The blessed month of Ramadan is a time when Muslims vie in doing good acts, showing their best qualities, abandoning wrongdoings, and striving to adhere to the guidance of Islam. Truly poor are those who are negligent; those who do not participate in the contest of goodness in during this blessed month, thinking that life is still long and that they can do this at some other time in the future.
However, worse than this is the state of some believers who manage to obey Almighty Allah in this blessed month and do good deeds, yet once Ramadan is over, they forget all about worship and devotion, and deviate from the right path they had tread throughout Ramadan. What a grave mistake those people are committing! Should they die in this condition, no apology or regret would avail them before Almighty Allah on the Day of Judgment.
Some people told Bishr, a righteous predecessor (may Allah have mercy upon him) that there were some people who exerted their utmost in worshipping Almighty Allah only in Ramadan. Bishr (may Allah have mercy upon him) commented: “How bad are they! Do they not know their duties towards Almighty Allah except in Ramadan?”’
The believers are to obey the teachings of Almighty Allah and worship Him sincerely throughout the whole year, following in the footsteps of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) who observed voluntary acts of worship. Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) was asked if the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would dedicate a certain day for offering voluntary acts of worship. She answered: “No. His deeds were constant and regular.”’ She also said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did not use to pray (at night) more than eleven rakat whether in Ramadan or in any other month.”
One should bear in mind that being able to be steadfast on the right path and offer acts of worship regularly is clear evidence that Almighty Allah has accepted one’s deeds. So he who follows the right path in Ramadan should remain so after Ramadan, for obedience to Allah is not confined to a certain time, nor is it only concerned with the month of Ramadan. Al-Hasan Al-Basri (may Allah have mercy upon him) said: “Almighty Allah has not set a deadline for a believer’s having to do good deeds, except death. Then he recited Almighty Allah,s words: [And serve thy Lord till the inevitable cometh unto thee] (Al-Hijr 15:99) [The ‘inevitable’ here refers to death].”
True, Ramadan is over. But the blessings and rewards of good deeds and devotion never cease. The obligatory five daily prayers, for example, are among the best acts that draw a Muslim near to Allah. They are the first deeds to be accounted for before Allah.
Also, Tahajjud (late night prayer) and Tarawih Prayer are not restricted to the nights of Ramadan; they can be offered in any month. Praising the believers who will dwell in Paradise, Almighty Allah says: [They used to sleep but little of the night.] (Adh-Dhariyat 51: 17)
Fasting is not, likewise, confined to the days of Ramadan. One can observe voluntary fast in other months such as fasting six days of the month of Shawwal, fasting Mondays and Thursdays regularly, fasting three days of each lunar month, fasting the day of Ashura’, the day of Arafah, and so on.
Charity and zakah are no exception; in addition to zakat al-fitr that should be paid in Ramadan, there is also the obligatory zakah that one must pay every year on one’s wealth, and the doors for spending in the cause of Allah are wide open throughout the whole year.
Muslims should take into account that observing good acts regularly and constantly is a characteristic of true believers. Allah Almighty describes true worshippers as being [constant in their Prayer]. (Al-Ma`arij 70: 23)
One may wonder how one can observe acts of worship and obedience regularly after Ramadan. There are some guidelines to be followed in this respect.
First, one is to have a sincere intention and firm will to keep on the right path at all times. This requires one to give up laziness and claims of helplessness. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) himself would seek refuge in Almighty Allah from helplessness and laziness, because of their deep negative effect. Hence, one is to seek Allah’s help and stop inactivity.
Second, one is to be moderate in observing acts of worship and avoid becoming exhausted. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Do such acts which you are capable of doing.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
One should also bear in mind that regular acts get good results and bring about abundant rewards: if, for instance, one keeps reciting a chapter of the Qur’an daily, one will finish reciting all the Qur’an in a month; if one observes fasting three days a month (of the lunar months), one will get a reward as if fasting one’s whole life; and if one observes performing twelve sunnah rak`at per day, Allah will build one a house in Paradise. So if other acts are observed regularly, there will be abundant reward.
Third, one is to take into consideration that it does not befit a true believer to give up a good act that he used to perform regularly. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was quoted by Abdullah ibn Amr ibn Al-Ass (may Allah be pleased with both of them) as saying: “O `Abdullah! Do not be like so and so who used to pray at night and then stopped the night prayer.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Fourth, one is to follow in the footsteps of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and his companions (may Allah be pleased with them) with regard to keeping doing regular acts of worship. Muslim reported that Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said that when the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) slept at night or fell sick and was incapable of observing the night prayer, he would observe twelve rakat during the daytime.
It was also reported that when he (peace and blessings be upon him) left i`tikaf during one Ramadan, he (peace and blessings be upon him) made up for it in the following month of Shawwal.
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that one day the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to Bilal: “Bilal, narrate to me which act you did in Islam for which you hope to receive a good reward, for I heard during the night the sound of your steps before me in Paradise.” Bilal told him that he used to offer voluntary prayers whenever he made ablution or ghusl.
Also, Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) taught him and his wife Fatimah what to say on going to bed. He (peace and blessings be upon him) told them to say “subhan Allah” (Glory be to Allah) thirty three times, “Al-humdu lillah” (Praise be to Allah) thirty three times, and “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is the Greatest) thirty four times. Ali added: “I have never failed to say so ever since.” Somebody asked him, “Even on the night of the battle of Siffin?” `Ali answered: ‘No. Even on the night of the battle of Siffin.’ (Reported by Al-Hakim)
Take note of the prompt obedience of the Prophet’s teaching on the part of Ali (may Allah be pleased with him).Ali did not give up observing this counsel of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) even amidst the heat of battle and fighting.
The above examples teach Muslims the importance of keeping on the right path and doing good deeds regularly. They are to follow in the footsteps of the early Muslims (may Allah be pleased with them).
By Muhammad al-Habdan