In spite of the very unusual circumstances occasioned by Coronavirus which hampered the observance of some religious activities that are traditionally exclusive to the holy month of Ramadan, we give gratitude to Allah (SWT) for making it possible for us to carry out the little we were able to put forth during the one month period of fasting.
Although we could neither observe public Tafsir sessions nor Tarawih prayers and I’tikaf in mosques, it was enough joy that Allah (SWT) did not hold back the exclusives of Ramadan including the benefits of Iftar, Sahur, Tahajjud prayer and Laylat ul-Qadr. Those who took advantage of every aspect of Ramadan are already missing it. For those who, due to some deviant reasons, saw Ramadan as a burden; it is over. It would take another 365 days for this virtuous month to return again.
Although the sacred month of Ramadan has ended, it is possible to live with it outside of it. Living with Ramadan after Eid entails upholding all the gains of the holy month without engaging in anything that seeks to compromise such gains. The foremost step towards that is our following up the just concluded Ramadan fast with six days of voluntary fast in this month of Shawwal. In order to avert any possible threat to one’s health, those who have the capacity to do so are advised to take some few days of rest after Ramadan before embarking on the six days of voluntary fast. However, this is for Muslims who have no need for restitution in lieu of the days they missed during Ramadan.
The six days of voluntary fast (otherwise called Sittah Shawwal in Islamic literature) 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.
We remind those who enjoyed exemptions from fasting during 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for the number of days they skipped especially if the factors that compelled them to miss some days of fasting are no longer active.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 lawful journeys that necessitated their breaking the Ramadan 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.
Different people miss Ramadan for different reasons. Fruit sellers will miss it for the sudden but 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 the opportunity to mutually interact and observe many religious activities in company of other family members including family-circle Tafsir, tarawih and tahajjud prayers. This is aside of family congregation for daily obligatory prayers during periods of lockdown.
To enable us live with Ramadan after the Eid, we must strive to remain sincere Muslims in our practice of Islam. The spiritual life we live after Ramadan should not be different from the one we exhibited during the holy month. Aside of Ramadan fast and pilgrimage to Makkah (Hajj) which have specific months in which they are to be observed or performed, acts of worship in Islam are not restricted to any particular period of the year. The entire period of a man’s lifetime is apt for worshipping Allah (SWT). This is the discernable message from Qur’an 51:56 wherein Allah says “I have only created Jinn and men that they may serve Me”. As Muslims who aspire for more reward in order to attain ultimate bliss in heaven, we need to work harder to uphold all the acts of ibadah that we made efforts to put forth during Ramadan.
The end of Ramadan shouldn’t 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 permeate our life after Ramadan fast. This is how to live with Ramadan after Eid. The only end to a Muslim’s preoccupation with worship is death.
Let us take steps to remain steadfast in our acts of worship in order not to lose the relative closeness we were able to establish with Allah (SWT) during the 30 days of Ramadan fast. 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 strongly recommended. May Allah (SWT) guide us to remain righteous and devouted Muslims, without Ramadan and after the Eid, amin.