No one would have expected events such as the COVID-19 phenomenon to impact every nation worldwide hugely. The initial few weeks now turned into months of Movement Control Order (MCO) is considered crucial in bringing down the number of cases each day. What we knew coming was a health crisis also turned into an economic one as businesses had to cease operations in the early MCO periods. Starting 4th May, however, the ease of MCO was given to businesses to begin operating due to the worsening condition of employees who needed to earn a living, following a certain SOP set by the goverment. As the MCO is slowly being lifted now in June, inter-state travels have now been permitted, and most businesses have resumed. On the bright side, we are pleased to see the significant progress of Malaysia in battling with COVID-19 and have stepped in the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) until 31st August 2020.
However, the economic impact might extend post-MCO as people fear of what is to come next. Consumer spending might be on the low for a few months with the lifting of MCO. Some things, as unexpected as this event, has made people realize the need to stay at home and reduce the need to spend on unnecessary items or services. People become more concerned about fulfilling only the basic needs rather than items beyond necessity.
In line with Maqasid al-Shariah
This is consistent with the Maqasid al-Shariah, where we should only spend money on things that are considered as basic and additional necessities, but not so much on those regarded as luxury items, what more on those beyond luxury. While the impact is especially seen among those whose incomes are severely impacted, part of the population’s incomes are still given in full and are able to save more since spending may have reduced tremendously, following the implementation of MCO.
Following the Maqasid al-Shariah, this group of people who have extra on their plates should be willing to share their part in giving out more charity and sadaqah to those who are less fortunate. As we know, some employees are forced to take non-paid leaves and, to a further extent, be even retrenched from their employers. For this group of people, they may still have some funds they have saved over the years. However, there are also those in the severe category even before this event took place, with only daily incomes to survive. This is the time where everyone should deeply appreciate the purposes of Maqasid al-Shariah, where a person’s action should aim at protecting the five essential attributes, which are life, religion, family, intellect, and wealth. A deep understanding of the matter will lift the spirit of helping one another who is in need. Therefore, the fortunate ones will give more help to the needy, while those who need more will be thankful for what he or she receives. It becomes a win-win situation as both groups feel grateful for having less than having nothing.
The basic concept of Maqasid al-Shariah is focused on fulfilling the basic necessities without having any one left out of their basic items. If a macro scale of those with higher incomes are willing to give up to spend on items considered as luxury or beyond luxury, it certainly will give more room for those in need to at least attain their basic needs. In this situation, items in the ‘beyond luxury’ category are given up for something that is in the ‘basic necessity’ category for the poor and needy. If a line is put in between the two groups, some sort of equilibrium will occur since both now have access to the necessities.
COVID-19 spreading humanity and kindness
With events such as the COVID-19 experience, which in turn led to extended MCO period, people are more aware of the concept of humanity and how we can help lift one another’s spirit of brotherhood despite race and religion in this tough time. The testing period is genuinely unexpected, where no risk measures to curb its impacts have really been prepared beforehand. Still, with such realization of the maqasid, people are willing to give and contribute more to those in need. With the help from renowned individuals or groups, millions of Ringgit were collected for the sake of humanity, be it in giving out to front-liners or those in dire need for essential requirements to survive. This is the spirit that we should all practice even if COVID-19 has passed to ensure that community well-being is preserved as more kindness is spread throughout society.
Various charity programs and fundraisers have been verified to help the whole nation transfer their part of wealth through the channels in order to provide relief for the COVID-19 effect. These not only included aid in the form of food, medical and monetary supplies but also emphasized on helping the elderly and refugees to get through this pandemic in every possible way. Such an example of this is the ‘Refuge for the Refugees’, where they estimate that an amount of RM60 would be enough to support a family for one whole week. For those earning an income of at least RM6000, this mere 1% contribution could be a life-changing amount for those in need.
With the MCO extended further into the blessed months of Ramadhan and Syawal, the more it gets to the meaning of Maqasid al-Shariah. Despite the hardship, many are still focused on giving charity and reaching out to the poor and needy. In a study related to COVID-19 and Ramadhan, which involved 554 respondents, around 62 percent still agree to give out charity despite the instability of their income during this period. While most believe that the experience of not spending their money on bazaars this time around is a whole new experience, where 92% of the same respondents believe that the cancellation of such bazaar reduces waste of money and food.
This whole new experience as a result of COVID-19 would be one that we will all look back to tell our offspring later in the future. Despite the hardship and financial distress that we may currently face, there will be a turning point where we get back up as we adapt to the new norm in this era. What’s crucial now is, we are in this together to achieve a more sustainable future and the belief that after every hardship, there comes ease. This is in line with the proverb saying that there is always a beautiful rainbow appearing after the rain.