بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful...
Before I begin, I must apologise for the large gap between this post and my last post. I could make the excuse of being incredibly busy, but I don't believe in making lame excuses, and this is one of them. I guess I was just a little bit lazy about it. Perhaps I was also biding my time before I wrote this post. I wouldn't go as far as to say that I had writer's block!
With the month of Shawwaal now over, most people, myself included, may have lost sight of all they had done and all they had worked for during the month of Ramadan. The first couple of weeks after Ramadan leaves a Muslim on a high and eager to continue fulfilling the duties they had formed a habit of doing during the past month. However, when 'normality' kicks in and time goes on, it's very easy to lose sight of the goals that you had been working towards during Ramadan. This is due to many factors, the main one being that the Shayateen have been let loose, hence the struggle being more difficult and this is where our test lies.
I, myself, have had trouble keeping up with Qur'an, dhikr and many other habits I had formed and it has left me feeling quite down. But then I came across a book in my favourite Islamic bookshop in London called Ameena's Ramadan Diary, published by Ta-Ha Publishers. The book in itself is so useful and handy that I felt the need to mention it here. It was just ironic that I bought this book AFTER Ramadan instead of before, but despite all that, I still felt that I could gain a lot from it as there are many things in the book that I felt didn't apply to just Ramadan, but also to your average day. There are hints and tips on the etiquette for reading Qur'an, measures to help observe tahajjud prayers, what to do on Jumuah (Friday) and even something as basic as staying away from sin. From reading this book, I felt the inspiration that I CAN keep up with my good habits and that it's not all that difficult.
If you are feeling the same way, then how do you bring back that 'Ramadan feeling'? For myself, I felt that the best thing to do is make a list of all I wanted to do in a week to please Allah(swt), and try to fulfil 5 of those things. I found that to be very helpful. Get your friends and family involved and work towards keeping up with your good deeds. Aim to perform one act of charity a day. It doesn't even have to be in monetary form, but even giving up your seat on the train or bus to someone who needs is an act of charity. For those who take the tube in London at rush hour, only you know how grateful you would be to a person who offered you a seat. I know I would! It's also good form of da'wah. Another way to perform a good act would be to read the tafseer of an ayah from the Qur'an everyday. Or even better, text your friends an Islamic reminder, such as a hadith or an ayah from the Qur'an, ideally with the tafseer. How's that for sadaqah-e-jariyah?
When I was at university, I used to commute one hour each way on the London Underground with nothing to do but read the Metro newspaper, which was generally full of news, but not always the best way to spend my time. One of the things I used to do was carry a book of knowledge, such as a book on performing salaah. A book from which I could gain some knowledge. I used to spend a good hour reading it and it was an hour well spent. If I didn't feel like reading, then I used to download Islamic lectures from the Internet onto my phone and listen to those whilst travelling from stop to stop on the Northern Line. I gained so much on that journey listening to Yasir Qadhi about the benefits of imaan that I felt my own imaan increase tenfold and it encouraged me to soldier on and continue fighting that impertinent nafs of mine.
Although Ramadan is now over, there is so much we can do everyday to continue increasing our good deeds and working towards the next Ramadan. In fact, it is probably a good idea to start preparing for next Ramadan now. By that, I don't mean start making your samosas and spring rolls! But begin the road to improvement so that when next Ramadan comes around, you are well prepared to take on the month of mercy and grasp it with both hands.
Before Ramadan, I attended a one-day seminar on making the most of the month and I picked up many post-Ramadan tips that I would like to share with you:
1. Repentance - making tawbah for your sins everyday
2. Make du'a that you will live to see the next Ramadan - it is amazing that we tend to forget something so simple. But, in fact, the Companions of the Prophet ﷺ used to make du'a for six months (yes, SIX months!!) that they would live to see the next Ramadan, and then they used to make du'a for five months after Ramadan that Allah(swt) accepts their good deeds done during the month.
3. Set yourself a timetable with a resolution for the end of the week and try to fulfil that timetable.
4. Get a friend involved to help you.
5. Purify your intentions. Why are you doing this? Who are you doing it for? By all means, do it for yourself to attain Jannah, but doing it purely for the sake of Allah(swt) is even better, because it is selfless. Before you perform any act, purifying your intention should be the first thing you do.
I feel that some of these tips would apply during Ramadan, but I believe that improvement at any time of the year is a big step towards being closer to Allah(swt).
I would like to add one other thing...
This post is not my strongest post and I hope you can forgive me for this as I have several things on my mind. I will elaborate further on this in my next post, insha'Allah.
In the meantime, may Allah forgive me for my shortcomings and if I have offended anyone.