From Being Socially Distanced to Being Socially Connected
“O humankind! We have created you from a male and a female,
‘and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one
another.” (Qur’an 49: 13)
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “None of you
(truly) believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for
himself.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Our basic human necessities of love and connection have been taken away from us during this pandemic. We have been asked to socially distance, but even when we do gather with other people, leaving the house and going to the outdoors no longer feels the same. Social connections are important for our immune health. The sense of feeling loved releases a flood of potent hormones into the bloodstream, which not only makes us feel better emotionally but also significantly strengthens our immune systems.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“The believers in their friendliness, compassion and affection are
like one body, if one organ complains, all the other organs become
dilapidated with insomnia and fever.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
These hormones lower cortisol, improve blood circulation, lower blood pressure and heart rate, improve digestion, clear out toxins, increase natural killer cells and a number of white blood cells, red blood cells, IgA and helper T cells, whose activity helps the immune system clear out infections and renew energy to repair cells, increase antibodies, fight cancer, and ensure better health outcomes. This helps lower overall inflammation, improving sleep, relieving feelings of restlessness, and decreasing chronic pain as muscle tension and pain perception lower.
Studies have shown that negative relationships and loneliness can lead to early death, increased cortisol levels, increased pro-inflammatory processes and a depletion of the immune system, especially if one is already compromised. The way we approach this pandemic can be a real act of ‘ibadah, so we need to follow the rules of the land and socially distance (I like to call it physical distancing).
“If you hear of a plague in a land, do not enter it, and if it happens while you are there, do not leave it.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Despite social distancing, we can still be socially connected, while being physically distanced, via social media, zoom calls and even virtual events or religious and social groups, focusing on only positive support systems.
The last Ramadan was one of the best Ramadans I have ever had! We spent time making iftar with our children, reading Qur’an together, praying together and laughing together. Normally, we would be rushing to this event and that, barely making it to the mosque for iftar, staying for tarawih and spending a short time with our families. We were becoming disconnected from the people who mattered the most: our families. We have seen such disconnection between adults and children, we were unable to play games, talk about sensitive topics; we were just unable to connect because of our busy lives.
Building a Strong Connection with Allah
Say, ‘If you love God, follow me, and God will love you and forgive
you your sins; God is most forgiving, most rahim.’ (Qur’an 3:31)
The pandemic has sent us to our homes to connect, not to hide.
This is Allah’s blessed time to connect with the people and situations that really matter in our lives. We first need to build that connection with Allah. When we have Allah in our hearts, we do not look for filling our time with anything else. We should use this time to talk to Allah, pray, make dhikr, love Him, give in charity, praise His name, and read the Qur’an to connect with Allah. We should read the Qur’an daily, understand what Allah says to us. We should use this time to learn, contemplate, reflect and act. This is Allah’s blessed time to connect with Him and gain that ultimate peace.
Build Strong Connections
“The best of you are the best to their families, and I am the best to my family.” (Tirmidhi)
Nothing can grow without a strong family structure and home base, as a strong family is the backbone of a strong community. The blessings of technology can help us stay connected. We should use electronics to stay connected with friends, neighbours and loved ones and create experiences and memories. We should find ways to volunteer safely and join virtual support groups.
“Your smile for your brother is a charity.” (Tirmidhi)
We should do random acts of kindness and generosity, including smiling, holding the door open for someone or reaching out to the ones we love. A 2017 study showed that performing acts of kindness towards others changes gene expression in the brain region involved in immune cell expression. Generosity may boost the immune system by releasing a flood of feel-good chemicals that strengthen the immune system, as endorphins can exert a healing effect on sick-looking cells.
We should connect with people during walk, by chatting with neighbours who are out or pick up the phone and call loved ones and tell them that you are thinking of them. We should aim to call someone else the day after, and continue to repeat the process. Moreover, we should not be afraid to ask for help.
Connecting with the Most Important Person in Your Life
“Verily, your own self has rights over you, so fast and break your fast, pray and sleep.” (Sunan Abi Dawud)
This pandemic is tough for everyone, but if we look at it as a time of taking care of ourselves, then it will turn into a blessing. We should balance our work with our hobbies and discover new hobbies and interests.
Apart from enjoyment, we can also use this time to heal from trauma and hurt and learn to forgive others. We can explore our uncertainties, why we feel the way we do and improve our self-esteem.
This pandemic has showed us all the important things in life that we take for granted such as a simple hug. May we never take for granted all the love we have ever had in the past. But for now, we should find creative ways to solidify our family structures, build personal connections and take care of one another. And when the world opens again, we can run to our loved ones and never take their hugs, kisses and concerns for granted. With strong families, we can build stronger communities.
This pandemic has revealed how most of us were living in negativity. Social media, family, school and friends made us always feel diminished, never good enough and always needing more.
We are always looking for the next best thing, but that negativity is what drives the economy, as we would no longer buy anything if we are not made to feel miserable about what we have. If we have an iPhone 8, the only way they will get us to buy an iPhone 200 is if they tell us about all the things are missing out on, thus forcing us to buy it. They make us want more through making us feel miserable about what we have been blessed with...
Excerpt is from The Pandemic Prescription by
Madiha Saeed, exclusively available on Amazon!