So Shawwal is almost here, Ramadan is over….where do we go from here? How do we, should we, react?
There are many reactions we can have to the end of Ramadan. Of course, we miss it, we miss the blessings and peace of the month – we all loved that Ramadhan vibe! But there is another reaction that we have to be wary of, one that anyone can fall into, even without realising. That is the view that our daily routines, and life in general, all go back to ‘normal’ when Ramadan has gone. Yes, it’s natural that some aspects of life will return to how they were before Ramadan. Perhaps sleep patterns for example, and being able to eat during the day. But then there are other things that seem to go back to ‘normal’, in a way that is very unnatural. For example, we might have to actually remind ourselves that we don’t need to pray that extra nafl now or do sunnah prayers anymore. Don’t need to read so many pages of Qur’an anymore. Or perhaps our TV/ internet consumption increases again. Or perhaps we won’t make the effort to hold back from backbiting or to refrain from watching something indecent anymore.
But we should ask ourselves – why must everything go back to how it was before? Who dictates that? Is this a ruling from Allah, or a hadith of the Prophet (saw), that we must return to our previous ways before Ramadhan? And that we are not allowed to strive to be better people outside of Ramadhan? Or is this an invention that comes from our nafs and the whispers of Shaytaan?
To help us understand what our response to the end of Ramadhan should be, let’s think about the month itself. Probably the first thing that comes to your mind is fasting – Ramadhan is inseparable from fasting! And what exactly is fasting for?
Allah tells us in the Qur’an: ‘Fasting has been prescribed for you as it was for those that came before you, so that you may gain in Taqwa’. (2: 183) Taqwa… this means righteousness, piety, awareness and remembrance of Allah, restraint, protecting oneself, sincerity, doing what Allah has commanded us to do and staying away from what Allah has forbidden.
Because we need that Taqwa. But not just for Ramadan! We need it for our entire lives. Without it, we cannot survive. Without it, we will not enter Jannah. And Allah wants us to enter Jannah, and He knows exactly what we need to get there. So the purpose of fasting, and indeed one of the purposes of Ramadan is to help us increase in Taqwa. Now think of the things we achieved in Ramadhan in search of greater Taqwa – extra hours spent standing in prayer, the food and sleep that was sacrificed, the extra patience, the extra sharing, the extra giving; the intensity of your du’a; the things that we avoided and banned ourselves from in Ramadhan.
Even if someone only fasted and did no other extra deeds, that is hugely significant and the rewards would be multiplied many times over. We are not supposed to feel proud of ourselves, we most probably could have done more – but we should at least acknowledge where there were improvements in our worship and behaviour so that we can hold on to it and build on it. And the result of all of those good deeds is, inshaAllah, greater Taqwa, stronger faith, more willpower to stay away from wrongdoing. If Allah tells us this is the purpose of our fasting then we should have hope that we are better as a result.
But now that Ramadhan has finished, many people actively undo the good habits that they worked so hard to build up – by discarding the good deeds they had become habitualised to and seeking out the very things they abandoned in Ramadan. If it was something we stayed away from in Ramadan then obviously it’s not good for us, so why on earth would we go back to it? Imagine someone had sat there for hours and hours and hours, knitting a wonderful jumper…and then at the end, undoing every single stitch for not reason- well it’s much much worse than that! To say this is a huge irrational waste on a monumental scale is an understatement.
Our needs before and after Ramadhan have not changed – we still need that Taqwa, we still need for our own sake to worship Allah, we still need to seek His pleasure and avoid His displeasure. What Ramadhan did for us was to make all of this easier, and it enabled us to strengthen ourselves up to withstand the whispers of shaytaan and our nafs. So it really does not make sense to consciously make ourselves go back to a state in which all of that becomes harder for us again. To do that is, in fact, a subtle form of self-destruction.
The Sunnah of the Prophet (saw) was to say: “Taqabbal Allah minnaa wa minkum” – meaning: May Allah accept [all the good deeds done in Ramadhan] from us and you.
