“Those who remember Allah (always, and in prayers) standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and think deeply about the creation of the heavens and the earth, (saying): Our Lord! You have not created (all) this without purpose, glory to You! (Exalted are You above all that they associate with You as partners). Give us salvation from the torment of the Fire”
(Aal ‘Imran 3:191)
As Muslims, we are encouraged to take time to reflect. The Prophet would often spend time in Cave Hira, away from everyone, simply reflecting. When I was told there wouldn’t be school for the rest of the academic year, I was happy because I found online school enjoyable. But disappointed at the same time because I wouldnt get to see my friends – some of which wouldn’t be in my classes next year.
“Why did this have to happen?” and “I can’t see my friends.” were two things that ran through my mind during the first few weeks of lockdown. As an expat living abroad one thing that circled my mind a lot was that: I wouldn’t be able to see my family in the UK this summer . I was distraught but one night whilst unable to sleep, I realised that it’s not that bad. I kept thinking about all the things I can’t do, but what about the things I can do? And what about all the good that this pandemic has brought me and the world. Of course, this pandemic is still very serious, and people have lost loved ones. To anyone who has lost loved ones, may Allah ease your pain and Inshallah you’ll be reunited in Jannah, Ameen. Here are a few that the pandemic has made me realise and good things that it has brought me.
1. More time to spend with family
Like many teenagers, I would class myself as quite the recluse. I can spend hours in my room doing many things which aren’t that important on top of the time I spend in my room doing homework and revision. Life before the pandemic was crazy. Homework, school, revision, long commutes to and from school and extracurriculars. I wouldn’t spend that much time during the week days with my family. This pandemic has forcefully brought us together. And I am quite enjoying it. We watch movies together, play board games and stop by to have chats whilst doing our work.
2.Time to do different things and slowing our lives down
Life in general can be hectic and rushed. We always have an event to go to or something to do. As a student in Dubai, going to and from school is quite different to what it is in the UK. My school is around 30 minutes away from home. School also starts much earlier than it does in the UK. This meant that my morning and evenings were rushed during the week- days and on the weekend, it was a struggle to balance time for sleep and homework. The pandemic has slowed things down and given me time to try new things. I’ve been baking, writing and exercising. I’ve also found that I have had more time to put effort and try my best in everything I do. For example, I can now make sure my school projects are done to the best of my ability, fancy PowerPoint templates and all.
3. The best Ramadan I’ve experienced
Since secondary school began, my Ramadans have been chaotic. Trying to read the Quran, go for Taraweeh and keeping on top of schoolwork. And even if you aren’t in school, Ramadan normally can be hectic with all life’s normal pressures. However, this Ramadan was amazing and by far the best I’ve experienced. I had more time to read more Quran, focus more in my prayers and take time to do dhikr every day. Funnily enough, I got the closest I have ever been to finishing the Quran in Ramadan. It was also nice doing Taraweeh at home because we had more time to spend together after Iftar. There was no stress to get to the Masjid quickly to get a good space towards the front. Overall, it was a lot more relaxed.
4. Absence makes the heart grow fonder
As I mentioned before, I live abroad in the UAE. As much as I love living here, it is hard being away from family for long periods of time. We tend to visit the UK every summer when I am off school. We last visited the UK in December 2019 and I am thankful we did. This year, for the first time in the 8 years I’ve lived abroad, I cannot visit my family. I was quite sad as summer in the UK is fun: late night ice creams, trips to the park and exploring places in London. This year, I noticed how every summer, it’s a given we will go to England and see family. But this year it made me realise how much I take for granted that I can go back home each holiday and how much I take for granted my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Inshallah after this whole pandemic is over, I’ll appreciate my family and the trips we take each summer. And inshallah, we will be even closer when we meet again.
5. Some aspects of normal life are overrated
Going out every weekend and eating in restaurants. Two are things I came very accustomed to doing each and every week. The lockdown started in Dubai quite early (April 4) so it’s been a while since I indulged in a meal out. Going out on the weekend for a meal, or to go to the cinema had become quite the norm and something that was just a given. In all honesty, I have kind of realised how overrated going out to eat is and don’t think I will be doing it anytime soon. I much prefer eating at home; if my mum is willing to cook that is! Hopefully next time I do plan to go out and eat, it won’t be something I just do and a routine I fall into. Hopefully it will be done with intention and not mindlessly.
6. Appreciation of the small things
A running theme in this piece has been that we don’t appreciate things simply because life is too hectic. I think I speak for many when I say that I have realised how nice going out and meeting up with friends can be. Not just something you do out of obligation. In a post-pandemic world, I want to try and take more time to appreciate things, not do things mindlessly and have intention behind everything – another important aspect of Islam.
All in all, the pandemic has brought many positives to my life. I urge everyone reading to take time to think about what good this pandemic has brought you. Thinking of the positives rather than the negatives can shift your mindset and put you in a better mental state. Of course there is still a large death toll which continues to rise. I pray for everyone who has lost loved ones during this hard time. Inshallah Allah will reunite you in Jannah, Ameen.
Mariyah is a 14-year-old student based in Dubai, UAE. Her interests include history, politics, and writing. When she finishes her A-levels (2024), she hopes to study dentistry in London. She also wants to start writing more frequently.