God is both Compassionate (Rahmān) and Merciful (Rahῑm) to all His creatures generally and to every individual being at all times. Times of hardship are no exception. One aspect of the wisdom in the creation of the coronavirus is that it can be seen as ‘a wake-up call’: a reminder that God’s names such as All-Just and Powerful belong to Him and that we have the duty to manifest those names in the best possible way.

The Coronavirus pandemic has served as a reminder for all, and has in a sense forced us all to accept our servanthood (’ubūdiyya) and in turn to acknowledge our total impotence and poverty. For in fact it is only through the submission of one’s poverty (faqr) and impotence (‘ajz) that one can truly give thanks.

Poor or rich, we have all been affected by social distancing; we can no longer go on expensive holidays just because we can afford it, and our work and recreation have all taken a different form that is mostly beyond our control.

These circumstances, though extremely difficult and at times painful, have nevertheless provided the opportunity for us to acknowledge our absolute poverty, enabling us to give up the ownership of our possessions and wealth, and to come to the realisation that everything that has been given to us, has been gifted to us by God to use in the best possible way. Acknowledging our impotence has in turn afforded us the opportunity to affirm that the power we have has actually been given to us by our Creator not to distort or cause oppression to anything or anyone, but to use in a just and wise way.

In a sense we are all in a kind of ‘exile’, but it is up to us to choose whether we, through the recognition of our impotence, wish to turn that exile into a sacred and elevated space or to refrain from submitting and turn it into a kind of imprisonment. – Dr Mahshid Turner

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