DAY 3. COVID-19 LOCKDOWN
The heart needs healing!
My reading of IRSHAD. Wisdom of the Sufi Master, gives such intensity to learning how to look after the heart because if the heart is sound, the whole body and if it corrupted the whole body is.
Day 3 of the LOCKDOWN in South Africa is gaining momentum and the honourable President’s leadership on the matter is commendable and that is good for the country. The day passed on with useful activities from reading, writing and doing chores around the house which gave me an acute sense of what domestic workers go through daily. My heart filled with gratitude that my life is what it is. However, this feeling lasted for a while until the next chore but its gravity was not strong enough to relish the heart’s vacuum for something greater. What was it?
I found it in IRSHAD. Here is the story that will illustrate why we need to fill the vacuum.
A fellow who had worshipped in his youth, but had later given it up, looked at himself one day in the mirror and saw grey hairs upon his head and beard. “Alas, what have I done?” he said. Then he began to wonder whether, if he repented to Allah, his Lord would forgive him. He was thinking: “What shall I do, having let my life slip by in disobedience to Allah?” when he heard a Voice addressing him: “My servant, I loved you. You loved Me too. Then, although you forsook Me, I did not destroy you but gave you your sustenance. If you repent and come back to Me, I shall love you again.” – Page 140
The heart needs that spiritual levitation because we are concentrating on the external so much that we have become subservient to mystical and conspiracy theories on COVID-19. The story above draws attention to the self and how hopelessness in the face of Allah’s grace reignites greater hope and immense love to return to good because, the heart in its quintessence is pure. The world over is struggling to cope with the lockdown reality because this is unique phenomenon which we don’t have the experience to deal with it.Therefore, the heart has become restless and consequently the search for fulfilment in many pastimes is likened to a Google Search has become the norm.
Today I had a very heartwarming call from my dear cousin Muhammad. His nature is reminiscent of Sufi in opinion and I cherish his company. His call was based on the matters of the heart’s connection to Allah in these times of colossal uncertainty. He mentioned many things that gave me perspective on the pandemic and illustrated the need to fill the heart with remembrance of Allah in simple ways by admiring creation, taking solace in that we are better off than billions of people, we have a spiritual connection, we have faith in Allah and a feeling for the whole of humanity to be saved and guided. This in itself filled the heart with immense aspiration to go back to Allah, the High the Great.
What he asked me to do after the 34 minute conversation was to phone a friend or member of the family and to talk to him/her about the greatness of Allah. He asked me to mention to them how the world with all its sophistication cannot beat this virus which is so minute in size that when magnified a hundred thousand times, it is visible to the eye. I phoned a friends he requested. The call was so therapeutic, enriching, genuine and unfeigned of any self-righteousness. This filled the vacuum so much that it got me action orientated with family and neighbours with the sole realisation that this is what I needed more than them. It was seeing myself in the mirror and saying everything to myself and each time I reflected, the message was the same: “Abdullah you need to do this more often.”
When the you look at the featured image of this article you will realise that we need people around too who can assist us in making life meaningful and worthwhile and to take us ‘far from the maddening crowd’. The day did not tarry on with nothing to do but, it was a result of that conversation a means to read books on Islam and to appreciate the fact that I found it educational. I was not searching for answers in some secularist reading which ‘bends with the remover to remove’ to use a Shakespeare’s words to illustrate the point. The point is that the answers to the heart’s content lies in the realm of Allah’s laws and greatness whilst secular thinking changes ever so often and takes you away from what you believed in and throws you into the abyss of confusion because secularists’ answers are always covered and layered with exuberant verbosity.
The news had clear messages of the upheaval COVID-19 is causing and the effects it will have for years to come creating more paranoias but driving the point home – stay at home and look after yourself. Again the conversation with Muhammad soothed the heart with the authentic feeling that Allah will change the condition provided we change what’s in our hearts. So, I request you to look into your heart and identify your spiritual ailments like the young fellow and do something about it. What should you do?
This is what I did. Discussed the conversation with my wife and then we sat down and read from a book on Hadith with the express intention of reflecting on what the end goal of every human is i.e. meeting with Allah. The heart found contentment in that it was given attention over the stomach for once exclusively. Yes, the concern of the stomach is so overwhelming that it sidelines everything else and diminishes all into insignificance. When the heart is given that attention there is change of thought and a change in the narrative of our conversations and light hearted discussions too.
This is how we should spend part of our day. We should take time to reflect and ask hard questions about yourself to yourself and answer it too. This will make you aware of the fact that you cannot lie to yourself. Nelson Mandela’s Conversations with Myself, is really apt to cite here. He writes: “Regular meditation, say about 15 minutes a day before you turn in, can be very fruitful in this regard. You may find it difficult at first to pinpoint the negative features in your life, but the 10th attempt may yield rich rewards. Never forget that a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying.”
The above is from a letter to Winnie Mandela dated 1 February 1975 sent from Kroonstad Prison. In prison these were his thoughts amongst a plethora of great ideas too. We are in LOCKDOWN with so much more to do. We have freedom of movement in our homes which by all standards is huge compared to a cell. Therefore, give that heart its space to ‘speak’ its mind because it will tell you the truth.
The truth is we would not handle living in a township under these conditions of LOCKDOWN nor any other time. That is what the heart will truly speak when you give it it’s voice. The COVID-19 infections are increasing and the townships are very vulnerable whilst in our localities we have many amenities that act as buffers to stem the spread of the virus but, not in the townships. If you fill the vacuum of the heart with these realties then the time of reflection draws near and it is what the heart needs. Let your heart feel for those less fortunate and bleed for those like us, who are caught in the flight of a never ending desire for more comfort, more luxury, more …more.
Day 4 beckons with great expectations because it has with it another 24 hours that you can fill with small acts of kindnesses crowned with sincerity and anointed with excellence. You have 24 hours to make your heart turn in favour of Allah, the High the Great. Fill the vacuum and don’t be like that fellow who had it all but gave it up only to realise rather late that Allah’s mercy outweighs His anger.