“How can the believer not shed tears at the departure of Ramaḍān, when he does not know if he will live to the next Ramaḍān?” – (Ibn Rajab (raḥimahullāh))
Our hearts feel sad. Our cheeks are damp with tears. As we bid farewell to our beloved friend (i.e. Ramaḍān), we reflect on the shortness of its visit. Is this a metaphor for life? Will it pass by like the blink of an eye?
I should have done more. I shouldn’t have wasted my time. These are regrets we are all familiar with. However, we still have precious hours remaining. Let us make the most of them. The Prophet ﷺ said, “Indeed, deeds are only judged by their endings” (Bukhārī).
Ibn al-Jawzī (raḥimahullāh) writes, “When the race horse knows that it is nearing the end of the track, it exerts all of its effort to win the race. Do not allow the race horse to be cleverer than you. Indeed, deeds are judged by their conclusions. Thus, if you didn’t do well with welcoming Ramaḍān then perhaps you will do better bidding it farewell.”
Ibn Rajab (raḥimahullāh) reminds us, “O Servants of Allah! Ramaḍān is ending, and very little of it remains: whoever from you spent it well should finish it the same way; and whoever is falling behind should finish it in the best manner, for the reward of actions are determined by their ending.”
Let us not waste these last precious moments doing Eid preparations. Let us not become complacent about attending the tarāwīḥ prayers, just because the imām has finished the recitation (khatm) of the Qur’ān.
“What matters the most are excellent endings, not faulty beginnings.” – Ibn Taymiyyah (raḥimahullāh)
As we come to the end of this great month, let us end it keeping the following five pointers in mind:
One: Fear Your Actions Not Being Accepted
Along with all the acts of worship we have been carrying out this month, we must add another: the fear that our deeds may not be accepted.
The righteous predecessors would strive to perfect their deeds and then would worry about whether their deeds would be accepted.
ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) said, “Be more concerned with Allah’s acceptance of a good deed than with doing the good deed itself. Have you not heard Allah say:
اِنَّمَا يَتَقَبَّلُ اللّٰهُ مِنَ المُتَّقِينَ
‘Allah only accepts from the people of taqwā’ (5:27)?”
Similarly, Allah (subḥānahū wa taʿālā) says,
وَالَّذِيْنَ يُؤتُوْنَ مَا اٰتَوْا وَّقُلُوبُهُمْ وَجِلَةٌ
“And those who give that which they give with their hearts full of fear…” (23:60).
ʿĀ’ishah (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhā) said, “I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah: Does ‘And those who give that which they give with their hearts full of fear… (23:60)’ refer to the person who commits adultery, steals and drinks alcohol?’ He ﷺ replied, ‘No, O daughter of Abū Bakr! Rather it is the one who fasts, gives charity, performs ṣalāh, whilst he fears that it will not be accepted from him’” (Ibn Mājah).
“I witnessed the predecessors exerting their utmost efforts in performing righteous deeds, but upon performing them, anxiety would befall them as to whether their deeds would be accepted or not.” – ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz b. Abī Rawwād (raḥimahullāh)
Two: Ask Allah to Accept Your Good Deeds
Our pious predecessors would ask Allah for six months to allow them to reach Ramaḍān. And then they would spend the next six months asking Allah to accept it from them.
The purpose of fasting is to attain taqwā (piety). As this momentous month comes to an end, let us ask ourselves: have we attained taqwā? Have we attained the purpose of fasting? Allah has informed us in the Qur’ān that taqwā is the basis of the acceptance of deeds.
Our predecessors used to cry from the fear that their deeds would not be accepted. ʿĀmir b. ʿAbdillāh b. Zubayr was seen crying profusely during his final illness. He was asked, “What makes you cry?” He replied, “An āyah in the Book of Allah, the Exalted: Allah only accepts from the people of taqwā” (5:27).
Wuhayb b. al-Ward (raḥimahullāh) recited,
وَاِذْ يَرْفَعُ اِبْرٰهِيْمُ الْقَوَاعِدَ مِنَ الْبَيْتِ وَاِسْمٰعِيْلُ رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا ؕ اِنَّكَ اَنتَ السَّمِيْعُ الْعَلِيْمُ
“And (remember) when Ibrāhīm raised the foundation of the House with Ismāʿīl, (supplicating), ‘Our Lord! Accept (this) from us. You are indeed the All-Hearing, All-Knowing’” (2:127);
He then cried saying, “O Friend of The All-Merciful (Khalīl al-Raḥmān)! You were raising the foundations of the House of The All-Merciful, and you were scared that it would not be accepted from you!”
