Displaying items by tag: COVID19
Don’t fall for COVID-19 vaccine conspiracies, warns Muslim scholar
Sheikh Mohammed Tahir Al-Qadri says baseless claims go against tenets of Islam because ‘saving lives is an act of worship’
LONDON: A leading Muslim scholar in Canada has warned people not to be taken in by conspiracy theories about the coronavirus vaccine.
Sheikh Mohammed Tahir Al-Qadri said that such views, which are being spread by some on social media in an attempt to discourage people from being vaccinated, go against the tenets of Islam.
“Saving lives is an act of worship,” he said during an interview with Sky News. “At the start of the pandemic, Muslims around the world were among those in the forefront. They put their maximum efforts into saving lives, providing people with food and every kind of necessary support. In the same way, they should come forward now.”
Al-Qadri, who is originally from Pakistan, sought to reassure his followers and encourage them not to believe false claims about the vaccines.
“Some people are saying that there is alcohol in it, or pork or other things forbidden (in Islam),” he said. “Some say these vaccines may affect certain parts of the brain. What can I say? These are totally baseless claims.
“This is a matter of medicinal development, of life, and it is just the same as when we take paracetamol, antibiotics or aspirins despite their side effects.
“Believing in the medical process is one of the basic teachings of Islam. Islam and the teachings of the Qur’an, the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is focused on reason, intelligence, scientific research and intellectual development.”
Published in: Arab News on Wednesday, 20 January 2021
Peluang mengimarahkan semula masjid disambut baik (in Bahasa Malaysia)
SUSULAN keputusan kerajaan untuk kembali menguatkuasakan Perintah Kawalan Pergerakan (PKP) 2.0 bagi membendung peningkatan berterusan kes jangkitan Covid-19 yang kini telah disambung semula sehingga 18 Februari depan, umat Islam di Malaysia kembali menanti dengan penuh debaran ketetapan berkenaan aktiviti keagamaan di masjid dan surau di seluruh negara. Hal ini kerana sebelum ini aktiviti keagamaan seperti solat Jumaat dan solat fardhu berjemaah baru sahaja kembali dibuka kepada orang ramai terutama di negeri-negeri yang dikenakan Perintah Kawalan Pergerakan Bersyarat (PKPB).
Oleh itu, penguatkuasaan PKP menyeluruh sekali lagi di seluruh negara menimbulkan persoalan adakah aktiviti keagamaan ini akan kembali dihentikan?
Menurut perspektif Islam, tanggungjawab melaksana dan menguruskan hal ehwal agama Islam terutama yang bersangkutan dengan kepentingan awam umat Islam adalah termasuk dalam ruang lingkup peranan pemerintah ataupun ulil amri.
Hal ini sebagaimana yang telah jelas dibincangkan oleh para ulama dalam kitab-kitab berkenaan prinsip urus tadbir negara seperti ahkam sultaniyyah dan juga siyasah shar‘iyyah yang menetapkan garis panduan bagi pemerintah untuk mengelola urusan yang bersangkut paut dengan syi‘ar agama di ruang awam seperti solat berjemaah dan menunaikan haji serta kepentingan awam umat Islam yang lain seperti pengurusan harta zakat, baitulmal, percukaian dan menjaga ketenteraman awam.
Hal ini juga selari dengan prinsip maqasid syariah iaitu pemeliharaan agama (hifz al-din) yang menjadi elemen utama yang perlu dititik beratkan oleh pemerintah. Manakala dalam konteks perundangan di Malaysia, hal ehwal agama Islam ini telah diletakkan di bawah bidang kuasa negeri yang diketuai oleh Sultan dan Yang di-Pertuan Agong bagi negeri-negeri yang tiada Sultan.
Berlandaskan perkara ini, keputusan terkini telah dikeluarkan oleh pihak berkuasa agama negeri-negeri yang rata-ratanya memberikan kebenaran kepada masjid dan surau untuk terus beroperasi dengan pematuhan prosedur operasi standard (SOP) yang ketat. Sebagai contohnya Jabatan Agama Islam Wilayah Persekutuan (JAWI) dengan perkenan Yang di-Pertuan Agong telah membuat ketetapan untuk terus membenarkan pelaksanaan solat Jumaat dan solat fardu berjemaah di masjid dan surau yang berada di Wilayah Persekutuan, dengan kelonggaran terkini untuk melaksanakan solat Jumaat dengan bilangan jemaah yang terdiri daripada separuh kapasiti masjid.
