By Ulrich Nitschke, Head of the Religion and Development Team at PIRON
On March 11, 2020, the WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic. The scholar Jeanet Bentzen from the University of Copenhagen found that the level of prayer search shares in March 2020 was more than 50% higher than the average during February 2020. In March 2020, the share of Google searches for prayer surged to the highest level ever recorded, according to Bentzen. Prayer is a source of strength in dealing with the crisis and can give courage for change.
In their contributions to the present issue, Prof. Dr. Milad Karimi, Islamic theologian and philosopher at the University of Münster and Sadhvi Bagawati Saraswati of the Hindu Divine Shakti Foundation and Secretary General of the Global Interreligious WASH alliance, explain that the Corona crisis is primarily a spiritual crisis, indeed a crisis of meaning. The spiritual crisis of meaning and the physically tangible crisis of our health, environment and economy are directly connected and mutually dependent. What does this mean for us if we are believers and want to find spiritually meaningful answers? What does it mean for the role of religious institutions and their communities? In his profound interview, Milad Karimi addresses these questions and holds up the mirror to us, which can be quite unpleasant and painful. But that is where the power of religion lies: as part of something greater, the believer can let go of his or her immediate needs, which become particularly apparent in the crisis mode, and listen to the silence, according to Prof. Karimi.
Let us use the opportunity not to avoid difficult questions of reorientation, to enjoy silence and loneliness, to reduce consumption and to live more sustainably. Slowing down and perceiving the other person in his or her otherness can enrich and make just as happy. The other is not only our neighbor or colleague, but people worldwide. If the crisis has shown us one thing, it is that we are all connected, sharing the same suffering and the same joys, no matter where we are in the world.
That is why we are moving away from our slogan of reading the Faith in Development Monitor in 500 seconds. Today we invite you to enjoy the peace and quiet and to delve into the guidance that Milad Karimi in particular gives us on the path to our own spirituality.
We would be happy to receive feedback on this and promise that the next issue will perhaps be shorter again at the end of September 2020.
We wish you a healthy and restful summer!