At least 30 million Americans have lost their jobs in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. If we aren't among the newly unemployed, then we almost certainly know someone who is.
There is excellent advice available about how to handle job loss financially, psychologically, and emotionally. However, coping at this stage also requires a spiritual perspective that is not as easily accessible. Here are some ways to handle it Islamically.
1. Remember Who is the Real Provider of everything you have
Reminding ourselves that One of God's 99 Names is The Provider (Al-Razzaq) will give us the comfort and confidence we need to remember that He is the One Who provides for us in all circumstances. Even when we were employed, it was by His Mercy and generosity that we had a job in the first place.
It would also be helpful when making Dua to use this name of Allah (Al-Razzaq) when calling on Him for help at this difficult time.
2. Revive the practice of daily Dua
In busier times, squeezing Dua into our daily routine may have been difficult. Now, with more time available, it's critical to not only keep up our daily prayers, but to make long, deep Duas for Allah's forgiveness, mercy, and help. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, has said that Dua is the essence of worship (Tirmidhi). He also reminded us that every Dua is answered: “No one makes a Dua without Allah giving him what he asks for, or keeping away from him a similar amount of evil, provided he does not ask for something sinful, or for breaking family ties” (Tirmidhi).
Pour your heart out to Him, express your fears, worries, hopes, and desires, knowing that He can and will answer your prayers. Sustained, concentrated Dua gives us a critical coping mechanism that helps deal with a major life stress like job loss.
3. Join or start an online community for those who are also seeking jobs
A number of newly unemployed Americans across the country have started or joined online job loss groups that offer support and networking opportunities. Start something similar in your neighborhood or community to connect members to jobs. You can also set up a weekly meeting after Juma prayers. This would offer spiritual support and an opportunity to make collective Dua for one another.
4. Encourage your Masjid or Islamic Center to start its own online job seekers’ group
This would be a more formalized version of idea #3 above. It could include weekly spiritual pep talks by the Imam about the need to be steadfast and optimistic in difficult times and trust in Allah, for example. It could also offer counseling to Muslims struggling with the emotional and psychological aftermath of job loss. Each meeting can end with a collective Dua by the group leader or Imam to help members and everyone who is suffering financially or otherwise during this difficult time.
5. Give small, steady Sadaqa
It's tempting to think that the only donations that matter are the large ones we can easily make when we've got a steady job and a large bank balance. But consider this: in 2018, the average online donation amount to non-profits in the U.S. was $128.
This is in line with what the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said: "The most beloved deed to Allah is the most regular and constant even though it were little" (Bukhari). It could be just a dollar a week, but do donate. If you and your family have cut an expensive habit to save money, consider giving a small percentage of that for Sadaqa. The Prophet also said, “Give charity without delay, for it stands in the way of calamity” (Tirmidhi).
6. Don't neglect non-monetary charity
Giving charity has an interesting psychological effect: a sense of empowerment and upliftment. But don't think that being charitable is limited to dollars and cents. The Prophet said “A charity is due for every joint in each person on every day the sun comes up: to act justly between two people is a charity; to help a man with his mount, lifting him onto it or hoisting up his belongings onto it, is a charity; a good word is a charity; and removing a harmful thing from the road is a charity” (Bukhari, Muslim).
Volunteering of all kinds to help those in need, even as you are in need, will not only help fight depression, but it will help you regain a sense of empowerment.
7. Reconnect with your family
With more time on your hands, use the hours and minutes you are not looking for another job to reconnect with your parents, spouse, and children in a way you could not when you were employed. Call your parents a few times a week, thanking Allah for the blessing of their presence in your life; if they are not alive, make Dua for them; take on bedtime story duty with the kids; start praying the five daily prayers together as a family.. It is especially important to reconnect in difficult times. Otherwise, the stress can lead to a negative family atmosphere that kills love and mercy between spouses, parents, and children.
8. Be like the birds
The Prophet said "If only you relied on Allah a true reliance, He would provide sustenance for you just as He does the birds. They fly out in the morning empty and return in the afternoon with full stomachs" (Tirmidhi). Trust in Allah, and keep relying on Him through Dua and good deeds. Even as you continue your job search, remember His Mercy and His ability to provide for you from means you could never have imagined (Quran 65:3).
9. Make Dua for others coping with job loss
The Prophet said: "The Dua of a Muslim for his brother in his absence is readily accepted. An angel is appointed to his side. Whenever he makes a beneficial Dua for his brother the appointed angel says, 'Ameen. And may you also be blessed with the same'" (Muslim).
Photo Attribution: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b6/A_BLACK_MAN_WHO_IS_JOBLESS_SITS_ON_THE_WINDOWSILL_OF_A_BUILDING_IN_A_HIGH_CRIME_AREA_ON_CHICAGO%27S_SOUTH_SIDE._HE_HAS..._-_NARA_-_556156.tif
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