June 18th, 2018 – This post on post-Ramadan tips was inspired by a friend of mine.
They went through a spiritual awakening in Ramadan and decided that they’re gonna take some time to improve their relationship with God and increase their understanding and knowledge of Islam.
I’ve put together five tips for them and for all of you on how to retain the spiritual high that we gain during Ramadan.
The relationship between hunger and spirituality
Before I give you those tips we need to understand the relationship that hunger has with spirituality.
O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous. [Quran, Al-Baqarah 2:183]
Why fasting, specifically?
The reason is the nature of human beings – the Nafs and the Ruh.
What is the Nafs?
The Nafs is our psyche, our lower self, sometimes it’s called the Ego.
Our Ruh is our soul, and that is the thing that differentiates us from animals.
We are different from animals, in that our Ruh is supposed to be dominant over our Nafs.
Now, what happens throughout the year is that we continually feed our Nafs everything it needs.
The Nafs is fed on food, drink, entertainment, sex, all of those things you can think of.
If you want to think of it like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, is that bottom layer of the pyramid.
The Ruh is fed by Dhikr of Allah, by acts of worship.
We continually feed and strengthen our Nafs while we neglect and starve our Ruh.
The human being, Insan, is someone whose Ruh should be dominant over his Nafs.
Instead, what we do as people just going about our daily lives is that we let our Nafs become dominant over our Ruh. and that means basically we’re no longer in sun.
And that means, basically, we’re no longer Insan. We’re no longer human. We’re closer to animals.
What Allah does, is He gives us one month during the year where it’s an intensive Bootcamp.
In this month, we are completely and consistently starving our Nafs feeding our Ruh.
The two biggest ways that the Nafs is fed is by food and drink. Through our stomach.
Satiating our hunger and thirst is a door to all of the other base desires.
What Allah does is He says (not literally,)
OK For this entire month you’re not going to eat and drink from sunrise to sunset, and I’m going to prescribe for you other acts of worship as well, plus you’re going to get the added benefit of the fact that you’re hungry and your Nafs is starved. Your Ruh is going to become dominant over your Nafs and you’re going to be able to engage in more acts of worship.
So, we’re hungry.
The Nafs has starved and we don’t have the inclination to engage in a lot of the other appetites that we have.
For example, you’re going to have reduced libido.
The feeding of the Ruh by additional acts of worship means we are able to achieve our intended state as human beings with the spirit or the soul being dominant over our Nafs. How would you continue that situation or extend
So, how would you continue that situation or extend it after Ramadan?
A lot of us tend to be very religious and we turn over a new leaf in Ramadan, and we really want to maintain that after the month is over.
But then we just go back to our regular routines and totally forget about Ramadan, until the next Ramadan comes around.
We tend to feel guilty and say, “This is the Ramadan that I’m gonna change.”
How to keep your Ramadan Spirituality going after Eid
So, I’ve put together five simple tips on how you can continue or retain the spiritual state after Ramadan.
Now, these five tips have two major characteristics:
- One, They’re almost effortless. They’re very simple to do and they don’t require much effort from you at all
- The second is they are connected to your daily routine, to things you already do.
Post-Ramadan tip #1 – Fasting in Shawwal
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ encouraged the six fasts of Shawwal.
He ﷺ said that fasting the six days of Shawwal, combined with Ramadan, is as if you’ve fasted the entire year.
What is it connected to?
It’s connected to the tail end of Ramadan.
How we make sure that our good deeds are accepted is by following up those good deeds with other good deeds.
You are already in the habit of fasting anyway, so you take a few days off for Eid or even just one day off and then you start fasting back until you finish.
And Insha Allah, when you get used to that fasting outside of Ramadan you’ll be able to continue it beyond Shawwal as well.
Maybe you’d like to fast Monday and Thursday, or the 13th, 14th, and 15th of the month.
Post-Ramadan tip #2 – Keep your relationship with the Quran
You may have finished the Quran once, twice, thrice, or more during Ramadan.
Then after Ramadan, it goes back on the shelf and it doesn’t get taken out again.
Now, what I’m suggesting is, don’t to complete the Quran several times a month.
Just complete it once a month, and I’ll tell you how you do it.
What you do is, immediately after your obligatory prayer or immediately before it, you read just 4 pages of Quran.
It shouldn’t take you more than five minutes at most.