It is a du’a that we make for each other, and for ourselves, that Allah accepts our deeds. We want all the hard work done in Ramadhan to count for something – obviously it’s important to us, otherwise, we wouldn’t have bothered doing any of those good deeds in the first place!! The sahabah and the salaf used to continue making du’a that Allah would accept their deeds of Ramadhan for six months afterwards. And then they would start making du’a for Allah to accept their deeds of the next Ramadhan – it was always on their minds, all year round. So, if the acceptance of our deeds really does matter to us, let us consider this profound advice:
The scholar Hasan Al-Basri (may Allah have mercy on him) said that the sign of a believer whose fasts and good deeds have been accepted, and who has been forgiven during Ramadan is that he will not go back to his bad habits after Ramadan has ended. And he stated: “Allah Almighty has not set a deadline for a believer’s having to do good deeds, except death.” Then he recited Allah’s words: ‘And serve your Lord till the inevitable comes to you’ (Al-Hijr:99).
If you’re reading this, then obviously death has not come to you yet! Alhamdulillah!! While we are alive, there is no deadline for doing good deeds, and there is no deadline for staying away from bad deeds – not the end of Ramadhan, not Eid day. That is a deadline we impose on ourselves, it is not from Allah. So don’t give up your good deeds, hold onto them – they are precious, you worked hard for them. And don’t let the corruption that we locked out of our homes and our lives back in. Ramadan was not a magic cloak that automatically made us better people; it was Allah who gave us the blessings of Ramadan, and it was Allah who answered our prayers and allowed us to strive in our worship.
And in the same way, without Ramadan we do not suddenly become rubbish! Just because Shaytaan is loose again, that does not mean we must go back to our old ways and make his job easier, does it? Why should we give him that power over us?
Yes, we feel sorrow at the departure of Ramadhan, but beware of shaytaan trying to turn that sorrow into despair. Despair is the greatest tool of shaytaan. See the end of Ramadhan as a time of hope – a hope and sincere belief that we are better and stronger in our faith and Taqwa than we were before. A hope that we are now better equipped to serve Allah, with a realisation that we are in fact capable of doing those good deeds that seemed impossible to us before – inshaAllah!
As a sister said on Eid day – “Ramadhan may have gone, but Allah is always there”.
May Allah accept all our deeds, may Allah forgive us, may Allah make us better than we were before Ramadhan, and may He helps us to continue all our good actions throughout our lives. Ameen!
1) Keep the 6 days of Shawwal fasts! The Prophet (saw) said – ‘Whoever fasts Ramadhan and follows it with six days of Shawwal, it will be as if they fasted for a lifetime.’ (Muslim, Abu Dawud, at-Tirmidhi, an-Nisa’i and Ibn Majah)
2) Remember Ramadan in your du’as. Just as the companions used to make du’a that Allah would accept the good deeds they did in Ramadhan for 6 months after it had ended, we should do the same.
3) Keep a Record of Goodness > Recognise where we made improvements in Ramadhan! Write down some of the regular good deeds you were able to do in Ramadhan alhamdulillah. Visualise them, keep them alive in your mind. And put the list up somewhere prominent to prevent yourself from going backwards: it would be brilliant if by the next Ramadhan, you had kept up some of those good deeds throughout the year, rather than starting from scratch all over again.
4) Ramadhan Resolutions > Identify at least 3 negative habits you stayed away from in Ramadhan which you will continue to stay away from.
5) Ramadhan Chums > Try to attend your local masjid a bit more regularly, feel a part of the local Muslim community. And especially try to keep up connections with people you met during Ramadhan during Tarawih or at circles. When you go to worship Allah and meet your Muslim sister who had the same intention, then it means Allah brought you together and there are blessings in that meeting – a friendship formed for the sake of Allah is one worth keeping!
The Sunday Circle is a safe space for young Muslim women of all backgrounds to learn and discuss matters of life and faith. They’re also an opportunity to make new friends, to gain valuable skills, to help the community and to socialise in a comfortable environment. We meet, come rain or shine, on Sunday mornings at 11.10am – 1pm at Kingston Mosque.