Social and spiritual perspective of Covid-19 Pandemic in light of Qur’anic guidance
What lessons need to be learned?
By Dr. Zahid Parvez
The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has had an enormous impact on people and societies - materially, mentally, and spiritually. It is compelling us to re-evaluate how we live, work, and how society operates, by exposing numerous vulnerabilities as well as posing new possibilities for society to consider. Discussion outlining possible post-pandemic scenarios has been initiated. However, much of this is confined to material repercussions, primarily focused on the impact on health and the economy. Numerous government briefings, news reports, and blogs from academics and commentators consider at length the immediate risks to human health and strategies to control the spread of the virus, along with the negative impact displayed on the economy due to the lockdown of societies. Less attention, however, has been given to the social and spiritual impact of the pandemic.
This article departs from the dominant themes currently debated on the impact of Covid-19, and focuses on exploring how people are coping and governments managing the situation from a social and spiritual perspective in light of Qur’anic guidance. This perspective brings forward insights into a range of personal, family, and community issues, which require collective attention and policy intervention. It exposes numerous human vulnerabilities including powerlessness against the forces of nature; the inequalities embedded in contemporary economic models and social systems that hamper society’s ability to cope and manage the impacts of the pandemic effectively; the desperate need for intellectual humility and cooperation between people, communities and society; and highlights the limits of employing solely materialistic values and objectives (both economic and technological) to assure social and environmental protection and sustainability.
From a reflection on the numerous issues that surface from a social and spiritual perspective, this article identifies the following four key lessons that need to be learned for the future. In light of these lessons, it also proposes the employment of holistic and integrated approaches, as opposed to reductionist and secular standpoints, to address such concerns in order to develop more comprehensive solutions, enhance societal resilience and strengthen social capacity in the face of crisis.
Need for intellectual humility:
to reduce intellectual arrogance, acknowledge human limitations and open minds; to broaden problem-solving frameworks that incorporate considerations of non-material factors in complex societal problems;
Delivering justice as a policy goal:
to ensure justice and equity across public and foreign policy (to develop just and equitable systems of society for all);
Need for enhancing local and global cooperation:
promote cooperation across communities and countries to facilitate shared expertise and to pool resources, thereby, devising effective solutions to common problems and structure resilience and capacity for future crises; and,
Building social capital:
investing in building social capital essential for social and economic development, and for providing social support when other systems of society fail in a crisis.
The discussion in the article elaborates on these lessons and offers recommendations for policy interventions.