4 x 5 = 20 pages.
In the regular (Madinah) mushaf, 1 Juz is around 20 pages.
So, you’re finishing one Juz a day and in 30 days you’re finishing the Quran once.
What you can do is keep a pocket Quran on you when you go for Salah.
I sometimes keep one in my car with me.
You’ve already been fasting praying, and reading Quran in Ramadan.
It’s just a matter of continuing to do those acts in a reduced way so that you can maintain the consistency.
Because the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,
The most beloved of deeds to Allah are the consistent ones, even if they were small.
Post-Ramadan tip #3 – Intend I’tikaf when you enter the Masjid
This is something that is particular to the Shafi’i Madhab but other Madhabs allow it too.
I believe the Hanafi Madhab doesn’t allow it but as a layman, it doesn’t really matter, you can still follow this opinion.
I’ve been doing this for 3 years now, ever since I heard of it.
What I do is as soon as I set foot in the Masjid, I make the intention that I’m in I’tikaf for as long as I remain in the Masjid.
This is something where you just have to be mindful enough to make the intention and you’re going to get the reward.
You’re already entering the Masjid for worship – this is just icing on your Ibadah cake.
Post-Ramadan tip #4 – Pray Witr
You’re already praying Isha and you may pray the 2 Sunnah Rakat after Isha as well.
So, just make sure you pray your Witr as well.
If you already pray Witr, if that’s something you’re used to, add 2 more Rakat before that as Tahajjud/Qiyam al-Layl.
The reason I’m suggesting it this way is a lot of brothers and sisters want to pray Tahajjud but they find it very difficult to work up in the middle third or last third of the night.
Any time after the Isha, until the Adhan of Fajr is considered the Nighttime.
Any prayers that you pray during this time are considered Tahajjud.
So you’ve already prayed Isha, just add a few Rakat, either Witr only (which is 3 Rakat – 2, then one,) or you can add 2 Rakat of Tahajjud plus Witr and that’s 5 Rakat.
The idea is to keep it small and keep it consistent.
If you can get away with doing the bare minimum, why not?
Post-Ramadan tip #5 – Seek Knowledge
Seek knowledge about your obligations and your responsibilities as a Muslim.
Seek knowledge about how to become closer to Allah.
Seek knowledge about how to perform your acts of worship in a more comprehensive and perfect manner.
Seek knowledge about improving your spiritual state.
Whatever it is, seeking knowledge about Islam is an act of worship.
Now, though in-and-of itself it is considered an act of worship what I have found is, if seeking knowledge is not accompanied by implementation then it will be a proof or an evidence against you, rather than a proof and an evidence for you.
If the knowledge you attain does not lead to your becoming a more practicing Muslim and somebody who engages in more acts of worship and actually implements what he learns, then there is something wrong with your seeking of that knowledge.
Conclusion + what you should do next
Insha Alla, you will be able to apply these tips I suggested and implement them in your life so you can maintain the spiritual state you worked so hard to achieve during Ramadan.
Connected to the last tip, I have just released a FREE pdf e-book on the etiquette of seeking knowledge.
It’s a translation of a book by the late Sheikh Bakr Abu Zayd (may Allah have mercy on him.)
His book was called Hilyat Talim Al-Ilm (Regalia of the Seeker of Sacred Knowledge.)
A translation already exists so what we did was summarize it and improve the translation in a number of areas.
I’ve compiled it into a ~30-page pdf and published it as a gift to you.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- Etiquette related to the Seeker’s spiritual state, and the means to achieve them
- The methodology of seeking Sacred Knowledge – what to study, how to study, and who to study from
- The Seeker’s etiquette with his teacher – how to behave in and out of his presence
- The etiquette of companionship – who to befriend and who to avoid
- How to live the life of a Seeker of Sacred Knowledge – habits, routines, essential traits
- What it takes to fulfill the obligation of implementing learned Sacred Knowledge
- Precautionary measures and staying away from the dangers Seeker’s encounter on their path
This book is a very quick read and we’ve included a lot of evidence from the Quran, Sunnah, and statements of Scholars.
We designed it to be read with a teacher but there is enough detail in the book so any reader can pick it up, read, and benefit.
Honestly, I don’t think there are many other books that are available like this in English, specifically on this topic of the etiquette of seeking secret knowledge.