Did the pandemic make me a better person?

Let me share with you my reflections on the anniversary of one year of lockdown. This pandemic has been a terrible crisis for us all as individuals and society. But on deeper reflection, there are lots of lessons that we can learn, it’s not all doom and gloom.

The Majestic Quran teaches that everything that happens does so by the will of the Almighty, it’s not an accident of random mutation or a chaotic event. Allah is the absolute controller, Al-Qadir and Al-Qadeer. This is the belief in taqdeer or predestination. It’s a powerful tool to prevent hopelessness and despair. Read this beautiful verse, where Allah says “A tragedy on earth or to yourselves is written down before it even happens – something easy for Allah – its purpose is to ensure you do not lose hope in what you have lost nor boast about what you have gained. Allah doesn’t like the braggers or the miserly, nor those who encourage miserliness. If anyone turns away, remember Allah is Self-sufficient, Worthy of all praise. We sent our messengers with clear proofs and We sent with them the book and scales of justice so that people may establish justice” (Al-Hadid: 22-25).

On 23rd March 2021 across the country Brits marked the anniversary of the first lockdown with a minute’s silence in memory of the 150,000 people who died. So, the anniversary is an opportunity to thank all those who worked hard and remember those who lost their lives. The pandemic was a national tragedy, behind each death is a story of sorrow and heartache. The Queen said, “As we look forward to a brighter future together, today we pause to reflect on the grief and loss that continues to be felt by so many people and families and pay tribute to the immeasurable service of those who have supported us all over the last year.”

A year since his dramatic ‘stay at home’ TV address to the nation, the prime minister said “The last 12 months has taken a huge toll on us all and I offer my sincere condolences to those who have lost loved ones…Today, the anniversary of the first lockdown, is an opportunity to reflect on the past year – one of the most difficult in our country’s history.”

This is time to pause and remember what happened and thank those who played a pivotal role in maintaining our essential services. The government lead by Boris Johnson also deserves applause for wise decisions and opening the treasury’s coffers to help the public. We were enormously inspired by what we witnessed from the NHS staff, dedication to saving lives, the resourcefulness and the ingenuity of the doctors who coped with the difficult situation boldly. The tireless efforts of scientists who worked around the clock to make the Covid-19 vaccine available.

It’s made me be a better person, how?

We must build a future inspired by the highest values that were displayed during the pandemic; kindness, sacrifice, hard work, cooperation and unity. This will motivate us to rebuild a kinder, fairer and compassionate society.

Mutual consultation

The government had a difficult job of deciding what to do, keep the economy going and risk the lives of citizens or close the economy and save lives. It gave preference to saving lives over economics by listening to the doctors and the scientists rather than the captains of industry and the gurus of capitalism. Just imagine how different the picture would have been if the government had not heeded the doctors’ warnings. The estimated death toll would have been more than one million! In Nottinghamshire they had predicted 9000 deaths, luckily there were only 1000.

The Shariah expects this rigour and intelligence when making decisions, they must be based on scientific data. The Majestic Quran says, “if you don’t know something then ask those who know,” this is a wise policy that reflects self-control and mutual consultation. We need to exercise this self-control, off-the-cuff decisions, by seeking consultation every day not just in time of crisis.

Readiness for any eventuality

The suddenness and the largescale nature of the pandemic teaches not to be complacent, be ever vigilant and prepared. The Quran exhorts, “So prepare whatever force and cavalry you can against them, to deter Allah’s enemy and yours and others besides them whom you do not know, but whom Allah knows. Whatever you spend in Allah’s way will be reimbursed to you and you will not be wronged” (Al-Anfal: 60). This verse is about Jihad, defending your country against the enemy. However, it can be symbolically interpreted as being prepared to face any disaster natural or man-made. That is why governments have committees that deal with threats and unexpected disasters. The Quran says be ready to fight those who you know are your enemies but then there are those who you don’t know, Coronavirus was certainly the unknown enemy.

Obeying the law

We are told “obey Allah and His messenger and those people in authority” (Al-Nisa: 59) the carrying out of orders given by those in authority is important for a society to function, otherwise, there would be anarchy and the most vulnerable would be at risk of harm. This is when the entire population must obey the rules, the results are good for all of us. During this pandemic people obeyed the laws, which were very difficult, the social distancing measures, not meeting your friends, relatives and loved ones for months on end.

Work-life balance

By putting health and life first the government sent a very clear message that life is first and work is second or at least keep the work-life balance.

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