Ramadan rolls around and we make big changes to our day-to-day lives.
We detach from our normal routine and reattach our hearts, bodies, and minds to our one real purpose—to worship our creator.
We stumble at first, trying to find our footing while fasting and praying late at night. It’s sometimes an uncomfortable transition. But then we remember that it’s not so hard, and we get into the swing of things.
We break old habits, making new, better ones. We may get involved in the community, breaking bread at iftar with people we love for the sake of Allah. We begin to feel lighter and our level of faith starts to climb. We remember why we need to seek a more meaningful understanding of the Quran. We come to know how utterly satisfying pursuing the pleasure of Allah can feel.
We become attached to all that Ramadan brings into our lives. And then it is all over.
It only makes sense then when we find ourselves feeling the post-Ramadan blues. But Ramadan is not an annual fire sale, where you get more good deeds for less effort and get out. Ramadan is a reset button that can be the beginning of a new you.
When we have a strategy to keep our Ramadan going throughout the year, learn to recognize the blessings that are in the details, and forgive failures; we will feel less sad when the Eid party has packed up and left town.
Keep up Some of Your Extra Deeds
Part of the feeling of loss when Ramadan ends can be due to the fact that our lives will go back to the same old routines. And we know all too well that getting bogged down in the day to day tends to bring our level of faith down. In Ramadan we pray more, fast a whole lot more, read more Quran, give more in charity, smile more and so on. Our iman (faith) skyrockets and that feeling can be hard to say goodbye to.
However, we have to understand that all our day to day actions, if they are done to seek the pleasure of Allah, can be iman lifters. Going to the grocery store to feed the family because Allah has entrusted us with their care is a good deed and an act of worship. Going to work to pay the family bills is the first and best act of charity and an act of worship. We can’t forget that taking care of our responsibilities are better deeds than the extra stuff we do.
And we don’t have to leave all Ramadan routine in Ramadan. We can pick some of the extra acts of worship to stick with throughout the year. It can even be one small good deed that we continue to do. The Prophet Muhammad said:
“The deeds most loved by Allah (are those) done regularly, even if they are small.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
In my early days as a Muslim as I was learning the prayer and getting used to fasting in Ramadan, I learned of a short sunnah (extra) prayer that is prayed after Isha—called Witr. I started to pray Witr during Ramadan and kept up the practice afterwards. This continuity after Ramadan made me feel like I was taking a part of Ramadan with me and it eased my sadness when the holy month was gone.
Like with the practice of Witr, we can make some of those good deeds we started in Ramadan into habits. We already started to form the habit in Ramadan, so why stop now? If we keep up some of our Ramadan practices, we can make the habit stick, keep up our spirits and our level of iman. By doing this, we can even feel like we are taking a part of the holy month with us.
Be Specifically Grateful
When trying to beat the blues and specifically the post-Ramadan blues, we can think of gratitude as a road that leads to contentment.
I recently attended a seminar entitled “How Islam Can Save Us from Psychological Depression” hosted by 315-NISA and given by Sr. Haleh Banani, M.A. in Clinical Psychology. During the seminar, Banani gave the advice to not be grateful for what you have, but to be specifically grateful.
Banani said that when her clients sit down and write out the specific details of their lives that they are grateful for, their mood improves greatly and they became more content.
When I thought about the process of not just being grateful but specifically grateful, I thought about my sight. When I thought about my ability to see in general terms, I realized that it is hard not to take it for granted. I realized that I would never be able to be truly grateful without knowing what it was like to not have this sense.
So I tried Banani’s “be specific” approach. I thought about being able to see the curve of the smiles on my loved ones’ faces. Then I started to look around and realized how brilliant the architecture around me is and how the leaves on the trees in summer are an array of gorgeous greens.
Implementing this practice made it easier to realize all that I would miss without my sight. After understanding that Allah has allowed me to see all this beauty, it became very difficult to even think about being sad.
To beat the post-Ramadan blues we can put this technique into practice. Make a list of specific things you were grateful for during Ramadan and make a list of things you are grateful for now that it is over. It is nearly impossible to be both discontent or even sad and also grateful.
Focusing on our Ramadan failures or shortcomings is a major cause for a lot of post-Ramadan grief. At the beginning of Ramadan we all have high expectations of what we will accomplish once Ramadan is here. But when faced with the reality of the month we may fall short or even slip into sin.
But the worst thing we can do is beat ourselves up in despair. We cannot let ourselves get bogged down in guilt of missed opportunity of good deeds or even bad deeds.
Focusing on our shortcomings and thinking that they are too great to be forgiven is a ploy of the Shaytan. We have to always remind ourselves we are human and that means we will make mistakes. We have to always remember the greatness of Allah’s mercy and the best act of worship is repentance.
The Prophet said:
“I swear by Him in whose hand is my soul, if you were a people who did not commit sin, Allah would take you away and replace you with a people who would sin and then seek Allah’s forgiveness so He could forgive them.” (Muslim)
In this hadith, we learn that the point is not to be perfect. The point is to seek Allah’s forgiveness because He loves to forgive and we can’t help but slip. The point is to move forward, trying again to be better and do better.
This Shawwal, let’s not let post-Ramadan blues keep us from celebrating all we accomplished this Ramadan or from seeking forgiveness for our shortcomings. Let’s teach ourselves that being grateful for the details can lead down the road to contentment.
And let’s remember our daily lives can be filled with good deeds and our Ramadan practices are pieces of Ramadan we can take with us.