The spiritual essence of the blessed month of Ramadan appears to be fast waning. The devotional days and nights filled with piety too seem to have departed. No sooner had Sha’ban came to an end and the month of Ramadan had arrived with an opportunity for us to renew piety, many Muslim across the world did allow spiritual energy to enter into their material lives.
The noble month that just departed is a true school of transformation, in which we change our habits, manners and actions. As Allah says in the Qur’an “O you who believe, the fasts have been enjoined upon you as they were enjoined upon those before you, so that you may have Taqwa” (2:183). So attaining Taqwa (piety, God consciousness) is the main purpose of Ramadan.
Ramadan is called a “Madrasatul Akhlaaq” (school of character) in Arabic, but it is not just confined to a single month. The akhlaaq (character) which we developed during Ramadan needs to be maintained in the remainder of the 11 months. It is a school of imaan. It is a great opportunity to recharge one’s spiritual battery.
A woman who otherwise is always busy in household chores and ignores her regular ibadah (worship) suddenly sets targets for few nafil ibadah (voluntary worship) in the month of Ramadan. Every man and woman who always state they never get time to read the Qur’an, suddenly start reading the Qur’an and offer nafil prayers and rob some time from their busy schedule.
If our soul is subjugated to Allah then no outer evil whispers can cause any harm to us. Allah says in the Qur’an, “Verily Allah will not change the conditions of the people until they change what is in themselves.”
A person who cannot read the Qur’an targets to at least listen to the Qur’ān recitation or religious lectures. A man who never offered any nafil (voluntary) prayers or who always avoided sunnah prayers suddenly starts to adjust his working hours.
A person who never raised his hands for supplicating for forgiveness prays to Allah as much as he can. A person who never shed tears while accepting the reality of Allah starts crying as soon as he raises his hands before Allah.
A lady who is unmindful of her hijab tries to cover herself at least during Ramadan. A person who is lazy to offer even fardh (obligatory) Salah, rushes to mosque to pray taraweeh prayer. A person who was accustomed to abuse or fight tries to control his bad behavior. The above mentioned transformation is due to the respect we have for Ramadan.
During Ramadan we fought with the devil in ourselves and subdued him. We gained control over our inflated desires and defeated them. We hoped to receive the blessings of Ramadan from the Almighty, seek forgiveness and assure release from the punishment of hellfire.
But how long this respect continues? What does a Muslim do after Ramadan? Does he continue taking benefit from the training he attained during Ramadan? Is it just confined to the month of Ramadan? Does a person cultivate a land and grow lots of fruits and then use it not and let the fruits unplucked? Does a person work hard and earn money and at the end of the day throw it away. Does a tailor stitch beautiful dresses and then burn it? What do we think about such people? Let us ask ourselves what have we gained from Ramadan? Can we, like the people mentioned above, allow the training and the upper hand gained over our desires to be lost?
The shortfall in commitment to Islam after Ramadan leaves us is manifested in many ways. Man starts ignoring daily prayers proves that their determination was just meant for Ramadan. Man once again returns to his materialist life. This is surely not thankfulness, and this is not what God intended. The purpose of fasting in Ramadan is that a Muslim must continuously be in the state of obedience of Allah, steadfast on his deen and follow the rulings laid by Allah.
He continues to be steadfast spiritually and retains his behavioral improvements he attained during Ramadan. Although fasting in the month of Ramadan has come to an end, we can take benefit from other voluntary fasts such as six Shawwal fasts, fasting on Mondays and Thursdays, three days in the middle of the month, on the days of Arfat, Ashoora, etc.
Although taraweeh came to an end, but many other voluntary prayers regarding the benefits of which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be to him) has told us remains there. If charity in Ramadan has concluded, we can still give in the way of Allah throughout the year.
Although we try to complete the Qur’an in Ramadan, reading of the Qur’an and contemplating on it is not only for Ramadan rather it is for all times. Righteous actions are for all times and all places. So we should turn away from laziness and we should not become weak so that shayateen can easily whisper on us. We do not know when the angel of death will arrive to take our soul, so we need to be on guard always. If we can do it in Ramadan, why can’t we do it in other months?
During Ramadan all the shayateen are shackled but our inner shayateen, i.e. our nafs will always be with us. Whereas we can say controlling our nafs is more difficult than controlling the whispers of outer shayateen. If we can control our inner self during Ramadan, we can continue it on other days more easily. And Ramadan training tells us that we can endure much and if we wish we can on other days too.
If our soul is subjugated to Allah then no outer evil whispers can cause any harm to us. Allah says in the Qur’an, “Verily Allah will not change the conditions of the people until they change what is in themselves.” If we are from those who benefited from Ramadan, who tried to attain higher levels of Taqwa, who truly fasted with iman and ehetisaab, who strove against our soul then we need to praise and thank Allah and ask him for forgiveness.
May Allah help us to be steadfast upon the Taqwa we attained during Ramadan so that the status of Ummah may improve and we are granted honor in this world and in the world to come.
(Author is a Social Worker from Goa, India)