“And say: My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.” (Surah Ta Ha, Ch.20, V.115)
Kholood Tahir, King’s College London
In the past few months, we have lived through very unprecedented times, which will make it to the history books.
Covid-19 has rattled the world in such a way that people from all walks of life – the elderly, young, rich, poor – are all left fearing for their lives. Although viral infections are quite common, what made Covid-19 so dangerous was its nature to spread easily and the lack of any vaccine or treatment.
On 23 March, the UK entered lockdown with only essential travel being permitted and key workers going to work. This indeed took a great toll on the lives of many, including students.
For some, the news of lockdown brought a temporary pause to their daily routines, with exams being postponed until September or being cancelled altogether; for others, education continued through a remote format with assignments and exams being conducted online.
For the second type of student, whilst the world was trying to learn new skills – baking the tastiest banana bread or whipping up the perfect dalgona coffee – the only thing on their mind was to prepare for the strangest exam season of their lives.
At King’s College London, most of the senior lecturers for medicine are also clinicians or doctors, so they were pulled away from their teaching duties to serve at the front lines.
Therefore, we, as first year medics, were given access to the previous years’ lecture recordings, as well as seminar worksheets with answers – an email of “good luck” was also sent to us to complete the rest of the year by ourselves.
It was a challenge for us to complete units such as neuroscience, epidemiology, genomics etc. on our own. Where normally teaching would be supported with anatomy practical sessions, we tried to make do with YouTube videos and turned to resources on the internet to help us through this time.
Many of us who were accustomed to studying in quiet spaces away from home, were left with no choice but to clear the clutter from our bedroom desks and transform our rooms into libraries. Personally, the arrival of Ramadan for me was God’s gift to help me get through those increasingly stressful days preceding my exams.
During the day, I endeavoured to fulfil the rights of God by fasting and spending my time in the remembrance of Allah the Almighty. During the nights I would endeavour to fulfil the rights of mankind by studying the various systems of the human body and the biochemical pathways that take place to keep us alive.
One of my favourite modules to revise was nutrition and metabolism as it was interesting to learn, in depth, the processes that take place in the body whilst fasting and the many physical benefits attached.
More than anything, the experience of living through a global pandemic taught me the value of service to humanity and the incredible role all key workers have played for the well-being of the country and the world.
All worldly activities, such as retail, transport, leisure and social activities, came to a stop, however the service to humanity continued.
The Holy Prophet of Islam, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, taught us that spiritual advancement is intrinsically linked to serving humanity and so a Muslim cannot attain the love of God Almighty just through worship and prayer, rather the love of God Almighty requires Muslims to serve humanity.