Begitu juga ketetapan yang hampir sama yang telah diambil oleh negeri-negeri yang lain untuk terus membenarkan aktiviti-aktiviti keagamaan di masjid dan surau. Hal ini ternyata memberikan kelegaan kepada seluruh umat Islam di negara ini yang dapat melihat ‘rumah-rumah Allah’ ini tetap dibuka dan diimarahkan meskipun dalam jumlah yang terhad.
Dalam hal ini, aktiviti keagamaan di ruang awam seperti solat berjemaah di masjid dan surau terutamanya solat Jumat ini perlu difahami secara menyeluruh sebagai sebuah syi‘ar agama Islam yang perlu ditegakkan. Dalam kata lain, ia merupakan perkara yang menyentuh kepentingan umum masyarakat Islam dan bukannya semata-mata ibadah yang bersifat individu.
Apa yang dimaksudkan dengan syi‘ar Islam dalam konteks ini adalah lambang kebesaran dan kemuliaan agama Islam yang perlu dizahirkan secara terbuka serta dimuliakan, sebagaimana firman Allah SWT dalam surah al-Hajj ayat 32 yang bermaksud: “Demikianlah (ajaran Allah); dan sesiapa yang menghormati syi‘ar-sy‘iar agama Allah maka (dia lah orang yang bertaqwa) kerana sesungguhnya perbuatan itu satu kesan dari sifat-sifat taqwa hati orang mukmin.”
Sebagai contohnya, solat Jumaat merupakan salah satu syi‘ar Islam yang disyariatkan untuk dilaksanakan secara kolektif oleh masyarakat dengan pengelolaan pemerintah. Ia bertujuan sebagai simbol solidariti persatuan masyarakat Muslim setempat. Oleh itu, solat Jumaat wajib dilaksanakan secara berjemaah di ruang awam yang telah ditetapkan, serta perlu dilaksanakan di satu tempat sahaja di dalam sesebuah komuniti, melainkan terdapatnya halangan seperti jumlah ahli jemaah yang terlalu ramai di luar kapasiti masjid sebagaimana yang dibincangkan para fuqaha’.
Lantaran itu, Imam al-Khatib al-Shirbini di dalam kitabnya Mughni al-Muhtaj menjelaskan hikmah disyaratkan penyatuan tempat perlaksanaan solat Jumaat ini ialah bagi mencapai maksud dan tujuan pensyariatan solat Jumaat itu sendiri, iaitu menzahirkan syi‘ar penyatuan ummah.
Oleh yang demikian, aktiviti ibadah di masjid dan surau ini perlu dianggap sebagai suatu kepentingan awam yang bersangkutan dengan syi‘ar dan simbol identiti kepada negara kita yang menjadikan Islam sebagai agama Persekutuan. Ia bukan semata-mata ibadah peribadi yang boleh dihalang sepenuhnya dengan menggunakan alasan kepentingan kesihatan awam. Kedudukan aktiviti keagamaan ini sebagai simbol identiti dan syi‘ar bagi agama Islam mewajarkannya untuk turut diambil berat oleh pihak kerajaan sama seperti kepentingan awam yang lain.
Apatah lagi dalam keadaan di mana aktiviti keagamaan ini dapat tetap dilaksanakan sama seperti aktiviti-aktiviti lain yang dibenarkan dengan syarat pematuhan SOP yang ketat. Meskipun situasi pandemik semasa mengekang pembukaan penuh masjid dan surau kepada umat Islam, namun ia tidak bermakna syi‘ar Islam ini wajar dihalang dan dihentikan sama sekali.
Langkah pihak berkuasa agama negeri dengan perkenan sultan dan Yang di-Pertuan Agong untuk terus membenarkan aktiviti-aktiviti keagamaan agar terus diimarahkan di masjid dan surau merupakan satu langkah holistik yang wajar disambut baik oleh semua. Kebenaran ini yang diberikan dengan syarat-syarat tertentu seperti limitasi had maksimum jemaah dan pemakaian pelitup muka merupakan satu penyelesaian menang-menang telah diambil dengan mempertimbangkan keseluruhan aspek manfaat dan mudaratnya bagi semua pihak, ibarat kata pepatah Melayu: “Umpama menarik rambut dalam tepung: rambut jangan putus, tepung jangan terserak.”
The Emergency Ordinance 2021: Multiple Perspectives on Health, Economy & Politics
NST Leader: How we wronged 2020
THERE are only three days left in the year we want to so hurriedly get away from.
