Significance of the Holy Month in Curbing the COVID-19 Infection
It’s the second year running that Muslims in Malaysia, in particular, fast in the month of Ramadan and celebrate Eid ul -Fitr during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The MCO and its attendant restrictions have to be implemented as the country is still grappling with the fight against the pandemic which has yet to be defeated, and in fact, has become more aggressive and violent.
As the Holy month of Ramadan is closing, and Eid ul Fitr is now taking its turn, the number of COVID-19 infection is increasing somewhat drastically. The trend shows that the daily infection is reaching toward a total number of more than four thousand, and this warrants the urgency of the government to continue implementing the MCO 3.0.
The daily numbers somehow indicate that the pandemic is likely to be out of control. As a consequence, many activities are put on hold. This include mainly several economic and social sectors that involve mass human gatherings where the risk of infection is believed to be higher.
The COVID-19 virus as it is recognised is highly infectious and poses fatal risks to groups of high risk people, and in the worst situation, the potential of infection is extremely high when mass gatherings are involved.
Indeed, social restrictions are not easily acceptable and they are contrarian to human nature. As humans are social beings, they need to socialise. However, putting social sanctions is the best alternative available currently to curb the infection even though it is currently not the popular or favourable alternative being made.
Another alternative in the prevention effort is abiding to the existing Standard Operating Procedure or SOP. However, this too does not seem to go down well with some people as they find it hard sometimes to follow. As such, this has been the main reason why the MCO 3.0 is being implemented.
As far as mental health is concerned, situations like this would trigger some highly uncomfortable reactions emotionally as well as behaviourally and physically. People would react with full emotional turmoil such as feelings of anger, frustration, and sadness that finally lead to emotional problems like anxiety and depression.
Such a situation too would certainly create uneasy feelings emotionally as well as socially. This happens when their expectation to perform Ramadan rituals like fasting and the tarawih prayers in congregation cannot be fulfilled due to the restrictions imposed. As a result, long lasting feelings of despair, hopelessness and helplessness about the situation linger around the corner with the belief that there is no more light at the end of the tunnel. Further worsening the situation, people might finally lead to feelings of self-isolation, loneliness and grief due to the loss of the rituals.
In fact, for some individuals, this is the type of emotion they have experienced over the past two years following the pandemic on a daily basis and is now becoming more ingrained in them. For adults, although affected, they can still accept the situation sensibly. However, the situation poses harder on children for them to accept and understand, unless being helped wisely by parents and family members.
Even though such a type of emotional reaction is considered normal, and should be recognised wisely, some precautions are recommended, so that the reactions are within the normal limit qualitatively or quantitatively. Good emotional management is highly important for every individual to ensure their quality of life and wellbeing is composed accordingly.
Consciously or not, God’s Grace to all His servants in conjunction with the blessings of Ramadan and the glory of Eid ul Fitri is enough to guarantee and guide them to enjoy a life full of gratitude and contentment, especially during the pandemic that is currently raging. This is because the month-long period of fasting has trained them to be more patient and resilient against any eventualities.
As such, Ramadan is known as the month of testing and patience training. It is also known as the month of thanksgiving because they will be rewarded with greater joy after that which is the celebration of Eid ul Fitri. This coincides with a hadith of the Prophet S.A.W narrated by Imam al Tarmizi which means “For a person who fasts, he will attain two joys. First, the joy when he breaks his fast and second, the joy when he meets his Lord.”
The training of patience is further strengthened with a sense of gratitude when one believes that all problems should be accepted as a test that finally increases one’s faith and dignity. The training of patience will also determine their success to receive the rewards of heaven in the Hereafter. Indeed, this will make them stronger and more invulnerable to continue through the pandemic season without much difficulty.
Subsequently, while celebrating Eid ul Fitri during the pandemic season, they are still able to practise some patience. As they have been patient before in resisting hunger and thirst, they can still be patient and abide by the directives of the MCO implemented during this festive season. They are patient in taking care of themselves to avoid the virus infection by always maintaining good personal hygiene. They are also able to be patient to refrain themselves from being involved in any social activities that violate the SOP.
Finally, they are also more patient in adhering to the existing SOP such as maintaining social and physical distancing, frequently washing their hands and always using the sanitizer. The patience training they have received during Ramadan is now being continued in the run-up to Eid ul Fitri and it should help them from getting infected and subsequently help in breaking the chain of infection.
The fact is, Eid ul Fitri can still be celebrated amid the pandemic, but with full of patience, precaution and vigilance about the risk of infection. Indeed, a long month of Ramadan training is sufficient enough to guide the Muslim spiritually in helping them to break the chain of infection.