A political leader has been assassinated. Several people are dead. Civic life has come to a standstill and people are stuck at home. The news is the focus of our attention, speech and energies. Security is scant. Food, water, basic amenities and petrol are dwindling in supply. The future (even the coming week) is uncertain. Worries, stress and despondency are on the rise, as is anger and resentment, when we see our normal lives spiral out of our control.
At times like this, the hidden aspects of a person’s beliefs, personality and character come to the surface. Some start pointing fingers, others just whine and complain, while a rare few clasp positivism and faith, taking charge of the situation with presence of mind.
When people come together but do not unite, chaos ensues. Pakistan is a proof of this. Right now, it is important for each of us to analyze for our own selves: “What should I do now?” Leave the rest of the world! While stranded at home, as you sit at your computer, talk on your cell phone, watch TV, cook in the kitchen or talk to your family – what should you be doing? What’s the best pastime in such unusual circumstances?
Think of those, who experienced this before you
Think Afghanistan, Iraq, Kashmir, Ukraine, Palestine and many other war-torn lands that have made the news in recent years. You saw the coverage on TV and heard about families fleeing from their homes, being torn apart or ravaging for food supplies. At that time, you knew you’d go home from school/work safe and you planned your career or your marriage, knowing that it was happening to them, not you. Well, now you know how they felt.
Sure, it’s bad right now. But it could get better soon. People die, countries and empires are toppled, kingdoms and governments come and go… but there’s always the light at the end of the tunnel. You are alive and well. And you still have some control over your life. So, all is not lost.
“(…) And verily, when We cause man to taste of Mercy from Us, he rejoices thereat; but when some ill befalls them because of the deeds which their hands have sent forth, then verily, man (becomes) ingrate!” (Ash-Shura 42:48)
Guard your tongue
Guard what you say during trials like these, if not for the sake and pleasure of Allah (swt), then for the sake of preventing the spread of negativity and despondency. Idleness, coupled with worry and uncertainty, tempts us to say negative things, put the blame on others and be ungrateful for what we do have. You have been secure and safe for almost all of your life. You have probably never slept on an empty stomach (or even if you have, it was rare). Now is the time to realize, just how privileged you are. Thousands of people lack security and food/water. Maybe what is happening right now will allow you to know, how that feels.
“And He gave you of all that you asked for, and if you count the Blessings of Allah, never will you be able to count them, verily, man is indeed and extreme wrong-doer, a disbeliever (an extreme ingrate who denies Allah’s Blessings by disbelief, and by worshipping others besides Allah, and by disobeying Allah and His Prophet Muhammad (sa)).” (Ibrahim 14:34)
Remember the power of Duas
Fate cannot be changed except with sincere Duas if Allah wills. Offer two Rakahs of Nafl prayer and make Dua to Allah (swt) to forgive those, who have died. As you sat at home yesterday, people were being burned alive or were being hit by stray bullets. This could be happening today as well. So stop cribbing that you won’t be able to attend your friend’s Mehndi or the funky New Year ball you bought tickets for, or that your car is out of petrol or that you are stuck at home instead of having coffee at Café “Falaana.” Be grateful that you are alive, safe and healthy. Oh yes – and that your car is still unburned.
Supplicate to your Creator to help the state of this country, to guide and educate its dwellers in both religion and formal education, so that they know, how to react to unfavorable circumstances like these. Ask Allah (swt) to bless people with knowledge and provision, because the combination of ignorance (Jahaalah) and poverty (Faqr) is lethal. Killing and mayhem results, as we all can witness.
Our country is a blessing, no matter what it is like
Read some eye-witness accounts of people, who saw partition in 1947. Read how they felt, as they came to this land called Pakistan. Tears streamed down their cheeks, as they thanked Allah (swt) with euphoric gratitude. Remember that many lives have been laid down for acquiring this country, where we can dwell in freedom and with no fear of persecution by non-Muslims. Remember all this, when you want to flee from this country for greener pastures abroad, or when you hear yourself lamenting about how unlucky you are to be born in Pakistan and “stuck in this dump full of terrorists.” Some of the greatest people (those who brought about major change in their short lives and made a difference to millions of people) were born in unfavorable circumstances; they converted their defeat into victory, their limited provision into opportunity, and their thinking into action. Think of Muhammad (sa) in the cave, Nelson Mandela in jail, Jinnah in a turbulent India. Great minds are the result of chaos and strife.
What you do or say now during this tribulation will affect people around you. So, reflect on what CAN be done to save the situation, rather than what is lost. Remember to be grateful for what is not lost and think positively about tomorrow, as tomorrow IS another day.