Truth be told, there is nothing wrong with 2020. It is we who have made it an "annus horribilis".
Never has a year been sent to humans as a test on such a global scale before. In every nation and territory around the world, men failed the year.
Yet, like humans often do, we blame 2020 for all our misdeeds. The year 2021 will be no different if only the year changes and not our errant behaviours.
Mankind's misdeeds are aplenty, but let's consider just three. Firstly, the misdeed that led to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, to jump species.
From what is known thus far, the coronavirus may have jumped to the first human host in Wuhan in China from bats or pangolins through an intermediary animal host, a civet cat.
The coronavirus was said to have been found in a wet market in Wuhan. To be fair, the evidence in what has come to be called the Wuhan who dunnit isn't conclusive, but what is incontestable is that the SARS-CoV-2 virus came from an animal host.
How do the animals get so close to us? This happens in two ways. First, some of us bring wildlife, hosts of zoonotic diseases, to our dining tables.
This is like handing over the key to the door of our human cells to the coronavirus. This must stop. So must our encroachment on the habitats of our wildlife in the name of development.
Environmentalists and medical scientists have long warned of the danger of zoonosis, the process by which the virus makes the leap from animals to humans, that is being hastened by our relentless encroachment on wildlife habitats.
An article in the North Carolina State University's website quotes Dr Roland Kays, a Research Professor in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, as saying that six out of 10 infectious diseases in humans are zoonotic.
The main culprit? Illegal wildlife wet markets. Some of the worst diseases have emerged from there, says Kays.
Puzzlingly, last December wasn't the first time a coronavirus made such a leap. Even before the first SARS-CoV made its appearance in 2002 in Guangdong in China, there have been a handful, according to The Economist. Secondly, is our mistreatment of planet Earth.
As the years stack up, so does the waste on planet Earth. The Washington Post, quoting World Bank researchers, says the world produces 3.5 million tons of solid waste a day, 10 times the amount a century ago.
If we do nothing now, the figure will grow to 11 million tons a day. The Earth is drowning in garbage and so are we. It needn't be so.
If the National Geographic magazine is right, between 75 and 80 per cent of all household trash is organic matter and can be composted into soil.
Such lifestyle changes are a must if we want to save the planet and the people on it. Finally, is our misdeeds against our fellow men.
"Othering" didn't begin with former United States president George W. Bush. Neither did it end with him.
Sadly, racism isn't just an American problem. It is an European and Asian mess as well. Worryingly, in some countries, "othering" is being done on the pretext of national security.
Annus mirabilis is not made thus. For the year to be good, humankind must first be good.
Published in: The New Straits Times, Monday 28 December 2020
Covid-19 Vaccine: Halal Status and Ethical Issues in Distribution
Fulfilling Muslim needs on Covid-19 vaccines
OTHER than public health concerns about safety, efficacy and distribution mechanisms, vaccination also instigates complex socio-religious controversies. This not only involves different perspectives regarding the legal status of the biological products used in vaccines, but, more importantly, how different races and religious groups view each other when making demands about the specifications of such products.
While some Muslims feel that it is their right to demand halal vaccines, for others, non-Muslims among them, such demand is unnecessary as the main focus of vaccination is safety and efficacy. Issues regarding the halal status of newly developed Covid-19 vaccines arose after an announcement by Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who said such vaccines would be available in the first quarter of next year.
Netizens' concerns regarding the halal status of these vaccines have received myriad responses from the authorities, including Pahang mufti Abdul Rahman Osman, who said the halal status of the vaccine is important to ensure peace of mind among Muslims.
In consequence, on Oct 7, Halal Development Corporation (HDC) chief executive officer Hairol Ariffein Sahari, said standards to certify halal vaccines, including for Covid-19, will be available by early next year. It was reported that HDC was working closely with the Malaysian Standards Department and the Malaysian Islamic Development Department to develop the standards, while initiating research and development measures with several companies produce these vaccines.
A Malaysian halal vaccine project is not new. It has been on the radar since 2014, when then international trade and industry minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed announced that by 2017, Malaysia would be the main producer of halal vaccines for meningitis, hepatitis and meningococcal disease. In December 2017, Pharmaniaga, a Malaysian-based pharma-ceutical company, engaged in a collaboration with a Delhi-based vaccine manufacturer to start producing halal vaccines by 2022.
