All praise is due to Allaah, Lord of all the worlds. May peace and blessings be upon the Messenger, his household and companions.
There are lessons for us all in the passage of the days and nights – and the days are moving away from us as quickly as the clouds. The people shall continue advancing until they finally end up in Paradise or Hell. Also, the rapid rate at which the days and nights are running away from us during these present times confirm the foretelling of ‘time compression’. This is one of the signs of the Last Hour that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam informed us of. This is therefore, a great opportunity for the wise amongst us to awaken, perform good deeds and repent sincerely. Allaah says that which translates as: “And it is He who has put the night and the day in succession for whoever desires to remember or desires gratitude.” (Al- Furqaan: 62).
Muslims have recently spent a whole month enjoying the blessings of their Lord between supplication, prayer, remembrance of Allaah, alms giving and recitation of the Qur’aan. But, alas, the days and their memories of them have passed away so quickly, as if they were autumn leaves blown away by a strong wind.
When one compares the people’s spiritual condition during Ramadaan to that after it, they will certainly see signs of laziness and negligence in terms of performing righteous deeds. It is as if acts of worship and repentance were only meant for Ramadaan! Such people are ignorant of the fact that Allaah is the Lord of all months and that Ramadaan is only meant to be an occasion when one renews their resolve to worship Allaah and persevere in that. That is why Allaah says, after prescribing fasting for His slaves, that which translates as: “So that you may attain piety”. (Al-Baqarah: 183).
In view of this, it becomes incumbent upon us to consider the reality of worship and its internal impact on us – and not its outward forms. For there are some of us who have nothing to show for their fasting except hunger and thirst and will have no reward for their worship except tiredness and sleeplessness. This is further confirmed when one hears people asking one another merely about the number of times they have recited the Qur’aan and listened to sermons and admonitions during Ramadaan. Are these people ignorant of how Allaah dealt with the people of ‘Aad, who were very tall like lofty pillars, the like of which were not created in the land before? Do they not read about what happened to ‘Aad, Thamood and the people of Prophet Loot? Do they not consider the Qur’aan carefully? Had it been from other than Allaah, they would surely have found therein many contradictions.
Where are the hearts that are submissive to Allaah? Many hearts have become fertile ground for heedlessness. The youth are stuck in their exuberance for this life and the elders are doing no righteous deeds. We have neglected the Book of our Lord publicly and privately and therefore we are as far from sincere deeds as Mount Safaa is from Mount Marwah. Allaah says that which translates as: “Then do they not reflect upon the Qur’aan, or are there locks (upon) their hearts? Indeed those who reverted back (to disbelief) after guidance had become clear to them – Satan enticed them and prolonged hope for them.” (Muhammad: 24-25).
Do not be deluded by your determination to shun the dictates of your whims in Ramadaan only to yield to temptation after it, for lustful desires are wickedly intriguing. Remember that many a brave man has been dealt a deadly blow by those whom he overlooked. The one who becomes negligent of his duties to Allaah after he has been doing them perfectly, or who falls back into committing sins after he has abstained from them is actually the farthest one from prosperity and salvation – even if he does deceive himself with seasonal acts of worship. He is also likely to be punished by being deprived of the joy and sweetness of worship. As for the believing men and women, who are inwardly as pure as they are outwardly and who worship Allaah at all times, they will taste the sweetness of worship and Allaah will provide for them for all of their needs. They are the ones who sincerely follow the path of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam constantly in their worship of Allaah.
Ramadaan is distinguished among other months as far as acts of worship are concerned, but this does not mean that acts of worship should only be performed during Ramadaan. The Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam was always generous and his generosity increased during Ramadaan. He used to seek refuge with Allaah from abandoning committing good deeds after performing them constantly. He sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam would say, “I seek refuge with You from recession after advancement.” Allaah also warns against this when he says that which translates to: “And do not be like she who untwisted her spun thread after it was strong.” (An-Nahl: 92).
A supplication of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam also confirms this. He would say: “O Allaah! Make this life for me an increase in good deeds.” Therefore, we can see that he did not restrict the performance of good deeds to Ramadaan alone, but followed the commandment of his Lord that translates as: “And worship your Lord until there comes to you the certainty (i.e. death).”(Al-Hijr: 99).
Human beings are no doubt imperfect. Islamic law, therefore, does not burden us with that which would exceed our capabilities. We are however required to hold fast, at all times, to the trustworthy handhold (the religion of Islaam). This will make us attain the pleasure or our Lord in this world and the next and will save us from destruction as well as protecting us from all evils. This is despite however little our acts of worship may amount to. The Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “O people! Do whatever you can of righteous deeds, for Allaah will not cease to accept your deeds and bless you as long as you do not become apathetic. The most beloved of all good deeds to Allaah is the one done continuously even if it is little.” (Bukhaari & Muslim).
In view of this, dear brothers, we must understand that there are established acts of worship that must be performed at all times and never fluctuate, even after Ramadaan like Salaah (prayer), Zakaah (obligatory charity), invocation of Allaah and repentance, which Allaah enjoins on His slaves when He says that which translates as: “And turn to Allaah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.” (An-Noor: 31).
The Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam used to say: “I seek the forgiveness of my Lord and repent to Him one-hundred times a day.”
Now that you know this, dear brothers, it becomes incumbent on you to put it into practice, for you have tasted the sweetness of worship and closeness to Allaah in Ramadaan, do not therefore, ruin that with your sins. Moreover, the continued observation of acts of worship or negligence in them is an indication of the inner-workings of the heart, for it is the most changeable organ in the human body. That is why the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “The heart was given that name because of its inconstancy. The similitude of the heart is like that of a feather at the bottom of a tree which the wind blows hither and thither.” (Ahmad). The Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam used to say in his supplication: “O turner of the hearts! Establish my heart firmly on your religion.”
The Wise Law-Giver has prescribed for you the fasting of six days in the month of Shawwaal. The Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “Whoever fasts (the whole of) Ramadaan and then follows it up with six days fasting in the month of Shawwaal, is like the one who fasts for the whole year (in terms of reward).” It is better to observe this fast immediately after Eid and do them in succession, but there is no harm if one separates between them or fasts them anytime during that month. I must add that these six fasts are not obligatory.
Whoever fasts them will be rewarded for that and whoever does not, will not be punished. If one is however consistent in fasting it for years and then becomes unable to do so in a particular year due to illness or travel, they will get the same reward as if they fasted them. This is because the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said, “If a man is sick or travels, what he used to do while he was resident and healthy will be written down for him.”
However, it is not permissible for someone to fast these six days before they make up for the days that they missed during Ramadaan. One will only get the reward for the six days fasting in Shawwaal if they have completely fasted the whole of Ramadaan. Finally, let whoever wants an additional reward endeavour to fast on the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth day of every month for the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam has explained that whoever fasts them is like the one who fasts perpetually.
Fear Allaah as He should be feared and be conscious of Him in private and in public. Worship Him as if you see Him, for even though you do not see Him, He sees you.
“And rely upon the Exalted in Might, the Merciful. Who sees you when you arise. And your movement among those who prostrate. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Knowing. ” (Ash-Shu’araa’: 217-220)