The COVID-19 crisis the world is faced with doesn't discriminate. Never before had a any catastrophe brough the entire human race to a standstill like this. While confinement the only new way to self-protect, it has also granted us an opportunity to pause and evaluate our life’s priorities and direction. The prerequisite for such a thought process is scientific temperament, which will allow us to objectively evaluate the righteousness of an approach. This will be the start of a new form of thought leadership – both on an individual and community level.
The recent Tableeghi Jamaat incident cracked open the leadership question among the Muslims once again. The Jamaat faces accusations of risking the lives of a large number of people. The Head of the Jamaat, Maulana Saad, failed to take the precautionary measures and once the incident came to light, he neither admitted nor apologised for his failure. Instead, he went amiss and ironically as per recent reports, is now claiming to be in self-quarantine. It is unbecoming of a believer and a leader to leave his fellow-men stranded. According to a Hadith recorded in Sahih al-Bukhari, the Prophet of Islam said, “Every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock”(6719). It is astonishing how instead of making amends, the Jamaat leadership was trying to mislead by citing that coronavirus is a conspiracy to shut down the mosques! It is high-time for Muslims to objectively assess the leadership they have been following.
A true believer is one who leads a life of contemplation and observes simplicity and mindfulness. He is neither reckless, nor extravagant and most importantly is conscientious towards his responsibilities concerning others. In the 1937 issue of ‘Harijan’, Mahatma Gandhi mentioned two companions of the Prophet of Islam: Abu Bakr and Umar Farooq and wrote: “They were leaders of a vast Empire, yet they lived a life of austerity.” This describes the life a leader is supposed to lead, which becomes an example. On the contrary, as the uber luxurious lifestyle of the Jamaat leadership was reported in the media, it demonstrated sheer disregard for both simplicity and austerity. Being in the position of leadership is indeed very demanding. It requires an unassuming demeanour, modesty and a vision for ideological uplifitment of humanity.
The right thing for Jamaat leadership in light of Islamic teaching, would have been to take strict measures to cancel all congregations to ensure health and safety of people. The guidance from the life of the Prophet of Islam is clear in this regard. He advised to “not mix the sick with the healthy” (Sahih Muslim, 2221). This teaching of ‘social distancing’ was so to make sure adequate measures are observed in the event of a disease to ensure its containment.
This situation has given us an opportunity to overhaul our thought process. The beginning of Industrial Revolution became the precursor for discarding the idea of ‘BlameThou Hast’. Now, the spirit of age focused on nurturing the spirit of ‘Blame Thyself’. Over last 100 years, we have seen many countries grow from the ashes, be itJapan, Germany or South Korea. They came out of the dark because they developed their community on the lines of ‘Blame Thyself’.
We live in a world, which has an existence of its own, functioning according to its own immutable principles. Scientific temperament is, therefore, extremely important for the successful development of both the individual and the nation. The secret of success is to see the world around us with an open mind and to acquire an understanding of the laws of nature. This approach will produce positive results, enabling one to form correct judgments about things as they actually are.
Scientific thinking, largely, is a question of ratiocination based on facts. For instance, if you have to build an aircraft and you want to make it fly, the science of engineering will tell you to build it from aluminium, titanium, steel and many other materials, and not from clay and wood. Similar principles apply in both secular and religious matters. Good results can be achieved only if full account is taken of all of the relevant facts. Failing this, the desired outcome will remain elusive.
(Raamish Siddiqui is an Islamic thinker and writer. His published works include ‘The True Face of Islam’ and ‘Timeless Wisdom’. A regular contributor to different national dailies, his writings focus on addressing challenges faced by the contemporary Islamic world. Raamish has been actively engaged with many inter-faith initiatives across the globe. Views are personal)
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine