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This article was originally submitted by Nadeem Chaudhry
“Markets to open five days a week from sehri till 5 pm” was the news regarding relaxation in COVID-19 related lock-down in Pakistan.
In a very ironic way, this virus is acting like a sheepdog and compelling people to adopt Islamic guidelines; whether they like it or not. Even the staunchest feminists are covering their entire bodies, including their faces. All the talk of “mera jism meri marzi” (my body my choice) is gone with a single sneeze. Sale of alcohol is either being outright banned; as in South Africa, Thailand, Greenland or restricted by other means (Delhi imposed 70% tax on alcohol).
On the economic side interest rates are close to 0%, governments are giving free loans, exactly what Islam teaches. While on the social side, no big pompous weddings functions are taking place, no baraat, mehndi etc. Simple nikkah in the presence of a few close relatives, the groom takes bride without a band, songs and dance – exactly what Islam wants. No waste of food, vulgarity, traffic jams, smoke etc.
The Government of Punjab has proposed a 50 guest limit in weddings.
On a somewhat related note, a recent BBC report stated that sexually transmitted diseases are at such low levels that we can eliminate these diseases if we take action now. The author is calling it a “once in a lifetime opportunity.) Furthermore, on the environmental side, the effect has been amazing. Lahore has recorded a 49% reduction in NO2 level while the air quality and noise levels of Karachi have improved up to 40 per cent during the lockdown.
People, especially well off amongst us, have had a glimpse of futility of acquisition. What good is a brand-new car if you cannot go anywhere? What good it is to have multiple houses when you are compelled to stay in one place only? What good is an expensive party dress if there is no party to go to? As the Quran says, “Your craze for more and more and mutual rivalry for worldly gains has made you heedless. Until (in the same craze) you reach the graves.” (Surah At-Takathur)
But unfortunately, like the sheep in the herd, we are unaware of the purpose of the sheepdog. To us, this pandemic is a temporary annoyance and we are waiting for the dog to go away; so that we can go back to our old shaytaan (devil)/capitalist/consumerist inspired way of life.