Surviving a second Ramadan amid coronavirus


Wajeeha Bilal

Unlike physical wounds, the countless effects of war on the soul are unaddressed. There is a new form of battle, so there is a new kind of abrasion as well. A threat can be in the neighbour one minute or be in the kitchen speaking to a child, the next. War and home is becoming more intertwined and more complicated; both closer together and further apart. The unseen damage of the unknown, brings a common sacrifice of human happiness for it is clear by now that the fear of the virus surpasses the emotional dependence on our traditions. Everyone faces the challenges of the pandemic at equal rates. The global battle of the corona virus that first emerged in the city of Wuhan is, without question, something very much like war. Various world leaders have stated that we are at war with an invisible enemy that is not invincible.

The WHO has stressed regarding Covid-19, that the pandemic could aggravate in the Africa and the Middle East during Ramadan. The daily news of rising cases and severe restrictions limit the freedom with which the fasts and prayers were usually practiced. Muslims in Pakistan and around the world happen to be experiencing a second Ramadan along with the effects of a pandemic that haunt the observers with daily efflux. This year another Ramadan started in majority of the Muslim countries with a mutual fraternity of Muslims, who get together with their family and friends mostly to break their fast and enjoy the emotional connections of their rituals. But apprehensions and worries about the virus that have resulted in severe lock downs imply that Muslims will not be able to share their fraternal traditions in the usual ways.

The gap in the family unit, the loss of a loved one; they say it gets better with time as everything heals. The war would be over but not for the living who had experienced death of their happiness in one form or another. World War I and II changed the political alignment and social structure of the globe. A new world was bound to evolve yet even after two great wars the world suffered at the hands of the empowered. United Nations was established for international co-operation and prevent future conflicts, but the influence of great powers waned, triggering rivalry between Superpowers. After the confrontations have closed, after the speeches have been given, the smoke dies down, and the danger moves from the outside to inside; the war continues to ring in the souls and thoughts of those who experienced it. They relive it many times yet dying inside every time the thoughts recur.

There is a dark thump in the soul, an emotional, spiritual blaze that not only burns away all naivety, but also modifies one’s identity. There was a time when fasting and Ramadan left an endeared feeling with much more social gatherings and celebrations, but people are now once again dreading the consequences of the viral war.

Meeting for iftar and helping in social events for feeding the needy was a feeling of utter joy and the social reason to observe a long fast, yet the prevalence of this global war is making it more difficult to find peace in solitude or social services. Modern war is not simply more deadly, it is also more confusing and spirit-thumping. The enemy could be anywhere or could be anyone at any time. A public hall or a parking lot can become a war zone simply because of an unanticipated encounter. The daily movements tend to threaten the souls and make peace at home brittle.

The end of Ramadan is usually characterized with a festive observance of Eid-ul-Fitr. It is celebrated by Muslims all over the world by collective morning prayers and commencing feasts and meetings with their friends and family. With the virus maturing through its third wave, religious celebrations are globally put under check and control. In the current war it can be impossible to distinguish the victims from the ordinary when the fear of the unknown keeps resurfacing to haunt the hopes of the survivors.

This daily war with the uncertainty of living in fear is bound to change our perspective about personal and social happiness. It comes with realizing and appreciating the Blessings that were once taken for granted. No doubt Ramadan, a month that has been blessed for the Muslims in numerous ways, brings together the Ummah once again in times of crisis. Though the feeling of isolation and social distancing is depressing and lonesome, yet none of us is truly alone. Across the globe we are joined in a fraternity from dawn till dusk, praying for the virus to end in some way and hoping for a world where we never have to experience such deadly wounds ever again. Desperate times require dire losses but that does not mean the sacrifice of our souls. The path to healing the human wound lies in our collective hopes and prayers where we take precautions despite our wishes to meet and celebrate. The month that teaches patience and self-control is a true testament of the full emotional and spiritual development through these invisible wounds. This life and every battle that we fight is a journey of guidance. It is a journey to overcoming disillusionment and restoring our sense of purpose and connection. Lives will transform if we take a deep look at the universal reality that we choose to ignore otherwise. Even though the global pandemic has pushed us apart in distance, in many ways it has brought us closer together in understanding the power of our brotherhood and unity.

(The writer has authored “The Conscious Ego” and “The Beautiful Present”. She also runs “a purposeful life” blog)