Gratitude is due to Allah (SWT) at the start and end of every activity. We are grateful to Allah (SWT) for successfully bringing us to the end of this year’s Ramadan fast. For those who longed for Ramadan and took advantage of every aspect of the benefits that came with it, they are missing it already. For those who, out of ignorance or due to some though aberrant reasons disliked Ramadan and saw it as a burden; it is over. It would take another 365 days for this virtuous month to return again. A Muslim who wished otherwise during the one month period of Ramadan fast should have his conviction scrutinized.
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 avert any possible threat to one’s health, interested persons are advised to take some few days of rest after Ramadan before embarking on the six days of voluntary fast. 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 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for the number of days they skipped especially if the factors that compelled them to miss some days of fasting are no longer active.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.
Different people will miss Ramadan for different reasons. Ramadan is usually a sales jamboree for greengrocers because of the high demand for fruits during the period. Some greengrocers take undue advantage of this seasonal demand to sell their fruits at cut-throat prices. Now that the holy month of Ramadan is over, 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 obligatory prayers, Muslims also meet daily 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 beliving. Allahu Akbar!
Some women would also wish Ramadan lasted longer because of the ancillary marital gain it avails them with. 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 work places. Other than Ramadan, the routine excuse tendered by such husbands every working day of the week is that “we have been meeting all day long” even when no meetings took place. It is also during Ramadan some wives hear their husbands speak the truths that lay at the bottom of their hearts on all matters because fasting forbids Muslims from telling lies.
Let us strive to be sincere Muslims in our practice of Islam. The spiritual life we live after Ramadan should not be different from the one we displayed 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 time. 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 should indeed 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. This is how to live with Ramadan after Ramadan. The only end to a Muslim’s preoccupation with worship is death.
We must 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 past 29 virtuous days of Ramadan. 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, with or without Ramadan, amin. As you celebrate Sallah, we say:Kullu Aamin Wa Antum Bi-Khayrin! Happy Sallah!!