Religious Discourse

LOCKDOWN AN OPPORTUNITY

By Shahid Moyeen Qasmi.
Though lockdown is not a choice, but it is a chance for many to do many good things. We should think that it is not a lockdown for us, rather it is a lockdown of the disease away from us. Therefore, first of all, we should strictly adhere to the health guidance.
Instead of going out daily to buy diverse sorts of vegetables and spices, it sounds safer to be content with some regular items which can be stocked for some days. The companions of the Prophet (ﷺ) stayed in the valley of Abu Talib for about two and half a year away from the market and social life. They would take simple food in normal days too.
However, we can use this period as a great opportunity for doing some good things for which we normally do not get a chance.
The company of the Family.
It is an immense pleasure to spend time with our elders, parents, children and other family members. The hadeeth below indicates the command in this regard.
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ جَاءَ رَجُلٌ إِلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَ مَنْ أَحَقُّ النَّاسِ بِحُسْنِ صَحَابَتِي قَالَ ‏”‏ أُمُّكَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ ثُمَّ مَنْ قَالَ ‏”‏ ثُمَّ أُمُّكَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ ثُمَّ مَنْ قَالَ ‏”‏ ثُمَّ أُمُّكَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ ثُمَّ مَنْ قَالَ ‏”‏ ثُمَّ أَبُوكَ ‏”‏ ‏.
Abu Huraira reported that a person came to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and asked: Who among the people is the most deserving of the best conduct on my part? He replied: Your mother. He again asked: Thereafter, who? He replied: Again it is your mother. He again asked: Thereafter, who? He replied: Again it is your mother. He again asked: Thereafter, who? Thereupon, the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) replied: Thereafter it is your father.
In another narration, the reply of the Prophet (ﷺ) is: Your mother, again your mother, again your mother, then your father, then your nearest relatives in the order (of nearness).
{Sahih Muslim, The he Book of Virtue, Enjoining Good Manners, and Joining of the Ties of Kinship}
In today’s busy life we normally do not have the opportunity to spend time with our family members even on weekends. Those who are now confined to their homes should especially be grateful to Allah for being with their family and they should dedicate the duration of the lockdown to cherish the company of their family.
Opportunity to Have Meals together
It is lovely to have meals and snacks together. It brings joy, barakats(blessings),unity, affection and sympathy among the family members. In normal times, unfortunately, it becomes tough to assemble and eat together, because of early departure for work and late return to home. Now all are at home, we should all avail of this opportunity and have meals together. The hadeeth below intimates the blessings of eating together.
عَنْ وَحْشِيِّ بْنِ حَرْبٍ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ جَدِّهِ، أَنَّ أَصْحَابَ النَّبِيِّ، صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالُوا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنَّا نَأْكُلُ وَلاَ نَشْبَعُ ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏”‏ فَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَفْتَرِقُونَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالُوا نَعَمْ ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏”‏ فَاجْتَمِعُوا عَلَى طَعَامِكُمْ وَاذْكُرُوا اسْمَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ يُبَارَكْ لَكُمْ فِيهِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏
Narrated Wahshi ibn Harb:
The Companions of the Prophet (ﷺ) said: Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) we eat but we are not sated. He said: Perhaps you eat separately. They replied: Yes. He said: If you gather together at your food and mention Allah’s name over it, you will be blessed in it.
Sunan Abi Dawud، Book of Foods (Kitab Al-At’imah)
It is a golden opportunity to revive the sunnah of having meals together. The prescribed supplications for pre and post meals should be recited together. One person may recite the supplications loudly and the rest may, together, repeat after him. This way, those who do not know the supplications, will also learn. While eating one should give preference to others over himself, offering better portions and items to others.
If all the members of the family are “mahram”, then they can sit anywhere around the dastarkhan (foodcloth). Otherwise, male members should sit on one side and the ladies should do so on the other side around the same dastarkhan. The two sides should not be facing each other and a thick curtain can be suspended in between. The barakat of eating together will be gained in this way too in shaa Allah.
