You might not be surprised to learn there’s been a rising wave of religiosity due to COVID-19. More people search online for prayers and dua’s (from all races and religions) than ever before. It’s as if millions of people suddenly turned back to God.
In times of crisis, religion reveals it’s many benefits. It can help calm us, give us strength and peace of mind and also boost immunity. Dr. Harold G. Koenig explains, “Anxiety and fear adversely affect the physiological systems that protect individuals from infection,” whereas “Religious faith and practice [plays a role] in helping individuals remain free from infection by the coronavirus and in helping to moderate the effects of infection if that should occur.”Gratefulness Impacts Happiness
Jeanet Bentzen says, “Humans have a tendency to turn to religion for comfort and explanation. The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. Using daily data on Google searches for 95 countries, [it’s clear the] COVID-19 crisis has increased Google searches for prayer (relative to all Google searches) to the highest level ever recorded. By the end of March 2020, more than half of the world population had prayed to ‘end the coronavirus.’”
The PRNewswire also reports that new polls show COVID-19 is creating enormous spiritual interest. Some people are reading the holy books, listening to sermons, and consulting various scriptures. For some, it’s their first time doing so! The results indicate, “Millions see [the] pandemic as a ‘wake-up call’ to return to faith, [with] nearly one-in-three Americans believ[ing] we are living in the ‘last days.’”
Now, more than ever, it’s important to build a strong spiritual life. Doing so will help us get through this prolonged and uncertain COVID-19 pandemic.
Some major spiritual gifts are easily apparent. I’ve personally experienced some, as have some of my friends. Reasons to appreciate and deepen your connection to Allah (SWT) have been highlighted by this pandemic. Here are some of the many blessings we’ve all experienced, many were hidden in plain sight:
Spending More Time with Friends and Family
Spending more quality time with family members (especially children) has only served to increase and deepen our love for them. We’ve had more time to relax with family and appreciate the few relationships that are most meaningful to us. COVID-19 is also teaching us teamwork as we each come with different strengths…with some seeing their children pitching in more than usual as well!
Quiet Ramadan, Hajj, and Eids
This past Ramadan, and Hajj season, was one of the first Ramadan’s I had at home in a while. We had more time to pray together as a family during Ramadan. It was lovely to have a quiet Ramadan without the work of having many guests dropping by every day. Some even staying for weeks on end. This 2020 Ramadan was, alhamdulillah, one of the biggest blessings we could have asked for. And the quiet small family Eids—both of them—were the best I’d experienced in over a decade!
Increased Patience and Tolerance
COVID-19 is teaching us patience, tolerance, and how to feel peace within ourselves and within our homes. Not only do we have to be so much more patient with each other when cooped up together, but we are learning to be more patient with Allah’s (SWT) will (and timeline), as well.
Time to Get Orderly Homes and Other Affairs
Despite the lockdowns and hiccups, I got a lot of important things taken care of at home. From near constant cleaning and organization—to finally getting around to fix-it projects—I crossed a lot of things off of my to-do lists. And Allah loves those who make themselves, and their environments, clean and pure! Many of us organized cabinets, put a ton of things straight in our homes, or utilized websites to manage things like paperwork and renewals.
Forcefully Joining the ‘Slow Down Movement’
For those who could afford to, escaping from the rat race and taking a break from the daily grind of school runs, work, and housework on a hectic schedule, was a blessing. Even those who were still clocking into work each day were able to eliminate their long weekday commutes and extend many deadlines, which left extra time for more enjoyable activities. We had more time to read, nap, de-stress, and….breathe. Plus, slowing down instead of rushing led to reduced expenses as well, which was easier on our budgets!
Spending More Time Outdoors
Many of us took to walking and exploring the outdoors more since most indoor activities were banned or restricted. The benefits were many! Spending time exercising outdoors is well-documented to help lower stress levels, improve our moods, and even reset our circadian rhythms.
Increased Gratitude and Appreciation
During the first few weeks of lockdown, I know I wasn’t the only one saying a prayer of shukr to Allah. Despite all the challenges (and there were many!) I had a roof over our head, food on our table, and so much to be thankful for. Annoyances that used to bother us or cause complaints, paled in comparison to the extreme hardships that others experienced as the lockdowns and restrictions extended. Alhamdulillah, many of us worked at seeing the good we have in our lives, instead of nitpicking and griping about the inconveniences.
