By: Dr Ouahiba Saoudi
COVID19 Pandemic and the Dilemma of Anxiety
COVID19 pandemic is by all human standards a strange yet a dangerous disease causing huge number of fatalities. Undoubtedly, it has imposed new standards of life with a variety of habits, restrictions and routines that must be followed by all such as physical distancing, working from home, losing jobs, using masks, and lockdown. This state of affairs and mind caused many people to live in mental and psychological disturbances such as fears, anxiety and worries related to the new environment and conditions.
Fear about losing a job or business, infection, harm to children and family members, etc. may result in anxiety. Many of these feelings and mental reactions to the COVID19 new strange situation are quite normal for humans, especially if not exaggerated and traumatised. Hence, healthy anxiety which is a normal response to danger and threat, is needed as it enables people to put take the right actions. However, managing anxiety is important to be able to encounter the pandemic-related challenges in more effective ways.
Given this situation, I believe that spiritual therapy would be one of the good techniques and ways of reducing, if not eliminating, the negative impacts of anxiety; bringing tranquillity and peace to the soul and mind.
The Quality of Patience (al-Sabr) and Faith (Iman)
One important way of reducing anxiety is the use of the technique of patience as a tool for the training of the mind, soul and body to resist and adapt to the various levels of pains and difficulties befalling man in his life. Generally, patience is our inner strength to respond, resist, adjust and fight the pain or calamity. Succeeding in this will depend on many factors, among which, is our iman and faith. The Qur’an has given the example of prophets and their followers as models of patience. They taught us that the quality of patience is the main line of defence against anxiety and difficulties.
Spiritual Therapy and Al-Sabr Value
In spiritual therapy, patience is supposed to reduce our anxiety if not eliminate it through distress or mental pain relief. It may not be easy, but it comes to those who are trying to get help from Allah. So what exactly is patience? According to Ibn al-Qayyim, patience is the soul’s containment of anxiety and the tongue’s restriction of complaints. To be patient is to be among those who are in the care and love of Allah. Allah Almighty says: “For Allah is with those who patiently persevere:” (Al-Anfal: 46); and he says likewise: “And Allah loves the steadfast” (Al-Imran: 146).
Hence, practicing patience entails mental strengths and psychological abilities that allow the individual to face the adversaries of life. In this critical time, especially with COVID19 still around and creating fear, we have to demonstrate patience. The patience can be manifested in various ways, for instance, in the hadith: (On the authority of Aisha: I asked the Messenger of God, peace and blessings be upon him, about the plague, and he told me that: Torment that God sends to whom He wills, and that God made it as a mercy for the believers, None of the plague falls, so a patient patient will remain in his country, knowing that he will only suffer from what God wrote to him, except that it was like the reward of a martyr)(Sahih Al-Bukhari). This is the type of reward which Allah prepares for those who practice patience. Hence, one should be confident in Allah while practicing patience to encounter the pandemic. Trusting requires that you take the reasons as if they are everything, then trust in God as if they are nothing (Ratib Nabulsi).
Dr. Ouahiba Saoudi is a part-time lecturer in the Department of Fundamental Knowledge and Interdisciplinary Studies (FIDS), KIRKHS; and may be reached at Email: firstname.lastname@example.org