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How to Flourish while the Masjids are closed due to COVID-19 -A way to reframe Ramadhan

As we all know the current situation of COVID-19, the government has issued a circular to close all the large gatherings be it marriage ceremony, religious gathering or some other gatherings where large number of audiences are assembling. Likewise, the masjids also carry large number of people five times a day, so to follow the government order it too has to be close, to stop spread of COVID-19. It seems absolutely necessary as the pandemic needs to break the chain somewhere. The community had to face reality that there would be no Jumm’ah prayers for some time. Now it has almost five weeks, these congregational prayers are stopped, even daily prayers, weekend classes and other religious programmes are cancelled. In this prevalent times the Muslim community may feel demotivated or distressed that they are being restrained or kept away from prayers in Masjid, many are wondering how communities will survive this difficult time and it seems people have more questions than answers.

Sadness at Masjid Closure

If one feels distraught over the closure of Masjid, stop and thank Allah, why a Muslim will thank Allah when Masjids are closed?

The answer is missing Masjid is the great sign of Imaan. It would be far more problematic if a believer was indifferent to the suspension of activities of Masjids. Not every believer experiences the feeling of missing the masjid. It is one of the famous Hadith that mentions seven categories of people who will be in the shade of Allah on the day of judgement, one of the categories of people whose hearts are attached to Masjid (1). Given the current situation it is blessing that so many Muslims fall under this category. They are unable to attend the Masjid at this time, but they have a longing to return to it. The hearts of many believers are metamorphically “hanging” in the Masjids even when they are physically detached from it.

Diverting energy to other Means

Imam-Ibn-Al-Qayyim is reported to have said, “Allah does not close a door on a servant with his wisdom except that He opens two doors for him with his mercy” (2). It is general to think about the benefits one can explore when Masjids are closed. One of the ways to explore the avenue is to utilize a concept called Reframing. The reframing is the technique of counselling that facilitates a different way of reviving situations by changing its meaning (3). Through this technique we identify benefits given in the circumstances instead of looking for negative thoughts.

The below mentioned is the chart utilising the concept of reframing regarding the Masjid closure.

Stressful/Anxious thoughtsThings I can do
1.I am depressed that I cannot pray any of the daily prayers in MasjidI will try to pray all five prayers at home on time with my family members.
2. I am afraid that Masjids will permanently shut down due to lack of funds.I will try to give whatever best possible by myside will be, and will also start online fund raising initiatives.
3.I don’t know when we will be able to go back to Masjids.When Allah wishes, Masjids will open. I will recommit myself to the services by utilising my talent.
4.The pandemic has destroyed my relationship with the Masjid.The pandemic has allowed me the opportunity to accomplish good deeds that I did not did previously.

Now create the same chart by yourself and along with your family. Reframe some negative thoughts that may occur. The task of reframing helps us in cherishing our energy in productive tasks. Allah says “And Whosoever has Taqw’a(Consciousness) of Allah, this will make for him a way out and will provide him for where he does not expect. Whoever relies upon Allah, then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish his purpose. Allah has already set for everything a decreed extent” (4). These verses remind us to stay positive as ultimately Allah will remove us from all our difficult situation, conditioning one has Taqw’a.

What about Ramadhan?

Although many Muslims have been able to reframe their attitudes towards the closure of Masjids to Jumma’h and Daily prayers. Nothing looms over the hearts of the believers more than thinking about the Masjids being closed in Ramadhan. When asking Muslims what they would miss mostly will say the Tarawi’h prayers and Iftaa’r both are the major missing. Attendance in the Masjid’s greatly increases in Masjid’s in the month of Ramadhan. Many Masjids hosts Iftaa’rdaily or weekly attracting the hundreds of worshippers to break the fast together. The Masjids becomes the centre of life for many Muslims during this period. Many Muslims have already reframed the Ramadhan schedule, although they might be greatly missing the Iftaa’r experience with friends and listening to the melodious recitation of Qura’an in the Masjid, many people are embracing the new opportunities. Many people think this Ramadhan may be more special opportunity to get ultimately closer to Allah due to solitude.

Recommended activities for the Ramadhan

-Prepare Together: –

Make a list of goals along with your family you want to accomplish during Ramadhan. Take everyone’s opinion and hang that schedule on the catchy location to increase the motivation during the month. Make a goal to reduce or eliminate behaviour such as overeating at Iftaa’r or watching movies several hours a day.

-Praying Together: –

We may not get the opportunity again in future to pray in congregation with our family. We can now take time to perfect our prayers together. We can teach our children how to call Adhaa’n and pray perfectly. We can also teach our children how to make Wud’u.

-Be greatful together: –

Sit together as a family or independently daily and each person in household should list few things they are appreciative of that day.

-Eat Together: –

This may be another rare opportunity to have Suhu’r and Iftaa’r together. Leave all phones and tablets in another room to avoid distraction. Give time to each family member to talk about their day. Ask every family member to mention atleast one positive and negative thought for the day.

-Read Qura’an Together: –

Read the book from Allah together, and reflect what was read. Focus on the verses everyone will understand, like reality of day of Judgement, Characteristics of Muslim etc.

-Exercise Together: –

Take a short walk together outside your house along with your family while maintaining social distancing and connect with nature and see what Allah has bestowed to us.

For those who are singles or living alone may perform many of the above listed activities together virtually.

-Have Virtual Iftaa’rs together.

-Take face time walks together.

-Initiate online Dua’a and Qura’an sessions together.

-Get aside some time to watch Islamic short lectures together with someone and reflect on it together.

Ramadhan is the month to actively engage in the personal worship, including extra prayers, Qura’an reading and Dua’a.Actively praying Tarawi’h and reciting Qura’an is better than listening to someone else, pray and recite online. Allah says in Qura’an, “And the person who exerts himself with a great difficulty will have a double reward” (5). This inspirational hadith should encourage us to be the active reciters of Qura’an on daily basis as well as in Ramadhan too.

What Truly matters?

During the current crisis we may ask overselves why this is happening?

Only Allah knows the answer, better to question to ask is What will be the end result for us when crisis is over? Regardless of whether this is a punishment or test, the ultimate goal is to return to Allah. If we do not make any changes or do not learn a new lesson in this current situation surely we will be in loss. It is Allah who has given us one more chance to raise, wake and connect with him. May Allah make us successful and accept all our Dua’as and Prayers.

References: –

  1. Sahih-al-Bukhari bk, 10, Hadith 54, Sahih Muslim bk 12, Hadith 117.
  2. Ibn al-Qayyim, al-Jawziyah, al-Fawaid (Jeddah: Majma al-Fiqh al-Islami 2013).
  3. Nancy L Mudrock, Theories of Counseling and Psychotherapy, A case Approach ,3rdEdition. (New Jersry Pearson 2013).
  4. Qura’an 65:2-3
  5. Sahih-al-Bukhari bk, 65, Hadith 4937, Sahih Muslim bk 6, Hadith 290.