Our Challenges in the Post-Ramadan Period
The crescent of Shawwal heralds the end of a month of intense devotion. It brings to an end a month of fasting, taraweeh, dhikr, du’aa and charity. Nabi Sallallahu alayhi wasallam said: “…whoever fasts during Ramadan out of sincere faith and hoping to attain reward from Allah, all his past sins will be forgiven.”(Bukhari) We beseech Allah to overlook our shortcomings and hope that through His mercy we are forgiven, emancipated from the fire of Hell and have secured our place in Jannah. Our challenge post Ramadan is to preserve the rewards we had accumulated during Ramadan and to remain consistent in fulfilling our obligations.
Preserving our Rewards
We need to guard against liquidating our virtuous actions through indulging in immoral conduct. Nabi Sallallahu alayhi wasallam once asked the Companions if they knew who a bankrupt individual was. They responded saying “one who has no wealth.” Nabi Sallallahu alayhi wasallam said: “Among my people, a bankrupt individual is one who – after praying, fasting, and giving charity – arrives on the Day of Judgment having cursed or slandered a person; having assaulted another and misappropriated the wealth of an individual. His victims will be given of his good deeds, and if his good deeds run out before redress is made, some of their sins will be transferred to him. Then he will be cast into Hell.” (Muslim)
The second challenge is to remain consistent in our obedience to Allah. The Qur’an states: “Indeed those who say: “Our Rabb is Allah,” and then remain steadfast – the angels descend on them saying “Fear not!” – “Nor grieve! Receive the Glad Tidings of the Garden (of Bliss) which you were promised.” (41:30) Nabi g said: “Take up good deeds to the extent that you are able; for the best deeds are those done consistently even if they are few.” (Ibn Majah) Consistency flows form faith, discipline, courage and sincerity. Sufiyan ibn Abdillah h narrates that: “I asked: ‘O Messenger of Allah, give me a (clear and concise) statement regarding Islam which I need not ask anyone (after) you? ’ Nabi Sallallahu alayhi wasallam said: “Say I believe in Allah (Iman) and then remain steadfast (Istiqamah).” (Muslim) Istiqamah means consistency and steadfastness in discharging your obligation in the best possible manner, with the highest possible enthusiasm. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our spiritual character; it is what we do consistently that moulds our Islamic identity.
Our third challenge is to reassess our relationship and affinity with the glorious Qur’an? Nabi Sallallahu alayhi wasallam has most eloquently described the miraculous nature of the Qur’an in the following words: “The Book of Allah contains the history of those that lived before you, it contains prophecies of events after your time, and rulings for matters during your time. It is conclusive in nature and not trivial amusement. Whoever shuns it out of a false sense of authority, Allah will render him to smithereens. He who seeks guidance in a source other than it, Allah will leave him to stray. It is the unflinching rope of Allah and an admonishment full of wisdom. It is the Siratul Mustaqim (Straight Path), tongues do not become weary by its continuous recitation, nor is the appetite of scholars satiated by it. Repetition does not diminish its marvels nor does its wonders cease. Whoever speaks by it is truthful. Whoever acts by it is rewarded and whoever judges by it is just. Whoever calls to it will be guided to the straight path.“ (Tirmidhi)
Sincerity of Purpose
The value of what we do depends upon sincerity of purpose. A man approached three workers separately who were doing the same job. “What are you doing?” he asked each one of them and got different answers. “I am cutting stones,” replied the first. “I am earning my livelihood,” replied the second. “I am building a mosque,” replied the third. Each of the three workers saw themselves doing the same work but linked to a different purpose which determined their attitude towards what they were doing. We often get results based on what we intend, rather than on our actual deeds. Striving for excellence therefore does not require skill as much as it requires the correct attitude.
“O you who believe, fear Allah. And let every soul look to what it has put forth for tomorrow – and fear Allah. Indeed, Allah is acquainted with what you do.” (59:18) It is through the process of continuous self-critique and evaluation that we are able to measure our present state and prepare ourselves for the future. Unfortunately, honest self-evaluation is one of the hardest skills to master. We generally tend to be self-serving in our thoughts. Umar Radhi-Allahu ‘anhu would often say: “Appraise yourselves before you are appraised (on the Day of Judgment).” By constantly evaluating our past we are able to navigate the future with better foresight and greater Allah consciousness. It is necessary for us to pause at the end of each day to reflect at our actions of the day. Nabi Sallallahu alayhi wasallam said: ‘Everyone starts his day and is a vendor of his soul, either freeing it or bringing about its ruin.’ (Muslim)
May Allah grant us the ability to infuse our lives with the discipline, consistency and submission we had mustered in Ramadan. Aameen