Post-Ramadan | Staying the Course…
The crescent of Shawwal heralds the end of a month of intense devotion; a month of obedience, submission, devotion and piety. The crescent also foretells a decline in our levels of devotion, a drop in our motivation and enthusiasm due to a change in environment and due to the fact that Shaytān is back in action. How are we going to maintain Istiqāmah [steadfastness] after the month of Ramadan?
Sufyān ibn Abdillah RA narrates that: “I asked: ‘O Messenger of Allah, give me (clear and concise) advice regarding Islam which I need not ask anyone other than you about?’ Nabī SAW said: ‘Say I believe in Allah (Imān) and then remain steadfast (Istiqāmah).” (Muslim) The two directives given to Sufyān RA in the above hadith set out in amazing brevity the formula for success: Imān and Istiqāmah. Faith coupled with consistency and steadfastness in discharging our obligations in the best possible manner and with the highest possible enthusiasm. Staying the course after the month of Ramadan requires:
A change in mindset:
A mindset is a belief system that directs the way we act, react and handle situations. It governs our actions and reactions. We must believe that we have deep within us a reservoir of discipline and willpower required to remain consistent in our ibādah. “Believe in your infinite potential. Your only limitations are those you set upon yourself.” If we control how we think, we will be able to control how we act. One little thought can change everything inside us. Work on your mind and your mind will work on everything else for you. “Champions are made from something they have deep inside them…”
Do not be over ambitious:
It is the small bite sized accomplishments that provide the energy to persevere. They give us the reassurance, hope and encouragement to persist and stay the course. A‘isha RA said that Nabī SAW said: “The deeds most loved by Allah (are those) done regularly, even if they are small.” (Bukhari, Muslim). Another hadith states: “Allah Almighty says: Whoever comes with a good deed will have the reward of ten like it and even more. Whoever comes with an evil deed will be recompensed for one evil deed like it or he will be forgiven. Whoever draws close to Me by a hand’s length, I will draw closer to him by an arm’s length. Whoever draws close to Me the by an arm’s length, I will draw close to him by a fathom. Whoever comes to Me walking, I will come to him running. Whoever meets Me with enough sins to fill the earth, (but) not associating any partners with Me, I will meet him with as much forgiveness.” (Muslim)
Do not give up if you stumble:
If you were to slip after a successful period of consistency in obedience, do not give up! It is the nature of humans to stumble and make mistakes. A true Muslim reflects on his mistakes and turns them into an opportunity to return to Allah in a more meaningful way, by seeking His forgiveness and mercy. “And whoever does a wrong or wrongs himself, but then seeks forgiveness from Allah, he will find Allah forgiving and merciful.” (Qur’an 4:110) Ibn Qayyim RA says: “Satan rejoiced when Adam came out of paradise, but he (Satan) did not know that when a diver sinks into the sea, he collects pearls and then rises again.”
Seek Divine assistance:
Human nature is such that we tend to depend on ourselves, thinking that we can do things on our own, forgetting that all ability (taufeeq) comes from Allah I. Without His mercy and empowerment we can do aught. Nabī SAW would often turn to Allah SWT in du‘ā saying: “O Controller of hearts, make my heart steadfast in Your religion.” If Nabī SAW the most perfect of creation, recited this du‘ā frequently, what does it say of our need to turn to Allah and seek His assistance?
Surround yourself with good influences:
“Man is influenced by the faith of his friends; therefore be careful of whom you associate with.” [Abū Dawūd] This means that a person’s beliefs, values and character is shaped and determined by those that he associates with. You are as righteous, committed, motivated and as productive as your friends are. “Tell me who your best friends are and I will tell you who you are.” The simple but true fact of life is that you become like those you closely associate with– for the better or worse.
May Allah SWT grant us the ability to be consistent in our ibadah in the remaining months of the year. (Aameen).