Our beloved Ramadan has come to an end and our environment is returning back to its norm. We are living life as we always do, 11 months out of the year. Ramadan was our chance to grow, to learn and to experience a variety of different emotions and feelings. If we could hold onto Ramadan for the entire year, we would, but nothing lasts forever. There is however, a light at the end of that tunnel. That light is the opportunity to grab hold of the Ramadan spirit and make that last forever. We have been fasting, not simply to feel the pangs of hunger and thirst but, as the Qur’an tells us, to gain taqwa (God-consciousness). Taqwa is the key to making this spirit last. How so? By sitting down and figuring out what exactly we learned from Ramadan, how it increased us in taqwa and how to implement that knowledge in the next coming months. Each person’s lessons may and will be different, however I have chosen a few lessons to share in hopes that they may create a spark that encourages you to sit down and figure out how to make your Ramadan spirit outlast the month itself.
1. I’m stronger than I think I am
Allah tells us in the Qur’an multiple times ‘itaqu-ilah.’ The literal translation of this would be to ‘avoid Allah’ but that is actually the exact opposite of the meaning. There is an extra word in the middle that is assumed and must be present. The actual meaning of this is ‘avoid avoiding Allah.’ So often we just want to avoid Allah; we want to indulge in the haram (prohibited) and live heedless lives even though we know in the long run this is not in our benefit. Here, taqwa is about abstaining from avoiding Allah and being conscious of Him throughout our days.
Similarly fasting the month of Ramadan was also about abstaining. We were abstaining from food, water, and relationships which are all in essence completely halal. Our state is actually a statement to ourselves and to Allah. We are saying ‘ya Allah, not only will I abstain from haram, but if you ask me I will abstain from halal (permissible)!’ Through this Allah is telling us and reminding us that we are stronger than we think. Allah is telling us that we are strong enough to abstain from halal so we must be strong enough to abstain from the haram! We all have strength; we just have to discover it.
Through Ramadan I learned that I am stronger than I think. If Allah has deemed something to be haram, if I seek his aid and control my desires I can stay away from it.
2. I have no right to judge anyone
Throughout Ramadan, it was assumed that every Muslim around us was fasting. When encountering any Muslim, we had no ground nor any right to think otherwise. This was the case even though the people we were meeting could have had a valid excuse to not fast. Women may have been on their menstrual cycle and not fasting. Someone may have been traveling or sick. But the general assumption was that everyone was fasting and we did not dig deep to prove this. Why? Because fasting is an act of worship that is action-less. It shows no visible signs nor does the one who is fasting have to do anything (rather they must not do something).
Along those same lines, a man came to the Prophet ﷺ and asked him about taqwa. The Prophet ﷺ pointed at his chest and said ‘at-taqwa hahuna’ or ‘taqwa resides here.’ The Prophet ﷺ was telling us something very important. He was telling us that you cannot judge a person’s taqwa based on his appearance. A person may be dressed in a manner that is seemingly ‘religious’ and be a person who has very little taqwa. Likewise, a person may be dressed in a manner that we do not find fit for our own selves, yet they may have more taqwa than we could ever imagine!
Through Ramadan I learned that I have no right to judge anyone. Just as I cannot tell whether a person is fasting or not by looking at them, I cannot tell whether a person has taqwa simply by looking at them. But just as I always assumed the best of a person regarding fasting, I will also assume the best of a person regarding their taqwa. And if I were to see a Muslim eating during Ramadan, I would make for him/her excuses (he/she has an valid excuse such as travel or sickness), so likewise if I see someone doing something not befitting of a person of taqwa I make excuses (perhaps he/she doesn’t know, etc.).
3. If I am not nourished, I get really tired
Throughout Ramadan we find ourselves getting really tired physically. A lack of food and a lack of sleep cause our daily routine to be a little lopsided. Sometimes we found ourselves saying things we probably wouldn’t have said otherwise or doing things that were out of the ordinary out of the exhaustion. On the other hand, our souls were more alive than they had been in the past 11 months! Du`a’ (supplication) was easy! Dhikr (remembrance of God) was easy! Prayer was easy! In this is a sign. Throughout Ramadan we had been depriving our physical bodies of nourishment and focusing on the nourishment of our own souls. Just as the body becomes tired when it does not get its proper food, the soul becomes really tired when it does not get its proper spiritual food.
Through Ramadan, I learned that when my soul becomes tired and my good deeds become hard, I need to nourish my soul just as I nourish my body. I need to give it doses of a divine cure to awaken it back to a lively state.
Ramadan serves as a training for the entire year. It rejuvenates our souls and leaves us with powerful lessons that must be heeded and acted upon. If we do this, the Ramadan spirit will last with us throughout the year until the next Ramadan when we can again grow, this time past our last spiritual growth, 11 months ago. I encourage you all to sit down and think to yourself ‘what did I learn this Ramadan about myself and about taqwa that can be implemented throughout the year to keep me from experience a downfall post-Ramadan.’