Picture this: It’s 2 weeks after Eid, and you had an incredible Ramadan. Along with the basics of fasting and taraweeh, you excelled spiritually by improving your salah, spending more time with Quran, and achieving an incredibly intimate bond with your Creator through dua.
As the month came to a close, you felt rejuvenated and empowered – confident that you’d continue your spiritual progress in the next 11 months, so that by the following Ramadan, you’d be a completely transformed Muslim.
You had these high hopes, but your current reality is totally different. After the joys of Eid had passed, you found that it became near-impossible to maintain the spiritual exertion. The community spirit faded once the unifying spirit of fasting and taraweeh was gone.
Your schedule reverted to ‘normal’, and life resumed its hectic pace. Before long, you were sucked back in to all the ‘important’ things that used to take priority over your spiritual wellbeing. And just like that, your best intentions – to carry forward the spirit of Ramadan – faded away.
Sadly, this is an annual cycle reality for many Muslims. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
With a little planning, and some sincere effort, we can carry through the goodness of Ramadan into the rest of the year, insha-Allah.
Build on a Solid Foundation
The most critical part of a building is its foundation. So too, the most important element in post-Ramadan planning is the intention and mindset. To make this post-Ramadan challenge successful, internalize the following hadith, which encompasses two cornerstones of success:
“The deeds most loved by Allah are those done regularly, even if they are small.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
The first key here is consistency. We need to force ourselves to engage in particular acts of worship on a regular basis – not just at the next major occasion, or when we feel like doing it.
The second key is being realistic: ‘…even if they are small’ means that, even if your deed seems insignificant to you – a tiny drop compared to what other people are doing, or even nowhere near what you yourself managed in Ramadan – it still counts. It still matters to Allah.
Your Future Starts Now
In these final 10 days of Ramadan, many of us are on a spiritual high – which makes it the perfect time to take advantage of the momentum by planning ahead. Pause to analyze your own life and pick out some areas you want to improve on in small yet consistent ways. Here are three suggestions to get you started:
You know about the many Sunnah fasting days outside of Ramadan, right? Now that you’re so used to fasting, choose a small but manageable personal target for integrating these into your life. Can you manage Mondays or Thursdays? Or the 3 middle days of each Islamic month? Choose your day(s), then give yourself time to settle into that rhythm.
And when you do fast, remember the taqwa you gained from this month-long period of fasting, and the reward you hoped for. Sure, you won’t get as many ‘bonus points’ as you did in Ramadan, but there’s still great reward for following the Sunnah of fasting outside Ramadan.
So, go ahead and do it – even if it’s just one day a week. If you struggle, drop down to once every two weeks. Allah knows your capability. Just make the sincere, committed effort to do this for His sake, and insha-Allah He will make you stronger. One day, insha-Allah, you’ll look back on your former weakness and be thankful that you kept going.
Salah is the pillar of the religion. Uphold it and your deen is on solid ground, but let it slip and you have a lot to worry about – especially when it’s your first question on the Day of Judgement. So, ask yourself: am I striving to make my salah better this Ramadan? And can I take that commitment forward after Ramadan?
Areas you could focus on are: making all 5; making them on time; and concentrating your heart and mind on Allah, while trying to ignore distractions. Within these goals, don’t go big. Break your goals into small, manageable pieces that you can slowly but surely build up over time – then follow through on that. Even if you slip up, it’s OK. Just get back up and keep going at whatever pace you can. To help inspire and motivate you, check out this excellent e-book, or lectures by Shaykh Hussain Abdul Sattar or Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda.
Charity is a purification, and we all need to be purified regularly. Even though Ramadan is traditionally the season of paying our zakah and giving more sadaqah, it’s important to also be charitable after the month is over – because those in need are still desperate throughout the rest of the year.
Consider the various categories of charity (it’s not only money), then plan how you can keep the habit going after Ramadan. Would you set yourself a daily or weekly target? Or maybe you could keep a charity box at home, then drop small daily contributions into it.
Again, don’t go big unless you can consistently maintain that level after Ramadan. But don’t abandon lofty ambitions either. For example, if you want to sponsor an orphan but can’t afford the monthly amount, club together with others so that you can share the contribution (and reward) with them.
And, importantly, give without seeking recognition or fame. It’s easy for Shaytaan to corrupt your intention and cause your acts of charity to be rejected by Allah, so protect yourself from this hidden shirk by giving in secret as far as possible.
These are just a few areas you can focus on, but you could choose whatever you feel is most critical for you – whether that’s Quran, community service, personal character, or anything else.
Act Now – Before the Chance is Gone
In these precious final days and nights of Ramadan, let’s consolidate our gains and devise concrete plans to carry the benefits through to the next 11 months. With personal momentum, pure intentions, lots of dua, and strong willpower, insha-Allah we can avoid the annual post-Ramadan slump – and make this month one of both short term and long term gains.