The message of Ramadan is similar to the message of Hajj, because it contains many fundamental components of Islam.
Towards the end of Ramadan, let us check what we have gained. We are supposed to leave Ramadan with increased manners, iman, yaqeen and patience. Lailatul Qadr is for us to recount and celebrate the guidance and follow the Qur’an. The same book also contains a warning for us.
Allah loves the generous, patient and compassionate. He loves quality and actions, and our endeavors to attain these qualities and to improve on them should be perpetual. Reflect on what we have gained when leaving Ramadan. Are we aware of how weak are we, and have we come to terms on how much we need to bolster our faith and conviction of faith so that in addition to just personal worship, we do the other things that Allah wants us to do?
The Qur’an is a continuous warning and reminder, and will touch those whose hearts are still alive. Seek to capture the most you can from the Qur’an during Ramadan, for its profound messages will put your life, death and purpose of life into clear perspective. From there, start planning how you would like to live the rest of the year, and how you will translate the Qur’anic knowledge into action.
The rewards of Ramadan and Lailatul Qadr are unseen. This belief in the unseen realm is what fuels our internal and external strength. This should be our goal in life. We are going to die, and the journey of developing the love and fear of Allah, should be our main goal.
We feel sad when Ramadan departs, but a scholar advised those who love Ramadan, that Ramadan will leave, but for those who love Allah, Allah will never leave. Ramadan is our annual “boot camp”, but once it’s over, we should have more strength, ability and vision to continue its legacy. We should take with us increased trust and gratitude to Allah. Once without the blessed month to strengthen us, when Shaitan has been let loose again amongst our midst, we should hold tight to whatever we have gained rather than to lose it all to dunia.
Hence after a month of rigorous recitation of the Qur’an, what are we going to do with all its messages? What will be our routines, goals and states of heart once Ramadan and terawih are gone?
The strength of our sincerity will manifest depending on how we behave, including following up on our efforts and resolve once Ramadan is over. We should be leaving Ramadan feeling spiritually revived. It is a month of transformation, from stinginess to generosity, from impatience to kindness and from being vindictive to being forgiving. The end of Ramadan is the time for new beginnings and we can then continue being good to mankind to spread the message of Allah.
Yet Ramadan does not, by itself, make you a better Muslim. This aspect of self development is an individual journey for you to continue on your own. If you’re on trial for multiple driving accidents, but the judge decides to drop all charges and dismiss the case, does this mean that you leave the courtroom a better driver? Ramadan is a month of eradicating sins but it does not magically transform a sinner to a saint. This is something that all of us have to individually strive for.
The eradication of sins is distinct from the ongoing effort to be a good person. This continuing effort is what generates our qualities. If we stop struggling, then we will revert to our previous condition or even end up in a worse off position than before. Some people observe Ramadan fastidiously but once Ramadan is over, fall back into their previous habits and sins. This simply lays all their efforts to waste, because a sign of an accepted worship is the impact it has on the behaviour of the person once that act of worship is complete.
We are recommended to continue fasting in Shawwal: Abu Ayyub al−Ansari (Allah be pleased with him) reported: Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: He who observed the fast of Ramadan and then followed it with six (fasts) of Shawwal, it would be as if he fasted perpetually [i.e. the whole year]. (Muslim)
This is an excellent way to ease yourself back into life outside of Ramadan. We are also encouraged to fast every Monday and Thursday as well throughout the year.
The more lasting effort is to consciously change ourselves. We should be alert of our behavior and how it affects others. We should have the humility to identify our shortcomings and to correct our deficiencies, and strive to continue conquering our nafs, spiritual diseases and base desires.
Where are you going, what are you trying to do? Your goal, desire and motivation will lead you where you want to go, whether towards your destruction or salvation.
The day of Eid has its rewards. One report states that:
“When Lailatul Qadr occurs a multitude of angels descend and pray for the maghfirah [pardon] for every individual who remembers Allah while sitting or standing. When the Day of Eid starts Allah asks His angels, ‘What should be the reward of the person who perfected his work?’ The angels respond, ‘O my Lord! It would be to compensate him befittingly.’ Allah says, ‘O my Angels! My bonded men and women fulfilled their obligation. Then they came out to the musalla [the open place for congregational prayers on Eid day], calling me throughout the way, I swear by My Honour, Dignity and Magnanimity, I will accept their prayers.’ Then Allah declares, ‘You, my bondsmen return [to your homes] I have pardoned your sins and transform them with good deeds.'”
With all this forgiveness, should we stain ourselves again or try to improve? If we were living in haram, we should stop and make taubah. If we are consuming haram, then we should try to eat halal. If we have diseases of the heart, we should ask ourselves why. If we sin habitually, we would think twice before our next action. This is the time for honest reflection so that we can plan the way forward.
“… [Allah wants] for you to complete the period [of Ramadan] and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful. And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.” (Al Baqarah 2:185 – 2:186]
A successful Ramadan is marked by those to glorify and thank Allah, those who gain God consciousness and wisdom. We can gain much in Ramadan so that we will gain success in this life and the hereafter. The merchandise of Allah is very valuable: an eternal stay in Jannah. This is what we are working for. In Ramadan, if you go to Allah purely for His pleasure (and not just because You want Him to solve your calamities), He will take care of you all the time, including saving you and reducing your calamities.
Be careful not to be a beggar who only approaches others when in need, but does not show gratitude or manners. Leave Ramadan in a state where our belief in Him is high and where we do not believe or rely on anyone except Him.
Terawih and fasting may be gone, but if we did it right, the side effects and the strength of our actions will illuminate us for the whole year. May Allah accept all our good deeds and give us a blessed Ramadan, ameen.