This reflection is part of Sapelo’s Ramadan 2020 series. To read other reflections in the series click here.
By Ava Muhammad
In the Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful. I bear witness that there is no God but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is his servant.
None but Allah knew of this specific eventuality, a calamity under the symbolic name COVID-19. Things are changing rapidly so even as I share my thoughts, by the time you read my contribution for Juz’ 25, the environment may be dramatically different. What we do know, as Muslims, is this: “To Him is referred the knowledge of the Hour.”
I must acknowledge that today’s reading (Juz’ 25, 41:47—45:37), includes a significant portion of the seven successive surahs introduced by the two letters Ha Mim (None but Allah knows their meaning).
Each of these surahs contains words of comfort for Muslims, who are being persecuted while promising them victory over the opponents of Truth. Islam deals with prevailing conditions. Allah speaks timeless, always-relevant principles. Moreover, He gives directives that are applicable in real-time. For me, Surah 42 (al-Shura, The Counsel) is critical to the Black community. We must follow Verse 38 and decide our affairs by counsel among ourselves. We must put our own interests first and learn to set aside our differences for the good of our community. We share a common ancestry, a common history, and a common experience that we overlook to our own detriment.
Allah speaks timeless, always-relevant principles. Moreover, He gives directives that are applicable in real-time.
We are witnessing the unraveling of a great nation, a political union of 50 independent states, each with its own flag, own constitution, and complete authority over its own health, education, and welfare. We are witnessing the increasing conflict between the states and between the states and the federal government that the states originally created. When America came into existence, slavery was legal in every one of the 13 colonies. America was built by and on the backs of Black people; and as she disintegrates politically and geographically into regions, we must claim some of this land to call our own.
In 2020, the dramatic level of death rates among Black people from complications of COVID-19 is a reminder that the slavemaster—slave relationship persists. If we are to experience mental and physical health, we must first regain spiritual health by our return to who we are by nature: righteous Muslims.
Many once believed that Black people were immune to this virus. It has now touched every country in Africa except Lesotho. Ten countries account for 80% of the cases and transmission is widespread in seven. Here, we are in an environment that militates against our health and imposes an overwhelming stress level that compromises the immune system. Islam is our true and natural religion. It is our way of life and we must return to it in order to live.
We are those later generations. Will we heed his example?
Allah punishes opposition to Truth. Once again, as He does throughout the Holy Qur’an, He gives a narrative of Moses; He sent Moses to Pharaoh with instructions to introduce himself as the Messenger of the Lord of the Worlds. Pharaoh refused to obey Allah and let his people go, so Allah drowned not only Pharoah, but all who were with him. “And We made them a thing past and an example for later generations” (43:56). We are those later generations. Will we heed his example?
This year, Ramadan is very different. We usually look forward to breaking our fasts together with iftar and the enjoyment of visits with friends and family. It is the month of the Qur’an full of Jumu’ah and nightly Taraweeh prayers. Now most of us are confined to our places of abode. We must truly reflect. And so we thank Allah for giving us the opportunity during this pandemic to strengthen our faith. What happens next week, next month, even a few months from now we don’t know. What we do know, as Muslims, is this: “To Him is referred the knowledge of the Hour.”
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Dr. Ava Muhammad is the National Spokesperson for the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan. She is the author of several books including Real Love, A New Way of Life and Weapons of Self-Destruction. Dr. Muhammad has been featured several times in Essence Magazine, providing guidance and counsel on such topics as “The Love You Deserve.” She was also recognized by Essence as one of the 30 most influential Black women in America in its 30th Anniversary edition in 2000. Dr. Muhammad is married to Darius Muhammad. They reside in Chicago and are the parents of two lovely daughters, Sasha and Cherelle. They also have two wonderful grandchildren Ami and Amirah.