Right now, over half the world’s population is in lockdown as we try and stop the spread of Covid-19. Many people are struggling to adjust to these changes to their lifestyles and routines, and most of us are experiencing a whole range of emotions from boredom to anxiety. If you’re one of these people, don’t worry. In times as strange as these, it’s perfectly normal to feel a bit strange, and it may be helpful to remind yourself of the Persian proverb – “this too will pass.” As people of faith, we should still try and find the positives in every situation. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Amazing is the situation of the believer, for every situation of the believer is good.” (Sahih Muslim)
Remind yourself that you and your family are safe, and don’t forget to count Allah’s blessings. Do you have food in the fridge? Do you have a roof over your head? Are you still able to work from home, on paid leave or even receiving some government welfare payments? If you’ve answered yes to any of those, you’re already more fortunate than billions of people around the world.
Time is a great changer of our perspectives too. Right now, you might be wondering when this will be over. Some of us are longing just to be able to go out again, to meet family or friends, or to get back to work. But when it does go back to normal, you’ll find yourself missing some elements of even a global emergency like this. Yes, we’re restricted in all kinds of ways, but most of us are finding ourselves with more time on our hands than ever before. What follows is five ways that you can use this time to improve your deen during lockdown, and hopefully pick up some habits that will remain long after things go back to normal.
(1) Start praying
Might seem obvious, but this is first for a very good reason. Prayer is the very first thing a believer is asked about in the hereafter. It is quite literally the basis of our religion, and along with the other obligatory deeds, the scholars say that voluntary deeds like charity, etc. are not accepted until a person completes their obligations. If you don’t already pray, you’re unlikely to get another chance as good as this to start praying in your working life. Fajr too early? Doesn’t matter, go back to sleep afterwards – not like you have office or college anymore.
If you really find yourself struggling to start praying, just start with the bare minimum obligatory units (so that’s 2 for fajr, 4 for zuhr, 4 for asr, 3 for maghrib, 4 for isha and 3 for witr). Once you’ve done that for a few days, introduce the emphasised sunnah units of prayer, and in this way build up until you’re reading all of the emphasised and voluntary units of prayer in a day. It might feel like hard work at first, but always remember that the prayer is a remedy for a sick soul – medicine might be bitter at first, but once the patient feels better, they never regret taking it.
(2) Revise the rulings of purity and prayer
Whether you’ve been praying regularly for years or just started recently, it’s really important to regularly revise the rulings of purity (so that’s your wudu, ghusl and what affects them) and your prayer. There are loads of good books out there on this topic, and if you have any reliable book then dust it down and run through it. Make notes, compare the theory with how you actually pray, and use online services such as Sadr ul Ulama’s Instagram questions if you struggle to understand anything. If you don’t have such a book, and can’t get one due to being in lockdown, Laws of Salah is a great book available for free download. Alternatively, you can also use Learn Islam’s Learn Salaah website.
(3) Make real du’as
We’re not judging anyone, but we’ve all seen that brother or sister in the masjid or prayer room who’ve barely raised their hands and the next thing they’re du’a is done and they’ve already got their first shoe on. We get it: life is busy, the struggle to fit prayers into the working day is a tough one. But now you have a chance like no other. No office, lectures or lessons to get back to, no manager timing your breaks. Use this chance to make real du’as. Afraid of anything? Tell your Lord. Want to get married? Tell your Lord. Need a new job? Tell your Lord. Put some time in, be emotionally invested, and see what happens. Allah says, “Call on Me, I will answer you.” Two other handy tips: begin and end your dua’s with salawat upon the Prophet (peace be upon him), and repeat “Ya Rabbana” five times at the beginning of your du’a: the scholars have said these are good means of the acceptance of du’as. Thank us later.
(4) Read and memorise some of the Qur’an daily
Use some of this new found freedom to rekindle your relationship with the book of Allah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) told us that the Qur’an is an intercessor for the one who recites it. Begin a daily recitation of the Qur’an, whichever way you find works for you. There are certain chapters of the Qur’an recommended for daily reading: Surah Mulk anytime in the evening and night (after maghrib) protects an individual from the punishment of the grave. You could also choose a set portion – such as a juz, or less if needs be – and read your way through the Qur’an in order until you complete a recitation.
This is also a great opportunity to begin memorising portions of the Qur’an. With Ramadan fast approaching, and the very real possibility that we might not be able to pray taraweeh in the masjids this year, why not memorise the last 20 surahs of the Qu’ran? This will mean you can pray or even lead your own taraweeh at home, without having to repeat any of the surahs. Imagine what a great achievement that will be.
(5) Sort out mistakes from the past
We’re all human, we’ve all made mistakes in our past. Maybe you didn’t pray for many years, didn’t give your zakah or perhaps there are people you need to ask for forgiveness. Now that the global threat of Covid-19 has got us all thinking about death that little bit more, this is a great time to get our affairs in order – because one thing’s for sure, maybe not today, maybe not as a result of this pandemic, but all of us have to return to our Lord one day.
If you have missed prayers to make up, then calculate them using this handy app for Android and iOS, and slowly begin offering them. Similarly, if you didn’t pay your zakah in years gone by, this is a great opportunity to dig out your financial records and calculate what you owe and get it paid – and with many people throughout the Muslim out of work due to government lockdowns, your zakah could really help a family get through this pandemic.
And if you’re still holding a grudge or have wronged someone in the past, reflect on how fragile the creation really is – the world’s biggest economies have been crippled by a virus so small it cannot be seen by the naked eye. Be the bigger person, reach out and ask for forgiveness. If nothing else, times like this tell us that life really is too short, and none of us know when we will leave this world and head to the questioning of the grave and hereafter.