These are the very last days of Ramadan, whether you go by moonsighting or calculations (aside, here’s my take on the moonsighting debate). Eid will be either on Friday or Saturday depending on how you reckon; for me, today marks the final fast. The thoughts of fasting Muslims are bidirectional – anticipating all the energy we will regain once the final fast completes, and looking back to assess our Ramadan performance.
Looking backwards, many people sometimes feel that they didn’t get what they expected out of Ramadan. There is spiritual enlightenment to be had, of course – but that isn’t the point. The piety is the process, when it comes to ibadat. Many people feel a kind of ennui or disillusionment by this stage, as if they are “failures” in Ramadan. But that is an unfair burden of expectation to place on yourself – you are better at Ramadan than you think you are:
Ramadan is not an achievement to be unlocked. What we need to remember is that Ramadan is an opportunity to simplify, to focus and to immerse ourselves in the rituals of praying or reciting Quran. It is a form of mindfulness, or meditation — actions that prepare ourselves for the spiritual insight and enlightenment, but not in and of itself that insight and enlightenment.
So, this Ramadan, don’t judge yourself by what you didn’t do or what you didn’t feel. As Ramadan draws to a close, allow yourself to embrace what you did feel and to value what you did do. Next Ramadan, do more. Don’t expect it to mean something. Just submit to it and do as much as you can, and don’t worry about what other people think.
As for looking forwards, the Ramadan endgame is really a transitional period between a very focused period of motivation and our baseline lives, which sadly contain no Nights of Power to amplify our ibadat:
I’ve no doubt that if I were not fasting, I’d be able to read a lot more Qur’an. The challenge then, is why don’t I do exactly that after Ramadan ends? The goal should be to take the habits we are cultivating during Ramadan and apply them the rest of the year. I am resolved to try, and am aware of my failure in this regard in past years.
There’s that word again, failure I’m not immune to that ennui, and that ennui doesn’t end on Eid. I need to take my own advice.
I have argued that Ramadan is the month of Jihad – in a sense, though, the jihad really begins after the Final Fast.