As we enter upon the month of Shawaal, let us not leave off the many acts of worship we performed during the blessed month of Ramadan. Ramadan, for most of us, was a time of renewal and reestablishment of our commitment to Allah and His religion.
We fasted, gave charity, read the Quran and performed the night prayer. We avoided gossip, slander and every evil that would invalidate our fasting. But now that Ramadan is over, the majority of us, unfortunately, will put the Quran back on the shelves, will suspend fasting until next year and will abandon the night prayer. This is not the way it should be, because all of these acts of worship carry rewards and are of benefit to us throughout the year, in addition to the fact that there is no divine prescription limiting them to Ramadan.
It’s sad, but true, that many of us have fallen into the bad habit of only reciting the Quran during the month of Ramadan. By doing this, we cheat ourselves out of the abundant blessings that come from reading the words of Allah. Reading the Quran is the best way to remember Allah, it is a protection from the Satan and in it are cures for what ails us. For Allah says (what means): “O mankind, there has come to you a protection from your Lord and a healing for what is in your hearts and for those who believe, a guidance and a mercy.” [Quran; 10:57]
The Messenger of Allah said: “Whoever reads a letter of the Book of Allah (Quran) shall have a good deed (recorded for him or her) and every good deed is increased a ten-fold (reward). I do not say that Alif Laam Meem is one letter, but rather Alif is a letter, Laam is a letter and Meem is a letter.” [At-Tirmithi]
The Quran is also the best way for a servant to draw closer to his or her Lord. Khabbaab Ibn Al-Arat, may Allah be pleased with him, said to a man: “Draw closer to Allah as much as you can, and remember that you can do so by no means more pleasing to Him than by His own Words (i.e. the Quran).“
The Night Prayer
Many of us passed the nights of the month of Ramadan, especially the last ten, standing in prayer before Allah. Just because Ramadan is over, does not mean that Allah does not see us now if we stand in the night prayer. Allah Says (what means): “Surely your Lord knows (O Muhammad) that you stand (in prayer) two thirds of the night, or half of it, or a third of it…” [Quran; 73:20]
The Messenger of Allah said: “The best prayer, after the obligatory prayer, is the night prayer.” [Muslim]
The night prayer carries with it many blessings. For example, Al-Hassan was asked: “How is it that those who stay up at night have the most attractive faces?” He, may Allah be pleased with him, replied, “Because they are on intimate terms with The Merciful, and He adorns them with some of His light.”
And for those of us who feel that standing in the night prayer will leave us tired and unable to go about our daily tasks in the morning, we should consider the following words of Allah’s Prophet. He said: “When any of you sleeps, Satan ties three knots at the back of his head. On each knot he repeats and exhales the following words, ‘The night is long, so stay asleep.’ If you wake up and remember Allah, one knot is undone and if you perform ablution the second knot is undone and if you pray, the third knot is undone, and you get up in the morning full of energy and with a clear heart. Otherwise, you will get up feeling lazy and with a muddled heart.” [Al-Bukhari]
The Prophet said: “Whoever fasts a day in the way of Allah, Allah will place between him and the Fire a trench like that between the heavens and the earth.” [At-Tirmithi]
Likewise, fasting wipes away the evils that arise out of person’s wealth, family or neighbor. Huthayfah Ibn Al-Yamaan, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Messenger of Allah said: “The evils caused for a man through his family, wealth and neighbor are expiated by prayer, fasting and charity.” [Al-Bukhari]
The Prophet explained to us that fasting protects us from our unlawful desires, shields us from the hell fire and draws us closer to Allah and His Paradise. He also encouraged us to fast at least three days each month. The best days for this optional fasting are Mondays and Thursdays, or the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth days of the lunar month.
Allah has blessed most of us to live relatively comfortable lives. But there are Muslims all over the world that find great difficulty in attaining the most basic necessities of life. During Ramadan most of us give in charity, but we forget to do so for the rest of the year. Giving charity is of greater benefit to the one who gives it, than to the one who receives it. It is a means of purifying our wealth, increasing our faith and attaining righteousness. Allah Says (what means): “It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the East or West, but it is righteousness to believe in Allah, and the Last Day, and the angels, and the Books, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to the kinsfolk, the orphans, the needy, and to the wayfarer …” [Quran; 2:177]
Giving in charity also allows us to express our faith. To truly taste the sweetness of faith, we must want for our brothers and sisters what we want for ourselves. For the Prophet said: “None of you will have faith until he likes for his (Muslim) brother what he likes for himself.” [Al-Bukhari]
Clearly, fasting, praying during the night, reading the Book of Allah and giving charity should not be relegated to Ramadan alone. These good deeds, and others like staying away from gossip and slander, are all things we should do all the time. By keeping the spirit of Ramadan alive throughout the year, we can safeguard our religion and will be able to seize many opportunities to earn the mercy and blessings of Allah.