With the 27th night of Ramadaan completed, and as we approach the day of Eid, there’s sometimes a tendency for us to start ‘winding down’. We think that, because Ramadaan is ending, we can now relax. Of course, the learned among us would tell us that this attitude is erroneous: they remind us that it’s important to make the most of all the days and nights of Ramadaan; even the last few. This is especially true because the 29th night could still be Laylatul Qadr, and we wouldn’t want to miss out on that night just because of laziness, or an incorrect perception that the 27th night is definitely the Night.
Ramadaan is bonus time for the Muslim: we can earn immeasurable reward through our fasting and extra worship. These are rewards which we simply cannot gain – consistently – throughout the rest of the year. And, as we come to the end of this blessed period, we should realise that we may never live to see such an opportunity again. So, we should treasure these last few days and nights and strive to gain the forgiveness of our Creator, as well as heightened taqwa – seeing that the whole point of fasting is for us to acquire taqwa.
But, other than that, the whole month, and especially these last few days and nights, are tremendously important for reaping long term benefits.
We often hear advice on carrying the goodness of Ramadaan through to the rest of the year. While that idea sounds good now – when we’re all spiritually enlivened – how do we actually follow through and make the effort to improve ourselves after Ramadaan has passed?
Sure, we can intend to be better after the month, but, without real effort, intention can amount to nothing more than wishful thinking.
There’s a popular adage that goes: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” While it holds true for many things in life – it certainly doesn’t mean we should micro-plan every aspect of our lives. But, improving our own selves, and our relationship with our Creator, certainly falls into the category of things we should plan for.
And so, just as we may have made plans before Ramadaan began, we should also make plans for after Ramadaan has left us. Two cornerstones of our planning are encompassed in a hadith which tells us that: ‘The most beloved deeds by Allah are those that are consistent, even if they are small.’
The first key point here is consistency: engage in particular acts of worship* on a regular basis. Don’t just do it once, then forget about it until the next big occasion – or until the next time you ‘feel like doing it.’ No. Be regular in doing those deeds –daily, weekly, monthly, at whatever interval suits you – but be consistent in doing it. (*Note that “worship” also includes any good deed done with the right intention).
The second key point is being realistic: ‘…even if they are small’ means that, even if your deed seems insignificant to you – a tiny drop compared to what other people are doing, or almost nothing compared to what you yourself managed to do in Ramadaan – it still counts; it still matters to Allah.
For example, you may really struggle to read Quran, so much so that –outside of Ramadaan – you’re just not motivated to try even once a week. But in Ramadaan, you tried to read a little every day. After Ramadaan, don’t slip back into your old routine. Rather, decide that your small and consistent deed will be that, every single day, you’ll try to read just 2 verses of Quran. Just 2 verses. Not more. Does that seem so demanding on your time or energy?
By following through on such a resolution – with the proper intention and commitment – you can reap amazing benefits. With the help of Allah, recitation will become easier for you, and you can then focus on further aspirations related to the Quran – such as reading with correct tajweed, or memorising more surahs.
Now, while we can see this kind of planning manifested in the actions that we want to pursue after Ramadaan, it’s equally important to apply this principle to our character. In the month of Ramadaan, we have – hopefully – looked inside ourselves and identified personal characteristics which we’d like to work on. Maybe we need to become less selfish; or stop judging others; or beware of pride; or try to break the habit of procrastinating.
These, too, are things which we can plan to work on after Ramadaan. It’s as simple as breaking your list into manageable pieces, then working on one aspect at a time.
For example, maybe you’ve realised that you complain a lot – and you want to break that habit. Set aside one month – an entire month – to remind yourself of this goal, and to try to achieve this goal: in your thinking, in your conversations, in everything. Before you speak, stop to think about what you’re going to say. And, each time you find that you’re about to complain, stop yourself, think about whether this complaint is really necessary, then either swallow your complaint, or voice it in a constructive manner.
Insha-Allah, by the end of that month, you will have improved tremendously in that aspect of your character; and you can work on that for a further month, or move on to another character trait you want to improve.
We can never stop improving, and we can never stop learning. With these precious remaining moments of Ramadaan, we’ve now had about four weeks of self-discipline and better behaviour, and we’re hopefully a lot closer to being the ‘good’ person we want to be.
Now is the time to consolidate the gains of Ramadaan; and make a plan for carrying the benefit through for the next 11 months. And remember, everything starts with intention. So, first make the right intention for doing this. Then, ask Allah to make you successful in this endeavour. Then make your plan. And finally, follow through on it in the coming days, weeks, and months.
May these dying moments of Ramadaan be beneficial to you for the present, and the future.
Eid mubarak to all :)
PS: If you want to take this post-Ramadaan challenge to the next level, check out http://www.postramadan.com/.