KARACHI: It is 10pm. In the silence of the night when you cannot even hear the sound of traffic anywhere, there are the beautiful voices giving the call for prayer. Men, young and old, and even children are on their rooftops and balconies reciting the Azan.
“It is not just a call for prayer. It is all of us repenting. It is all of us begging for forgiveness and crying to God to spare humanity from this punishment, from this calamity, this terrible disease,” says Mohammad Fahad, who goes out to his balcony to recite the Azan every day now during the lockdown to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
And when he does that and while he is giving the call, Fahad also hears others joining him. “Simultaneously, there are so many other people in our neighbourhood also reciting the Azan at the same time. Hopefully, God Almighty will also notice our humble efforts,” he says.
‘It is all of us begging for forgiveness and crying to God to spare humanity from this disease’
Asked if he also did the same previously during other calamities that have befallen the country in the past such as earthquakes and floods, Fahad says no, he has not. “Those were disasters, too, no doubt. But they were geological disasters. This is something very different. And it is not restricted to a country or region. This is global. Even Makkah and Madina are feeling the impact. Under the circumstances, we have to stay united to face this and bow to God to save us as we are too weak to deal with this ourselves,” he says.
There are many young boys, too, reciting Azan at the same time. Mohammad Hassan is only 12 years old. He also makes sure to be on his family home’s rooftop at 10pm without fail every day to recite the Azan. “I feel Allah Mian is naraaz [unhappy] with us and we have to do something to make Him razi [happy] and agree to forgive us,” says the young boy, who adds that he started reciting the Azan from his rooftop after watching his older cousin doing it from his balcony.
There are also people putting up loudspeakers on their roofs to make the Azan more clear and audible for everyone. Some people are not even reciting themselves as they have it recorded and they are pressing the button to play it at the right time. On social media, people are also sharing clips of themselves giving the call for prayer.
But Umar Bashir, another 12-year-old, who also has the honour of being Hafiz-ul-Quran at his age, says that when he gets on his balcony to recite the Azan, it is something very deep and personal. “It is between me and my Allah. I may recite loudly or not very loudly, I am doing it to beg Allah’s attention. I am crying inside. People of Islam have resorted to doing what I am doing in history too and today I am doing it because what we are experiencing is nothing we or anyone in history has ever experienced,” he says.
“Still, when I do recite, there are so many around me also reciting from their homes and I feel like it is an amplified echo of my own voice. I am sure they must also feel the same that we are echoing them. It is a beautiful thing to experience,” he adds.
The white flag
Another movement that also picked up in the last few days, not just in the city but the entire country, was flying the white flag as a mark of respect for the healthcare professionals who have been working tirelessly to help the sick while putting their own lives on the line.
On Friday, even police personnel flying small white flags on their bikes arrived at some of the big hospitals of the city to salute their heroes — the doctors, nurses, paramedics and other medical staff and volunteers there.
March 27 was selected as the day to encourage citizens to fly white flags from their rooftops and balconies to show solidarity with the healthcare professionals and appreciate their selfless efforts in the fight against the pandemic.
Giving her reaction to the white flag being waved in her honour, one doctor, requesting anonymity, says that it would have been better if they were given more facilities and equipment instead of a wave of the flag. “The white flag used to be used as a symbol of ceasefire or truce during wars. I don’t know who thought of waving it on our faces but it would have been better if we were given more masks, gloves, gowns, shoe covers, etc, to better help us save ourselves and save the lives of others,” she says.
Published in Dawn, April 1st, 2020