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A Blessed Month: The Significance of Shawwal

by Musa Bukhari

We all hope to be able to perform and collect as many good deeds as possible before we meet Allah after our death. Our lives are limited, and so are our resources. We may have great intentions, but we may not able to perform all the good deeds that we want. Allah, however, is the Most Merciful. He provide us with opportunities to do good at special times and places and through special acts of worship which He then MULTIPLIES for us! How Generous is He! Allah wants to see us succeed.

Allah says in the Qur’an in Surah An-Nisaa’:

“Allah wants to make clear to you [the lawful from the unlawful] and guide you to the [good] practices of those before you and to accept your repentance. And Allah is Knowing and Wise. Allah wants to accept your repentance, but those who follow [their] passions want you to digress [into] a great deviation. And Allah wants to lighten your burden, and mankind was created weak.” (4:26–28)

Allah says here in this ayah, crystal clear, that He wants to lighten our burden. Allah knows that He created us weak, He knows our capacity, and knowing that, He tells us that even in the duties He has enjoined upon us, He wants ease for us. In His decision to create ease for us, He gave us Ramadan—the month of mercy.

Ramadan is a month so special that it can transform the trajectory of our lives. This was the month of Ramadan - the training ground for your heart. This is not the training of the physical heart, but the spiritual one. One of the virtues of the blessed month was to help us train so when it ends, we may be freed from our burdens, the burdens our souls were carrying of sin and disobedience. This month was meant to help us to make better decisions, ones that nurture our souls and protect us.

Allah made Ramadan special because for thirty days He obligated fasting for us, and within that we made this month a haven to recite more Quran, to guard our tongues, to pray in congregation, and to give more in charity. Allah also multiplies our rewards in this month! So in essence, this month gave us the tools to thrive for eleven months of the year, and when we are almost depleted and dunya enslaves us, Allah gives us Ramadan once again to fill us with spiritual energy.

When Ramadan ends, we feel spiritually renewed but we may feel that barakah is lost, that we are once again drowning in a dunyawi (worldly) existence, that ibadah (worship) is difficult. But Allah gifts us once again with a month full of barakah. Welcome the month of Shawwal. This is a month that tests our eeman. Whilst there is a great honor within this month, entering it can be bittersweet experience. It hurts to say goodbye to Ramadan, the month of high eeman and much spiritual growth and rejuvenation, but sweet because we now have the tools and training to show Allah how we can excel when left to our own vices. Allah gives us a chance in this month to gain more rewards and to come closer to Him.

"If one throughout his life keeps the fasts of Ramadan and keeps six consecutive fasts in Shawwal it will be as though he has kept a whole life time of fasts, and if one keeps the six consecutive fasts for one Shawwal month it will be as though he has observed fast all year round." (Sahih Muslim)

This is a very powerful hadith. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) is saying if we fast for the six days, we will essentially get the reward for fasting the entire year. We have the perfect opportunity presented to us that will give us ability to not only survive but thrive during the next 11 months.

Abu Sa’id al-Khudri reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever fasts a day in the way of Allah, Allah will move his face away from the Hellfire by a distance of seventy years.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

So much hope in one hadith! Ramadan is the month of fasting. Shawwal is the month of adding on more fasts, more obedience to Allah on our scales. Imagine how far away Allah would remove us from Hell-fire if we were counted among those who fasted their whole lives (through fasting the six days of Shawwal)!

We even have the option to spread out the six fasts during the month, although it is recommended to fast consecutively after the days of Eid. During this month, we have the ability to carry forward our endeavors in Ramadan. Now we have the option to apply all we have practiced, set out as an intensive to keep our spiritual heart satiated. Imagine if you complete the days of fasting ascribed in Shawwal every year you are in this dunya, you could get the reward for fasting your entire life. SubhanAllah! We learn that truly Allah is The Most Generous.

Ramadan was giving us the ability to abstain even from the halal for short periods of time (food, drink, intimacy within marriage) to teach us to abstain from the haram. If we can do what Allah wants us to do for one month, then surely we can do it for the next 11 months as well! In Ramadan, Allah shows us our potential. In Shawwal, we see some of its fruits.

May Allah bless us in the planning and performing of our good deeds. May He put barakah in all that we do and all that we are. May Allah give us the best of rewards for fasting for His sake and May He give us the tawfiq (ability) throughout the year to flourish in goodness in all aspects of our character. Ameen.

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