By Yomna El-Saeed
“I met a friend of mine accidentally to find her donning hijab. I happily congratulated her for this good step, but she replied, “nay, I’m not wearing it permanently, It’s just for Ramadan”
I have came across situations as such a number of times. It is commonplace to meet a schoolgirl or a mature mother wearing hijab only in Ramadan. It’s also ordinary to meet a Muslim man/woman who prays the five prayers in the mosque, recites the holy Quran and engages in charity activities only in Ramadan.
Mainstream Muslims do much good deeds, way more than usual, in Ramadan, and stop it once it ends. For example, here in Egypt, every Ramadan, hundreds of thousands of so-called “Ramadan packages” full of food are delivered to the needy in their poor marginalized areas. I heard many people calling for preparing such packages throughout the year, as the needy are always in need for such help, not only one month per year.
Every year, few weeks before the holy month starts, Muslims raise the yearly question, “what is your plan for Ramadan? How will you increase your worship?” And Muslims keep planning with very high goals, in attempt to beat the last year’s record.
Every Ramadan there is always a peer pressure to be a better person; to pray more, to recite Quran, not to back-bite, not to swear, not to wear too much make-up,…etc
Of course, we know that the ninth month in the Islamic calendar is a special one when Allah very generously multiplies our good deeds. However, Some Muslims deal with this fact like they do in a shopping festival with very luring sales.
They try to compile as much good deeds as they afford during Ramadan, while knowing for sure that they will not sustain after Ramadan, because it is unaffordable to do that much of worships, and also because after Ramadan, the good deeds are treated ordinarily.
We have to utilize this benign peer pressure to have a new start with our God almighty. However, temporarily adopting a religious lifestyle and planning to end it all as soon as Ramadan ends, means that we do not take our relation with Allah seriously. Not to mention that it gives a bad image of us before the non-Muslims.
This case of seasonal worshipping also happens in the first 9 day of Zul-hijja, in travelling on umrahs, as well as when some students pray only during their exams.
My Sheikh’s advice
When the students asked for his advice on Ramadan plans, my sheikh reminded us with the prophet Mohammad (pbuh) hadith,
“The most beloved deeds to Allah’s the most regular and constant even though they were little” (Narrated by Al Bukhari).
He also recited the ayah,
“I only advise you of one [thing] – that you stand for Allah , [seeking truth] in pairs and individually, and then give thought.” There is not in your companion any madness. He is only a warner to you before a severe punishment.” (34:46)
The wise Sheikh gave us a very critically important advice; not to worship our Creator in order to gain good deeds, but rather because we realize that He deserves to be worshipped and obeyed. And we have to keep obeying Him whatever we will gain from doing this. In this case, we will constantly work on enhancing our relation with Him, not only seasonally. Muslims, throughout their lives, have to be in a state of non-stop jihad against their nafs.
We are all aware of our mistakes, and the good things we miss, and this arises very clearly in Ramadan when one quits a dozen mistakes, and adopts another dozen good things. But this will not lead a sustainable change; for a sustainable change has to take place slowly and steadily.
So, this Ramadan, I do not have a plan packed with high goals like I used to have on a yearly basis, but rather, I’ll seek perfection in my relation with Allah. ONISLAM