This Ramadan is perhaps the most extraordinary Ramadan we will ever experience in our lives. We are in the grip of a global pandemic, COVID-19 has grabbed the world’s attention and all human beings are its hostage. Somehow, a feeling of uncertainty binds us all, with a desire for relief and the need for compassion, writes Sa’dullah Khan:
Colossal Effect of Virus
For the first time in human history, over two billion people worldwide; almost half the world’s population, is in lockdown. All this, due to a pandemic triggered by microscopic virus that has caused titanic devastation. It has collapsed oil prices, crashed stock markets, caused economic meltdown; has closed trade, travel, sports, schools, places of worship in virtually every country on earth. It has infected over 2.8 million people in 210 countries/territories and resulted in over 197,000 deaths (at time of writing). If ever the world felt on the same page, this is the time. If ever there was a need for compassion, it is now.
Living the Empathy
Ramadan is a month of heightened consciousness, a month of fasting, of increased worship, spiritual reflection, of philanthropy and compassion. Ramadan encourages the promotion of the spirit of ubuntu, of humanity to others. It is about consciously caring and sharing, about being compassionate; about deepening our understanding of our world while simultaneously empathizing with the challenges faced by the world around us. The current pandemic is forcing us to acknowledge that we are a world of common problems and solutions, we are all in this together, one humanity; what harms one harms the other.
The pandemic has raised our consciousness beyond the level of sympathy (where we acknowledge the suffering of others) to that of empathy (where we feel the suffering of others as our own). With the current state of affairs, many are living embodiments of empathy. In this ailing world, at this monumental period in our history, we need a lasting sense of compassion.
It is not Compassion
Compassion engenders a sense of responsibility. It is not compassionate to circulate unverified information about the Coronavirus or the pandemic. It is not compassion to ignore the calls for social distancing and to defy logic by insisting on the desire to congregate. It is unfortunate that the only thing currently more viral than the virus is fake news about the pandemic; and the one thing more diabolical than the disease is the irresponsibility of leaders who tell people to ignore the threat of this infection.
Compassion is definitely not reflected in the prejudicial way some inconsiderate people view the impoverished with contempt; saying that “the ghettos will be the cause of our destruction”. They do so without reflecting on the fact that most of the underprivileged are forced to live in cramped conditions without having the luxury of space for social distancing, without running water for sanitizing, without electricity for comforts and who are forced to share communal commodes.
Reflections of Compassion
Compassion is reflected in our concern for hundreds of thousands of people, mostly children, who may not have enough food to eat at home in the coming weeks and months? Those learners who can not go to school, where many of them get their only daily meal; whose parents may not have sufficient means to survive the lockdown.
Compassion is demonstrated in our volunteering to assist in combating this pandemic, in alleviating the suffering of those in distress, in keeping an eye on the well-being of our household and our neighbours; remaining telephonically in touch with the elderly, the sick, the orphans and the abused.
Compassion is manifested when we actively engage in feeding the poverty-stricken, providing basic necessities; supporting institutions which volunteer to provide essential services to assist the most vulnerable. We exhibit our compassion through appreciation of those heroic doctors, nurses and health workers who treat the infected at the risk of their own lives; those drivers who deliver food, medicine and necessary supplies; and those religious leaders who bury the dead; all at their own peril.
Agents of Compassion
As we pray and fast during this unprecedented Ramadan, beseeching Allah for His forgiveness and mercy; let us ensure we come out of this trial better than we were before; better human beings, more aware, more considerate, more caring, more loving and more compassionate. When we are compassionate, positive energy pours from our souls into the world; positive energy emanates from the primordial breath of the Divine, channelling the mercy of the Most Merciful through us, causing healing and restoring balance. Besides our faith; compassion, human empathy and social solidarity are keys to surviving the catastrophic consequences of this global pandemic.
May the Most Compassionate make us agents of His compassion in these trying times, throughout this sacred month of Ramadan … and beyond.