Substantiating the Spiritual Dimension of Solat: Learning from COVID19 MCO experience

By: Dr Intan Aidura Alias

This COVID19 scenario, and in effect, the Movement Control Order that I observe has taken me to further contemplate and hence internalise a practice that has given me tranquillity as a person.  It is the prayer that I say, or solat in Arabic. Indeed, as Muslims, we should use solat as a refuge and solace for any uneasiness we may feel due to COVID19 and beyond.  Through the pandemic experience, the call Allahu akbar strongly reminds us that truly Allah is the Almighty; He governs all that happens in this world, even the pandemic itself.  Just by His word, ‘kun fayakun’, anything may happen.  But we trust Allah the Most Loving to embed love (Rahim) in what He decides to happen.  We trust Him to arrange for the goodness of COVID19.  And so we should trust Him to be able to end the COVID19 test too. Having this trust in Him sets our hearts at ease.

What’s the need for feeling ease?  Looking at the instructions for solat, we have to perform it 5 times a day. That means we should feel at ease most of the time.  Our mental health needs to be good. So why is that?

Let’s go back to the rituals in the solat.  Reciting the iftitah, we are reminded that all our actions should be for the sake of Allah.  Relating this reminder to COVID19, when we practice social distancing, it’s because Allah has prescribed earlier (in the Hadith) the effective way to control a plaque. So with patience, we follow His order for social distancing.  When we wash our hands as a preventive measure of COVID19, it is also because of Him. He has ordered us to safeguard our health, others’ health. But He determines the outcomes, so while washing the hand, we should pray that our washing will kill the virus and protect us from harm and keep us healthy. 

Learning from the al-Fatihah, we should start all actions, big or small, with the recitation of Bismillah, and be motivated by the Rahman and Rahim of Allah.  Reciting Bismillah brings certain confidence in our actions.  Now, what actions are to be taken? The fifth and following verses answer this, that is we do what He wants us to do, to be in the path of those He has Graced and not of those who get His Wrath nor those who have gone astray.   And He offers His Help in the execution of these actions.  

If we look back at the correct path, reflecting on how Islam is doing, we realize that we have a huge task to do – particularly to correct moral decay and disrespect of Allah.  We have to put Islam where it needs to be, position Allah where He should be, which is as the Most Important. The honoured Muslims before us did this and we the present Muslims should do so too to become the honoured.

To do this a good mental health is crucial.  And that is why mental health needs to be redefined as emphasizing the right condition of mind of an effective Muslim – submissive to Allah, patient in earning Allah’s blessing, thankful for everything Allah has bestowed, repent for all wrongdoings, beneficial to others. Mental health research should be conducted along this line. And not just about not having a mental illness.  

And now, as everyone adapts to the change and prepares for a new normal, we must use this opportunity to redesign our normal, back to the real normal, the fitrah.  If this requires us to revamp our ways, that’s what we have to do. Allah has set the right condition for this change, it’s our task to make that change.

Surely, Allah Knows Best.

Dr Intan Aidura Alias is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology, Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences, International Islamic University Malaysia.

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