How to remain steadfast after Ramadan
Brethren, in our sermon of last week, we concluded by saying one of the lessons Ramadan came to teach us is to cultivate the habit and attitude to walk with the Almighty. What this meant, we argued, is to make a choice to stand on the same ‘podium’ where Prophets Ibrahim, Nuh, Musa, Isa and Muhammad (upon them be peace and blessings of the Almighty) were precursors and exemplars. What this means, we should remind ourselves, is to be prepared to be tested and troubled. The podium upon which Prophet Ibrahim stood before he became the friend of the Almighty (Khalilullah) was circumscribed by trials and tribulations. His was a life of extreme challenges. The podium upon which Prophet Nuh (a.s) stood in order that he might rescue humanity from perdition was emblazoned with want and deprivations. Prophet Musa (a.s) endured forty years in the wilderness as a precondition for divine redemption. Prophet Isa (a.s) suffered ignominy and deprivation in the hands of the Jews though he was originally sent as their savior.
Brother, Prophet Muhammad went through the most inhuman treatment in the hands of his people in Makkah so that humanity may ultimately celebrate his prophecy. The Almighty asks us, rhetorically thus: “Do you think that you will enter Paradise without any trials while you have known the examples of those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with suffering and adversity and were so shaken up that even the Messenger and the believers with him cried out: “When will Almighty’s help come?” Then they were comforted with the words, Be aware! Allah’s help is ever close.[Q2: 214]
In other words brethren, the experience of hardship is a precondition for comfort. I have since learnt that austerity is a precondition for prosperity; you have to pass an exam before you are celebrated as a success.
But this is about choices brother. You have a choice to make. Remember, every choice we make in life has a price tag. Thus, not to stand by and walk with the Almighty is to become a foot-soldier for Shaytan; not to stand by and walk with the Almighty is to become a priest in the cathedral of charlatans and denizens of hell. In our society today, there are those who have made such choices. They have decided not to wait on the Almighty; they want the pleasure of the here and now. They prefer the fleeting glories that the earthly life provide for them. Such people are those who go about perpetrating evils and atrocities in our cities. You see them in the corridors of power. They are the confidants and trusted friends of those in authority. No evil is too much for them to engage in; no infraction is too heinous for them to commit.
Thus we must counsel ourselves, Quranically that is, as follows: “So remain on the right course as you have been commanded, and do not be among those condemned to ruination. (Q12: 112). In other words, you should bear this in mind: that the Almighty is always pleased with those who obey Him regardless of the month the obedience takes place; He has also promised to visit the evil doers with the most terrible punishment for their infractions; He is not and cannot celebrate or be pleased with corruption and sins no matter the month the disobedience takes place.
Brethren, though the month of Ramadan has gone, acts of fasting are on-going. Begin with the fasting of six days in this month (Sit al-Shawwal). Remember the advise of our Prophet: “Whoever fasts in the month of Ramadan and then follows it up with six days fasting in Shawaal would be given a reward the like of which would given to he who fasted a whole year” (Reported by Muslim). Remember the fasting of Mondays and Thursdays too.
As we begin another spiritual journey, avoid the temptation to return to that path the month of Ramadan has extricated you from. Avoid the acts of ignorance (Jahiliyah) which has been prohibited to you and me. Remain steadfast on the path of Islam and be certain that He is not negligent of all your actions, be it the spiritual and the secular. Keep up your supererogatory acts of worship; let you’re your standing in prayer at night (tahajjud) remain as constant as ever. In a portion of the Quran, the Almighty describes those who would constantly be under His watch as those as follows: “They used to sleep but little of the night” (Surah Dhaariyaat: 17). Remember that waking up at night is a shield against all earthly principalities all of which are constantly in search of hapless victims they can possess.
(08122465111 for texts only)
Afis Ayinde Oladosu is a professor of Middle Eastern, North African and Cultural Studies. Dean, Faculty of Arts,
University of Ibadan, Nigeria
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