With over two hundred thousand cases of covid-19 in the United States of America and over one hundred thousand each in Italy and Spain, Coronavirus disease cannot, for now, be said to be on the decline. Even in Nigeria, the discovery of 43 new positive cases on Wednesday April 1, 2020 which brought the total number of cases in Nigeria on that day to 179 does not suggest that the disease has slowed down from spreading. Unless the situation that prompted total lockdown imposed on two states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) improves in the next 48 hours, the window created for people to move out of the lockdown for some hours may have to be closed.
As we strive to cope with total or partial lockdown and other measures put in place to restrict movement or enforce social distancing, the stay-at-home order provides us with an opportunity to appreciate the immediate lessons and unforeseen ‘gains’ availed by Covid-19. Parents, children, women, students and religious men have all had their respective share of the out-of-the-way ‘gains’ offered by Covid-19 in Nigeria. Some of the opportunities provided for accessing these ‘gains’ are ‘timely’ to their beneficiaries.
For instance, individuals who hitherto had little or no time for body exercise now have opportunity to create enough time for physical exercise on a daily basis. As we grow older with greater family, community or workplace responsibilities, many people have little time to engage in physical exercises, which the body needs in order to keep fit and sound. For most low and middle classes of Nigerians, the time for siesta and resting is not on the list of their daily routine because they use most part of the day hustling to keep their head afloat the stormy sea of survival. Covid-19 has implicitly opened a very wide door for such rest even though many of those who need this rest are the same people critically complaining to Government to relax the lockdown. Well, we are at liberty as a country to choose between enforcing lockdown in order to kick coronavirus out of the country or relaxing or allowing free movement of people to empower the disease to spread at a rate it desires.
Young children who for sometime have not enjoyed adequate attention from their working mothers are now enjoying the long hours of unbroken company of their mothers. Working or business schedules have always alienated children of working mothers from the love, care and attention a child deserves from his mother. Students whose examinations were approaching but yet had so much to cover on their own can take advantage of the lockdown offered by the fight against Covid-19 and finish up any outstanding assignments. They can also use the period to cover every aspect of their respective course outlines. Such students would now have no excuse to fail or perform poorly.
Perhaps, women are the greatest beneficiaries from the lockdown order that has been on for some days (or weeks in some parts of the country). Women have ceased to hear their husbands citing ‘meetings’ as responsible for their habitual late return from office. Some women now have their once-missing right to their husband’s company restored by the lockdown. The stay-at-home measure has incidentally brought couples with soured relationship closer. It has also helped to further strengthen the relationship that exist between siblings in family.
The closure of bars and drinking joints have equally aided a reduction in the consumption of alcohol. The restriction of movement should have generally reduced crime rate, and by extension, adultery and fornication. Muslims who before now were constrained with time for devotions should now have more time to spend in the worship of their Creator. Lockdown is an opportunity to engage in more acts of worship with a view to reaping more reward and getting closer to the Creator of heavens and earth. These acts of devotion may include recitation of the Holy Qur’an. More people should be able to cover larger portions of the holy Qur’an in their routine recitations.
Many of us have, either individually or collectively, personally or officially, planned activities for the days or weeks that are now been observed in lockdown. “Man proposes”, they say, “but God disposes”. All the meetings, workshops, seminars, conference, lectures and public presentations planned many weeks or months earlier have given way for the enforcement of lockdown against the spread of COVID-19. Allah (SWT) states in Qur’an 76:30 “But ye will not except as Allah wills for Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom”. Similarly, Allah (SWT) admonishes us in Qur’an 18:23-24 “Do not say ‘I shall do so and so tomorrow’; without adding ‘if Allah wills’; and called thy lord to mind when thou forgets ….”.
Another lesson from the outbreak of pandemic COVI-19 is that Allah (SWT) does as He pleases. The deadly disease started from a people with better hygiene habit and state-of-the-art facilities to tackle or cope with the epidemiological nature of the disease compared to what obtains, for example, in African countries; sparing the African continent from the kind of ravage Europe and America is passing through. That’s the will of God.
Emergencies and bizarre situations such as the one availed by the COVID-19 pandemic provides opportunity for believers to strengthen their faith in the omnipotence of Allah (SWT). The entire humanity in spite of all that Allah has bestowed on mankind including intelligence, knowledge, wisdom and authority over physical environment, man is today standing in dire need of divine intervention over COVID-19. As ordinary as the name sounds, coronavirus which is just one of the diseases created to try us, is a phenomenon that draws attention, particularly of those who doubt the temporary nature of this world, to the fact that it costs the Creator of the heavens and the earth nothing to bring this planet to an end at any day or time he wishes. If Allah were to react to our individual and collective acts of transgression and disobedience, He (SWT) would have perished the world with a plague that is more or less deadlier than COVID-19. However, He (SWT) decides to give us respite, in spite of our sins, until we are assembled before Him on the Day of Reckoning. Allah (SWT) states in Qur’an 16:61 “If Allah were to punish men for their wrong-doing, He would not leave (on the earth) a single living creature, but He gives them respite for a stated term…..”
COVID-19 is shaking humanity; sending tens thousands to their early graves in few hours, prompting the shutting down of geographical borders and threatening national, regional as well as global economies with recession. With the statistics of new cases still on a rise on daily basis, we have no reason to relax in our individual prayers of seeking refuge in Allah (SWT), requesting Him to intervene between humanity and COVID-19. May Allah (SWT) protect us against covid-19 and guide us to conquer its epidemiological strength, amin.