the course of everyday life. Overwhelmed doctors, nurses and many out there have been battling the virus on the frontlines without a cure, putting their own lives at risk without the proper health care facilities to support them. The rest of us? We’re stuck inside our homes battling with our minds from going insane in quarantine.
We’re isolated from the outside world, from our families and friends. The mosques are empty, Umrah has been stopped, and congregational prayers are not to be had. What if our loved ones get sick? We can spiral in hopelessness and angst unless we level up our mindset.
Hasn’t it always felt like time is just slipping us by? With the constant hustle and bustle of life and a plethora of responsibilities, it feels as if we’re always on the run and I personally have sought to feel the same peace I felt being in our holy cities. This is our chance from Allah swt to pause.
Recall that our Prophet Muhammad, Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him, used to voluntarily go into isolation for days at a time in the Cave of Hira just to clear his mind from the wrongdoings of society and pray. In isolation is when the miracle of revelations began. When there was a short pause in revelation and the Prophet, Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him, worried that Allah swt had forsaken him, Allah swt revealed Surah ad-Duha, starting with “By the Morning Light,” that He had not abandoned him.
What can we take away from these lessons? Incredible things can come out of isolation and we should never lose hope in Allah swt – He is the Most-Loving, waiting for us to turn to Him. We decide if we turn this trial into a blessing by prioritizing time and returning to the beautiful, just path of Allah swt.
We strive to be the best in our academics and careers but our determination tends to dwindle when it comes to the deen. So, starting now, let’s stop putting off our Islamic goals and change our ways seeking to please Allah swt in this life of uncertainty and find our inner peace. Do we prioritize work over prayer, Netflix and making Tik-Tok videos over reciting Quran, reading 1000-page romantic novels over reading the translation of the Quran? Do we treat others with kindness and respect? Are we arrogant or are we humble? This is the time to reassess ourselves and connect with Allah because if this virus has taught us anything, it’s that we are fragile and life is temporary. If we were to be handed our Book of Records today, would we be content with our actions?
It’s time we face these questions so that we can work to attain true success in this life and the Hereafter. It’s time we do what is loved by our Beloved and maybe just maybe, we’ll opt into voluntary isolation periodically to check in on ourselves and connect with Allah swt beyond our five daily prayers even after we’ve made it through COVID-19.
This blog post was written by Khushboo Jamal.