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A reminder

Opinion

March 20, 2020

The New York Times has recently published an article titled, 'God vs Coronavirus'. In his writing, Mattia Ferraresi, who is an Italian journalist, emphasized that: "Religion is supposed to be a source of comfort in times of confusion and suffering. And yet everywhere you look, services are being suspended."

The writer, in support of his arguments, described the current situation of various holy places of different religions across the globe where worship services are being suspended due to fear of the horrific coronavirus.

That's why I have decided to present the point of view of all those human beings who believe that the support of God is very necessary to tackle this virus. Mosques, temples, churches and other holy places have never closed their doors for the suffering humanity since centuries. In fact, heartbroken, depressed and desperate people came to such places to get relief from the temporarily hardships of life and strengthen their relationship with God.

There is no doubt that the spread of the coronavirus has badly affected traditional worship at every place. Saudi Arabia has closed the holiest sites of Islam to foreign travelers. The temporarily closure of sacred places as peremptory measure has raised a wave of concern among Muslims all over the globe.

Similarly, Iran has also imposed a ban on religious gatherings across the country and temporarily halted Friday prayers. It is believed that the coronavirus spread in Pakistan due to the pilgrims coming from the Taftan border.

This year the Hindu festival of Holi was also not celebrated with due enthusiasm. At many places, people were asked to wear masks to celebrate Holi festivities. As a preventive measure against the spread of the novel coronavirus, many temples have decided to temporarily stop the distribution of 'Prasad' (the holy food offered at temples).

In the Vatican, Pope Francis preferred to go online for delivering the Sunday prayer sermon rather than following the tradition of coming to the Church window. After an American priest, residing at Washington, was found affected by the coronavirus, many other pastors associated with churches are now preferring to stay in quarantine. In Pakistan, the entry to religious public places including Data Darbar and Sehwan Sharif, where devotees used to visit to appease their souls for centuries, is restricted. All over the world, people are advised to not hug and shake hands with each other at religious places.

I believe that this pandemic is a punishment as well as reminder from God to follow His instructions. Humans are tested by such hardships. Today, locking down of God’s homes is considered necessary to safeguard the public from the agony of the coronavirus. However, prayers are equally important along with medicine and preemptive measures. We should try to please God while worshiping at home so that in the future we never encounter such a disease.

In my view, absence of tolerance, equality, solidarity and sincerity from our societies is another major reason behind our discomforts and hurdles. We should ask forgiveness for our sins. We should avoid injustice with innocent people and ensure the respect of every religion. The main cause of many problems of the world today is being away from religious teachings. Cleanliness is said to be part of faith. Medical science has also proved that cleanliness and precautionary measures are major tools to combat the coronavirus.

Viral diseases like the coronavirus used to cause destruction on a larger scale in the past too, but this present virus has attacked all religious faiths of the world. It is a good sign that, regardless of religious affiliations and geographical boundaries, people are united and cooperating with each other to combat the common threat.

I am quite confident that the coronavirus crisis will help bring people closer to God, which will obviously lead towards peace and love across the globe. When every place of worship is announcing that “Our doors are closed,” we must listen to the call of God saying that, “My doors are always open for everyone.”

The writer is a member of the NationalAssembly and patron-in-chief of the

Pakistan Hindu Council.

Twitter: @RVankwani