Asad Mirza | Clarion India
INDEED, HUMAN mind is fickle. When we get what we were seeking, we very quickly start disliking it. Nothing else illustrates this fact better than the time to kill during the nationwide lockdown imposed to counter the Corona pandemic in the country.
Till last Wednesday, we were bemoaning about lack of time at our disposal, and we were in a tearing hurry to juggle various tasks during the time we had at our disposal. Come the previous Saturday, and everything came under the Lockdown, till 31 March, and later PM Modi extended it for another 21 days. The initial euphoria or the resolve to handle the situation resolutely, changed very soon.
What we fail to realise is that perhaps the nature has given us this time to take a break from our daily humdrum and ponder over those issues which were constantly at the back of our mind but never found time to ponder over.
The nature has given time to Mother Earth to heal it itself. In the absence of humans scurrying around and utilising its resources, Nature has given humans this break in our daily existence to devote not just some time but full time to ourselves. This has happened at both physical and mental as also spiritual level.
Physically, we now have more time to spend on that exercise regime, which we had been ignoring constantly, taking shelter behind a ‘lack of time’ in the early morning.
But now we can get up early in the morning, and after praying or meditation, can start out a new exercise regimen, which was ignored earlier. Try to involve your wife/husband and kids also to be a part of this; and instead of an individual one, make it into a group exercise plan. Remember this is also necessary, as during the lockdown, our physical activities will be nil. So it is imperative that we chalk out a plan, which helps us maintain our physical fitness.
After the prayers and exercise, we can enjoy a leisurely breakfast, which most of us used to skip earlier.
Afterwards, we can easily find enough time to do those chores, which we always neglected or rushed through, citing lack of time. You can clean up your attic, wardrobe, study table, almirahs or even the whole house; or just rearrange the furniture to give a new look to the house.
Besides this, you can devote more time to pursue your hobbies, which were always sacrificed at the altar of professionalism. Now you can start painting, writing, and composing songs or whatever you wish to excel in. You have enough time to make your body and mind adjust to the new regime; and believe me, after 21 days, you’ll be able to squeeze out more time for yourself.
Mentally or spiritually, these 21 days give you enough time to ponder over those spiritual issues about which you always wanted to read and study in depth but were never able to focus on. Now, you can ponder over your existence, your role and duties as a human being. Look back as to how you have spent your life so far, etc. Go through the scriptures, not in a rush, but try and find the real meaning of every word and phrase and ponder over their relevance to your life. You can read the Holy Quran with meaning and correct pronunciation or cantillation.
In these spiritual pursuits, you could involve your family too. You can take guidance from your elders and teach your kids and clarify their doubts about your faith. All this will also help you establish a stronger bond with your elders and youngsters and kids, besides providing them also an opportunity to grow spiritually or study matters related to your faith. And the end result will be a healthy and stronger family both physically and spiritually.
Lockdown and Indian Muslims
For the Indian Muslims, the lockdown gives a golden opportunity to establish itself more effectively as the biggest and charity-oriented faith group. Muslims can start food banks in their localities to serve those daily wage earners, who may now not be able to earn their daily bread. They can take up other activities like cleaning up their localities and neighbourhood parks through group activities, ensuring social distancing norms. They can make arrangements to transport patients, expectant mothers and affected patients to the hospitals in an organised manner. For all this, they can use their Zakat money, which they had planned to give during the forthcoming month of Ramazan.
At the individual level, many Muslims have come up with numerous queries on how to continue to perform their faith activities at an individual level. Our Faqihs and Ulemas have responded to various issues very proactively. Islam always advises you to adopt an attitude that ensures the welfare and safety of all. Thus, our Faqihs have tried to answer these queries in this background.
The uppermost is the question of performing Salah at your home. Maulana Khalid Saifullah Rahmani, the leading Indian Faqih, has advised us on this matter. Maulana opines that Adhan and Jamaat should be performed at your masjid but in a very limited manner, meaning that Jamaat should be performed by the Imam along with a limited number of muqtadees, further than the Muezzin of your neighbourhood mosque. Instead of saying ‘Haya Al-as Salah’ meaning ‘come to prayer’ in Arabic, one should replace it with ‘As salatu fi-rihalakum’ or ‘As salatu fi-buyutikum’ meaning ‘pray at home’.
Regarding Juma prayers, Maulana Rahmani opines that these too should be performed with limited people and only a short Khutba should be read out. Also lessons on the Holy Quran and Hadees after the Salah and lengthy speeches by the Imam need be stopped. A system of sanitisation and cleanliness in every mosque should be performed assiduously.
As regards performing Namaaz in a Jamaat, along with your family, Doctor Mohammad Raziul Islam Nadvi, Secretary, Sharia Council, Jamaat-e Islami Hind says that this act is permissible. The accompanying chart shows the preferred positions of different family members during this.
ISSUE OF BURIAL
Answering another related issue which might confront Muslims all across the country very soon, is the issue of burial and related activities. Maulana Rahmani categorically says that if the doctors and the government allow, only then the dead bodies of affected persons be taken over by the relatives.
If allowed by doctors, only then the Ghusal should be given; if the body is not in a good shape, then Tayammum should be performed. Desist from this, if it may result in transmission of the virus. As regards giving Kafan to the body, Maulana Rahmani is of the view that it should be done if the doctors allow it. If the hospital authorities hand over the body in a protective film, then that film should be considered as a Kafan. Just like those of the Shohadas (martyrs), who were buried in the clothes in which they were fighting.
Doctor Razi says that if the doctors allow the Ghusal, then one should ensure that the water used for Ghusal is disposed of in an efficient manner, ensuring that no healthy person comes into contact with it.
Regarding the next step of burial, Maulana Rahmani opines that if the hospital authorities are handing over the body in a wooden box, then that box should be buried in the cemetery. Even if that is not allowed and the burial is done at a specific public place, then one should at least ensure that Namaz-e Janazah is performed by the people before the burial.
We should remember that, though Islam is a community-oriented faith, yet in times of natural calamities or war, we could pursue our faith-related activities at an individual level. We should remember that during the 1,441-year history of Islam, Tawaf at the Khana-e Kabah has been suspended 40 times and Haj not performed four times due to natural calamities or similar conditions. Further, we should desist from questioning our Faqihs and Ulemas, as every decision taken by them is in the light of the Holy Quran and Hadees and Shariah and indeed they are more knowledgeable than us.
We should resolve to emerge out of this lockdown as a more knowledgeable, pious and practising Muslim and Indian.
Asad Mirza is a senior journalist based in New Delhi. He has worked with BBC Urdu Service and Khaleej Times of Dubai. He writes on Muslim issues, as also on education, international affairs and interfaith issues. Email: [email protected]