BEHIND every phenomenon in Islam, there is always a divine cause. Hijrah is the monumental migration of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) from Makkah to Madinah under the command of Allah (SWT) in order to set a pace for mankind in terms of striving on the path of Allah (SWT)- (Qur’an 8:30, 9:40). It thus marks the commencement of the Hijrah calendar for the Islamic world in 622 C.E.
The Islamic year is lunar-based, i.e., the movement of the moon (Qur’an 9:36, 10:5). In every year, there are 12 months and each month is either 30 or 29 days, depending on the position of the moon. Therefore, every year, the Islamic period comes about 11 days earlier than the Gregorian calendar which is based on solar year with fixed days for each month.
Advantageously, the Islamic months of Muharram to Thul-Hijjah move round the seasons. Sequentially, the rites and festivals fall into different natural seasons over the years. The adoption of the Hijrah calendar started during the caliphate of Sayyid Umar Ibn al-Khattab. He became the second orthodox caliph in year 634 C.E.(14 A.H).
Globally, we are now in Muharram, the first month of Islam in the year 1442 after Hijrah (1442 A.H).
There are more viruses on earth than stars in the universe. The current pandemic is caused by just one virus code-named COVID-19. It is an existential threat to the whole world. Humanity is endangered and the effect is beyond the health crisis. Going by the alarming 21 million plus infected persons and 700,000 fatalities, its existentialism requires concerted efforts from all nations for effective vaccines to curb its spread. To flatten the curve, cooperation is more important than competition; it requires global solidarity. Scientists’ warnings as regards second wave infection should not be ignored.
Prior to the beginning of Hijrah 1442, the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) under the leadership of the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, underscored the need for concerted efforts with recommended fasting days in Muharram and fervent prayers for divine intervention worldwide. It is pertinent to note that faith has an important role to play in flattening the anxiety curve of COVID-19.
The coronavirus is not our fault but the way we react to it is what could be inappropriate and/or inadequate. In Hijrah 1442 activities, we should avoid actions and practices that aid the spread of COVID-19. It is imperative for us to adhere strictly to the preventive protocols such as wearing of face masks in public places, avoiding of crowd, maintaining social distancing, washing of hands and applying sanitiser regularly. We must be pragmatic and honest in our approach to tackling COVID-19.
Islam is not against science or adoption of scientific approach to issues. It does not brand man as a helpless or hopeless creature, condemned from birth to death and drowned in sin from womb to tomb, but it portrays him as a noble, honourable and dignified being. The distinctive approach of the Qur’an is that its instructions are aimed at the general welfare of man and are based on the possibilities within his reach to stay safe. These are the factors behind the Hijrah of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
For now, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has registered 29 vaccines from different parts of the world but the big challenge is the ability to determine the effectiveness and safety of each of them.
Therefore, we need more fervent prayers than usual. May Allah’s grace be sufficient for us. May He shower His mercy on us all. We are in it together – one planet, one unity, one God.
Sheikh Nojimudeen, an author, is the Chief Imam of Challenge Central Mosque, Ibadan.
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