DAY 8. COVID-19 LOCKDOWN.
The office of Muezzin is a great honour said the venerable Umar, may Allah be pleased with him: “If I had not been Caliph, I would have been a Muezzin.” – IRSHAD. WISDOM OF A SUFI MASTER.
This was the third Friday that Jumah Salaah (Friday congregational prayers in a mosque) was read at home and the ‘falconer’s’ call from the mosque brought heaviness to the heart as we, the falcons had to suppress the desire to congregate in the mosque for prayers. The speeches from the pulpits of social media have made credible comments that mankind has strayed off the path of truth and today are suffering the pandemic as reminder of who is really in charge of the world. The common refrain is: “The falcon cannot hear the falconer, mere anarchy is loosed upon the world…” is repeated in different versions to get people to reflect and take heed.
I pondered on what it must feel like for the muezzin to call the adhaan (the call to prayer) and then read the prayers on his own in the mosque and it left me hopeful. Hopeful because the muezzin gives the call and knows that people are hearing and praying too and also believes that even if he does not give the adhaan, there will be a group of devout people praying. This sanguine thought gave me confidence that soon Allah (swt) will lift this pandemic and the mosques will again be open. Inshallah (Allah willing).
The deeper thought for me was the words of Umar (r.a) because it made me discern the character of Umar (r.a) to be as refined in the likeness of his beloved master, Nabi Muhammad (s). Why? The venerable Caliph respected people, understood the reverence of Allah’s creation, did not fall for the worship of status and believed in justice as a means for peace. Furthermore, what it reveals is a man who knows the value of good people and the respect they earn as the result of their consistent actions day in and day out. This shows the nature of leadership – refined at all levels especially in knowing how to deal with the intricacies of human relationships.
Today, the thought of human relationships tugged the mind because this LOCKDOWN is testing human relationships at all levels. Teachers are teaching online, find it strange and quip that they have no discipline issues but, lament missing the human presence. Family members who do not see one another are now closer to observe the finer details of behaviour of one another. Husband and wife who are so busy with everything else are today in such close proximity that their youth’s feelings are rekindled. Friends who used to see each other daily are now corresponding on social media and calls to keep the friendship alive. The list is endless but, one thing is not endless and that is this pandemic. It also has a lifespan and when its relationship with the world is finish, it will also die. Therefore, the tough reality to face in this situation is the nature of your relationship with Allah (swt) because that’s where it all starts.
Again the words of Umar (r.a) runs deep even in this interaction between Sheikh Ahmad al-Ghazali and his famous brother, Imam al-Ghazali for me. One day Sheikh Ahmad was conversing with Imam al-Ghazali and remarked to him: “All your knowledge and your weighty books can be summed up in two sentences:
Have respect for God’s commands;
Have compassion for God’s creators.”
It made me think on how much compassion we have for God’s creators and do we empathise with those who are less fortunate and; like Umar (r.a) would you want their job, if you could have it? This reality has come to many of us in this situation where all of us have become domesticated by doing all the chores at home and; understood the worth of the maids and gardeners we have in our employ. We will not want their job as an everyday thing but, surely we want them doing cleaning, ironing, sweeping, laundry and the lot daily because its what we pay them for and; it gives us the life we have.
The falconer calls and the falcon responds because that is the established relationship. When the falconer calls and the falcon does not respond, it’s not a sign of social distance rather it tells of a sheer breakdown of respect in the relationship. The falcon has lost that awe of presence of the falconer so yes, ‘mere anarchy is loosed upon the world’ because, compassion has diminished. This yearning that we still have to respond to the call and go the mosque is something to be cherished in the sincere practice of prayer at home five times a day and more so that when pandemic is lifted to the heavens, we will rush to the mosques daily as often as possible.
The quintessence of this indulgence is to illustrate in real time the need to introspect on how we relate with people and animals too at all levels because we are all interdependent. Umar (r.a) taught me in his statement that there is no job below your dignity and your excellence will dignify the job, provided its lawful. Secondly, it encouraged me to honour people for what they do because at times you might have an acute yearning for what they do because life is full of twists and turns. Furthermore, it made me realise just like the falconer admires the falcon in its exalted flight, Allah (swt) admires the servant in his striving to be obedient to HIM and looks upon him in higher degree as the falconer to the falcon.
When the ‘falconer’ calls the adhaan of fajr (early morning prayers) take flight like a falcon to prayer for the calling had come from a very a high office. Then embrace the day by refining every moment of interaction in every relation you will have for the day. When the day closes for the next, await the last call of adhaan for the Esha (night prayer) and look back on the day with glee that you did not flee from majesty of the Great Falconer – Allah, the High the Great.