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Faith Perspectives: 2021, hope, faith and science

Faith Perspectives: 2021, hope, faith and science

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Was 2020 a year to forget? I don’t believe so.

Although 2020 will be remembered for its adversities and destitutions; it will also be a year that put us on a path to being better people and a better society at a global level.

Little did we know what was ahead when the year began with the traditional resolutions.

The COVID-19 pandemic swept the whole world; by last account almost 84 million have been afflicted worldwide. Unfortunately we in America, have felt the brunt of this virus; more than 21 million cases and 357,000 deaths. The economic effect has distressed practically all the world economies. Millions have lost their jobs or seen incomes shrink. Small businesses are closing at an alarming rate.

Humans flourish with social interactions. Last year took away get-togethers, personal celebrations and being with loved ones at difficult times. Among the difficult losses was gathering at our places of worship. We turn to our creator in difficult times, hold each other’s hands and find hope and motivation. The pandemic made it difficult to connect with our spiritual communities.

Racial strife and widened partisanship has left us feeling down. All of this can lead to loss of hope and push us further into our shells. The challenges of 2020 will not defeat us; but the loss of hope will.

Hope is the cornerstone of all faiths. According to Islam Prophet Jacob (peace be upon him) told his sons, “And despair not of relief from God. Indeed, no one despairs of relief from God except the disbelieving people. (Quran, 12: 87) Christianity teaches, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)

Fear of the unknown, made worse with misinformation, is a destroyer of hope. As a physician I am dismayed when I hear, “COVID is not real," or "masks don’t help" or "don’t get vaccines.” I believe our spiritual leaders are in unique position to dispel misinformation. Science is not the antithesis of faith. Science helps us to examine, learn from the universe of our creator. We learn how to fight disorders and improve health. Everyone has the right to question the findings of science, but once they have been proven with validated results; we should accept them and defeat this virus.

Our faith teaches us that if we move toward our goals with belief and endurance against all challenges, that we will succeed. This motivates us to do good deeds, and we did see innumerable examples of this in our communities during last year. Food donations, monetary help and emotional support are rays of hope during this difficult period in human history.

Racial strife also came to the forefront during this pandemic. Issues can be solved only when we confront them and find solutions in a timely fashion. And it is the foundation of all the faiths to treat everyone equally and justly.

Worsening partisanship is tearing us apart. Political differences have been linked with being unpatriotic and even worse as “enemies.” We have a great democracy; even with our differences in views, we work together toward the prosperity of the nation and for the betterment of the world. We cannot allow differences to shred the fabric of our society. Let's start with forgiveness, another foundation of the faiths. Difference of opinion does not mean animosity. Joining hands and showing understanding of others’ views will bring hope.  Hope for reconciliation; hope for better days ahead.

It has been a harrowing year, testing our resolve at many fronts. I believe our faiths are tested by tribulation: “And We will verily test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient.” (Quran 2:155) I am also a strong believer in good days ahead. “After a difficulty, God will grant relief.” (Quran 65:7)

Winston Churchill's words seem so timely:

“Let us be contented with what has happened to us and thankful for all we have been spared. Let us accept the natural order in which we move. Let us reconcile ourselves to the mysterious rhythm of our destinies, such as they must be in this world of space and time. Let us treasure our joys but not bewail our sorrows. The glory of light cannot exist without its shadows. Life is a whole, and good and ill must be accepted together. The journey has been enjoyable and well worth making — once.”

Hayat serves as chair of the public relations committee of the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis. She is a regular Faith Perspectives contributor to

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