The surge of spiritual energy, the feeling of goodness within your soul, the hopes of doing good – the time of Ramadân! Undoubtedly the best kickstart a Muslim can get in trying to set aright their wrongs, rectify bad habits, or simply dedicate time towards worshipping Allah.
The mosques are full even in the late hours of the night, and hearts start filling with light from the blessings of a blessed month. Then suddenly, a new air of excitement stirs to life as ‘Eid approaches. The endless array of goodies, ‘Eid clothes, gifts and beautiful things all being prepared in order to celebrate the success of a month of fasting. A celebration that often comes too soon and breaks us away from the best of Ramadân: catching the Night of Power.
The buzz of the worldly routines we were so used to starts to settle back, familiar sentiments begin to draw us out of this peace and back to the societal pressures to be a certain somebody, or to do certain things. And after the jammed packed ‘Eid prayers, there comes a familiar sadness mostly felt by the Imams of the mosques.
Ramadân is gone as the mosques are empty with few rows even being filled. Isha prayers are quiet again while nightly TV shows are back in full effect, Qurans are tucked back onto their shelves, hijabs are back in their drawers, eyes no longer lowered, tongues lashing out, salât calendars that were once checked twice and thrice for maghrib salat are hidden, meals are back to being eaten separately, and life goes back to a ‘normal’ routine once again.
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The culture of Ramadân reduced to that – a culture. A blessed month, now considered an act of good to be fulfilled once a year, in the hope of forgiveness but with very few plans to rectify wrongs or draw closer to our Creator. It is because of this, the term ‘Ramadân Muslim’ was coined – now you see us, now you don’t.
Abu Hurairah narrated that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said,
“When Ramadan comes the doors of Jannah are firmly opened and the doors of the fire are firmly closed and the shayatîn are chained.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Of course it doesn’t help that after ‘Eid the shayatîn are out and about. As well, society at large has reduced the Ummah to our weakest state, with sin so open it is often mistaken as good or even encouraged despite what it may represent. Our ideologies are often confused even within our own community, all the while the army of shaytân is working in full force to distract us from the first thing that brings us closer to our Lord. Closer to goodness. Closer to purpose. Closer to Jannah.
Ramadân is an opportunity like none other. It only comes once a year, but when it does, it offers us the perfect environment to reflect on ourselves, ponder over our purpose, and create a game plan so that the blessings will carry with us throughout the entire year until the following Ramadân. While the month of Ramadân comes with a surplus of mercy, forgiveness, and blessings it also offers us 29-30 days of restricting, simply for the pleasure of Allah, our natural survival instinct of eating. The single act of fasting is paramount in our journey towards the betterment of our spiritual beings.
So, in an effort to avoid becoming the Ramadân Muslim I offer two simple —yet what I believe to be powerful— steps in maintaining spiritual momentum throughout the year.
It begins with reviewing the numerous verses and passages throughout the Quran wherein Allah encourages mankind to ponder over creation and to contemplate our existence. Use Ramadân to start the process of thinking, pondering, reflecting – turn all the distractions off and start here. It is this meditative act that Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) was engaged in when he received the first revelation. All it takes is one verse of the Quran, read it in a language you understand and think about it. Just think. Ponder over the meaning. Ponder over creation. Ponder deeply. The mere act of reflecting will do wonders in altering our behaviour and reviving our natural inclination towards worshipping Allah in a way that is pleasing to Him, insha’Allah.
The second piece of advice is to use Ramadân to start the simple but greatly overlooked act of being truthful. Start by being truthful to yourself (sometimes this can get ugly, but it is also liberating). Be truthful to yourself about how you feel about those you surround yourself with – do they help you to be better, do they encourage you towards goodness centered around Islamic teachings, do they bring the best out you? Are you the type of person that offers similar benefits to your family and friends, do you help others, do you speak good, are you really trying to be a better Muslim? Be honest with yourself. You don’t have to share it with anyone, but acknowledge it, and pray for a better you. Be truthful in what you say (i.e. no more fake compliments, no more ‘white lies’ to get out of things etc).
Abdullah bin Mas’ud reported:
“Truth leads to piety and piety leads to Jannah. A man persists in speaking the truth till he is enrolled with Allah as someone truthful. Falsehood leads to vice and vice leads to the Fire (Hell), and a person persists on telling lies until he is enrolled as a liar.” (Riyad al-Salihin)
Herein sets our path to success.
As an Ummah, it is up to us to first rectify our condition and be sincere in drawing closer to Allah before anything else. With that, we will see our lives changing and efforts towards pleasing Allah increasing, insha’Allah.
Keep this mind: a sign that our Ramadân is accepted (i.e. our fasting and worship) is when we see ourselves becoming better people throughout the rest of the year until Ramadân is upon us again. It is not enough to be a ‘Ramadân Muslim’ who stops worshipping Allah when the month is over, because then we know we have not really achieved goodness. We must go deeper, and we must turn to Allah beseeching Him for Guidance.
May Allah accept our Ramadân, allow us to increase in good, forgive us, and guide us, Amîn.