With the lockdown commencing tonight at 23:59:59 (midnight), people around the country have made various preparations to see them through the next 21 days comfortably. Foremost in their list of preparations are the obvious essential items such as groceries and medication. However, now that we are prepared to remain at home for three weeks, the question on people’s minds is, “What are we going to do at home? How will we keep our children occupied?”

Some people feel that this is the ideal time to ‘spring clean’, or attend to the odds and ends around the house that are sometimes neglected. Others are simply at a loss, not knowing how to spend their time now that their usual schedule has been brought to a screeching halt. However, there is a third category of people who plan to spend this period ‘catching up’ on their favourite shows and series. Their preparation for the lockdown has been to ensure that their Netflix subscription is paid, or they have sufficient data, as they intend to spend the next 21 days glued to the screen, drowning in a world of fiction and falsehood.

The extreme danger of this idea cannot be overemphasized. During periods of trials and calamities, such as the pandemic we currently face, the solution is to turn to Allah Ta‘ala, cry to Him in repentance, beg His mercy, and pledge to Him to mend our ways and abandon our sins. If we instead plunge headlong into sins, we are ignoring the warning and inviting further punishment from Allah Ta‘ala. Are we so ‘brave’ as to challenge Allah Ta‘ala in these already challenging times?

In reality, this period has presented us with an unprecedented opportunity to attend to issues that desperately require our attention and have been ignored for far too long.

One is bonding with our children. Due to our fast-paced lifestyles, many of us seldom see our children, and when we do, we have neither the time nor energy and inclination to bond with them through spending time with them, interacting with them and speaking to them. However, we no longer have any excuse, as the next 21 days will see us under the same roof as our children for the full 24 hours of every day. We should take the initiative to get to know them, to show them love and attention, to bond with them and be a true parent to them – not just the person who puts the roof over their heads, food on the table, clothing on their backs and pays the bills.

Most importantly, this is an opportunity to bond with Allah Ta‘ala. Once again, we seldom take out sufficient time, in our hectic schedules, for Allah Ta‘ala. However, there is no longer any excuse for not reciting the Quraan Majeed, for not engaging in zikr, for not making ta’leem at home, for not performing our qadha salaahs and keeping our qadha fasts, etc. Rather, we now have the opportunity to make amends and put all in order in our lives – especially as many of the avenues of sin are no longer accessible. If we so choose and decide, we can emerge from this period changed and transformed – for the better.

The purpose of the lockdown is to eliminate non-essential contact between people (social distancing) so that people carrying the highly-contagious virus cannot spread it to others. Hence, if we wish to improve our imaan, progress in Deen and gain the closeness of Allah Ta‘ala, we should likewise try to go into quarantine and practice ‘social-media distancing’. For just these 21 days, why don’t we try distancing ourselves from social media and witness for ourselves the difference it will make in helping us to focus on our imaani goals and connect with Allah Ta‘ala? When our entire day is spent communicating and connecting with people, how will we communicate and connect with Allah Ta‘ala? At the minimum, let us at least control and decrease our time spent on social media and WhatsApp. In essence, we should view this period as a 21 day imaani lockdown aka i’tikaaf.

Spending this period correctly is of paramount importance – especially as Ramadhaan is just around the corner. If we use this period to indulge in sinful pastimes, we will find ourselves entering Ramadhaan with zero-drive and enthusiasm for ‘ibaadah and righteousness. However, if we spend it correctly, remain focused and make a determination to become better people, this period will serve as a springboard to Ramadhaan. We will enter Ramadhaan motivated, spiritually charged and ready to progress.

To assist us in spending this period productively and profitably and achieving this goal, Uswatul Muslimah is launching a “#21DayLockdown Home Madrasah for the entire family” (click here for more details regarding this online course).

Naturally, if we wish to benefit and be productive during this period, we will have to have some form of structure and discipline. It is thus necessary for us to draw up a timetable in which we set aside time for our daily Quraan Majeed recitation, zikr, du‘aa, ta’leem as a family, “Home Madrasah”, etc., just as we will have time set aside for other important activities such as laundry, cleaning, etc.

May Allah Ta‘ala assist us all through the challenges, save us from all sicknesses and make us emerge from this period as better Muslims, aameen.