The Battle Against Covid-19 Requires Sacrifice
In less than a week, Muslims around the world will be celebrating Eid al-Adha or Hari Raya Korban (the Feast of the Sacrifice). It is celebrated to commemorate Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son as an act of obedience to Allah’s command – which is a trial from Allah to test his piety to submit to His will. For his obedience and patience to God’s will, that before Abraham could do the sacrifice, Allah ordered the angel Gabriel to provide a substitute for his son i.e. a substitutionary ram. This had been recorded in the Quran as Allah says to the effect: “And We have ransomed you with a mighty sacrifice.” (Qur’an 37: 107).
In honour of Abraham’s submission to Allah’s command, Muslims emulate his dedication and obedience by sacrificing their livestock as an act of devotion to God during Eid al-Adha festival which commences from the 10th to 13th of Zulhijjah (the twelfth and final month in the Islamic calendar). Here the ritual has nothing to do with atoning for sins as it actually signifies the willingness of those who perform the sacrifice to give up or share bounties in one form or another which is close to their hearts with others. If it is carried out with full sincerity and solely seeking the pleasure of Allah, the sacrifice will result in the intended outcome i.e. piety. In the Quran, Allah says, “It is neither their meat nor their blood that reaches God but your piety” (Qur’an, 22: 37).
Sacrifice is a multidimensional construct. In the above scenario, sacrifice is religious in nature. Nevertheless, regardless of the context, sacrifice is an essential element for man in his life journey in this world. Therefore, in order to succeed or survive in this journey requires sacrifice.
In the context of Covid-19, the presence of sacrifice as an underpinning core value in managing the pandemic is very glaring. It has made a huge impact on the effectiveness of the overall mechanism employed by the Malaysian government in containing the pandemic from further spreading and causing more damage to the well-being of the people.
With most of the countries are affected by Covid-19 and we have yet to find the vaccine for the cure, people around the globe are now struggling with so many issues and challenges that Covid-19 has thrown up. The problems are not confined to medical treatment and health care issues as they also have a profound impact on the wellbeing of people in various aspects and contexts.
The implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO), for example, has slowed down our economic activities as all government and private premises have been instructed to close or cease their operations temporarily. Many employees have been out of job or got retrenched as companies adopt cost optimisation and downsized their operations. Thus, their livelihood were also affected not only because of financial hardship, but also due to restrictions imposed by the government through the MCO which makes it difficult for them to react and apply a quick fix to the problem.
The MCO which began on 18 March 2020 saw the country had to sacrifice RM2.4 billion in economic value per each MCO day. The unemployment rate rose to 5.0% or 778, 800 people as many were laid off as business owners stopped or slowed down their operations. To mitigate the impact of Covid-19, three stimulus packages were introduced by the government. The packages—Prihatin Economic Stimulus Package 2020 (Prihatin), Prihatin SME and Pelan Jana Semula Ekonomi Negara (PENJANA)—are targeted towards providing job security to employees and empowering businesses and SMEs. The initiatives which are meant to cushion the impact of lockdown measure due to Covid-19 have cost the government RM295 billion.
Besides the economic loss, Malaysians also endure great inconvenience as they must conform to new norms and sacrifice established routines, ceremonies, traditions and even religious practices. Indeed, all these trade-offs are profoundly uncomfortable to deal with and yet, this is the price that is needed to be paid in order to contain and flatten the curve of the pandemic.
Indeed, many parties are involved in combating Covid-19 in Malaysia. The most notable one is the frontline workers. It is very unusual and very uncomfortable to work long-hours in a high risk environment. But for the sake of the nation, our healthcare staff together with the national defence and security team; and various other agencies have gone above and beyond the call of duty. Without their dedication and commitment, we would not be recognised as one of most successful countries in the world in handling Covid-19. Otherwise, we could have been struggling in the battle of this pandemic.
As a result of the sacrifices made by all parties, Malaysia has been recognised by the world community as one of the successful countries in handling Covid-19. As one of the few early countries which managed to keep new cases remain low and in control, we hope to win the battle and finally restore our daily life and revolve the wheel economy again. The Ministry of Finance and a few international agencies have made some forecast that we can achieve economic recovery as early as 2021 with 6.3 per cent to 7.5 per cent of growth of gross domestic product.
Nevertheless, this forecast is subject to Malaysia’s success in continuing to curb this epidemic and the extent to which it is able to attract investors and consumers to be active in the economy. At the same time, we also hope that politicians can sacrifice their lust for political power for a while by giving full support to the current government to implement preventive and corrective measures to curb and minimise the impact of Covid-19 on the wellbeing of the entire population in Malaysia.