Amongst the mahrams for a man are: his mother, grandmother, maternal/ paternal aunt (mother’s or father’s real sister), daughter, granddaughter, niece (real brother’s or sister’s daughter), wife as well as mother-in-law. Similarly amongst the mahrams for a woman are: her father, grandfather, maternal/ paternal uncle ( mother’s or father’s real brother), son, grandson, nephew (real brother’s or sister’s son), husband as well as father-in-law. It must be clearly noted that cousins, their spouses and children are not mahram.
Partnering in domestic chores
Even though he was the greatest human being ever, Muhammad(ﷺ), the last prophet of Allah, used to perform domestic chores when at home. Many ahadeeth testify to this exemplary conduct of the Prophet e.g.
عن الأَسْوَدِ بْنِ يَزِيدَ، سَأَلْتُ عَائِشَةَ ـ رضى الله عنها ـ مَا كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَصْنَعُ فِي الْبَيْتِ قَالَتْ كَانَ فِي مِهْنَةِ أَهْلِهِ، فَإِذَا سَمِعَ الأَذَانَ خَرَجَ‏.
‏Narrated Al-Aswad bin Yazid:
I asked Aisha (r.a.): What did the Prophet (ﷺ) use to do at home? She said: He used to work for his family, and when he heard the Adhan (call for the prayer), he would leave.
Sahih al-Bukhari, Book of Supporting the Family
عَنْ عَمْرَةَ، قَالَتْ‏:‏ قِيلَ لِعَائِشَةَ‏:‏ مَاذَا كَانَ يَعْمَلُ رَسُولُ اللهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فِي بَيْتِهِ‏؟‏ قَالَتْ‏:‏ كَانَ بَشَرًا مِنَ الْبَشَرِ، يَفْلِي ثَوْبَهُ، وَيَحْلُبُ شَاتَهُ، وَيَخْدُمُ نَفْسَهُ‏.
‏Amrah reports that someone asked Aisha(r.a.): What did Rasulullah (ﷺ) usually do at home? She replied:He was a human being from amongst the other human beings; he himself removed the lice from his clothing, milked his goats, and did all his work himself.
Shama’il Muhammadiyah, The Humbleness Of Sayyidina Rasoolullah –
In this age it is rare to see people following this sunnah, due to their hectic professional lives and tight schedules. At least now such people too can earn this honour by participating in domestic chores. They may wash their clothes and those of the others in the family; assist in cleaning the homes; help in washing the utensils; preparing meals, etc.
Have a Collective Schedule
In Islamic way of life, great emphasis has been placed on working collectively as per schedule. So being at home, we have chance to practice it. We should make a schedule for all daily activities which should be followed by everyone as much as possible. We should finish each work in the fixed time as it happens in the office and other collective work outside the home. This kind of disciplined life facilitates work and brings comfort and stability for the entire family.
Restrain Anger
Undoubtedly, the sudden lockdown is stressful particularly in the tough time of financial crisis which may prompt anger and agitation. There is a critical need to restrain it. Restraining anger is one of the characteristics of people of paradise, as the glorious Qur’an says:
الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ فِي السَّرَّاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ وَالْكَاظِمِينَ الْغَيْظَ وَالْعَافِينَ عَنِ النَّاسِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ
Those who spend [in the cause of Allah ] during ease and h ardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people – and Allah loves the doers of good.{Al-e- Imran,3: 143-144}
Wisdoms in Restraint on Anger
It should be kept in mind that anger is not a solution for any crisis. Rather it gives rise to many kinds of mental, physical and even financial crises. Therefore, in tense moments we should control ourselves by giving polite answer to each other and by explaining the justification for whatever we say or want to do. If we have good reason but we do not articulate it to others, it may lead to any misunderstanding. We may also skip or postpone discussion on any issue which is making us feel angry. Anger can be controlled by changing our posture of sitting, standing or lying; by making wudu or by reciting “أَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ ‏”
The Messenger of Allah Muhammad (ﷺ) said:
‏ “‏ إِذَا غَضِبَ أَحَدُكُمْ وَهُوَ قَائِمٌ فَلْيَجْلِسْ فَإِنْ ذَهَبَ عَنْهُ الْغَضَبُ وَإِلاَّ فَلْيَضْطَجِعْ ‏”‏ ‏.‏
When one of you becomes angry while standing, he should sit down. If the anger leaves him, well and good; otherwise let him lie down.
