Winter 2013/2014 has been stated, by meteorologists as being the harshest, and most disruptive winter experienced in decades. Canada was not the only country to have been giving a beating, with ice storms, snow storms and the polar vortex winds that swept through the region: Our neighbours to the south, the US, as well as parts of the Middle East, including Palestine, Lebanon, Turkey and Syria were also visited by snow storms. Even more remarkably, for the first time in living memory, some parts of Egypt were also hit.
The ice storm of 2013 in South- Eastern Ontario plunged over hundreds and thousands of homes in darkness and frigid temperatures. Ice encased tress ripped under the weight of thick layers of ice and power lines took days to restore. Post mail was delayed as well as flights in major airports, even in the presence of severe cold. Life had surprisingly, come to a sudden and unexpected halt. It was one of those rare instances that saw well off Canadians, such as ourselves, forced to confront the true nature of our vulnerability. Our money, and personal technology couldn’t save us. Without power, our chargeable electronics were useless. Cooking wasn’t possible, and neither was enjoying a warm shower. The ordinary everyday pleasures that we grossly take for granted, were out of reach.
Despite the fact that this winter has so far been a dreadful experience, it may be safe to say that it was a blessing in disguise. In the midst of the snow storm that hit the Middle-eastern region, refugees and other vulnerable and exposed groups have experienced the worst effects of it. Running water, let alone warm water, is not something they come by often. Feeling cold and numb is a constant. The helplessness that comes with living in a state of transition and unpredictability is their everyday reality, a reality of insecurity.
The unbearable cold and vulnerability that we have been experiencing was a blessing in the sense that we did not need to extend our imaginations very far in order to know how it must feel like. We did not need to ‘put ourselves in their shoes’ because for a few moments, we were in their shoes- even though our lived experiences do not even closely compare to what has become of their reality.
‘And surely We shall try you with something of fear and hunger, and loss of wealth and lives and crops; but give glad tidings to the steadfast’ Quran, 2:155.
This has been a blessing because we have been reminded about the true value of power, heat and warm water. We have had the opportunity to develop a deepened sense of gratitude towards Allah for His mercy and blessings upon us. Feelings of gratitude can pave the way towards expressions of gratitude, in the form of being less wasteful, being mindful of those who do not have and in the form of taking action to alleviate the suffering of others. This gratitude is, in essence, the floodgate that unleashes numerous deeds of kindness, prayers and a consciousness that refuses to forget that the purpose of our existence is to assist others with what we have been given in whatever form or capacity we are able to give.
‘Those who spend their wealth [in Allah ‘s way] by night and by day, secretly and publicly – they will have their reward with their Lord. And no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve.’ Quran, 2:274.
This is a reminder to all of us, that we cannot, for a moment abandon the need to alleviate any kind of suffering in even the minutest of ways. Maybe this winter has been Allah’s way to wake us up from our ‘winter hibernation’. Maybe the realization, prayers and actions that result from a deepened sense of appreciation and gratitude is a mercy from Allah, a mercy that will allow us to be rewarded immensely in this life and the next for what results from our actions. Maybe, this is a mercy also to those who benefit from what we are able to do. This goes for anyone in a state of insecurity, whoever and wherever they may be.
The Orphan Sponsorship Program wants to remind everyone to keep the vulnerable adults and children, the homeless, the stateless, including the orphans, in their prayers. Let us not forget to keep Syrian, refugees in our prayers as they battle against the cold for their survival. May Allah accept our efforts and may He help us maintain remembrance and dedication to restore ease and justice in any way we can, InshaAllah.
About The Author
A Tanzanian Canadian and globe trotter all my life, I hope to be a globe trotter for life. Besides working towards a double major in Bioethics and Anthropology, artsy endeavors in photography, writing, painting and especially poetry are the hallmark of my life. I’m a book lover and café lover, combine both and its heaven! I love watching documentaries and one day I hope to make one in honour of the people I hope to be an advocate for.
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