America is at ‘war’ with the ‘unseen’ – Part I


The likeness of the life of the present is as the rain which We send down from the skies: by its mingling arises the produce of the earth- which provides food for men and animals: (It grows) till the earth is clad with its golden ornaments and is decked out (in beauty): the people to whom it belongs think they have all powers of disposal over it: There reaches it Our command by night or by day, and We make it like a harvest clean-mown, as if it had not flourished only the day before! thus do We explain the signs in detail for those who reflect. َ Quran 12:24

America is at ‘war’ with the ‘unseeable’. The US is presently fighting a ‘war’. This war is unlike other wars it has ever fought, and gallantly too. In its modern history, most wars the US has fought had been outside America, outside the homeland, far away from its shores. Again, most of those wars fought by the US outside its shores have always led to minimum number of causalities for the US army in comparison to that of the enemy except the World War I, World War II and the Korean War in which it recorded casualties ranging from 320, 518; 1, 076, 245 and 128, 650 respectively. Since then whenever the US ventured to lands beyond North America in furtherance of its overarching empire, its army always came back with less casualties. Such was the case in 1989 when it invaded Panama where the total US casualties stood at 23. Such was the case during the Gulf War between 1990-1991 when it recorded approximately 149 deaths compared to close to 500,000 Iraqi deaths. Such has been the case in Afghanistan where the US army has suffered around 2500 deaths in comparison to Afghan deaths totalling close to 8000.

The point of interest here is that the US appears to have perfected the art of war and war-making. It has continually out-spend other nations of the world in the development of weapons of war. It is the US ambition to be free to attack any nation on earth from anywhere on earth; it is its ambition to protect its homeland from attack, be it physical or biological. It has always been the US ambition to be free to attack any nation from space and not become subject of attack from space. In line with the Quran, up till early this year, the US had thought it “has all powers of disposal over” the world.

Indeed, it appears it does. The US boasts of unarguably the best economy in the world today. It is an economy that is laced with such weapon that it could ruin other nations’ economies. Iran provides an example. Indeed, the US boasts of it- of earthly luxuries that dare eschatological promises and provisions; of houses and dwellings that remind you of the encampments of the people of Ad and Thamud; of gardens and boulevards that hack back to that in which lived people of Madyan. But it is not only the US that sees itself as the world. It is the whole West.

Yes. The West is the World; the world is the West. Until mid-January 2020.Until February, 2020. The US is now at war. It is at war not with an enemy it could battle physically, but with an enemy it cannot see. All of sudden, all the state-of-the-art weaponry it possesses have become useless: the laser-guided bombers, the drones, the jet-fighters etc. All of sudden, the US now knows that it is only the enemy that you can see that you can bomb. There are agents in our world that neither telescopes nor microscopes and appropriate. There are entities and creatures of the Almighty in this world of ours that are beyond our comprehension.

But it is not only the US that is ‘war’. It is the whole West. Britain, Germany, Italy, France, Spain etc are all at ‘war’. They are at ‘war’ with COVID-19. Unlike bacterias, viruses, provides no benefits to humans. They are smaller than bacteria and they attach themselves to another living cell and use that cells’ genetic material to reproduce themselves. Most viruses cause disease. What is most instructive for me is that viruses gesture to that ayat in the Quran where the Almighty says- “…and none knows the forces of thy Lord, except He and this is no other than a warning to mankind (Quran 74: 31).

In other words, coronavirus is a signifier. It calls attention to entities that are greater than it. It reminds me of the inconsequential nature of our being in relation to the inimitable powers of the Almighty; that an ordinary fly, when empowered by the Almighty, can cause large-scale disruption to our cosmos.
Thus it came to pass that we are all now at ‘war’ with an entity beyond our imagination. Since January when the ‘war’ broke out, first in China before it became a global pandemic, constant reading and re-reading of the Quran keep turning up explanations and perspectives that are highly instructive of current global challenge. In other words, hardly is there an ayat in the Quran in which COVID-19 has not gained mention depending on how deep your reflection is. In fact, the more one explores perspectives to the pandemic from the Quran, the more one discovers uncanny data and information which furnish solemn and profound insights to the real essence of our being as humans and as human communities.

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Oladosu is a Professor of Middle Eastern, North African and Cultural Studies Dean, Faculty of Arts, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria.

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