{Sunan Abi Dawud, Book of General Behavior}
عَنْ سُلَيْمَانَ بْنِ صُرَدٍ، قَالَ اسْتَبَّ رَجُلاَنِ عِنْدَ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَنَحْنُ عِنْدَهُ جُلُوسٌ، وَأَحَدُهُمَا يَسُبُّ صَاحِبَهُ مُغْضَبًا قَدِ احْمَرَّ وَجْهُهُ فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ إِنِّي لأَعْلَمُ كَلِمَةً لَوْ قَالَهَا لَذَهَبَ عَنْهُ مَا يَجِدُ لَوْ قَالَ أَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ ‏”‏‏.‏ ‏
Narrated Sulaiman bin Sarad:
Two men abused each other in front of the Prophet (ﷺ) while we were sitting with him. One of the two abused his companion furiously and his face became red. The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “I know an utterance, which if this man says it, his anger will release; only if he said, “I seek refuge with Allah from Satan, the outcast.’
{Sahih al-Bukhari، Book of Good Manners and Form}
Children’s Demand
Children may demand something unavailable at home or they may insist on going for an outing. In this case, instead of threatening, beating or lying, it is better to please them by presenting something more interesting than what they want, if possible. We may promise them something better in future of the similar type too.
The beloved Prophet (ﷺ) has advised:
‏ “‏ يَسِّرُوا وَلاَ تُعَسِّرُوا، وَبَشِّرُوا وَلاَ تُنَفِّرُوا ‏”‏‏.‏
“Facilitate things for people, and do not make it hard for them; give them glad tidings and do not make them run away.”
{Sahih al-Bukhari, Book of Knowledge}
We may let them watch some videos of the Prophets’ stories from authentic Islamic websites. The videos of scientific discoveries and inventions are also good for them. All of this will enrich their knowledge and motivate them to do beneficial things in future.
If they are not pacified, even then we should avoid speaking outright lies and instead say something using a word which has two meanings. The speaker assumes the meaning which is correct but not normally implied by this word, while the children will understand that which is normally understood.
{Sahih Muslim, The Book of Virtues باب فِي رَحْمَةِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم لِلنِّسَاءِ وَأَمْرِ السُّوَّاقِ مَطَايَاهُنَّ بِالرِّفْقِ }
As an instance, if they demand to visit a garden, it may be said, “If you don’t visit the garden now, later you will have chance to visit a better garden than this”. Children will understand that they will visit a new garden or a more beautiful garden, whereas the parent meant that going to the garden will be harmful for health and better for health later.
Learning the Basics of Islam
Although Islamic knowledge is an endless ocean, yet learning the basic teachings is a must for every Muslim. Without that our acts of worship (ibadaat) and their prerequisites would be flawed. Everyone must learn the basic beliefs, rules of purity, compulsory elements (fara’idh and wajibat) of salah(namaz), a few chapters (surah) of the glorious Qura’n with correct pronunciation. The best way to acquire knowledge is to learn from any authentic A’lim and avail his guidance. These days even remote learning is possible over video calls.
Room Partners
Those who are out of the family, but living with friends in a shared room, should treat each other like family and spend their time with cooperation. They should also learn the basic teachings of Islam in the way mentioned above.
Scholars and Students
It is a fact that despite our best endeavour to complete the work many things remain unfinished: finishing the syllabus for exam, or of any subject, completing an article or book. This is the right time to finish these things.
Many students preparing for entrance exams of seminaries and institutions, who need lot of time, privacy and freedom have everything now to work hard. It is best to utilise this time with single-minded focus for studies while performing faraidh, wajibat, nafls, etc. If the hostel is comfortable with bare essentials, it is far better to stay safe therein than to travel to the native place.
In sum we should convert the constraint caused by lockdown into a motivator to better our lives by reflection, study and coming closer to the religious teachings.

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