Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

"If you want to know your rank with Him,
look to what He has established you in."
- ibn 'Ata-illah

Our teachers say that one should not leave Ramadhan in the same state as he entered it. That is, one should find an improvement in oneself in the days, weeks, and months that follow Ramadhan. But what if one leaves Ramadhan worse than one entered it?

Ramadhan is special for many reasons. It's the month in which the Quran was first revealed. In it rests a night that is greater than a thousand nights. It is the greatest opportunity in the year for people to turn away from heedlessness and draw closer to the Lord of all that exists, upon whom we are indebted for our existence and subsistence. The shayateen are prevented from continuing with their evil work in this great month, and humans are left with their nafs to recognize their slavehood before their Lord. But what if the nafs is too strong to overcome its impulses of negligence?

Now that the month has passed, do we have the right to grieve? We must grieve and repent for our heedlessness and negligence. We must. But at some point, we have to face the mirror, wipe it clear of the steam, and take a good look at the sight before us. Who are we really? Where are we going? Are we really being true to the reality of our existence? Where do we need to go? How do we get there?

It seems that ideals are often mishmashed with delusions. In a commentary of the Hikam of ibn 'Ata-illah, it says, "If sadness does not cause a person to earnestly race towards [catching up on] acts of obedience, then it is a sign of delusion and is not one of the stations of the people travelling the Path."

It is not a wonder that preparations for Ramadhan have to start now - in Shawwal. Ramadhan is not magical dust, and those of us who are unable to face our heart's reflection must recognize that each day of the entire year is a great opportunity to make aright what might be so absolutely wrong right now. Perhaps then, should we live long enough, we may be able to meet the next Ramadhan with enough spiritual health to embrace what it offers the heart and thus leave it as we hope - that is, a bit better than when we entered it.
"Do you think that you will enter the Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They encountered suffering and adversity and were so shaken in spirit that even the Apostle and those of faith who were with him cried: 'When (will come) the help of God?' Ah! Verily the help of God is (always) near!" [2:214]



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"Be mindful of God, and God will protect you. Be mindful of God, and you will find Him in front of you. If you ask, ask of God. If you seek help, seek help of God. Know that if the whole world were to gather together to benefit you with anything, it would benefit you only with something that God had already prescribed for you. And if the whole world were to gather together to harm you, it would harm you only with something that God has already prescribed for you. The pens have been lifted and the ink has dried."
--Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him]