With the conclusion of yet another month of Ramadan, we hope and pray that we have gained the forgiveness and mercy of Allah (SWT) and that we live till next year to have the opportunity and reap the fruits of this holy month. Farewell to the month of good manners, farewell to the month of kindness, farewell to the month of generosity, farewell to the month of mercy, farewell to the month of discipline.
This time is very critical for every Muslim. It is the time when each one of us begins to return back to our daily and routine life. This is the case not only in food and drink but also in committing mistakes, forgetfulness, sins and disobedience to Allah (SWT). Sadly, it is a common observation that very few will still go to Masjids now. Very few will contact their relatives now. Very few will give attention to brotherhood now. Very few will think about the poor or offer Sadaqa (charity) now. Very few will hesitate or think twice before backbiting one other. Very few will resist their lower desires now. Very few or none will stop running wholeheartedly after money, interests, and the materialistic life. Very few will think about Allah (SWT) or remember Him. Very few will now try to control their behaviours to please Allah (SWT) or to avoid His displeasure. It is a sad reality that must be addressed.
As we embark on the month of Shawwal, we ought to pause for a few minutes of reflection with ourselves. The questions that come to mind are: What is after Ramadan? Will everything be back to “Normal” and actually what is “Normal” to us? Does it mean that we will be far away from God as we were before Ramadan? Committing all the acts that we are forbidden from, skipping prayer, and not considering what God has ordered us to do? All that just because Ramadan is over and we have increased a bit on our bank of good deeds so now we can even the scale by doing all what we want of the forbidden deeds till next Ramadan and then we will start over again…is that really how we want to live? The Holy Prophet (SA) has said regarding the great status of this month that: “If the servants know what is in Ramadan, my Ummah would have wished that the whole year is Ramadan.”
During this month, we have attempted to purify ourselves, by cleansing ourselves from our past sins and bathing ourselves with the soap of fasting and supplication to gain proximity towards our Lord. We have disciplined ourselves and our bodies by curbing our desires to a certain extent. We have stayed away from the questionable and doubtful acts even if there were not forbidden by Islamic law but would take us away from our Lord. Would it now be appropriate for us to walk away after bathing ourselves and walk in ditch of mud? Would it make any sense to revert back from the state of discipline to that of lack of control?
In fact the past 30 days or rather the three holy months of Rajab, Sha’ban, and Ramadan, was a mere crash course designed to gradually remove from ourselves the stain of sin and transgression, and to replace that with a new picture, a new person, and a refreshed and purified soul. By the culmination of Night of Power, we have now empowered ourselves with the free will to choose right from wrong and to change our past habits to one that is aligned with the teachings of the Holy Prophet (SA) and Ahlul-Bayt (AS). The holy month of Ramadan to us was in essence a school and a teacher. We all attended this school whether we wanted to or not. Some of us achieved great marks during it, some accomplished average marks, and some have regretfully attained failing marks. It is the sign of gratitude to thank Allah (SWT) for blessing us with this Ramadan by maintaining the state of purity and piety afterwards.
As we celebrate Eid, it is inappropriate to think that we celebrate the freedom to eat and drink or engage in our activities which we do all year long. As the saying goes, “Eid is not about wearing the new clothes, rather true Eid is when you fear the Day of Judgment and have gained divine proximity.” True celebration is to recognize the divine gifts which Allah (SWT) has offered to us by His divine grace and mercy, ranging from forgiveness of our sins to appreciating the significance of the Night of Power by its true essence. Hence in our Eid prayers, we express our hope that we achieve a perfect state of closeness with our Imams by treading their path righteously, Oh Allah, (I beseech You) that You may include me with every item of goodness with which You have included Muhammad and the Household of Muhammad, And that You save me from any item of evil from which You have saved Muhammad and the Household of Muhammad.
If we want our fasts and deeds to be fully and permanently accepted by the Almighty (SWT), we should be extra careful not to taint that clean white piece of paper or that spotless car after you have gotten that car wash. We shouldn’t keep practicing every non-Islamic deeds while wait for the next Ramadan to repair ourselves for a short while, and then resume our wrongdoings in another fruitless cycle. The real challenge was not done during the four weeks of Ramadan, rather the real test begins after the day of Eid when the devil is no more confined from tempting you. Now the Shaytan and his descendants are roaming around hungry to create mischief and undo the good that you have done. They are determined to blacken your white paper as soon as possible and to erase any positive effect that Ramadan has left you with. So, let’s not give the Shaytan and his likes the opportunity to gloat over our failure to keep the spirit of Ramadan alive throughout the year until we re-energise ourselves with another season of worship and mercy. It is no wonder that right after the conclusion of the holy month of Ramadan, we are encouraged to observe fast in any six days of the month of Shawwal. That is because the Prophet (SA) has said: “Fasting is a shield with which a servant protects himself from the Fire.”1 May Allah (SWT) give us the strength and success to increase our observance of piety and righteousness in every minute and second of our lives.
1 Kitab Kafi