2020 is a year that we will all never forget. Who would have thought that we would live through a global pandemic? It has been a trying time - we have seen people losing their loved ones, getting retrenched and struggling with anxiety, isolation and mental health issues.
Nonetheless, we also witnessed how humanity can band together in times of crisis. We hung hand sanitisers in our lifts. We expressed our utmost appreciation for our frontline heroes. We reached out to the vulnerable in our community to help in whatever way we could.
What are some of the lessons we can learn from this extraordinary year?
وَٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ وَعَمِلُوا۟ ٱلصَّـٰلِحَـٰتِ لَا نُكَلِّفُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَآ أُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ أَصْحَـٰبُ ٱلْجَنَّةِ ۖ هُمْ فِيهَا خَـٰلِدُونَ
“As for those who believe and do good — We do not burden any soul with more than it can bear — it is they who will be the residents of Paradise. They will be there forever.”
(Surah Al-A'raf, 7:42)
God would never put you through what you cannot handle. 2020 was extremely challenging, but He already knew that you could pull through. God only gives his toughest battles to His strongest soldiers. Through trials, God raises your rank. Through tests, you will realise that you are strong, you have the courage, and you can endure. Remember this - there are no mistakes, only lessons we need to learn.
The verse above also serves to remind us that God gives His assurance to those who believe and do good deeds. It tells us that in order for us to receive His Divine mercy and assistance, the human effort must have sincere faith in God and the intention to do good for Him. This overarching principle sets the direction for the believer to thrive in life.
هَلْ جَزَآءُ ٱلْإِحْسَـٰنِ إِلَّا ٱلْإِحْسَـٰنُ
“Is there any reward for good other than good?”
(Surah Ar-Rahman, 55:60)
Even during the circuit breaker, we managed to do incredible things such as sending thoughtful messages, surprising others with no-contact food deliveries and donating to initiatives such as the SGUnited Buka Puasa fund to provide the meals for our frontline heroes and families-in-need.
In a world that can be so harsh, every little act of kindness counts. Our strength lies in being part of a community. We don’t want anyone, especially the vulnerable groups, to fall through the cracks and be left behind.
Can you imagine what would happen when a person who receives kindness decides to pay it forward? It can set off a ripple effect with many more acts of compassion, building more love and trust in our community, regardless of race and religion.
فَإِنَّ مَعَ ٱلْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا. إِنَّ مَعَ ٱلْعُسْرِ يُسْرًۭا
"So truly where there is hardship there is also ease. truly where there is hardship there is also ease."
(Surah Ash-Sharh, 94:5-6)
It broke our hearts when our beloved mosques were closed and when we could not visit our loved ones during Hari Raya. But we did not complain because we wanted to protect one another, especially our elderly. We were thankful that our religion allows us to perform our acts of worship even in unsettling conditions. The fatwa committee has helped issued religious directives accordingly to address our predicaments.
When Ramadan came, most of us treasured the opportunity to stay at home. We realised that we could focus on our 'ibadah (acts of worship). Some of us led prayers for the first time in our lives. It was a beautiful learning experience.
The Covid-19 pandemic also pushed us to embrace digitalisation, know industry trends and learn new skills that we never thought we could muster. We must remind ourselves that these challenges are there not burden our lives with mere hardships. There is always wisdom behind it. God tells us in the Quran:
يُرِيدُ ٱللَّهُ بِكُمُ ٱلْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ ٱلْعُسْرَ
"Allah intends ease for you, not hardship"
(Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:185)
Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. mentioned in a hadith:
لَوْ أَنَّكُمْ كُنْتُمْ تَوَكَّلُونَ عَلَى اللَّهِ حَقَّ تَوَكُّلِهِ لَرُزِقْتُمْ كَمَا يُرْزَقُ الطَّيْرُ تَغْدُو خِمَاصًا وَتَرُوحُ بِطَانًا
“If you were to rely upon Allah with reliance due to him, he would provide for you just as he provides for the birds. They go out in the morning with empty stomachs and return full.”
As Muslims, we work with our best efforts to chase our dreams and overcome any challenges come our way. At the same time, we must have full trust in Allah s.w.t. to bless us with a good outcome. When we tawakkal (have reliance) upon Allah, we still need to take responsibility and do all that we can to better our situation.
The hadith above did not say that God gives the birds their provisions by making them appear in front of them out of nowhere. Rather, it says that the birds go out in the morning before returning with their provisions, indicating an attempt to make effort in the best time.
Although we may not end up getting what we want, our lives are beautifully arranged by Allah s.w.t, the Best of Planners. Nothing is random. Nothing is accidental. Nothing is in vain. God reminds those who seek their bounties from Him:
إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ وَعَمِلُوا۟ ٱلصَّـٰلِحَـٰتِ إِنَّا لَا نُضِيعُ أَجْرَ مَنْ أَحْسَنَ عَمَلًا
"As for those who believe and do good deeds — We do not let the reward of anyone who does a good deed go to waste"
(Surah Al-Kahf, 18:30)
God knows best; trust Him. When He takes something away from you, he’s making space for something better. Let us turn what we've experienced in 2020 as a lesson for us to journey in 2021 with a strong sense of hope for a better tomorrow.
And Allah knows best.