There were no iftars with family, friends, and the community. No taraweeh at the masjid. We do not even have Eid prayer in my city. It was much more mundane than usual, and eventually the days sort of blended together.
The Blessings of Ramadan
So yes, Ramadan was very different. It’s okay for us to be disappointed and sad about that. But it doesn’t mean that it was not still a blessed month.
It is still the month with Laylatul Qadr and insha’Allah (God-willing), I believe the reward may be even greater for many people who fasted in difficult conditions, with increased depression or anxiety, loneliness, job loss, etc. due to the coronavirus.
Also, Ramadan is still our “reset month.” It is the month to better ourselves and increase our taqwa (God-consciousness). This will always be the case, whether there is a global pandemic going on or not.
In Ramadan, Allah presents us with a unique opportunity to hold ourselves back from sins, engage in extra worship, and evaluate our character. So it would be a shame to let this opportunity go to waste or throw all of our hard work away just because Eid has arrived.
Now that the shayateen (devils) are returning, we need to be on guard more strictly than ever to make sure that we don’t slip back into our old habits and temptations.
Even the most “bland” Ramadan ever is still much more spiritually uplifting than any other time of the year for many of us. This is something to keep in mind going forward.
We will not have the special protection that Ramadan provides us with anymore (until next year, insha’Allah), which means it will be that much tougher to stay on track.
Don’t Underestimate Your Strength
However, we do have the experiences and tools that Ramadan has equipped us with. Ramadan is a time of increased taqwa and worship, and of avoiding sins and temptations. All of that does not simply go to waste after the month is over.
If you and I could resist our temptations towards haram (forbidden acts) in Ramadan, we are more than capable of doing so outside of Ramadan. And if we could develop good habits in Ramadan, we can keep them up after Ramadan is over.
Ramadan doesn’t give us magical powers. If you found that you improved as a person and as a Muslim in this month, it means that you have the ability to be that person, and Ramadan simply set you up to get started.
How do we keep it up though, practically speaking? Well, there are certain things that each of us do differently in Ramadan that we normally don’t do.
Take a look at how your month went and conduct an honest assessment of what you did right that you normally don’t do as well. Did you watch less inappropriate things? If so, what else did you fill your time with instead? Did you cut out music? What did you replace it with?
Go through each thing you did differently in Ramadan and ask yourself, “How did I cut out this bad habit and what did I replace it with?” or, “How did I find the time or strength to do these extra good deeds, and how can I keep up some of those good deeds after Ramadan is over?”
Things will be different after Ramadan and life resumes as usual, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from the month and incorporate some of those changes into our daily life. It’s simply a matter of how sincere we are and how much we really want to better ourselves.
A Tip For Young People
Young people might find it especially difficult to keep up good habits outside of Ramadan, because Ramadan provides community support. Even in a Ramadan like this one, where everyone is physically apart, the fact still stands that everyone is in a certain mindset and that makes it easier to stay on track.
Although it’s not fun to have to stay away from people like this, a possible benefit is that we can pick and choose who we interact with and how much.
So, if you have trouble standing by your faith and values because of some not-so-ideal friendships, it may be time to have another one of those honest self-evaluations and see if there should be a little less interaction with certain people, however well-meaning they may be.
All of us have unique challenges in staying on the Straight Path (or even finding our way to it). Ramadan isn’t our only chance to be on that path.
In'sha’Allah, if we continue to put in effort after this month, we can keep up our good habits and stay away from the temptations that lead us astray, even well after Ramadan is over.