We also found our families being more appreciative of all the things we do for them, and the gifts of things like our ordinary household appliances. We appreciated the gifts of health, life, and love even more as we increased our thankfulness to Allah (SWT) for everything in our normal daily lives. With this thankfulness, we saw increased barakah in our time.
Starting School or Islamic Studies
One of my favorite outcomes of this pandemic is that it pushed many scholars online. As an introvert who purposefully (and thankfully) doesn’t get out much, it was a blessing to see so many new online courses with lecturers connecting through international classrooms. In the last few months, I’ve even had a hand in helping Islamic Organizations and institutions put their knowledge online! Others enrolled in rigorous Islamic studies programs, started Quran classes, watched lectures, and attended workshops, alhamdulillah. We suddenly had more time to do so many things we normally don’t have time for—with opportunities to learn so much!
Accepting Allah (SWT) is the Best of Planners
If there is ONE lesson that this Pandemic is teaching us, it’s that we can plan…but the Almighty is ultimately the Best of Planners. Allah (SWT) has given us the resources and opportunities, but we must still do our part and then leave the rest to the Almighty. No matter what happens, we must trust Him and have faith. We must increase our humility, hold onto the rope of Allah (SWT), and take each day as it comes. Enduring this pandemic means having patience with Allah’s (SWT) decree, and His timeline for all things.
Growing our Businesses and Side Projects
Furloughed workers (and those with a few extra hours on their hands each week) were able to start or grow our businesses. We finally gave our side projects the time, attention, and focus they always deserved. Many of us wrote books, started consulting and coaching gigs, created courses, and launched products. We even picked up new (and old) hobbies and crafts that bring us joy!
More Wholesome Cooking
I know I’m not the only one who upgraded my cooking skills learned new recipes! With restaurants and eateries closed—or working in a limited capacity (and not wanting to risk exposing our families to the virus)—many of us enjoyed more slow food and healthier, wholesome, home-cooked meals.
Spending Time Alone
As an introvert through and through, alone time is one of the biggest blessings of this lockdown (though it is difficult to share space with extroverts). Generally speaking, I enjoyed not having uninvited guests and all the usual useless (or nosy) public small talk with strangers. For those friends and family I did miss, I had the time to really miss them. Absence made the heart grow fonder. My FOMO (fear of missing out) decreased because there wasn’t really anything of interest going on in-person anywhere. I also remembered that being alone does not mean being lonely and I can be very content and happy by myself.
Connecting to Allah
Many of us had more time to go within and connect to Allah more mindfully, alhamdulillah. We found solace in prayer and remembrance. We had more time for ibaadat; spending time in the morning reading Quran, performed all the sunnah and nawafil prayers during salah, and generally feeling more connected to and closer to Allah (SWT). Some of us even cried out to Him more, opening up a deeper and stronger connection to Him.
More Time for Reflection
Within the quietness and stillness, there was time to reflect. We remembered that this is not all about “Me”, it is about “Us” and getting through this together. Many had time to think about time, and how rapidly it’s passing us by. We practiced purposeful mindfulness, contemplated and faced our fears, and acknowledged the shortcomings of those around us. With inner reflection, our connection with Allah grew even stronger alhamdulillah as we got to know ourselves better and worked on changing our mindsets. Many of us had realizations about our true and real purpose in life. We had time to think, reflect, listen to our emotional hearts, and—finally—be fully in the present. 5 Benefits of Volunteering
Normalization of Islamic Practices
Some of the most surprising blessings came in the wake of strict health guidelines. With mandated face coverings the new normal, and frequent handwashing encouraged, suddenly wudu and niqab weren’t as strange or weird to non-Muslims anymore! Opposite gender co-workers, neighbors, and strangers learned how to greet each other in a still friendly way—without the need for shaking hands or touching—opting to stay the recommended six feet apart.
For those who contracted COVID-19, self-care took on a whole new meaning…and we’re not out of the woods yet! post-COVID-19 fatigue hit some of us hard. Exhaustion is also taking its toll as the months wear on. The pandemic reminded us to prioritize mental and spiritual health before anything everything else, with physical exercise coming in a close third. We experienced both weight gains (that we needed to be kind to ourselves about) and losses, and learned to self-nurture more effectively.
While Covid-19 remains a frightening and has devastated innumerable lives, you have to admit it’s had some benefits. Maybe you can step further away from the stressful aspect of the pandemic, and embrace your own spirituality more.