Society has the right to be well-informed about what constitutes a halal vaccine. In a HDC report, titled Global Market Potential for Halal Vaccines, a halal vaccine was described as something that does not contain any part or product of an animal that is either non-halal or not slaughtered according to syariah requirements.
Therefore, some have proposed that halal vaccine production may incorporate plant-based mediums, as well as plant-based enzymes. Over the entire production line, however, manufacturing facilities, packaging, storage, as well as transportation mechanisms must be exclusively used for halal biological products. Moreover, sufficient measures to prevent vaccine contamination along its production stages must be duly observed by manufacturers.
An issue that might arise with the advent of new halal vaccines is the legal status of existing vaccines not yet certified halal. Generally, by referring to the arguments presented in Islamic legal verdicts (fatwa), locally and globally, it is clear that vaccines that may not be certified as halal will still be permissible (mubahḥ) on the basis of dire necessity (ḍdarurah).
This is because vaccines, like any other medicine, are permissible according to Islam, as long as they do not contain any prohibited elements specified in the Quran or any other form of filthy (najasah) ingredient. Therefore, in the event that no alternative is available, to prevent fatal communicable diseases, existing vaccines are acceptable for Muslims.
From the manufacturing and distribution perspectives, achieving herd immunity in society requires more than one type of vaccine. John Shiver, the senior vice-president of Global Vaccine Research and Development at Sanofi, a leading pharmaceutical company, argues that, in resolving the Covid-19 pandemic, no single company or product will be able to provide the overall solution.
Therefore, Covid-19 halal vaccines should be seen as part and parcel of a global endeavour. The effectiveness of the vaccines is contingent on their distribution among the right people at the right time; coverage is key to developing herd immunity. Concerted efforts across religious, social, geographical, and politico-economic divides are important if we are to return to normality.
The writer is a Research Fellow at the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia.
Published in: The New Straits Times, Tuesday 01 December 2020
Source : https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2020/12/645687/fulfilling-muslim-needs-covid-19-vaccines
After COVID-19, what is the next step for Islamic finance?
Although Islamic banks emerged relatively unscathed from the 2008 global financial crisis, VIDOC-19 has a deeper impact. However, this disruption could provide opportunities to diversify the sector and accelerate its expansion once the pandemic is over. Compared to conventional institutions, Islamic banks are more exposed to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), microfinance and retail lending, particularly in Asia. The economic performance of the major Islamic financial jurisdictions is expected to remain moderate for the rest of the year.
As a result, although the industry was previously on a strong growth trajectory in 2020, the rating agency Standard & Poor's predicted in June that it would record low to mid-digit growth in 2020-21, due to both the pandemic and the uncertainty of oil prices. In comparison, last year's growth of 11.4% was supported by a more dynamic sukuk (Islamic bonds) market and new growth opportunities. Nevertheless, Standard & Poor's believes that Covid-19 could unlock the long-term potential of the sector, arguing that the pandemic offers "an opportunity for more integrated and transformative growth with a greater degree of standardization, greater emphasis on the social role of the industry and significant adoption of financial technology".
Sukuk is a financial certificate similar to a bond in a conventional bank. It is a key element in the Islamic financial ecosystem. However, the sukuk market is more concentrated, smaller and less liquid than its conventional counterpart. In addition, the issuance process remains relatively complex and lengthy, and involves higher transaction costs.
In this context, the overall issuance volume is expected to decrease this year, although there will be a slight recovery after the sharp decline observed in recent months. Standard & Poor's expects issuance to reach $10 billion in 2020, compared to $162 billion in 2019. However, there are signs that the pandemic could lead to an expansion of the role of sukuk..
In June, for example, the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) raised $1.5 billion with its first "Sukuk of Sustainability", designed to help the recovery of Covid-19 in its member countries. The proceeds will be used exclusively for social projects within the framework of the IsDB's sustainable financing, focusing on "access to essential services" and "SME financing and job creation".
Following the success of the sukuk, the President of the IsDB, Bandar Al Hajjar, then called on the Islamic financial industry to "promote sustainable and social sukuk as an alternative asset class that has the potential to counteract the multiple impact of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
Also in June, Indonesia issued a $2.5 billion global wakalah sukuk in three tranches, including a $759 million green sukuk dedicated to sustainable development.
The sukuk was oversubscribed by almost seven times the target amount. Its main objective was to support the government's coronavirus control programme, as well as to "strengthen Indonesia's position in the global Islamic financial market and support the development of Islamic finance in the Asian region," Dwi Irianti, director of Islamic finance at the ministry of finance, told local media.
