Featured image: Isn’t Eid coming? I can’t take it anymore.
If you are observing the fast for the first time in your life, the first few days can be quite a challenge but things will get easier as the weeks go by and you become accustomed to the physical and spiritual routines of Ramadan.
However, this familiarisation also signifies a fact we often overlook : that just as we are getting comfortable with Ramadan, suddenly it is reaching its end.
Allah has made the final ten days of the month as the prime time for us to give all the we have spiritually in order to maximize our ibadah, unlike the early days of Ramadan when we were simply enthusiastic in celebrating the arrival of Ramadan.
Apart from ensuring our momentum is steady to push us through the whole month, Allah is also testing our steadfastness throughout this holy month. The best ones are those who make the most out of the final ten days when other people are preoccupied with worldly distractions and are deprived of motivation to get out of Ramadan with as much reward one could gain.
Hold your horses before we discuss further on the merits of maximizing the final days of Ramadan. You are not among the latter of the group, are you?
I admit I am slacking off
The prime time of Ramadan is a period full of tempting offers.
Whilst the spotlight is often put on the enticing Eid sales in shopping complexes that offer generous discounts, the real offer that one should seize lies in the Night of Power (Laylat-ul-Qadr), hidden within the last ten days of this month.
Who could resist the privilege of worshipping Allah in this one special night in which the rewards and status are equal to the worship of one thousand months?
Nevertheless being human, our enthusiasm is bound to drain after quite some time that we could use some advice to push us through these final days with success.
Do you want to know what is even scarier than losing your motivation towards the end of this blessed month? It is realising whether you could sustain your faith for the next eleven months before the next upcoming Ramadan.
This issue is worth worrying, and it is not something to look down upon. Even Allah warns us about a person’s futile fast.
Will all the effort be in vain?
Ergo, let us start off by checking our faith: do we feel anything deep down in our hearts upon reading the powerful hadith above?
The one who possesses piety is he or she who is always curious about every single aspect of his or her life, whether the choices made would be pleasing to Allah or not. Imagine that you are working so hard in a month only to receive nothing in return.
Imagine also that you have gone through hunger and thirst strike in lieu of your regular eating routine yet Allah announces that your fasting is worth nothing to Him.
By now we should be filled with worry (no, not cocky): which part did I do wrong? Is Allah infuriated with me? Is there any shot for redemption?
Here is a good tiding: that feeling of worry tells you that you did well, internally. It means that your heart aspires to become the best in the sight of Allah. Just keep this ‘consciousness’ alive in every moment when you are making even the slightest decision in life.
According to a muhaddith (scholars who are expert in hadith), the hadith refers to the group of people who break their fast with haraam (unlawful) food and drink. Either the food itself was haraam or the means of obtaining the food was unlawful.
Unlawful ‘food’ here also refers to men’s flesh, i.e. illicit backbiting. Another explanation worth noting is that the hadith refers to the one who observes fast, yet he does not keep his senses free from sin. Now, this is serious.
Or are we too preoccupied with preparations of Eid that we do not even bother to recall the quality of our Ramadan?
Of exercising self-control
In early Ramadan, it came as no surprise that we broke our fast with all kind of dishes we could possibly imagine. This lustful habit ought to improve for better towards the end of our training camp.
How scrumptious the food is, some dates and fresh water are satisfying enough to save the day. Such mindset should be preserved throughout our life to build a modest community.
It is about prioritising and putting emphasis on our necessity rather than our straying desire.
Exercising self-control is not an easy task. Multiple factors are accounted for in obtaining the desired result. Fortunately for us, Allah prepares them all during the month of Ramadan.
Do you need a consistent period of practice to nurture the habit of self-control? In Ramadan we have the ample time we need, all month long.
What about extrinsic motivating factors? Well, in the month of Ramadan, the gate of Jannah is opened wide, the rewards are multiplied beyond counting, and all Muslims are involved together for the same purpose as one battalion who would not go down without a fight.
What about the intrinsic motivations? Allah sends His revelation and the Prophet to make us understand the purpose of Ramadan, its message crystal clear in Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : ayah 183. It is so that we are able to lay the foundation in developing the internal armour that will manage our desires. This foundation gives birth to Taqwa (piety). Should our fasting are in accordance with what Allah has told us, we will obtain Taqwa by the end of Ramadan, with His permission indeed.
Fasting itself is a mean of exercising self control and managing our desires and the result of this exercise can only be validated by Allah The All-Seeing and The All-Knowing.
Hence the million-dollar question is this : have we managed to get our destructive desires under control and ready for our life post-Ramadan, particularly during Shawwal when all our spiritual vigilance and cautious go down the drain?
Getting closer to Allah
Fasting is compulsory, but the Taraweeh prayer is just a recommendation. It is fascinating to acknowledge the fact that we are able to perform it willingly each night with all our might. While waking up in early in the morning can be a distressing activity, we still push through our discomfort to ensure we never miss the Suhoor at that time.
If we could do so all these voluntarily during Ramadan, it shouldn’t stop us then in performing the compulsory daily prayers outside of Ramadan. What more of waking up for the congregational Fajr prayer in the mosque.
Some of us are even successful in dedicating most of their time during the final ten days of Ramadan in increasing their prayers, the recitation of al-Quran, supplication, and performing I’tikaf.
Unbeknownst to us, all these ibadah subtly improve our relationship with Allah.
Previously we may think that Ramadan is a month of torture. Now we are amazed to know that we are capable of things we thought we could never achieve.
Our limits will remain the same as long as we never try to push ourselves harder.
An indicator that we did well in our Ramadan is when our Ibadah gets better even after the Ramadan has left us. Because that is the time we realise, it is not about Ramadan. Instead, it is about Allah who grants us the blessings hidden inside of Ramadan.
Eid: Joy for the Graduates, Hope for those who Regret
All the joys during Eid are to celebrate our graduation from Ramadan’s training camp. On the morning of Eid, We would greet and congratulate our family and friends for passing all the obstacles during the camp with flying colours.
We would praise Allah The Almighty for this golden opportunity. We even express our success with splendid attires and excellent feasts.
No matter how many times we fail during Ramadan, never regret too much. No matter how heartbreaking it is to see other’s best spiritual performances during Ramadan, let us not despair. Have hope and wipe our tears away.
Because while Ramadan may have left us, Allah will never leave us; He is always there. We just have to seek Him, turn back to Him, keep on striving in improving our spirit, and be steadfast.
Allah would be a lot happier to have us repenting to Him, He is pleased with us more than compared to a person finding his long-lost camel in the desert.
“Verily, Allah is more pleased with the repentance of His slave than a person who has his camel in a waterless desert carrying his provision of food and drink and it is lost. He, having lost all hopes (to get that back), lies down in shade and is disappointed about his camel; when all of a sudden he finds that camel standing before him.” (Hadith by Prophet Muhammad PBUH, recorded by Muslim)