As-Salaam ‘Alaikum wa Rahmatullah, Ramadan began with great expectations. Our beloved Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam) informed us that the Satans have been chained, the Gates of Allah’s Mercy have been opened, the Gates of Hell have been closed. Many of us vowed to take advantage of this truly blessed time to regain the sweetness that we have previously known in our worship. Similarly, we vowed to reform our relationship with Allah, and to repair severed or damaged ties with our fellow Muslims. Now Ramadan has passed on. We should all seriously ask ourselves, "Have we accomplished our spiritual objectives this Ramadan?"
Ramadan comes and like the days of our lives it passes through stages. Those stages are poetically mirrored by the waxing and waning of its moon. It is related that our Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam) said concerning Ramadan, "Its beginning is mercy, its middle is forgiveness, and its ending is liberation from the Hellfire." (Ibn Khuzaymah, al-Sahih, vol. 3, no. 191) If we take time to reflect, I’m sure that all of us will admit that we do not adequately appreciate the magnitude of Allah’s Mercy. He, the Exalted, says in His Noble Scripture, "I afflict whomsoever I please with My punishment. As for My Mercy, it encompasses everything." [VII: 156]
Perhaps the greatest mercy that Allah has bestowed upon humanity is sending unto us His Blessed Messenger, Muhammad (Sallallahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam). Allah informs us concerning His Messenger, "We have only sent you as a Mercy to All Worlds." [XXI: 107] The Messenger Himself said, "Rather I am a blessed, guiding Mercy." We oftentimes pride ourselves on the strictness of our adherence to the way of this blessed Messenger (Sallallahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam) in various aspects of our lives. However, are we emulating Him by trying to be merciful to our fellow man? If we aren’t, we should understand that our adherence to His Sunnah is wanting.
We have often mentioned a principle which states that Allah’s recompense to His servants is reflective of the deeds which the servants undertake for the Allah’s sake (al-Jazaa’ min Jins al-‘Amal). For example, Allah mentions in the Qur’an, "If you help Allah’s Religion, He will help you." [XLVII: 7] Similarly, "Is the reward for good ever anything other than good." [LV: 60] Likewise, "Don’t be like those who forgot about Allah, and He caused them to forget about the best interest of their own souls." [LIX: 19] His Messenger (Sallallahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam) said, "Allah will continue to help the servant as long as the servant is helping his brother." ( Muslim, al-Sahih, no. 2699; Ahmad, al-Musnad, vol. 2, no. 252, Abu Dawud, al-Sunan, no. 3643, and others.)
This principle is also applicable in the area of Allah’s Mercy. The Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam) said, "The merciful ones will be shown mercy by the all-Merciful (Allah). Be merciful to those on Earth, Allah will be merciful to you." Hence, if our homes, Masjids, communities, and other social institutions are torn with dissention and strife, we should seriously examine the nature of our Islam.
The husband and wife should be a source of Mercy to each other. Allah says in His Noble Book, "Among His Signs is that He has created for you from yourselves spouses, in order that you dwell together with them in Peace and tranquility. And He has made between you Love and Mercy. Surely in this are signs for people who do reflect." [XXX: 21] The parents should be merciful to their children. Similarly, the children should be merciful to their parents. Perhaps the greatest example of the merciful child is that of Isma’il (‘Alayhi al-Salaam). When informed by his father, Ibrahim (‘Alayhi al-Salaam), that he was to sacrifice him, he mercifully responded, "Oh, father! Do that which you have been commanded. You will find me, Insha Allah, amongst the patient." [XXXVII: 102]
We should similarly be a source of Mercy to our fellow believers. Our beloved Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam) said, "The similitude of the believers in their mutual love, their mutual mercy, and their mutual affection, is like a single body. If any part of it complains of an injury, the entire body responds with sleeplessness and fever." (Muttafaqun ‘Alayhi) This narration emphasizes the fact that we are a merciful people. We are a Merciful people whose mercy shouldn’t be confined to our immediate circle of associates and acquaintances. Rather it should extend to the entire Ummah.
We have all been blessed to gather on the ‘Eid day in safety and security. We should never forget those who are gathering in the shadow of tanks and cannons. We should never forget those noble men, women, and children whose ‘Eid Salat could be interrupted at any moment by a shower of tear gas or bullets. Our Mercy to them lies in our transcending the oftentimes petty and trivial differences and issues that divide us in order to become a unified, viable, and positive force of change and sanity in this world.
On this ‘Eid day, we will enjoy the blessings of ample and variegated food. We should never forget those Muslims who literally know no Iftar. For many Muslims, daily existence is a continuous fast. We should constantly be thinking of meaningful ways to improve their lot. However, we should also be asking ourselves, "Have we adequately expressed our thanks to Allah for the many Blessing He has heaped upon us?"
If the beginning of Ramadan is Mercy, its middle forgiveness, and its ending liberation from the Hellfire; its aftermath should be thankfulness. It is interesting to note that after mentioning the fast, and some of its rulings, Allah mentions the gratitude that the believer should express. He ends those verses in Sura al-Baqara by stating, "…in order that you complete the designated days (of fasting), and extol the greatness of Allah for that which He has guided you to, that perhaps you will give thanks." [II: 185] Knowing that Allah has opened the Gates of His Mercy for us during this blessed month, that He has chained the Satans, knowing that He has multiplied every good deed we do countless times, should we not express our thanks?
We should further know what it means when we say that the end of Ramadan is liberation from the Hellfire. Ibn ‘Abbas (Radiyallahu ‘anhuma) relates that the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam) said, "Every night of Ramadan at the time of Iftar, Allah liberates a million people from the Hellfire. When Jumu’ah arrives, hourly He liberates a million people from the Hellfire, all of them deserving to be punished therein. When the last day of Ramadan comes, He liberates on that day alone, a number equal to the number that He liberated from the beginning of the month." (This Hadith is produced by Salamah bin Shabib and others. It is mentioned by Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali in Lata’if al-Ma’arif, p. 380.)
For all of this, Allah only asks one thing from us: that we thank him. "When your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you were to thank Me, I will increase you (in my blessings); and if you were to fail to thank Me, know that My Punishment is severe.’ " [XIV:7] We should know that our thanks for these blessings lies in continuing our worship and exertion after Ramadan. This is in following our Prophet (Sallallahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam) in a most excellent way. When asked by ‘Aisha (Radiyallahu ‘anha) why He was exerting himself so arduously in worship, when Allah had forgiven any mistakes He may have committed; He responded by saying, "Should I not then love to be a thankful servant." (Mutaffaqun ‘Alayhi)
Now, Allah’s Messenger (Sallallahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam) has informed us that those who have fasted and stood in prayer at night during this month, with sincere faith, anticipating a reward from Allah, have had their sins forgiven. Should we not be thankful servants. And should we not love to express that thanks as our Messenger Muhammad (Sallallahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam) expressed it. Namely, by continuing to be diligent and dutiful in our worship of Allah.
Yes, blessed Ramadan has ended. However, its passing should not witness the end of our exertion in worship. We should continue our night prayers, and we should fast voluntarily, at least three days each month, after the six days of Shawwal. This Din is the embodiment of all virtue, the epitome of all goodness. Don’t let your share of this good be that it begins and ends with Ramadan.