Sustaining Ramadan’s spiritual tempo - By: M.U. NDAGI | Dailytrust

Sustaining Ramadan’s spiritual tempo

We are grateful to Allah (SWT) whose mercy successfully brought us to the end of this year’s Ramadan, which ended last Sunday after 30 days of fasting. Many of those who took advantage of the spiritual opportunities availed by Ramadan are missing it already. Those who ignorantly but unfortunately considered Ramadan as a burden and thus ignored its benefits will have to wait for another 365 days for this virtuous month to return again. 

We remind those who had justified reasons to eat while others fasted during the holy month of Ramadan to immediately prepare for restitution for the number of days they skipped especially if the factors that compelled them to miss some days of fasting are no longer active. Those who fall under this category include menstruating women, persons who fell ill or undertook journeys that necessitated their breaking the fast. Imam Malik’s School of Islamic jurisprudence also lists pregnant women among those to pay back their lost days of fasting through restitution. Those who lost some days of fasting in Ramadan which require repayment are not required to embark on the six days of voluntary fast recommended by the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) until they have fasted for the number of days they missed from Ramadan fast. 

Muslims who have no cause for restitution are encouraged to follow up the just concluded Ramadan fast with six days of voluntary fast in this month of Shawwal. In order to protect and guarantee our own health, it is advised that interested persons take some few days of rest after Ramadan before embarking on the recommended six days of voluntary fast. The six days of voluntary fast (otherwise called Sittah Shawwal) can be observed consecutively or intermittently, as may be convenient for an individual. Imam Muslim (RA) reports on the authority of Abu Ayyub that the Prophet (SAW) said “…whoever follows Ramadan (fast) with six days (of fasting) in Shawwal would be (considered) as if he had fasted a whole life time”. It is important to reiterate that this prophetic practice of fasting voluntarily for six days in Shawwal is not compulsory on Muslims. One’s inability or failure to observe the ‘Sittah Shawwal’ does no harm to a person’s Ramadan fast.

Different people will miss Ramadan for different reasons. Some greengrocers and fruit sellers will miss it for the sweeping decline in the number of customers that patronize them. This is because many people do not mind fruits outside of Ramadan. Others will miss Ramadan because it offered them opportunities for mutually interacting with other Muslims several times in a day. Besides their regular congregation during the five daily obligatory prayers, Muslims also meet every day at Tarawih prayers; at Tahajjud prayers; and at Tafsir (exegesis of the Qur’an) gatherings. These gatherings are momentarily over and the opportunity shall return only in the next Ramadan. That will be for those who are privileged to be alive. Allahu Akbar! 

Some women would also wish Ramadan lasted longer because of some ancillary matrimonial gains that came with it. For some women, the only period their husbands return home from work before sunset is during Ramadan. The daily breaking of fast at sunset during Ramadan compels such men to return home early from their workplaces. Other than Ramadan, “we have been meeting all day long” has always been the routine excuse tendered by such husbands every working day of the week even when no meetings took place. 

Ramadan is the only period you find many Muslims speak the truths in all matters because fasting forbids Muslims from telling lies. The end of Ramadan should not mark the end of our being truthful in speech or manners. Let us strive to be sincere Muslims in our practice of Islam. The spiritual life that Muslims live after Ramadan should not be different from the one they live during the holy month. The entire period of a man’s lifetime is apt for worshipping Allah (SWT). Righteousness is not restricted to any particular period of time. It is always time to be good. As Muslims whose ultimate is bliss in the heaven, we should work harder to sustain the spiritual tempo that permeated our acts of ibadah during Ramadan. 

The end of Ramadan should not be an end to our being righteous or pious. Continuity in worship should be every Muslim’s catchphrase. Besides maintaining all the acts of ibadah observed in Ramadan, the end of Ramadan should be a springboard that further launches us to explore other rewarding acts of worship. Our constant recitation of the Quran; our observance of tahajjud (midnight prayers); our feeding the poor and the needy; our being truthful in our speeches; our being sincere in our thoughts and actions; and our keeping to every act that brings us closer to Allah (SWT) should guide and penetrate our life after Ramadan. This is how to live with Ramadan after Ramadan. The only end to a Muslim’s preoccupation with worship is death.

In order not to lose the relative closeness we were able to establish with Allah during the 30 days of Ramadan fast, we must take steps to remain steadfast in our acts of worship. Let us resolve now, as Muslims, never to dream of returning to our pre-Ramadan way of life. To keep the memories of Ramadan alive, observing the prophetic voluntary fast every Monday and Thursday is recommended. May Allah guide us to remain righteous and devouted Muslims, with or without Ramadan, amin.

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