“That I was to know that Allah has accepted from me the weight of a mustard seed — is more beloved to me than the world and everything it contains, because Allah says, ‘Allah only accepts from the people of taqwā’ (5:27)” – Fuḍālah b. ʿUbayd (raḥimahullāh)
Three: Thank Allah & Seek Forgiveness
The servant of Allah is always in between a blessing of Allah which requires him to be grateful, and between a sin which requires him to seek forgiveness. Thus, we should end Ramaḍān by thanking Allah for giving us the tawfīq to worship Him. And at the same time, we should seek His forgiveness for all our deficiencies in this month.
Ibn al-Qayyim (raḥimahullāh) writes, “Know that you are deficient, and everything that comes from a deficient person is going to be deficient. This undoubtedly requires the servant’s apology. Thus, the servant should apologise to his Lord in regard to all the good and evil he perpetrates. As for the evil, this is apparent. As for the good, he should apologise for its deficiencies; and he should not consider it to be worthy to present to his Lord. So, despite his good deeds, he is apologetic. This is why Allah praised His friends, saying ‘And those who give that which they give with their hearts full of fear… (23:60)’”.
“Istighfār (seeking forgiveness) is the seal of all righteous acts: ṣalāh, ḥajj, and qiyām al-layl (night prayers) are concluded with it, and gatherings are concluded with it…Likewise it is necessary that the fasting of Ramaḍān is concluded with istighfār.” – Ibn Rajab (raḥimahullāh)
Four: Be Wary of Pride & ʿUjb
As we increase in worshipping Allah in this blessed month, we should never look down on others who may not be worshipping Allah as much. We should never think we are better than them. Likewise, we should be careful of falling into the trap of ʿujb. ʿUjb refers to feeling pleased with one’s own accomplishments. This stems from thinking too highly of oneself, being ignorant of one’s own nature and faults; whilst failing to recognise who Allah is, and the rights He has over His servants. Ibn al-Qayyim (raḥimahullāh) writes that when this occurs, “It gives rise to conceit (ʿujb), pride, and such afflictions that are worse than the major external sins such as zinā, drinking alcohol, and fleeing from the battlefield etc.”
He further writes, “A sin that causes you to humble yourself to Him is dearer to Him than a righteous act accompanied by boastful self-righteousness. If you sleep all night then wake up feeling regret (for not having prayed qiyām al-layl), that may be better for you than if you were to pray all night and wake up in the morning filled with self-admiration. For the deeds of the one who admires himself are not accepted…The crying of the sinners is dearer to Him than the self-satisfied tasbīḥ of the conceited. Perhaps Allah made (the sinner) fall into this sin as a cure that brings out a lethal illness, but your illness still resides within undetected.”
Were we to realise how Powerful, Magnificent, and Independent Allah is, and then contrast this with how sinful, weak and ungrateful we are, we could never feel pleased at our own insignificant deeds.
Were we to internalise the essence of Allah’s Lordship (rubūbiyyah), and contrast this with the essence of servitude (ʿubūdiyyah), we would feel ashamed and realise that the good deeds we have done are not worthy to be presented to the Lords of the heavens and the earth. Instead, it is only from His sheer generosity and grace that He accepts and rewards us for our paltry actions.
Instead of feeling ʿujb due to our worship in this month, we should always remember that whatever good we have done is only due to the tawfīq and blessings of Allah; and hence we should always be grateful to Allah.
“When you are pleased with your nafs (inner self) and your deeds for Allah, then know that He is not pleased with you. How can anyone who knows that his nafs is the abode of every defect and evil, and his deeds open to every deficiency and damage — be pleased with his nafs and his deeds for Allah?” (A Pious Predecessor, Madārij al-Sālikīn)
Five: Give Sadaqat al-Fitr
We should give ṣadaqat al-fiṭr as we conclude Ramaḍān and welcome the Day of Eid. Ibn Rajab (raḥimahullāh) writes, “ʿUmar b. ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz (raḥimahullāh) wrote to the various provinces under his rule, commanding them to conclude the month of Ramaḍān with istighfār, ṣadaqah and ṣadaqat al-fiṭr.
Istighfār restores the fast from the damage done to it by idle talk and vulgarity. And ṣadaqat al-fiṭr is a purification for the fasting person from idle talk and vulgarity. This is why one of the earlier scholars said, ‘Indeed, ṣadaqat al-fiṭr for the fasting person is like the prostration of forgetfulness for ṣalāh (sajdat al-sahw).’”
As we end this blessed month, let us make a firm intention of continuing to worship Allah and staying away from sin, starting off with the blessed night of Eid. Let us recite the takbīrāt in abundance and let us continue with the habit of qiyām al-layl, even if it is just two rakʿahs.
May Allah al-Shakūr (The Most Appreciative) accept our worship, forgive our sins and make us from His chosen servants.
ʿAbdullāh b. Masʿūd (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) would say in the last night of Ramaḍān, “Who amongst us has been accepted, so that we might congratulate them? And who among us has been deprived of acceptance, so that we might console them?”