COVID-19 has left much of humanity in a fear filled lockdown (some literal and some metaphorical) across the globe. I always wondered what the world would be like should a pandemic hit. I always thought it would be something like zombies. However, I never gave much attention to the tiny details in life. For example, toilet paper. In my mind, there’s always a roll when I need it. It was quite shocking to see people panic about toilet paper so strongly.
I didn’t think about stores being empty. In the movies, the grocery store was a golden land. A few strangling zombies here and there but the shelves were always stocked. Walking through the empty aisles at every store was a surreal feeling.
Staying ‘quarantined’ is strangely more alive than the movies, however. People are creating more, now that they have nothing but time on their hands. I have seen countless projects started and finished, art works, writing pieces, and recipes.
For the most part, my everyday life hasn’t changed. It feels like I’m on summer vacation taking online classes. The biggest and only thing that’s missing is Jummah namaaz.
Every Friday, Muslims gather at the masjid for a khutba, a speech, and pray Jummah namaaz. The quarantine and fear of disease has led the imam to make the decision to refrain people from coming to Jummah. Jummah needs a minimum of three people to count as a valid prayer, however, that means the rest of the community cannot attend Jummah prayer.
Jummah namaaz is a very important prayer for Muslims. It’s said that the angels on our right and left shoulders, recording our good and bad deeds, return to Jannah to store their books and bring down new ones. This means we both get a fresh start for the week, and our deeds from the previous week are being weighed. In the end, it’s these books that determine whether or not we enter Jannah or not.
With Jummah namaaz canceled, local Muslims miss their opportunity to socialize with one another, to check in each other’s health and wellbeing, and to pray together. Some local families are being cautious and hosting small Jummahs at their houses. This way, the men, upon whom the Jummah namaaz is fard, mandatory, can attend. The women however, have no such opportunity.
In Islam it is taught to us that in times of plague, we must take the necessary precautions to avoid getting the plague and spreading it to others. In times like these, travel is banned, contact is limited, and cleanliness is amplified. If a Muslim fears that they are sick, they are advised to isolate for a given amount of time until the illness has run its course, or unfortunately, they pass away. This way the disease can not be spread further. This does not mean, however, that people shouldn’t take medication or seek medical attention. In an Islamic point of view, all precautions should be taken to prevent and heal from ailments alongside prayer. Prayer alone is not going to work.
The modern rules of quarantine are identical to the Quranic rules. For Muslims, this is a sign in the surety of our religion. President Trump wants to restart the economy by Easter in two weeks. He has been advised against this by countless doctors and medical health experts. He said, “I would love to have the country opened up and raring to go by Easter. You’ll have packed churches all over our country. I think it will be a beautiful time.” This is both irrational, and a horrifically dangerous message to convey to Americans. It undermines the severity of the virus. According to the CDC, America is now at 85,000 cases with 1,200 resulting deaths.
If the country does prematurely open, the best we can do is stay clean.