…But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.
This life is a test, both in good times and bad. As I write this, one story is currently dominating the news cycle—that of the global pandemic caused by the coronavirus, COVID-19.
Emerging just weeks ago, it has proven to be a new form of a deadly and highly contagious disease. Having rapidly spread across continents, this phenomenon is no doubt a humbling sign from Allah, the All-Mighty (Al-ʿAzīz
) that a microorganism invisible to the naked eye can multiply so rapidly, wreaking havoc along its path. In one fell swoop, it is taking lives and depleting resources. It has crippled global markets, causing financial distress, and has brought many activities we take for granted to a grinding halt, with the forced closure of businesses, schools, places of worship and leisure. It has yet to be brought under control. Unlike localized natural disasters, war, and oppression history has witnessed many times over, pandemics do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, nations, politics, or social status. As we face these unprecedented circumstances with uncertainty, fear, and the anticipation of loss, it is our relationship with Allah that remains constant. With every hardship, Allah has promised ease. As the saying goes, the light at the end of the tunnel is not an illusion—the tunnel is!
Our faith teaches us that this too will pass, but as we go through this test (fitnah) we must seek ways to purify ourselves and to nourish our souls. The believer sees in every moment an opportunity to reap blessings and rewards. And, we remain optimistic in Allah, the All-Merciful (al-Raḥmān) Eternal Refuge (al-Ṣamad) who never lets us down, and brings us out of darkness into light, time and time again. Allah does not send us trials without also giving us the means to seek relief and to make our success easy. The real test of hardship goes beyond worldly concern and discomfort—to how we choose to respond to it. So, how do we overcome what seems beyond our comprehension and control? How do we overcome anxiety, fear of the unknown, and feeling isolated, while finding purpose and solace?
Let’s take a step back and make sure we are not absorbed in the news cycle and logistics of this crisis, as important as it is to be informed, to remind ourselves that today is yet another step along the journey back to Allah. The Straight Path we seek demands faith, gratitude, and patience on our part—and placing one’s trust
in Allah. Reliance on Allah, tawakkul
, is among the greatest acts of worship along this Path and one required of us, “…and upon Allah rely, if you should be believers.”
It is a means to His pleasure and reward.
It is among the greatest blessings we have that enable us to nurture and maintain our faith. It is the source that inspires hope, contentment with divine decree, and confidence during all
times and situations, particularly during moments of fear and uncertainty. Allah promises to “
provide for the believer from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah, then He is sufficient for him.”
Hence, Ibn al-Qayyim said, “Tawakkul
[reliance on Allah] is half of the religion. As for the other half, it is inābah
[to return to Allah in all affairs and repentance].”