Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed's Ramadan lecture tells of lessons from pandemics past

The first annual Ramadan lecture was delivered by Dr Omar Al Darei, who gave examples of plagues and diseases from Islamic history

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The world must overcome Covid-19 as our ancestors overcame pandemics in the past, the Crown Prince’s first annual Ramadan Majlis heard on Wednesday.

Dr Omar Al Darei, executive director at the UAE Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments (Awqaf), told of lessons that can be learnt from previous diseases that swept the Muslim world.

He gave examples of plagues and pandemics mentioned in the Quran and Islamic scholarly work, including the Black Death that killed millions in the 14th century.

He told of how our forefathers faced the Spanish Flu – which reached the Ottoman Empire and Greater Syria (encompassing the modern-day states of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine/Israel) – with “values of optimism and future-building entrenched in their attitudes.”

Our ancestors passed this message on to us [they said]: 'we overcame the hardship for you with limited resources in hand, so we ask that you overcome [your hardship] for your grandchildren'

He said 1918 was known among Muslims scholars as the “year of mercy”.

“They named the year of the pandemic this to draw optimism of God’s mercy,” said Dr Al Darei.

“Our ancestors passed this message on to us [they said]: ‘we overcame the hardship for you with limited resources in hand, so we ask that you overcome [your hardship] for your grandchildren, so you now have the secret to overcoming a crisis between your hands’.”

Dr Al Darei said a similar approach was being taken by the leadership today.

“This pandemic will disappear, but the values of good and giving and serenity and prosperity will remain and we will continue to survive.”

He said this Ramadan will examine people’s true patience and devotion.

“Committing to the regulations of the authority is a religious obligation for every individual.”

Addressing concerns from some Muslims who worry about missing out on the merits gained during Ramadan from congregational prayer, he said: “The deeds will not be lost, and the rewards will be counted.”

“Deeds are counted by intentions, and those who have become attached to worshipping at the mosque will be rewarded on Judgment day when God bestows his shade upon them as they wait.”

The lecture ended with input from Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, who was among a number of UAE leaders to tune in on Wednesday.

"This crisis will pass, but it needs patience,” Sheikh Mohamed said, adding that he was proud of everyone working to keep the UAE safe.

"We are all proud of them and do not differentiate between them in their love for this country.

"The UAE, with all its people, is strong."

The lectures are typically delivered live at Majlis Mohamed bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi but are being broadcast on TV instead this year, to avoid gatherings amid the coronavirus outbreak.