Ramadan is the most special month for Muslims. A holy month of fasting and extended communal prayer. But this year’s Ramadan, Muslims all over the world are deprived of something they have become used to. The coronavirus pandemic upends life around the world. The crisis is forcing Muslims to rethink and find new approaches to one of Islam’s most important religious rituals.
In Indonesia, the strict ban of public gathering had already been in place since March, allowing everyone to work and do the worship just at home. This uniquely spiritual condition should remind Muslims that those luxurious blessings truly make Ramadan sacred and alive. Its legacy is one of the devout worships in the face of crisis. Allah says the goal of fasting is taqwa (being conscious and cognizant of God) and the goal of Ramadan is gratitude. Whether there is Covid-19 or not, Muslims can’t afford to lose sight of those goals.
Away from public eyes is a bigger test of our taqwa than usual. And instead of complaining about how things aren’t what they used to be, let’s pass this test by thanking Allah that we are blessed to have Ramadan month as a media for doing good for getting rewards from Allah. The outside circumstances will come and go. It is what our hearts attain this month that will matter in the end.
The coronavirus pandemic also brings wisdom to Muslims about how they can fully worship with families at home, one thing that is often forgotten in daily life. This is the prime time to light up their house with the sound of Qur’an recitation, intimately breaking the fast and working while looking after the kids. Quoting the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad SAW narrated by Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet asked the people to worship at home so that their residence would be shining, and not be like a grave. This hadith emphasizes how Covid-19 brings wisdom for Muslims to re-bond with the family and cultivate a harmonious life.
Islam strongly encourages friendship (silaturahim) and with the current conditions Islam asks Muslim to stay in touch without meeting face to face. By utilizing technology, friendship can still be very close without having to meet physically. Muslims must emulate the attitude of the Prophet Muhammad and his friends in dealing with the outbreak. So that the epidemic doesn’t spread widely, the Prophet once instructed the policy of isolation and to keep people in the epidemic areas out of the areas, while the people in other areas should not enter the epidemic areas. This can be found a lot in thehistory.
From the Prophet Muhammad SAW, he said:
إِذَا سَمِعْتُمْ بِالطَّاعُونِ بِأَرْضٍ فَلَا تَدْخُلُوهَا وَإِذَا وَقَعَ بِأَرْضٍ وَأَنْتُمْ بِهَا فَلَا تَخْرُجُوا مِنْهَا
"If you hear of an epidemic in an area, then you should not enter it. But if there is an epidemic where you are, then don't leave that place. " (Narrated by al-Bukhari)
In terms of faith, Muslims should never neglect seeking confidence in Allah’s victory, during the time of turmoil and calamities. Allah is the place to ask for everything (see Surah Al-Ikhlas:2). When in a disaster, every Muslim must be patient. We leave all matters to Allah. This is the essence of tawaqal (trusting in Allah’s plan), and trust is the domain of faith that must not be swayed at all.
Back to the essence of the fasting that it is closely related to patience. The three kinds of patience; patience in carrying out obedience to Allah, patience in leaving things that are forbidden by Allah and patience in dealing with destinies that are not in accordance with human desires. These three types of patience are all summarized in fasting because by doing fasting Muslims must be patient in carrying out obedience and be patient in curbing all the desires of lust that is forbidden for people who are fasting, and be patient in facing the hunger, thirst and weakness of the body.
Muslims’ patience and mentality are greatly tested during Ramadan. Do we still give alms to other people while we still need it? Are we patient in obeying government regulations to worship at home so as not to transmit the virus to others? And are we patient to be a modest and humble people during the Ramadan fasting until and after the day of Eid al-Fitr?
With patience, all the sadness and the impact of all the calamities will be overcome because patience is essentially the ability of the soul to gather potential to find a way out to cope with disaster and not only to complain.
With patience, all the sadness and the impact of all the calamities will be overcome because patience is essentially the ability of the soul to gather potential to find a way out to cope with disaster and not only to complain. Allah also hinted that humans must continue to think positively in the face of this situation because no matter how big the disaster, it’s still less in comparison to the the amount of Allah's grace.
Truthfully, to the patient Muslims, Allah commanded the Prophet Muhammad to give good news in the form of blessings and mercy from Him. Indeed, to all Muslims who can be patient during fasting are truly the people who achieve the true victory at Eid al-Fitr.