The end of the blessed month of Ramadan has come and gone, and despite the fact that we will not continue to fast (unless voluntarily) on a continuous basis, there are still some lasting lessons we take from this month and apply to the rest of our practice of Islam, and everyday lives. Long after the fervor of Eid-ul-Fitr dies down and we settle in to our basic routines again, these things will continue to benefit us in a lasting ripple effect like a stone skipped over a still pond – we need only to reflect on what has passed to know what may lay ahead.
1. Humility: Many times during Ramadan, and outside the blessed month, we can find ourselves too proud to take advice or admit when we are wrong. Fasting brings us in touch with our physical bodies and makes us realize how fragile our health and well-being can be. This can cure whisperings of our arrogant egos that perpetually and falsely convince us we are not only invincible but immortal too. Additionally, extra prayers and invocations reassert our subservience to Allah, The Most High on a more pronounced basis during Ramadan. Perhaps even the greater pursuit of His Mercy helps to reinforce our need of Him in His Graciousness.
2. Self-Control: The ability to limit our consumption of food, drink, sexual intercourse and foul language during Ramadan is living proof that we are able to take responsibility for and control of ourselves. While many people may have gorged themselves at iftar time, it is essential to realize that if you were disciplined during daylight hours, you were still disciplined – a concept that can be applied to work, studies, diet programs, exercise and so forth. Find strength in what you have accomplished by doing the fast and use it to your advantage in other ways afterwards to remain steadfast and constant in achieving your goals.
3. Family Time: Ramadan tends to leave little time for activities that aren’t fasting-oriented, whether it is the preparation of food, taraweeh prayers in the evening, or the early meal of suhoor, but one thing that is constant throughout the month is the sharing of family time. Getting together over an iftar meal, heading to the mosque together, or resting and chatting during the day all contribute to a closer sense of family belonging – something that can develop into a healthy and positive habit in the time after Ramadan. For many, the quieting of the ego during Ramadan is an opportunity to forgive old grievances and in turn, ask for forgiveness – something that should also be maintained after the month has passed. With how important Islam values the family, this is one benefit of the holy month that is not to be taken lightly.
4. Remembrance of Allah: Of course, one of the most positive outcomes of the month of Ramadan is the overall increase in taqwa or awareness of Allah. Naturally, when all of the shaiateen are chained up, our minds are free to turn to Allah in gratitude and humility. If this could persist past Eid, our faith and practice could increase exponentially beyond the sacred month as well.
5. Perseverance: There is no greater feeling than making it to the end of a day of fasting with the satisfaction that you have completed an arduous task you set out to accomplish. Perhaps the only thing that tops this is making it to Eid knowing that you completed an entire month of fasting. The sense of confidence, persistence and perseverance that comes from completing our intentions in Ramadan can translate into a more efficient work ethic, self-motivation, initiating of charitable projects in our free time and a greater overall commitment to the community.
6. Health: One of the great Mercies of Allah during Ramadan is a restoration of our health. The benefits of fasting have been well-documented by medical science and include the restoration of immune health, lower cardiovascular disease risk, decreased depression states and increased longevity of life. These lasting health effects can be maximized by continuing to fast nawafil fasts twice a week (Mondays and Thursdays are best) throughout the rest of the year. This practice not only keeps our bodies strong and prepared for the next coming Ramadan, but it also keeps our soul disciplined and open to accepting the great blessings of this month.