Today is the last day of this beautiful month of Ramadan. I would like to share a few reflections on its ending and how we can continue the momentum even after its departure:
Muslims often say that they find more peace, blessings, and tranquility within Ramadan than outside of it. Part of that has definitely to do with the fact that it is a blessed month but also because we as a community of believers are more obedient and less disobedient to Him in this month. We spend time doing dhikr, praying, fasting, and keep away from our usual sins. In this month, we get a short taste of what we can accomplish if we put in the effort to be close to Him. This doesn’t have to stop, we have the option to continue to receive these blessings by simply continuing our acts of obedience.
Whoever does good, whether male or female, and is a believer, We will surely bless them with a good life, and We will certainly reward them according to the best of their deeds. [Qur’an 16:97]
I consider Ramadan as a spiritual boot-camp that comes around once a year to re-train our souls on the fundamentals of spirituality. It consists of a number of ‘exercises’ that we perform on a daily basis for a better spiritual health. The most fundamental of those exercises is to deprive ourselves of food, drink, and intimacy. These are fundamental pleasures that our bodies seek but we control and overcome them for the sake of His pleasure and with hopes of transforming into better versions of our selves. The objective of this annual boot-camp is to learn to apply the training to the remainder of the year. If done properly, we learn that if we can control our permissible fundamental desires, then it should be even more easier to control the impermissible desires that we often chase outside of Ramadan. Perhaps Allah brings this boot-camp to us every year because we are forgetful, stubborn, and sinful creatures that desperately need the reminder and exercise every year.
As we return back to our pre-Ramadan routines, the first few days will feel quite strange. The sins we used to commit before Ramadan seem like strangers and we are even repulsed by them. This is expected since we spent a month washing our souls and hearts with dhikr, du’a, salah, qiyaam, and siyaam. The rust of sins on our hearts is cleared so we naturally are more inclined towards obedience in those first few days. Unfortunately, it does not last long for many of us because we slowly begin to rust away our hearts again with disobedience and acts of transgression against Him and our own souls. My advice to myself and to others is that in those first few days after Ramadan, when you feel repulsed by the habitual sin(s) you used to commit before Ramadan, realize that you have a choice to either bring that habit back into your life or to put your Ramadan training into effect and overcome the desire to commit it, just like you did in Ramadan.
Let us strive to be better than we were before Ramadan. Some of the people of knowledge say that one of the signs of acceptance of a deed is that the person is given the tawfeeq to commit further acts of obedience. It is not a good sign to remain the same or be worse than you were before. It is a good practice to measure oneself after every Ramadan to evaluate whether one has become better or remains the same. Perhaps it may be burdensome to expect people to be exactly like they were in Ramadan but there is something we can all strive to do at a bare minimum. Take one vice that you prevented yourself from in Ramadan and one good deed that you added for yourself in Ramadan and continue it even after Ramadan. If you can commit to this much, then you would be better than you were before it! Then beg Allah to make you reach the next Ramadan and then do this again. Keep doing this with the hope that when it is your time to go back to Him, you will have little to no vices left and numerous acts of obedience added to your scales! It is better to meet Allah with a record of constantly improving yourself than to meet Him while remaining exactly the same or worse! There are many who were with us the last Ramadan but did not make it to this one. Will you and I make it to the next one or will we be permanently called back to Him before the next one?
Finally, don’t be worshipers of the month of Ramadan but the Lord of Ramadan!