THE GOODS AND THE BADS OF 2020

A lot has already happened in twenie twenie. Some people are saying we should go back to 2019 and some folks are claiming God is angry. Apparently 2020 has been dubbed as “the Biblical year” by Evangelists. Truth is, this year has been braced by catastrophic natural disasters from day one. 40 Earthquakes and Tremors hit the world, record high temperatures across the globe leading to massive wildfires which the world has never seen before, in Australia.

There were 49 confirmed volcano eruptions at some point in 2020 from 49 different volcanoes, the highest in the history period, 5 of those were new eruptions that started during the year. Did you know it rained snow in Saudi Arabia? Did you see the scary images of sandstorms in Egypt and Iraq? Hurricane in Morocco? Deadly floods in Indonesia?

We are barely through the first quarter of the year, hundreds of billions of locusts, some three times the size of New York city swarm through parts of East Africa, South Asia and the Middle East in the worst infestation for a century, threatening crops and livelihoods. Most recently, locusts have been seen in the Democratic Republic of Congo and swarms have arrived in Kuwait, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and along the coast of Iran.

All this happened, more or less.

Then came Covid-19 into the spotlight, it took all the media’s attention and they don’t even show us weather forecast news anymore, it now goes like good morning, Breaking news, Covid-19….

Yes, Covid-19 has made us see, all that happened before it’s emergence, as trivial. Covid-19 has taken lives, instilled fear in people and made the whole world come to a standstill for the first time in the history of human civilisation. Almost all airlines have stopped flying, all sporting events have been cancelled around the world, St. Patrick’s day in the US was skipped for the first time in 250 years and the list goes on but one thing for me which stands out to be exceptional is, Last Friday, the Prophet’s mosque in Madina was closed for the first time since it was built by the Prophet himself 1441 years ago. Who knows? We might see more than that in the next few weeks and months. Who knows? We might witness a holy month of Ramadhan where Muslims are not allowed into the mosques or an Eid day where Muslims can’t perform congregational prayers and just the thought of no Hajj this year, is unprecedented.

There’s this tendency to think of worst-case scenarios, apocalyptic thoughts everywhere, one rhyme, “the world is ending”. Yes it could or could not, but that Knowledge thereof is with Allah only. In this article let’s talk about the marks the year 2020 could leave on us.

One thing that is inevitable, is a global economic crash. Financial markets are facing their worst crisis since 1929. Top economists signal to an imminent global recession. Record-breaking plunges in the stock markets,  an oil price bloodbath shaking the oil prices to as low as 25$, the lowest since 1991 and add sharp falls of major currencies in the world to the already long list of things that we are told to worry about. For a fact, It took an average 8 years for the world to recover the last time it went into the great depression, but that’s not the only depressing thing, because as giant swarms of locusts spread across East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, some scientists warn that this disaster could threaten the food security of more than 25 million people in the regions affected and they fear the numbers could grow 500 times by June and reach 30 different countries, but let’s live a day at a time.

Everything isn’t good but there is something good in everything. Allah says, “perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good“. This pandemic has surprisingly and significantly curbed the Global C02 emissions. Who would have thought the coronavirus pandemic would help fight Global warming? Scientists claim that thousands of lives including humans, animals and plants have been saved in China since the coronavirus outbreak started.

Lock downs have also dramatically improved air quality in cities like Delhi, where breathing the air was equivalent to smoking 50 cigarettes a day. You know there is a strong link between economic activities and Global carbon dioxide emissions due to the dominance of reliance of fossil fuel for energy. This coupling suggests that the coronavirus pandemic has led to a slowdown of carbon dioxide emissions due to reduced energy consumption. Don’t you see God is taking control now, we were on the brink of breaking environmentally, countries were not ready to curb their energy production or consumption because it would make massive negative impacts to their respective economies but Covid-19 has taken planet Earth to a compulsory leave. 

Equally, once again our faith in humanity is restored, just like, me am sure you were touched by the selfless acts of health workers who worked for extremely long hours and some died in the quest to save lives. Cuban and Chinese doctors are in Italy to save lives, we bleed into one another and infect one another with both ills and joys. An infectious disease is a salutary reminder of our interconnectedness. #viralkindness. This pandemic has helped us recover a sense of society and togetherness in these tough times. I still believe, nations will defy the US sanctions and come to the aid of their brothers and sisters Islamic Republic of Iran in the fight against the coronavirus. “Just as there are no atheists in a foxhole, there are no capitalists in a pandemic like this. We’re all socialists now” , Mehdi Hassan.

The world heard the Uiyghur Muslims cry but never acted upon it, God is now in control. The French Muslim women can now proudly wear their Niqaab, The brave Norwegian women can now afford not to shake hands of the opposite gender and not look like extremists. Footage from Morocco on Sunday night was heart-melting. Residents in the city of Tangier who have been in a lock down voicing out their faith in the creator by praising Allah in unison from the balconies of their homes. What a beautiful sight SubhanaAllah.

In the fight against the corona pandemic, church institutions in Germany have also teamed up with mosques. They call to prayer together. A mosque in Duisburg was the first to begin a loud call to prayer and the other mosques followed. Previously in 2018, a Christian couple in a western German town successfully halted local mosques’ call to prayer(Adhaan) through the country’s judicial system. The court ruling focused on the application process rather than religious freedoms, but God is now in control, Adhaan is allover Germany. (Ignore the Spain story about the adhaan – Some videos and posts which are circulating in social media now showing a call of prayer in Spain that was made for the first time in 500 years, yes it’s true but the first adhaan in the country was back in 2017).

When life is tough or a disaster strikes, religion seems to provide a bulwark of solutions to mankind. Many people are turning back to God, religiosity is increasing day by day around the globe. Ms Bentzen, an expert in study of religious beliefs wrote in her research exploiting natural disasters as a determinant of random and adverse life events shaping religion, She says”I found that individuals across the globe become more religious when hit by epidemics. The effect of any epidemic lasts 6 to 12 years, but a residual impact remains and is transmitted across generations.” It’s a positive thing that the world is now turning back to God but it’s strange that when religion is supposed to be a source of comfort in times of confusion and suffering like this, authorities across the globe are taking measures to ban all prayer gatherings in places of worship.

There are so many positives from our current situation but it’s sad that a new vulnerability has been added onto us, this pandemic is now about to take from us some things that we have been taking for granted, which is we could go to our mosques, smile at one another, hug each other, perform congregational prayers, break fasts in the mosques together in Ramadhan, who would have thought Taraweh prayer would be taken away from us?Hajj and Umrah are being taken away from us. It’s a lesson for us in the midst of having some of these blessings taken away from us, to reflect about those blessings and to say Alhamdulillah for them, so that God willing when we get through this and get back to our normal lives, we can really appreciate them once again. May Allah allow it to be sooner rather than later. 

A lot has happened this year, the world has been tested by all manner of challenges but I want to tell you, that I am more optimistic about the future than ever before, and you too, should be optimistic 🙂

This too, shall pass

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