By PROF DR HALIMU SHAURI
(Dean; School of Humanities and Social Sciences; Pwani University)
The impact of COVID-19 pandemic is real in many sectors.
Today, I would like to explore the adoption of the new normal and return to our usual religious practice, using Islam as an example.
Our new normal here means personal hygiene, washing our hands, sanitizing and keeping social distance.
My Theory of Change here is “if adherents of a particular faith can remain disciplined, strict and consistent in following the COVID-19 prevention guidelines, then a return to sub-normal is possible. What do I mean by sub-normal?
This literary means half normal – the state of not being normal or abnormal. The middle ground if I may call it so.
Adherents of a religious faith may use this middle ground to ensure the function of religion in society, securing hope for the hopeless, what Karl Marx calls the heart of the heartless, returns.
Why you may ask? Because COVID-19 pandemic has killed hope and continue to devastate the hope of many already hopeless people globally.
It is prudent therefore to ensure that institutions that are charged with steering hope in the population get back their mandate but must be innovative enough to working or operate within the COVID-19 prevention guidelines.
More critical, be responsible enough with their adherents to ensure absolute compliance.
In fact, the challenge to the COVID-19 mitigation exercises is impunity, hardheadedness, otherwise if we all comply to the guidelines, life returns to normalcy, albeit slowly.
I am positive we will reach there if we all decide to comply. China has made it, Japan has made it and Norway has made it to mention but a few.
We can all make it by flattening the curve if we use the Social law of compliance to the COVID-19 prevention guidelines and be each others police to enforce compliance.
While we achieve this compliance, we must continue to enforce the prevention guidelines on our daily activities, including our religious rituals and practices.
Life must continue but not as usual in respect to the COVID-19 unusual times. It’s akin to mindset change from doing business as usual to doing business unusual.
In our example of Islam returning to normal, albeit slowly, using the middle ground, not normal or abnormal in rituals and practices, we advice strict adherence to the guidelines with some innovation to ensure safety of the followers.
HIGH LEVEL DISCIPLINE
However, this requires high level discipline. If the later is absent, then status quo better remain and be strictly enforced. It has started to work in the Middle East and we present a video of how it’s being implemented using the middle ground theory in an experimental basis.
Why? Because citizens are disciplined and committed to flatten the curve and regain their sanity and normalcy.
From the observations in the way personal hygiene is to be enforced, washing hands, wearing masks in public to social distance, it’s clear in the video, rights reserved, that we are getting somewhere if we comply albeit slowly, innovatively and methodically. May we be people who listen to authorities and comply, this way social order will be restored first for our quick return to normalcy, old or full new normal.
It’s all about you and me to comply, no spectator or “distracted”, we are all in this together.