By: Dr Saeed Shehabi
The ongoing human experimentation with regards to the containment and eradication of the Coronavirus pandemic has proven the necessity of collective human action at times of crisis. The resilience shown by many people in most countries has proven one fundamental assumption: life is more precious than anything in man’s possession. People did not want to die, so they accepted the lifestyle proposed by public health bodies. In doing so, they sacrificed a lot. Even the most basic of precautionary measures is troublesome. Wearing a mask at this time of the year when temperatures in most places sour above 40 degrees is a testing experience. But it had to be done, and it was done with a great amount of success. So what is it in the human psyche that transforms mankind from rigidity to permeability, rejection of a change to embracing fundamental alteration to lifestyle, and the feeling of uniqueness to the faith in the universality of human nature?
The recent human experience is likely to continue for some time as nature takes its toll and forces mankind to re-adjust to what is now commonly known as the “New Normal”. Despite man’s relentless efforts to win “the struggle against nature”. it is clear that this nature (which is the manifestation of God’s power) is not defeatable. Islam calls for respect of nature, working within its laws rather than attempting to destroy it. Going against the natural law often leads to disastrous consequences. The spread of Covid-19 is just another sad episode of man’s struggle against the natural grains. Unless this attitude changes more pandemics could emerge. The hope is that the ongoing crisis will guide scientists and politicians to work alongside nature, obeying God’s laws, and refraining from challenging them. The cost of this the exaggerated man’s power has been extremely high. The environmental disasters are testimony to the over-zealous approach to the philosophy of life, relations with God and nature and the unrealistic aspiration to conquer the universe.
One thing has definitely been learned from the ongoing crisis. Technology has helped in the process of survival during the pandemic. The total lockdown observed by many countries have opened a new era of communications that have replaced face-to-face interaction. While most open places were closed and mass congregations banned, the seminars were replaced with webinars where people enjoyed attending lectures and participated in discussion and debate. The first few weeks of the lockdown transformed the world into a dead place, with no family contacts, congregational meetings at any public venue. But that did not last long. Today, most activities have returned in the virtual world, including sports, debates, management meetings and even wedding parties. It is a transformation of the public space into easier and more secured environment where censorship is marginalized. This is a promising development that has prevented the total death of society under the punches of the pandemic. Life appears to have fundamentally changed and the prospects of wider debates and interactions have burgeoned.
History will record that the first half of the year 2020 has witnessed deep human transformation in terms of activities, interactions, management, industrial relations and social order. The virtual world appears to be taking ground amidst the rising fears of more pandemics and infectious diseases. Wisdom dictates that man deals with those developments with extreme care. Muslims are urged to make use of the present opportunities but must not forget the necessity of the human interaction that is possible only through real contact. Virtual world will proliferate but must not be allowed to conquer mankind. We are humans, we need to communicate directly with each other and build a social order among us. We must not be conquered by technology and must not allow it to enslave us. It must not be more than a convenient method to help conduct our lives. Life may have changed by the pandemic but our feeling of belonging to the human race must not change. As the lockdown is gradually relaxes we must re-cultivate bonds with others and work to create a more healthy and loving society.