Despite being home to the largest Muslim population in the world, Indonesia has not yet taken full advantage of Islamic finance. Therefore, sukuk is an encouraging sign that the potential of the sector is beginning to be tapped. Meanwhile, it was recently announced that Malaysia's Ministry of Finance will launch a RM500 million ($120 million) "Sukuk Prihatin" on 22 September. The revenue will be used to finance economic stimulus measures, as well as to help micro-enterprises, improve broadband coverage in schools and fund research into infectious diseases.
While the coronavirus has caused headwinds across the industry, these examples show how it has also led to a greater awareness of the potential of Islamic finance. How can this momentum be maintained and strengthened as we enter the post-pandemic world?Digitisation and the increased importance of financial technology (fintech) are essential.
"Covid-19 has led us to accelerate the digital transformation that was already underway before the pandemic," Ayman Sejiny, CEO of ICD, told OBG. This will help widen access and increase the sector's social transformation role. In addition, fintech can increase standardisation, streamline processes, reduce costs and increase transparency, making Islamic financial instruments more competitive with conventional forms.
As far as sukuk are concerned, standardisation is particularly important, both in terms of the theory behind the vehicle and the legal documentation associated with it. Further standardisation will also enable Islamic banks to make progress in new areas. "Islamic finance now needs to explore new sectors such as health and tourism, in line with Sharia law. We need to work hard to develop appropriate Islamic banking products for these sectors," Sejiny told OBG..
It is also possible that Islamic finance tools could play a greater role in promoting trade, which could help stimulate economic recovery in emerging markets. "The Covid-19 epidemic has opened up new opportunities for Islamic financial markets, such as the provision of Sharia-compliant trade finance products, as well as trade development programmes to promote greater attention to social impact, sustainability, innovation and digitisation," Hani Salem Sonbol, Managing Director of the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation, told OBG. .
So while Islamic banking continues to face significant headwinds related to Covid-19, the crisis could be a major turning point in the global growth of the sector. The economic performance of the major Islamic financial jurisdictions is expected to remain moderate for the remainder of the year.
Published in: atalayar.com, 16 September 2020
Ethics crucial for pandemic resolution
The Covid-19 pandemic came to us as a surprise. What started as a domestic outbreak of a flu virus has now escalated into a global crisis of health, economy and socio-politics.
It has not since been a year when the first case was reported in Wuhan, China, but it seems that our life before the pandemic has become so distant.
The "new normal" has brought another problem — moral dilemma. In confronting a crisis of this magnitude, it is nearly impossible to live up to all of our moral convictions and beliefs. We are always confronted with contradicting choices.
Choosing one will lead to the abandoning of the other. Take for example the healthcare services in which our medical practitioners have to leave behind their long-held practice in clinical ethics in favour of public health ethics that are better suited with the global pandemic situation.
The goal of public health ethics is to protect the collective interest of society and prioritise the need of the many over an individual patient. Therefore, decisions such as rationing medical resources and postponing nonessential procedures will be made based upon calculated, strategic, and utilitarian choices to accomplish this goal.
But, it is not without a cost. They are carried out at the expense of established clinical ethics focusing on the individual doctor relationship, which promises the best medical treatment and resource allocation based on the patient's best individual interests, regardless of the situation.
Another example is the case of developing a vaccine. While it is unmistakable that the only way out is to have a vaccine, enormous pressure may lead to cutting corners and hastening its production, resulting in unsafe vaccine with hidden risks.
On the other hand, adhering and following conventional testing procedures will take years, with the risk of sacrificing millions more. The same goes for the economy, raising the dilemma between "lives" and " livelihoods".
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced the government to introduce movement control orders, quarantine, and border closing to contain the spread of the virus. While they were undoubtedly taken in good faith to protect lives, they are causing negative economic repercussions.
Last but not least, the Covid-19 crisis also calls into question some important fundamental values that we hold dearly.
Political and constitutional values such as human rights, liberties, and respect for privacy are at risk to be traded off with national security and effective containment actions.
This happens as this pandemic is perceived as a precarious threat to our national security that justifies the government's security measures in the form of closing national borders, cracking down on illegal immigrants, restricting movement, and public surveillance.
These actions, while arguably necessary to some extent, may open the floodgates to xenophobia, far-right movement, restriction of freedom, and privacy concerns.
