Back in my days of ignorance (my time before being close to Allah’s deen) I, like many other Muslims, experiencing the unidentified predicament of self-congratulation at the little ibadah done during the blessed month of Ramadan.
In the past, my entire year apart from Ramadan would be dedicated to seeking dunia, so I would feel satisfied with whatever little ibadah I could perform during Ramadan. It didn’t bother me much that my rituals were shallow and devoid of any sort of spirituality, so long as I tried to do what others were doing, because to me Ramadan was a tradition of rituals like any other tradition that one blindly follows.
Unsurprisingly, back then I would bid farewell to Ramadan each year without feeling any remarkable improvement in my spiritual state, consequently being content with doing the least. Ironically, even the thought of treading on this blessed path of khair seemed far-fetched.
Since becoming a student of deen my apprehensive questions all through Ramadan have been, how can I avoid being satisfied with my ritualistic practices during Ramadan and strive to be a better and self–scrutinising Muslimah? What can I do to avoid getting back to square one later on? How can I elude the deliberate undoing of my hard work? What would help continue this journey towards self-purification without me having to cope with the haunting fear of taking a U-Turn? How can I avoid the feeling of misplaced fulfillment while settling with the very least of ibadah and amal?
I suppose what happens is that a believer with a mediocre level of amal, assisted by frail iman, falls prey to vice without gauging the repercussions. When we reach a certain minimum ritualistic level during Ramadan, which we think is better than what we’ve achieved the rest of the year, we feel satisfied and the spiritual growth either stops there or it diminishes with time. When we are striving for the most in dunia, we forget that we have been sent to this world to strive for the akhirah, not vice versa.
We tend to overlook and undermine the potential danger of getting back to square one after Ramadan is over, which makes us defenseless. We assume that our limited and periodic ibadah will shield us from the threat ahead, in the forms of Shaitan and our own nafs. Since we are satisfied with our ibadah and amal in Ramadan we do not try to maintain that level of excellence after Ramadan is over, while being clueless about the reason for the sudden drop in the spiritual curve.
A sound believer is always mindful and vigilant about not falling back into her old naïve ways especially since she realises that after the end of the sacred month she will be left on her own to confront her enemies.
The special quality of this holy month is that most Muslims reach a higher level of iman and amal during these blessed days than the rest of the year. It takes resolve, sacrifice, commitment, patience, perseverance and oodles of hard work to shun the embedded evil and replace it with good, inside and outside one’s self, provided that one truly wants a genuine change of soul.
After all, it takes more than just ritualistic progress and the will to be a better Muslim, as the change has to come from deep within. It has to have a penetrating impression accompanied by a more profound approach to sooth the aching heart and the craving soul of a seeker.
A person with hikmah learns to look at the bigger picture, larger gain and superior rewards, which prevents her from settling for anything less than eternal bliss and perpetual success by making the most not just of Ramadan but her entire life. Once acquired, who wouldn’t want the Ramadan feeling to stay for the entire year? I would.
This has been pre-published in Issue 3 of Muslimaat Magazine.