Posted on Apr 17, 2020
By Bayan Fares
During this time of quarantine and COVID-19 pandemic, I cannot help but reflect on the time that the Prophet Muhammad (saw) spent in the cave of Hira. Feelings of isolation, anxiety and uncertainty must have arisen about all that was surrounding him at the time.
Similarly, we live in very strange times and in an ever-changing culture that may not necessarily agree with our individual values. In this time of forced isolation, we should allow our souls to reconnect with Allah.
A tiny microorganism invisible to the human eye has made entire civilizations come to a halt, forcing societies to rethink their structures, how they care for the most vulnerable in their communities, their goals and trajectories, and how they choose to prioritize what is important to them. Taking this time, for those privileged enough to do so, should help us to transform our perspectives and priorities, as nothing is guaranteed for tomorrow.
We are already seeing loved ones lost to this virus, jobs that are no longer secure and a loss in the stability of daily life. This is a time where we are being called on to be there for one another, in every sense of the phrase.
It is incredibly valid to feel stuck and uncertain. Feeling numb and afraid of what is to come is valid. Having doubt and anxiety is valid. Not feeling productive and struggling to transition to home life is valid. Missing friends and a social life is valid. And not feeling like yourself is one hundred percent okay.
The one thing we need not forget is that this is temporary, and it will end. We should not stop working for Allah’s (S) sake because the situation became scary or confusing. It is only Allah (S) who is able to guide us when no one else can. The only question is, how can we help ourselves and others get through this time?
At MYNA (Muslim Youth of North America) where I work as the sustainability and developmental coordinator, we are especially taking this into consideration with our upcoming virtual program, the MYNA Quran-A-Thon. It’s a program that runs through Ramadan and is a different and unique way to connect with the community. The MYNA Quran-A-Thon is a fundraising initiative with its two main goals being:
1. Engage youth and adults with the Quran and encourage them (with different incentives) to read as much as they can.
2. Raise funds for MYNA, which is a “for the youth, by the youth” non-profit organization that plans a variety of programs for youth development and empowerment across all of North America.
This is the third year that MYNA is planning this initiative. Yet, it resonates the most this particular year as most schools (Islamic and otherwise) have had to cancel classes indefinitely, leaving youth at home – perhaps with more time on their hand. At the same time, community connection needs to be sustained and motivation to connect with the Quran encouraged.
Students can still sign up to take part (registration ends on Monday, April 20). There are two different levels (one that reads by page and one by juz/chapter) for different readers, so every person can read at their personal pace. The MYNA Quran-A-Thon is open to all to sign up as an individual or under a group name. For Islamic schools, this means students are able to sign up together under their school name. It is also a unique way for women’s committees, youth groups and Quran groups to sign up together.
This program gives participants a virtual platform to connect with the Quran with many incentives, motivations and prizes. As such, each school will receive a percent back from the donations raised for the investment and benefit of their institution. Each individual will receive prizes based on the amount of Quran read and donations raised.
There are also first, second, and third place prizes for participants that have read the most Quran. Some of the prize packages include a sponsorship from Haute Hijab. The sponsored products include a jersey deco set, hijab box set, shaping scrunchies, tote bags, hijab magnets and more!
There is no replacement for the hasanat received from reading the Quran, but these added incentives make it even better! It forges a path for connecting with the Quran and with ourselves during the blessed month.
For more information on this national virtual program, visit myna.org/quranathon. For questions or individuals who would like to sign up as groups, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bayan Fares is the Sustainability and Development Coordinator for ISNA’s Youth Development Department (MYNA). She graduated from the University of Chicago with a Masters in Social Work before joining the MYNA team this past January. She is heading the MYNA Quran-A-Thon program along with other fundraising and program initiatives. She worked with HH on community partnerships in 2019.