"Looking at the bigger picture": My reply to a good friend's email sent to me

Najwa Kareem
Posted March 30, 2020 from United States

To: "________________"

Mon 3/23/2020 4:20 PM

Salaam "________",

How are you? Kayfah hal? Holleh Shomaa? Wie gehts? :))

Now to answer the questions you asked me in the last paragraph of your email from Friday evening.

Al hamdulilah, I'm doing fine. Sometimes, I feel like my mind is asking the question is all of this real but my mind is beginning to adjust to the reality of it better as of yesterday and this morning. As for how I'm handling all of this craziness, Al hamdulilah, I've been remaining and feeling calm and doing things that I need to continue to work on. I'm trying to carry on as much as normal as possible, continue as I normally do as possible and not let some unfolding of a corrupt master plan control my life. Additionally, my life as it has been for a few years now has not been routine like. Traveling as I had been. Traveling by buses (primarily), trains, and planes from this city to that city. No real stability. No real permanency. So as for the changes that have taken place as a result of this, it's not hard for me to adjust to or cope with. I would imagine for people who have had more normalcy in their lives are having a hard time or a very hard time dealing with this, coping with it, or handling it. In the end, it all comes down to perspective. I think what we're going through, what the whole world is going through now reminds us that life can change with the blink of the eye or that there's no permanency in life. It also reminds us that nothing last forever and the only security lies with Allah Subhanna. Our lives don't belong to us. We think they do but they absolutely do not. It also wakes us up and hopefully makes us more conscious of what so many people in other parts of the world have been going through and will very likely continue to go through unless we as a collective ummah wake up and begin doing our jobs. 

If one is a control freak type of a person or if one is not a flexible type person or if one does not know how to problem solve, he or she is likely having a very hard time with all of this! Al hamdulilah, this does not apply to me.

I think it helps us feel one with the oppressed. If we didn't feel one with the Mustathafeen before, we're feeling one with them now. We have to feel one with them now on some level.

Al hamdulilah, we have access to running water, we have a means of having access to food and so we can eat, many of us have electronic devices to use to communicate with, to use to occupy ourselves, to use to entertain ourselves. We have electricity to charge our devices when they run out of battery and we have electricity to see with. This is not the case for many and this has not been the case for them for years, and for some for decades as in the case as you know of the poor Palestinians. What we're going through is a drop in the bucket of the daily reality of many people in other parts of the world, long before the coronavirus pandemic. We have so much to be thankful for. 

As I've been out to nearby places...the grocery store or to the post office or to CVS, etc., I've seen the faces of people. I've never seen so many long and sad faces. I've never seen so many worried faces or faces of helplessness or faces of loss of control. Or so many people with pissed off faces. One way they've exhibited some of their pissed off feelings is at the grocery store. They're pissed off because they can't buy coffee at the coffee bar at Whole Foods because it's closed. Try not having any water to drink because there's no running water or the water is too dirty or contaminated to drink as has been and remains the case for many Palestinians and others in the world. As in the case of so many in Yemen, how about not having anything to drink at all. Or here, I've seen some pissed off because the buses are only running every 30 minutes. How about having to walk by foot everywhere as is the case for many or as is the case for many refugees who had to walk the entire way from their war torn country to get to another country for refuge.

I think it's made a lot of people realize how their identity is so wrapped up around their jobs. I think a lot of people don't really know who they are; a lot of people have lived their lives for so long consumed by their work that they have not come to be in touch with their whole selves and so many people are experiencing a sense of feeling like they're nobody, feeling empty, feeling like they have no purpose, etc. and this is scary for a lot of people as well as depressing for a lot of people. It's easily seen in the eyes of the people, in the faces of the people, in the behaviors of the people, in what they're saying to others, etc. This is why it's important to be in touch with other parts of who we are. We should be living our lives in ways that attend to aspects of who we are that don't only relate to our careers or our paid jobs.

I also think what we're going through has given us the chance or the opportunity to really understand and appreciate the value of people in our lives; also, the value of socialization; the value of our homes or having a place of shelter and protection; for those who are employed, the value of their work or their jobs; for restaurants and other businesses (big and small), the value of customers, for those like myself who have no car, the value of public transportation and so on. 

I'm also reminded by all of this that we have to be careful about how we spend our money.

There's so many lessons to be learned from all of this!

Also, and perhaps most profoundly, what we're dealing with right now reminds me of what Nelson Mandela said: "We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians."

Ok "________", like you, I'm praying all this craziness ends and that it ends with a result of us being woken up and with a result that is beneficial to all of mankind and like you said, that no innocent people have to suffer anymore. That's right! Stay healthy too "_____"! Thank you my friend for your hug & kiss! Sending the same back to you! 


Comments 6

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Jill Langhus
Mar 30
Mar 30

Hi Najwa,

How are you and your family doing? Thanks for sharing this insightful conversation you had with your friend. It says so much and mirroring what a lot of us are thinking, too.

You may want to consider submitting this for the current story call:

Najwa Kareem
Mar 30
Mar 30

What I've also pondered during this coronovirus outbreak (written early this morning and saved): I think what we're going through now reminds us of the importance of family. I've never seen so many families out on the streets walking to grocery stores or restaurants to order meals to go or to pick up orders made prior. I've never seen so many couples out together and out together holding hands. I've never seen so many fathers out walking with their kids or rolling their babies in strollers or playing with them as they walk or run together on the sidewalk. As for the families and the married couples, I ask the question why wasn't this happening before? Why did it take not having a sports game to watch or not being able to go to the gym after work or not being able to go shopping at shopping malls or not being able to go to a hair salon or a nail parlor to decide to spend quality time with one's love ones? Why now is spending time with family a priority when it was less of a priority or not a priority at all before? Is it because now many have nothing better to do? Is it because many figure they don't have anything better to do with their time? Is it because they're bored? Is family chosen now because what he/she really wants to do can't be chosen or isn't available to him/her? Are family members meant to be used? In normal, everyday circumstances, why isn't spending time with family chosen over consistently or regularly watching basketball games or soccer games or going shopping at shopping malls to buy more things he/she doesn't need? Why isn't spending quality time with one's children chosen over doing something he'd/she'd really rather do for him/herself? Why in normal, day to day circumstances does doing what one wants to do for him/herself trump doing something with or for one's love ones or one's family members? I hope what we're going through is teaching us how selfish many of us are. I hope what we have to endure teaches us to put on the top of the list of priorities what belongs there; what is really deserving of our time, focus, and attention. I hope we come out of all of this as more mature and more human.

Hello, Najwa,

It is so great to read this email from you. I think this is the first time you shared a personal story, and because of that I feel more connected with you.

I love your grateful and empathetic attitude during thus coronavirus pandemic. Please stay safe. I hope to read more personal accounts from you. :)

Please keep us updated here. Thanks you!

Anita Shrestha
Apr 07
Apr 07

Be safe

Chioma Nwaoha
Apr 23
Apr 23

Thank you.

May 15
May 15

Hello Najwa,
Thank you for sharing this piece with us. It is great to read this email and knowing how just a little checkup can go long ways. It is a hard and new time for most of us, and trying to adapt is a big factor of how we react to this situation.