Few weeks ago, news came in about the unwelcome arrival of covid-19 -- the globally dreaded strain of coronavirus, around this time, exacting its toll on the world -- in Nigeria. The reactions were as varied and sometimes as reprehensible as they come: many panicked, outpouring their unbridled fears on social and traditional media; others took on the opportunity to fan out and monger toxic rumours; others coined and adapted morbid jokes as though celebrating some landmarks; others, still, decided it was the moment to exploit their fellow men, hiking, by astronomical proportions, the prices of hand sanitizers, disinfectants, the humble surgical mask, you mention it. The various levels of government in the country announced they had long taken precautionary measures, yet were still at various stages of preparations to forestall the widespread transmission of the near pandemic.
A couple of days ago, meanwhile, a third confirmed case of the coronavirus was announced in the country. The victim, a 30-year-old, who arrived from one of the afflicted nations abroad, as at the time of this piece, is said to have been quarantined in the appropriate health facilities in the nation’s “centre of excellence”. So here we are, as events continue to unfold.
At the time of this writing, over 173,000 cases have been reported globally by the WHO; some 7,000 victims are said to have succumbed to the disease across most countries in virtually all continents. The gory statistics do not seem to be waning as new cases are being reported by the day. We are all on the edge of our seats. Humanity seems stymied.
In all these, man, once again, has been accosted by a phenomenon that, in spite of his lofty advancement in science and technology, threatens the very state and projection of his existence. The order and structure of his daily interactions with others, his self-confidence, nay, arrogance, even his very survival on this earth now feels under a palpable threat. Here's another contagious, seamlessly propagating disease whose cure - as of the time of this piece - remains yet unknown (even though vaccines are currently being tested), and it keeps spreading like the devastating wildfires which, only recently, various parts of the world have had to grapple with. But the "tiny" pathogen is already proving to be a more lethal force to contend with -- fast morphing into an invisible (hopefully not invincible) army of fatal germs.
Yet, in all these, many a man fails to recognise the reality of his existence. The indubitable, glaring fact of his being created by (and thus his impending, mandatory return to) a Supreme, infinitely Powerful Being, Who, in a twinkling of the eye, could decide to seal the fate of all humanity and the rest of existence by simply willing it, if He so wanted. Many apparently believe in the One Creator, alright; His Omnipresence, His Omnipotence and all, yet, they wittingly and otherwise choose to ascribe to Him whatever, however, whenever they wish unauthorized attributes, partners, “progenies”, etcetera. So much for the whims! Others, yet, brazenly defy His Commands and breach His Boundaries in all ignoble, immoral, censurable ways, without ever a thought - not a single moment - for penitence let alone an attempt to mend their ways.
Of course, we do pray and hope - and earnestly so - that Allaah allows a cure to be uncovered for this awful malaise, yet again, in all these, man was not going to escape the inevitable! We all were obviously created to die someday, somehow, and whatever events are fated to effect that on humans, individually or collectively, a coronavirus or not, is almost immaterial when weighed against the events that follow after the demise. Many, and quite understandably, dread the sheer mention of the almost ubiquitous pathogen believed to have been originally contracted from wildlife and now creepily wrecking fatalities across some 150 countries and counting; yet, how often do we pause and give thought at the mention of the One Who causes existence and allows death? How often do we reflect on the ultimate presence of the One who originated the tiniest and the largest, the mild and the deadly, the first and the latter, the physical and the incorporeal, the one and the multitude? How often do we ponder deeply at the mention of -- not just death -- the Creator of death? Need I go on? How often?
The point is, many a time, afflictions like this seem the only moments we attempt to take stock of our lives and lifestyles - for those who ever will - and when we really acknowledge the unpredictability of our fatalities. But then, things weren't supposed to be that way! We owe it to ourselves to now and again jerk ourselves to consciousness about that truth. We have to occasionally step on the brakes, just take a break from our daily, mundane rush and push for the material, and ask ourselves, "Why really am I on earth?"," What next when I die?" "Do I know where, when I would die?" and also muse about what the life after this transient one may hold for us. We have not appeared on earth by a random, "lucky" twist of events as some would insist on delusions, neither has Allaah created us for mere jest, and if only the mention of afflictions like coronavirus and her family are what do serve to jolt a forced cognition of death and the fragility of life, then we've got to hastily re-assess ourselves and reorder priorities. We have to begin to question and censure our thoughts and tendencies for the ephemeral. We have to limit the hedonistic ways before it's too late. We have got to realize, as a wise one goes, that we are living a dream and we only wake up when we die.
Allaahumma innaa na'udhu bika min zawali ni'matik, wa tahawwuli 'afiyatika, wafuja'ati niqmatika, wa jami'i sakhtik.
O Allaah! I seek refuge in You against the declining of Your Favours, the passing of Your Protection, the suddenness of Your Punishment and all that which displeases You.