Hence, all of these conflicts and tensions in our "new normal" life can turn into moral distress. However, Islam provides us with moral and legal guidance.
This guidance, care and respect for others, and the prevention of harm to them can provide us with important inputs and guidelines in managing this moral dilemma.
First, Islamic ethics, with the maqasid al-shariah at its core, teaches us to give preference to the higher objectives and spirits behind the law over its literal and technical senses.
Thus, in the event of a contradiction between our current practices in managing this pandemic with the spirit of Islam — such as the preservation of religion, life, intellect, progeny and property — such practices will have to be amended accordingly.
Second, Islamic ethics offer a sophisticated multi-dimensional structure of priorities, ranging from the highest level of necessities (daruriyyat) to needs (hajiyyat) an d then luxuries (tahsiniyyat).
It will then simulate the various situations in which these values conflict with each other, and then provide resolutions and principles on which values have to be prioritised (fiqh al-awlawiyyat).
Lastly, Islamic ethics also limit the state's preventive actions. It is only allowed to interfere as much as needed and should not take advantage of the situation to suppress individual freedom and liberty.
To conclude, although our struggle with Covid-19 is far from over and the proposed solutions here are by no means conclusive, this deliberation offers a departure point towards a more meaningful discussion on the role of ethics in post-pandemic crisis resolution.
Published in: New Straits TIme, Friday 30 October 2020
COVID-19: An Issue in Religion and Science
The priority of preventing harm in society
In principles of Islamic jurisprudence (usul al-fiqh) there are several maxims that talk about the principles related to measures in dealing with harmful matters, including "harm should be eliminated".
Another maxim goes "no harm shall be inflicted or reciprocated", while the third one says "the prevention of harm should be given priority than promoting the benefit".
All three convey one message — the importance of preventing any kind of harmful things from taking place on individuals or society at large.
The third maxim has additional significance as it also emphasises the priority in two conflicting situations. When we face two contradictory options on the same situation, between preventing harm and gaining benefit, we have to prioritise the first one.
Among the reasons is that the failure to prevent harm may destroy even the benefit that we may gain, and not vice versa. This is the most important lesson that we have to learn amid the worrying spike of cases during this dangerous Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
Due to a lack of sensitivity towards others, a wrong action by one person, whoever he is, has led to grave implications for the majority of people.
Every person must be reminded that in a situation where maximum level of vigilance is needed, we have to put aside whatever benefit that we would have enjoyed. As the usul al-fiqh maxim reminds us, the priority has to be the prevention of anything that leads to the spread of the disease.
The following measures take priority:
FIRST, stricter punishment must be taken against offenders of rules and standard operating procedures set by the Health Ministry. Let the offenders learn their lesson the hard way before worst scenarios take place.
The implementation of the law should not discriminate between the status of the offenders since everybody is equal before the law. Similarly, the ignorance of the rule cannot be an excuse for anybody not to be justly punished as the legal principle holds that "ignorantia juris non excusat".
SECOND, there must be a high level of self-discipline among members of society in embracing the new normal in containing the pandemic. A surge of cases taking place every day, as well as the increasing number of people who are being fined and reprimanded due to their heedlessness of SOP only prove that the new normal continues to be new and not yet normal for these offenders.
Some people are still in need of the external factors in the form of strict laws and punishment before they can truly embrace the new normal. It is therefore important that every individual takes charge of their own self.
THIRD, inculcate the value of empathy for others. The country we are living in is like a ship that we share with many other people. Everybody has to take care not only of him or herself, but also other people.
There is a hadith of the Prophet which says, "None of you is a true believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself". The proof of this love is realised not only through the fulfilment of others' needs, but also through the prevention of others from doing harm to society.
All these measures must be taken seriously not only by the common people, but more importantly, by leaders who, in some cases, are caught in a dilemma between gaining benefit and political mileage.
There is a beautiful Malay proverb that says, "disebabkan nila setitik, rosak susu sebelanga". It conveys the same message as the English proverb, "one rotten apple spoils the whole barrel". If we don't start being vigilant and take strict measures in prioritising the prevention of harm over personal benefit, we may have to pay a high price and wait a long time to rectify the situation.
The failure to flatten the curve will ultimately lead to other greater harm, such as economic downturn, social disharmony and political instability, which will wipe out all potential benefits for the majority of the people.
The writer is director of Centre of the Study of Syari'ah Law and Politics at Institute of Islamic Understanding
Published in: The New Straits Times, 10 October 2020