(Un)Masking Our True Selves And Intentions

We have come to accept masking as an ubiquitous part of life since the turbulent waves of Covid-19 crashed dramatically into our lives more than two years ago. Generally, the global Muslim community has come to implement it as part of our daily jihad in the fight against the extremely crushing and devastating effects of the pandemic.

Alhamdullilah, since the tide of Covid-19 has receded as the world enters into an endemic stage when it comes to living with the ever-present threat, opportunities to reclaim certain semblance of pre-pandemic normality have surfaced.

Unmasking Spiritually And Emotionally

Young Muslim couple drinking tea and waiving their friends in the cafe

Are we ready to face the world again without wearing masks?

No more hiding it seems. Though we might be riddled with anxiety as the post-pandemic reality inches toward mask-free living with every passing day, that does not equate to saying goodbye forever to one of the very first line of protections against the risk of infections.

Gradually, we have begun still to peel off the mask in whatever space as permitted by the laws and regulations of the country we either reside in or travel to. The opportunity to luxuriate in present moments does take time on our part to recalibrate the parameters of our established comfort zone in facing each other maskless, again, after a long time.

Yes, we would once again have to (re)learn to manage our display of emotions which tie closely with real and/or imagined vulnerabilities, whether projected internally or attached outwardly as perceived by those around us.

As we pace ourselves to adapt to the primary constant in life – change – let’s not forget the ultimate constant in life, that is Allah.

The sacred relationship between ourselves and Allah. A key facet of this symbolic gradual unmasking is about our fundamental connection with Allah. Our spiritual piety may have been disrupted and diminished by the pandemic as we are preoccupied with immediate survival concerns encompassing career viability and downright to the most basic of needs, such as putting food on the table for our families.

Are we truly ready then, to continue facing Allah and surrender ourselves in totality as we collectively shed the practice of masking? Literally and symbolically.

A group of friends on a hike during an overseas trip

Smiling Freely

As we start again in grappling with reclaiming our sense of normalcy through small steps daily; without inhibitions we could start to express ourselves in every elementary way possible. A simple greeting to acknowledge another friendly face in passing while commuting, perhaps. Additionally, smiling is as good as any habit to start us off in the right direction.

A man wearing glasses and smiling widely

If warranted, it is never self-aggrandising to start with self-affirmations in one’s personal space first. Why not start practising and extending kindness to ourselves first and foremost? Acknowledge your small wins and big triumphs in daily life. Start practising smiling in the mirror. Do it sufficiently to make it a habit. Our smiles could very well be that shred of hope for someone else enveloped in feelings of gloom for many different reasons.

As we never stopped nurturing relationships with ourselves, friends and family and Allah during more than a couple of years of hardship, we owe it to ourselves and those around us to be that necessary support system in times of need and even celebration. How many of us could be truly transparent with ourselves that we also put in as much effort in retaining those friendships and ensuring they are healthy relationships, for all involved, just as much as we prioritised public health and safety when masking religiously?

Yet, in striving for the best of outcomes, we should consider creating spaces in maintaining clarity when managing expectations involving ourselves and others. Before we are quick to pass judgments based on whatever circumstances and accompanying reasons through our daily interactions and observations, two elementary things are for certain. One, Allah is always there. And, not everyone’s trajectory in life and progress in mental well-being are the same.