The Covid-19 pandemic has imposed on all of us a different pattern of life in its various social, political, religious, economic and educational aspects. Mankind has just witnessed how one of the most severe epidemic in history has impacted their lives and wealth and left a huge mark. Complete lockdown of countries borders suspended all forms of travelling and trips for a period of more than 7 months, just to curb the spread of the pandemic and break the chain of infection and also to ensure the safety and security of travellers.
Personally, I was greatly affected by the travel ban imposed by the authorities, as I had to delay several important scheduled trips to a later time, and it cost me dearly. My nature of work requires me to travel to Makkah quite often which has become my favourite destination for the last 20 years. This sudden disconnection actually reminded me of the great favour I was blessed with and it increased in me my yearn, thirst and hunger towards the House of Allah, prayer in the Masjid Al-Haram, drinking Zamzam water and listening to the echoes of The Quran and Adhan from the minarets of Makkah.
Alhamdulillah, recently Allah the Almighty honoured me again with a blessed journey after a long hiatus. I felt as though I am visiting the Ka'abah for the first time in my life; the great impression, happy feeling and spiritual observances was so amazing, something thatI am unable to explain in mere words, MashaAllah. It is an emotion that needs to be felt.
This journey during Covid-19 was not only unique because of the feeling and impression but also because it has taught and reminded me of a lesson, we humans often forget. It surprised and terrified me as well, brought tears to my eyes, made my heart weep, and worry and fear of the fluctuations of temptation. It was always my habit, upon completion of the rituals of Umrah, to make some calls to friends, relatives, business partners and acquaintances, to fulfil the duty of kinship, friendship and to keep them updated of various situations during my absence, to exchange pleasantries, and share information if any.
However, this time around when I tried to contact them a thunderbolt surprise awaited me, O Allah. I came to know that some of these close friends I can no longer speak to them any more in this world as they had completed their short stay here and departed to the Lord of the heavens and the earth after being affected by Covid19. Some of them are still hospitalised or under-medication, suffering, (شفاهم الله ) and some others survived and safe but most of them are living in incredible hardship due to financial crisis caused by the lockdown (يسرالله أمرهم). I found myself confused as my personal matter where I was between thanking Allah and asking for his help. How lucky I am, and so are you. We are still alive, we are fortunate to collect more provisions for the next upcoming unavoidable journey, Subhanallah.
My friends were healthier, wealthier and more intelligent than me, but death and destiny only follow the command of the Most Powerful who created life and death for a purpose. Allah The Almighty Says:
وَلِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ أَجَلٌ فَإِذَا جَاءَ أَجَلُهُمْ لَا يَسْتَأْخِرُونَ سَاعَةً وَلَا يَسْتَقْدِمُون
“For every community there is an appointed term; and when its term arrives, they cannot tarry behind a moment, nor can they get ahead.” [Surah Al-A'araf, 34]
Also, I came to realise and admit the reality of this life and it has no value at all if it is lived without purpose and objective. Allah the Almighty Says:
اعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا لَعِبٌ وَلَهْوٌ وَزِينَةٌ وَتَفَاخُرٌ بَيْنَكُمْ وَتَكَاثُرٌ فِي الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَوْلَادِ كَمَثَلِ غَيْثٍ أَعْجَبَ الْكُفَّارَ نَبَاتُهُ ثُمَّ يَهِيجُ فَتَرَاهُ مُصْفَرًّا ثُمَّ يَكُونُ حُطَامًا وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ عَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ وَمَغْفِرَةٌ مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرِضْوَانٌ وَمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا مَتَاعُ الْغُرُور
“Bear in mind that the life of this world is only play and fun, and (apparent) pomp and show, and mutual boasting among you (in power, beauty and worldly skills) and (rivalry) in abundance of wealth and (number of) children. Its example is like vegetation after rain which looks very pleasing to farmers, then it becomes dry and you see it turn yellow and then it breaks into tiny particles. (There are two things in the Hereafter). There is severe torment (for the disbelievers) and there is forgiveness and the Good Pleasure of Allah (for the believers). And the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment" [Surah Al-Hadid, 20]
The second most important matter that I came to realise is the greatness of true friendship and the virtue of living and being associated with good people. After our departure from this world we all desire for any act of worship and its rewards to be paid forward for our benefit. Indeed I found that one of the important categories other than our righteous family members are your true righteous friends. When I met friends in Makkah and we mentioned and remembered some departed colleagues, I was amazed at how all of them mentioned and recounted the good attributes of the deceased and their characteristics, continued praying for them and even organised combined charity acts for them, Subhanallah. I was just thinking to myself of just how much I need these things when my time comes and had to ask myself whether I have managed to build these circle of people?
Imam Hasan Al-Basri was right when he said, "Keep good communications with friends, indeed a loyal friend is a lighted lamp. You may not realize its light unless life darkens you."
Allah The Almighty Says:
الْأَخِلَّاءُ يَوْمَئِذٍ بَعْضُهُمْ لِبَعْضٍ عَدُوٌّ إِلَّا الْمُتَّقِين
“On that Day even close friends will become enemies to one another except those who are pious”. [Surah Az-Zukhruf, 67]
The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ says in an authentic statement, “The example of a good companion and a bad companion is like that of the seller of musk, and the one who blows the blacksmith’s bellows. So as for the seller of musk then either he will grant you some, or you buy some from him, or at least you enjoy a pleasant smell from him. As for the one who blows the blacksmith’s bellows then either he will burn your clothes, or you will get an offensive smell from him.” [Agreed Upon]
This is my little article directed to all those whom I consider to be my friends, brothers, and sisters in Islam. I need your help after my departure, and I need your help here, your advice, reminders and constructive criticisms; to keep me steadfast on the right path, so we can party and celebrate together in the Paradise of Allah by grace of Allah.
وَنَزَعْنَا مَا فِي صُدُورِهِم مِّنْ غِلٍّ إِخْوَانًا عَلَىٰ سُرُرٍ مُّتَقَابِلِين
“And We will remove from them bitterness (if any) and they will be there on the couches like (loving) brothers facing each other.” [Surah Al-Hijr, 47]