As Ramadan starts to wind down, we need to ask ourselves what we can continue to do throughout the year. The most obvious deed to continue is fasting because despite how long the days have been, fasting has become your second nature by now. So it’s no coincidence that we were encouraged by the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa salam) to follow up a month of fasting in Ramadan with 6 days of fasting in Shawwal.
Now is the time to start fasting Mondays and Thursdays and the 13th, 14th, and 15th of every Islamic month. Your body is used to it and your soul craves it. But here’s something else I would add. Although we really can’t have Ramadan outside of Ramadan, which is why the fasts will feel different, we can try to duplicate the experience as much as possible. What makes Ramadan special ASIDE from fasting is the Taraweeh prayer, Quran recitation, community/family iftars, etc. Obviously the month of Ramadan also has virtues that are completely out of our control like Laylatul Qadr, the gates of paradise opened, the gates of hell shut, etc. But for the first set of things, we should try to create a similar experience. So here are my tips:
1. Fast Mondays and Thursdays and the 3 middle days of the Islamic month
2. Invite family and friends to fast along with you
3. Organize an iftar amongst friends a few days a month that coincide with the sunnah days of fasting. This will continue to encourage one another to not let go of this habit. So rotate amongst yourselves every other Thursday or Monday, etc. This will also help build bonds for the sake of Allah and allow everyone to share in the reward of feeding the fasting.
4. Be sure to pray Qiyamul layl on those nights. I’m not attaching any significance to Qiyam on Mondays or Thursdays, but Qiyam is Sunnah EVERY night and fasting is as much about feeding the soul as it is about starving the body.
5. And finally on that note, be sure to read an extra amount of Quran on the days you are fasting. A person is undoubtedly more focused on his recitation and more aware while he is fasting.
May Allah allow us to be amongst the slaves of the Lord of Ramadan, and not Ramadan itself. May He grant us entry into Paradise through the Rayyan gate which is reserved only for those who excelled in fasting. ameen