Conditioning Ourselves for Post-Ramadan Worship

Excerpts from Lataif al Maa’rif of Al Hafith ibn Rajab –may Allah have mercy on him. Taken from Mustafa George's (Hafidahullah) Blog

Al Hafith Ibn Rajab (died 795h) stated:

Benefits obtained in conditioning oneself to fast after Ramadan 

1. Fasting the six days of Shawwal completes the reward for fasting a full year.

2. Fasting these six days and previously fasting in the month of Shabaan (prior to Ramadan) is similar to the sunan ar rawaatib (voluntary prayers associated to each obligatory prayer).  These prayers proceed and succeed the obligatory prayers, and correct the deficiency and insufficiency present within them. Indeed voluntary prayers strengthen and perfect any deficiency present within obligatory prayers as has been mentioned by the Messenger –Sallallahu 'alyhi wa sallam- in several narrations.  Most people possess fault and defect in their obligatory prayers, and because of this the Messenger –Sallallahu 'alyhi wa sallam- forbid a person from saying: I have fasted and stood (in prayer) the full month of Ramadan. (Abu Dawud, Nisaee)  A companion upon hearing this hadith said: I don’t know if this forbidding was due to dislike of praise or due to defect present in the act of worship.

3. Conditioning oneself to fast these days of Shawwal is a sign of acceptance of Ramadan.  If Allah accepts an action from His servant He gives that individual the tawfeeq (success) to perform another righteous action thereafter.  Some (of the early Muslims) used to say: The reward for a good deed is the good deed that follows it.  Therefore, whoever performs a good deed, and follows it up with another, this is considered a sign of acceptance of the first deed performed.  Likewise, if one were to perform a good deed, and thereafter perform an evil deed, this is considered a sign that the first action was rejected and not accepted from that person.

4. Fasting the month of Ramadan warrants forgiveness for previous sins, as has been mentioned previously.  In addition to the fasting individuals being rewarded for their completion of the month on the day of Eid, which is also titled: The Day of Prizes.  With this being the case, fasting the (6) days of Shawwal is done to show appreciation for this great blessing (forgiveness of sins), for indeed there is no greater blessing than it.

The Messenger –Sallallahu 'alyhi wa sallam- used to stand in prayer at night until his feet bled.  Upon doing so he was asked, would you perform such an action while Allah has forgiven you your past and future sins?! The Messenger –Sallallahu 'alyhi wa sallam- replied: Should I not be a grateful servant?  Allah –The Most Glorified and The Most High- has ordered His servants to glorify Him in appreciation for fasting the month of Ramadan.  This is done through remembrance of Him and other forms of gratitude.  Allah said:

{And in order for you to complete the prescribed days and magnify Allah for having guided you, and so that you may be grateful to Him} al Baqarah:185

And from those forms of gratitude of the servant to his Lord for having given him success to fast Ramadan, assisting him in doing so, and forgiving him of his sins and faults, is the servant fasting (6 days of Shawwal) upon the completion of Ramadan as a means of appreciation.  If the early Muslims were given success to pray night prayer on a particular night, they would fast the following day in show of gratitude.

Wahb bin al Ward was asked about the reward for performing a particular action, such as Tawwaf (encircling the Ka’ba), he responded: Don’t ask about the reward for performing such an action, but instead ask about what is upon the individual of gratitude in appreciation for the success and assistance in performing the action.

If you have not increased in actions (of piety) in appreciation for the blessings upon you, then verily you are not grateful.

One must show gratitude for every blessing that Allah has bestowed upon him in his religion and in worldly affairs. Once a person is given this tawfeeq to (actually) show gratitude, then it is once more upon him to show gratitude in appreciation for this tawfeeq.  This is a continuous cycle of gratitude, and because of this, a servant will never be able to fully show thankfulness (for the blessings granted to him).  The reality of gratitude is that an individual confesses to his inability to (completely) show thankfulness. 

Abu ‘Omrin as Shaybani said: Musa –alayhi salam- said on the day of his visit to Mountain Turr: Oh Allah, if I pray, then I do so by Your favor, if I give charity, then I do so by Your favor, and if I spread Your message, then I do so by Your favor.  How can I show (complete) gratitude to You!? Allah responded: Oh Musa, now you have showed gratitude.

As for the one who repays the blessing of being able to fast Ramadan, by indulging in sin upon completion of the month, then this person is from those who have repaid the blessings of Allah with ungratefulness.   If this individual is certain that once the month is over, he will return to sin, then his fast is not accepted and the door of mercy is shut in his face.

The author further stated:

5. The actions of obedience that were performed during Ramadan do not end at the conclusion of Ramadan, rather these actions continue as one has life. Many people rejoice at the conclusion of Ramadan due to the difficulty, boredom and length of fasting.  A person who views fasting Ramadan in such a way will more than likely not immediately return to (voluntarily) fasting.  Therefore, the person who immediately begins fasting after completing Ramadan (in Shawwal) is displaying his strong desire to fast and he is demonstrating that he did not become bored nor did he dislike fasting the month of Ramadan.

The author further said: It was said to Bishrin: Indeed the people are worshipping and diligently (performing good deeds in Ramadan).  He replied: How terrible are the people that only acknowledge the rights of Allah in Ramadan.  Verily the pious individual is one who worships and is diligent throughout the year.

The actions of The Messenger –Sallallahu 'alyhi wa sallam- were constant.  ‘Aisha –may Allah be pleased with her- was asked: Did The Messenger choose a specific day (for the performance of righteous deeds)? She replied: No, his actions were constant.  She also stated: He would never increase in Ramadan nor in other than Ramadan over 11 units (in voluntary night prayer).

The author later stated: The (righteous) actions of a believer do not end until death befalls him.

Hasan al Basri said: Indeed Allah did not indicate an end to the actions of a believer except at the time of death.  Then Hasan recited the verse of Allah: {And worship your Lord until death approaches} surah hajr:99

He (author) later stated:

Ask Allah to make you firm upon (His) obedience until death approaches you, and seek refuge with Him from the changing of one’s heart and from wickedness after piety.  How strange is shamefulness of sin after worthiness of obedience, and how strange is poverty of greed, after wealth of contentment!  

He (author) later stated:

Oh youths of Tawbah (mature individuals who perform tawbah): Do not return to suckling from the breast of desire (hawaa) after you have weaned from it. Indeed breastfeeding is only befitting for babies and not for (grown) men, but one must be patient upon the bitterness of weaning.  If you are patient in this matter the taste of desire (hawaa) will be substituted with the sweetness of faith (eman) in your hearts.  Whoever abandons something for the sake of Allah, he will not miss that thing, and Allah will substitute it with that which is better.  Allah says:

{If Allah knows that you have good present in your heart, He will give you better than what was taken from you and forgive you your sins} surah al Anfal:70

It is stated in a hadith: “Verily the look (at what is haram) is an arrow from the arrows of Ibless (Shaytaan).  If one abandons this look out of fear, Allah will replace it with sweetness in the heart” (recorded by Hakim and declared to be weak)

The youth are being addressed in this hadith, but as for the elder person, then his committing sins after completion of Ramadan is worse and more repulsive.  This is because a young person may intend to repent toward the end of his life, and this is also dangerous because death may suddenly approach him, but concerning the elder person, his boat (of life) has docked at the pier of death, so what does he intend?!

These were just a few excerpts from this wonderful work (Lataif al Maa’rif) of Al Hafith ibn Rajab –may Allah have mercy on him.

May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His last Messenger Muhammed, and upon his family members and companions.