Messages of hope and transformation can ease pandemic pain: Manitoba Islamic Association chair

In the Qur’an, God says “Truly where there is hardship, there is also ease; truly where there is hardship, there is also ease.” (94:5-6)

The Qur’an is a relatively compact book, so God must be really making a point when He repeats the same phrase in successive verses.

Since March, we have seen the hardship. Where is the ease? Where is hope?

Almost every day, my six-year-old son asks me if we can go to the skateboard park. In the summer, we went regularly. Every day, I tell him that we cannot. It is closed due to COVID-19. For him, that’s hardship.

Another layer of hardship for him is that he is a social butterfly, yet he is home-schooled this year and has been deprived of the social settings in which he thrives. This is his struggle.

Yet this little human has undergone a deep transformation.

WATCH | Idris Elbakri shares his message:

Idris Elbakri shares how his source of inspiration during the hard times of the pandemic come from verses from the Qur’an and the wisdom of his young son. 2:53

He gets up early every day (much to the chagrin of his parents), makes his lunch as if he is going to school, does his school work, is learning to skate on his own (his skating classes were cancelled) and is becoming a master Lego builder.

More than anything else, he gets it.

He gets that we are making a sacrifice, and he is hopeful. He speaks almost daily of when “corona ends” so he can visit his grandparents in Palestine and go to school normally. He is carrying his burden of responsibility and is uplifted by his hopes for better times. 

This may be a silly personal example, but we all need to have a healthy combination of responsibility and hope to get through this. We have what it takes. We are almost there.

Idris Elbakri finds comfort in words from the Qur’an, where he finds good news to give us hope in this season. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

As we enter the holiday season, I am reminded that in the Qur’an, God says that the angels gave Mary “the glad tidings” of the birth of Jesus. And indeed, in this time when much of the world marks the good news of his birth, we have good news that gives us hope and helps us go on. We are excited by news of the vaccines getting approved and starting to be rolled out.

My real hope is that we are emerging from this an improved version of ourselves.– Idris Elbakri

However, there is more “good news” that is worthy of our excitement. The pain, loss and suffering we have experienced have transformed us — and, I believe — for the better.

My real hope is that we are emerging from this an improved version of ourselves.

Having felt isolation, loss and pain, my hope is that we will commit ourselves to alleviating the conditions that create isolation, loss and pain for those who live with them, whether there is a pandemic or not. 

Idris Elbakri is grateful for his son’s efforts to manage pandemic restrictions: ‘He is carrying his burden of responsibility and is uplifted by his hopes for better times,’ Elbakri says. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

CBC’s Message of Hope is a series for Manitobans to share insights into keeping the faith and finding the hope during the challenges of the pandemic.

This column is part of CBC’s Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor’s blog and our FAQ.