by Usman Majid

It’s a few days after Eid, and the post-Ramadan blues have truly kicked in.

There’s no wonder why Ramadan is the best time of the year. After all, we become the best version of ourselves.

But it doesn’t have to stop there.

Doing Overtime for Allah

Imagine this:

A company is about to begin working on a major project; it’s the biggest project they will work on all year.

All of the staff are in tip-top shape and have been planning for weeks, ensuring all systems and processes are ready, and are prepared to work day and night in order to achieve success.

It will be a long and gruelling month, but the CEO has informed everyone that they will receive a bonus once the project has been successfully completed. Everyone’s happy, and the work begins.

The last few days were the toughest; late nights, early starts and extra stress.

Finally the project is completed, and to celebrate, the CEO throws a big party.

Everyone receives their bonuses, but as an added thank-you, the CEO gives the team an extra couple of days off for their hard work.

That night, everybody leaves and cannot wait to finally relax and enjoy their time off.

Except for one person.

This person heads back into the office that evening and decides to make a head start on the next project. They decide that in order to improve and truly succeed within the company, a few extra sacrifices will need to be made. They would be worth it, though. They also wanted to impress the CEO and show them that they mean business.

Now imagine this:

The CEO notices this one person, and due to their desire to go above and beyond whilst everybody else rushed away to take their break, they reward them with a FULL YEAR’S SALARY and a major promotion!

(Okay so, realistically, that probably wouldn’t happen, but here’s what I’m getting at…)

 

The 6 Fasts of Shawwal

 
If there’s anything that shows your sheer commitment to Allah above and beyond that which is obligatory, it is through voluntary acts of worship.
 
There’s a reason why Sadaqah is deemed more rewarding than Zakat. You MUST pay Zakat if you’re wealthy, but you don’t have to give Sadaqah. You do it purely for Allah’s reward.
 
You don’t have to pray those extra Nawafil prayers after your Fardh, but you do it purely for Allah’s reward.
 
Similarly, you don’t have to fast Monday’s, Thursdays, and on the 3 white days every month, but you do it for Allah’s immense reward.
 
These acts are, as they say, what separates the “boys from the men”, or the “girls from the women” (we’re not being gender specific here, of course!).
 
It’s the difference between somebody just wanting Jannah, and somebody who strives for Jannat al-Firdous – the highest level.
 
A sure fire way to solidify your passion and desire for Allah’s reward above and beyond Ramadan is to participate in fasting for six days during this month of Shawwal.
“Whoever fasts Ramadaan and follows it with six days of Shawwal, it will be as if he fasted for a lifetime.” (Narrated by Muslim, Abu Dawood, al-Tirmidhi, al-Nisaa’i and Ibn Majah).
Another Hadith has the wording:
 
“…it is [like fasting] an entire year” [Ibn Majah]
 
How does this equal to a year?
 
It has been explained that good deeds are multiplied by 10, so fasting for 1 month equates to 10 months, and fasting 6 days equates to 60 days (2 months) in reward, and therefore 10 months + 2 months = 12 (or 1 year).
 
Not only is this a virtuous act, but it shows Allah that you didn’t just merely go through Ramadan because you “had to”, but because you genuinely want to strive to be an epic Muslim.
 
And here’s the thing, a BIG sign of an accepted Ramadan is your ability to carry on those virtuous acts after the month has ended.
 

Practicalities

 
Yes, I know. Fasting outwith Ramadan is HARD.
The majority of people are already queuing outside of their favourite lunch-time spots, the Masajid have become emptier, and that unique Ramadan blessing has left us.
 
BUT…
 
Not only is this another reason why it’s so rewarding, it’s definitely possible. Here are some tips:
 
  • Although you can fast on any 6 days throughout Shawwal, it may be easier to do 6 in a row. This way, you don’t have to go in and out of “fasting mode”, and the left-over Ramadan vibes will help you settle back into the routine quicker.
  • Grab a squad! Doing this on your own will undoubtedly be a bit more difficult. Try to encourage your friends / family to join you. It will be like a mini-Ramadan all over again (woohoo!).
  • A great idea you can propose to your local Masjid would be to organise a few Shawwal iftars throughout the month. If they do so on dedicated days, this may act as an incentive for everyone to fast together on the same days.
If you’re really unable to do these fasts, don’t over stress. You’re not a bad Muslim.
As with all aspects of worship, we should strive to do our best according to our own abilities, slowly but surely improving over time.
I pray that Allah blesses you, and if you choose to fasts these 6 days, I pray that your reward is nothing less than Jannah! Ameen!

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