“Maybe I’ll do that tomorrow. Or perhaps next week”.
We like to make excuses for ourselves, whether it’s doing chores at home, completing a task at school or work, or most importantly, doing something good. Try and count the number of times you procrastinated your Fardh prayer till the last minute because we were either too tired or we thought we had a lot of time to spare.
In Ramadan, we were able to re-programme ourselves to do good. Whether it was because everyone did it too, or maybe because you felt more motivated to do good because it was a holy month, you managed to break out of your year-long habit of wasting time and being unproductive. Despite your own inadequacies and shortcomings, you decided that certain things should be prioritised over your own personal comfort, like going to the mosque every night for Terawih prayers and waking up every morning to prepare for Iftar and a long day of fasting. Imagine if we had this sort of tenacity all-year round?
Allah says in the Quran: “O you who believe! Seek help in steadfastness and prayer. Lo! Allah is with the steadfast”.
It’s hard to accept that when we’ve finally felt comfortable with the daily routine of Ramadan, when we feel like we get the hang of things, the blessed month leaves us. It feels like you’re a half-baked pastry that had its mould removed. You only feel slightly ready to take on the rest of the year, but only just. Can I remain good for the rest of the year? Will I go back to being the person I was before Ramadan? How do I keep this up?
Here’s four things you can do to help maintain consistency outside of Ramadan:
1.Focus on doing small acts/deeds every single day. This can include reading a page or two of the Quran, making sunnah prayers during your free time or just donating a dollar to someone or some place daily. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Take up good deeds only as much as you are able, for the best deeds are those done regularly even if they are few”. (Ibn Majah)
2. Inviting others to do good deeds. This can include inviting your friends or family to do congregational prayer together, or bringing them along to a religious class every now and then. The Prophet said: “Whoever leads (others) to good, he is like the one who does it”. (Tirmidhi)
3. Making Zikr. This is the easiest deed as it does not require a specific place or time, nor does it require wudhu. You can make tasbeeh, tahmeed, takbir, tahlil, istighfar and other zikrs when you’re completing an assignment, when you’re traveling somewhere or when’re you waiting for an interview. It’s especially good to do so when you’re stressed or feeling loaded with work, and sometimes, zikr can help calm you down.
4. Making lots of good intentions in a single act/deed. This was a practice of all our pious predecessors who would make lots of intentions when doing even a simple task like preparing food or even sleeping. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Indeed, actions are by intentions, and each person will have that which he intended”. (An-Nasaai)
Indeed, Allah weighs heavily the value of one’s intentions, so much so that a simple act of good can be multiplied seventy folds. That’s why even acts such as sleeping can bring reward, as the person intends for that sleep to be able to have energy to do more prayer. Or perhaps a student wishes to help the community, thus his journey as a student is rewarded as a charity every single day. This is the importance of intentions that we must once again prioritise and implement in our lives.
Truly, making an effort to be good is hard, though the path to goodness is many. Let us not forget to ask Allah for patience and steadfastness, let us not forget to pray for one another and let us all pray that may all meet the blessed month of Ramadan once again.
Contributed by Ustaz Mizi Wahid of Safinah Institute as part of #SalamTodayRamadan series with SalamToday and SalamWeb.