THE TRUE REWARDS OF RAMADAN
There are various ahadeeth which explain the rewards of Ramadan, and the rewards are indeed plentiful. One such hadith mentions that the reward for each good deed is multiplied by 70 during Ramadan.
We often do things with the expectation of accumulating the rewards. In forgetting the purpose however, the ritual becomes a mathematical exercise, where we calculate every good deed performed. This is not correct.
A fundamental principal to be appreciated is that every reward comes from Allah, and is granted to us at His absolute discretion. As slaves of Allah, we do not have the right to dictate, assume or calculate how much Allah is to reward us.
From an Islamic perspective, whenever we perform a good deed, we do it with the hope that Allah will accept our efforts. This is unseen knowledge which belongs to Allah alone. Only the purest and sincerest of efforts, which are intended only for Allah, and not tainted by our other conflicting interests, will be accepted by Him.
Even Umar al Khattab (RA), the Criterion of the Ummah, whose superior moral character and piousness are beyond doubt, said: “If I leave this life and die with nought good deeds and nought bad deeds, I’m lucky.” If he, being a Companion of the Prophet SAW, the second Caliph of the Ummah and one of the persons guaranteed admittance into paradise felt this way, then do we have the right to presume that all our good deeds will be accepted?
As Muslims, we need to purify our intentions, look at the purpose and perform the act of worship commanded by Allah. We cannot calculate, or only perform rituals for the expectation that if we do X number, we will automatically receive 70, 700 or 700,000 number of rewards. All the ahadeeth to this effect, while authentic and sound, serve as encouragement. At the core of it, the absolute discretion still lies with Allah. We do not know which of our actions have been accepted, which is why we should keep trying until the day we die.
Therefore whenever performing a ritual, we should do it with respect to Allah and coupled with the right purpose and intention, we harbour a positive expectation and hope that insha Allah, He will accept our efforts.
A sign of acceptance is when Allah draws us closer to Him and increases our good deeds. Indications of acceptance (and by extension, the rewards that we are longing for) are that He allows us to increase our worship for him, service in His path, desire to cleanse our souls and our love of doing good deeds.
The true test of whether your Ramadan has been accepted lies in your behaviour after Ramadan. Will you have sufficient momentum to carry on, or will you lapse back into your pre-Ramadan behaviour? This is the constant self-assessment we have to do.