Ramadan has come and gone. While most associate the holy month of Ramadan with fasting for the entire month, the benefits of Ramadan to Muslims are the spiritual boost in the holy month. It is the experience of having an ‘iman‘ boost from fasting, from praying Taraweeh, the sunnah night prayers only in Ramadan, and the listening and reciting the Quran in the holy month, as Muslims commemorate Ramadan as the month the Quran was revealed to us.
Now that Ramadan is behind us, how do continue to keep on our ‘ibadah‘ after Ramadan is over?
Do we go back to our old ways, pre-Ramadhan, or do we keep on improving to be the best versions of ourselves, post-Ramadan? How do we maintain the good deeds in Ramadan and turn them into good habits, after Ramadan?
According to a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, a habit is formed on average after 66 days of consistently repeating the same behavior, by most people. However, some people would need only 18 days of repetitive actions to form a habit, whereas some others would take as long as 254 days.
66 days are a little over two months. So, one month in Ramadan is not enough to turn us into better habitual worshippers. So let’s just continue with what we’ve performed in Ramadan.
Voluntary fasting for 6 days in the month of Shawal is recommended by Rasulallah s.a.w.
Abu Ayyub al-Ansari (Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying:
He who observed the fast of Ramadan and then followed it with six (fasts) of Shawwal. it would be as if he fasted perpetually.(Sahih Muslim 1164a)
Fasting on every Monday and every Thursday are also recommended by Rasulallah s.a.w.
It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Prophet (ﷺ) used to fast on Mondays and Thursdays. It was said:“O Messenger of Allah, why do you fast on Mondays and Thursdays?” He said: “On Mondays and Thursdays Allah forgives every Muslim except two who have forsaken one another. He says: ‘Leave these two until they reconcile.’”Sunan Ibn Majah 1740
In Islam, we are obligated to pray five times a day which makes the 5 prayers known as the obligatory prayers. Missing these 5 daily prayers would amount to committing a sin. While in Ramadan, the Taraweeh prayers, which are voluntary prayers (also known as sunnah prayers) that can only be done in Ramadan, and missing the voluntary prayers would not be sinful.
While there are many types of sunnah prayers, the most important, and high-impact voluntary prayer, is the Tahajjud. The Tahajjud prayer is usually performed after Isha’ (the compulsory nightly prayer) and before performing Fajr (the obligatory pre-dawn prayer). Tahajjud means to give up sleep, which is why this prayer is preferably performed during the last third of the night.
So why did Rasulallah s.a.w. love to perform the Tahajjud prayer?
Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) (p.b.u.h) said, “Our Lord, the Blessed, the Superior, comes every night down on the nearest Heaven to us when the last third of the night remains, saying: “Is there anyone to invoke Me, so that I may respond to invocation? Is there anyone to ask Me, so that I may grant him his request? Is there anyone seeking My forgiveness, so that I may forgive him?”Sahih al-Bukhari 1145
If you think that getting up at 4 am or 5 am to perform the Tahajjud prayer is too difficult, think back to the time in Ramadan, when you woke up for ‘suhoor’ (pre-dawn meal). If you could wake up early last month, you can wake up early again this month!
If that’s not motivation enough, consider that even non-Muslim Westerners who are successful are known for being early risers.
Reading the Quran in its original Arabic, (also known as the Tilawah) and memorizing it are highly regarded, however, it must be noted for non-Arabic speakers, that understanding the meaning of the Quran is equally important.
The first step to understanding the Quran is to get a good translation in modern English (or your preferred language) and make sure it can be easily understood. However, a translation alone is not enough, you would need to read the commentaries (tafsir) of the Quran to understand better the context of the Quranic verses.
The Quranic verses are not compiled in order like a typical book, of an introduction, and then a build-up of the narration of a topic. Often it jumps from one topic to the next, so reading the commentaries (or watching a video lecture) on the Quran surah or ayat are best for understanding.
According to the Qur’an, Allah s.w.t. has laid down the solution to every human problem in the Qur’an very clearly.
“We have revealed to you the Book as an explanation of all things, a guide, a mercy, and good news for those who ˹fully˺ submit.”Quran, surah an-Nahl (16:89)
“Ramaḍân is the month in which the Quran was revealed as a guide for humanity with clear proofs of guidance and the standard ˹to distinguish between right and wrong”.Quran, Surah al-Baqarah (2:185).
“Surely this Quran guides to what is most upright”.Quran, Surah al-Isra’ (17:9)
How are we to be guided if we don’t understand the message and the commands of Allah s.w.t.?
Remember to keep trying and striving to be closer to Allah s.w.t. Even if you made a mistake, remember that Allah s.w.t. is the Most Merciful and can change our condition.
May we all continue in maintaining good habits throughout the year and may Allah accepts our good deeds.
Farah Ishak is a Content Writer at Halalop. She grew up in the United Kingdom where she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Management. Later, she completed her MBA and held senior-level positions in Malaysian based MNC. She left the corporate world to be with her young kids. She is passionate about issues concerning Muslim women, Startups and Muslim businesses in general.
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