Note the argument canvassed by the Almighty above -economic recession and depression which manifested in the destruction of crops and animas in ancient Egypt actually followed a natural historical process: conscious infractions of divine law and lack of equity and justice among men are precedent to earthly calamities and crises; lack of compassion from the ruler to the ruled, lack of contentment among the poor with the will of the Almighty are recipes for conflict and strife. Whenever punishments in form of diseases and calamities occur on the earth, they are meant to be admonitions to humanity to find their way back to their Creator.
In other words, diseases, calamities and crises are not ends in themselves; rather they are signifiers; they are pointers to the necessity for introspection and circumspection. The Almighty caused the rain to fall as a warning to Pharaoh. But Pharaoh was obdurate and obstinate. He refused admonition.
Since Pharaoh was not prepared to heed divine warnings, the Almighty therefore sent greater calamities against them. They were visited by an invasion of locusts which ate their crops and fruits, penetrated the ceiling of their dwellings as well as inside their clothes. Later the Almighty sent frogs against them. The frogs were so plentiful that their inner quarters were invaded. Each time Pharaoh and his people came under these divine recriminations, they remonstrated with Prophet Musa to intercede on their behalf. But each time they were granted relief, they quickly returned to their evil ways. Pharaoh and his followers went through seven different types of earthly calamities all of which were meant to guide them back to the path of rectitude, but unfortunately none of the warnings benefited them until Pharaoh met his waterloo inside the ocean.
Then coronavirus came. “Are you actually a warning to the whole world of greater calamities ahead unless we desist from our iniquities?” (Fal ‘iyadhbihi). It came from the ‘new’ world. No! It came from the ‘old’ world. No! It came from China. No! It came from the US! But it does not matter anymore. Coronavirus is now out there in the world. It has succeeded in ‘corroding’ the ‘world-order’. It has changed the ecology of our world as a whole. Each time I pondered the number of human lives already lost to the pandemic, I discovered that there are probably more to it than being an ordinary pandemic. I thought COVID-19 is a metaphor for something else other than being an ordinary outbreak of a disease. Then I remembered how, in His schemes and schema, anything can become everything; that a pebble can become a desert; that a drop of water can become an ocean.
COVID-19 then should be seen as a signifier the same way all entities in nature are metaphors; viruses are like atoms, they are like pebbles, they are like stars. These are entities in our world over which we have little or no control. These are entities in nature that exist not for their own sake but for purposes that are greater than themselves.
Yes. This is true- rivers do not drink their waters, the ocean does not eat its own fish, trees do not consume their own fruits, the sun does not shine for its own; the bearers of breast in nature do not produce milk for their own benefit. In other words, entities in nature are created for purposes other than themselves. All of these creatures are signs from the Almighty, the Creator of the Heavens and earth. They can be deployed as agents of pain or pleasure. The honey bee can be deadly even though what comes out of its body, according to Quran 16: 96 contains much healing for humanity.
I entered the ‘cave’ of reflection when I could no longer bear the pain that the entire human race is going through consequent upon the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.