‘We thank Allah for sparing us – to enjoy Eid-al-Fitr free from shackles of Covid’

Imam Dr. A. Rashied Omar

At this joyous time of Eid al-Fitr we extol and thank Allah, the Most High, for enabling us to successfully complete the fasting of yet another month of Ramadan. We pray that Allah, the Lord of Compassion and Forgiveness, accepts our fasting, our ritual prayers, acts of charity, and all of our humble acts of worship and devotion and grants us bountiful forgiveness for our human frailties and indiscretions.

As for those who have been exempted from fasting, due to infirmity or chronic illness, we pray that Allah, the Source of all Healing, accepts their expiations of daily feeding the poor (fidyah), and grants them an even greater reward for their contentment and perseverance.

We are immensely grateful that the Covid-19 infections and mortality rates have been the lowest since the pandemic began two years ago.

At this special time of Eid we thank Allah, the Giver and Taker of Life, that we have been spared to continue our life-journeys and striving to serve Allah, the Most-High, and humanity in the best manner possible. After two years of living under the restrictive Covid-19 protocols we are all suffering from pandemic fatigue. We all are eagerly looking forward to shed our masks and other restrictions and get on with our lives.

One of the most significant lessons of the unprecedented pandemic we are emerging from is that of the respect, sanctity, and reverence we should have for human life. All of the mitigating strategies and protocols we adopted during the pandemic were aimed at saving and preserving human lives. Tragically, it appears at least at the global level that we have not learnt this painful yet most significant lesson of the pandemic. Almost at the same time that we are beginning to see the end of the pandemic, we are witnessing a proxy war in Ukraine between Russia and the United States of America.

The War in Ukraine has lasted almost two months now and has caused the death of thousands and the displacement of over five million people. It appears that our most powerful nations have learnt nothing from the unprecedented death and suffering we experienced during the pandemic. Why is this the case, and what does it reveal about the world we live in?

In responding to the above questions, it might be useful to reflect on an instructive Quranic verse from Surah al-Isra’ verse 37, where Allah, the Owner of all Glory and Power, proclaims the following: Do not act in the world with pride and arrogance. If you act haughtily and arrogantly on the earth, (know) that you will not be able to split the earth, nor will your stature reach the mountains in height and elevation (Q17:37)

Self-Interest

In the Qur’anic worldview it is pride and arrogance that makes some nations believe they are superior to others and act malevolently in the earth and snuff out human life with abandon. The arrogance and power of the leaders of such nations causes them to become hardhearted and to act callously and mercilessly in pursuit of their self-interest and regional and global hegemony. Such indeed is the condition of the protagonists in the war in Ukraine who have been engaged in merciless killing at a time when the world is emerging from a devastating pandemic.

The war in Ukraine has also once again exposed the sheer hypocrisy and double standards of the global world. It is palpable that in the unjust world we inhabit, white European lives matter more than that of brown and black people’s lives. No matter how callous and duplicitous the actions of the US and its NATO allies are, we should not condone the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We should condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine while at the same time exposing the hypocrisy and double standards of the US and NATO. We must always be cautious not to become as dehumanized as those we accuse of committing atrocities against us. In this regard, I would like to share an instructive story: When the great Libyan anti-colonial liberation fighter, Omar Mukhtar, protected two surviving Italian prisoners, saying ‘We do not kill prisoners,’ his fellow warrior said ‘They do it to us.’ Omar Mukhtar responded with these majestic words: ‘They are not our teachers.’

At this celebratory of `Id al-Fitr we call to mind the suffering of oppressed people all over the world. In particular, we pray for the war-ravaged people of Ukraine, Palestine, Yemen, Afghanistan, the Tigray region of Ethiopia and elsewhere in the world. May Allah, liberate them from war and deadly violence and grant them peace with justice.

Eid Mubarak, May You Enjoy a Happy and Blessed Eid al-Fitr.

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