Almost invariably it happens a few days after the end of Ramadan: the letdown.
Fasting is finished; the nightly prayers are over; the group gatherings to break the fast have vanished. We can eat, drink, and be merry again when the sun is shining. And that special feeling you have in your heart-the one that keeps you going despite your hunger and thirst-gradually fades away.
The spiritual high evaporates, and all you are left with are the bad habits you tried to shed during Ramadan, but mysteriously rear their heads once it is over. The lessons learned and spiritual benefits gained during that month are intended to carry over for the rest of the year until next Ramadan.
Yet frequently they do not. Is there anything we can do about it? Absolutely and here are five ways we can try to keep the spirit of Ramadan alive and well throughout the rest of the year.
Good Habits Kept Up
More than just denying oneself food and drink, the fast of Ramadan is a complete body-and-soul fast. Although this should be the behavior of the believer at all times, when one is fasting, he or she should take special care not to harm anyone, curse anyone, or do anything wrong.
For instance, you might want to consider continuing going to the mosque for congregational prayers throughout the year not just for Ramadan. You may even want to think about quitting smoking. Smoking is prohibited during daylight hours during Ramadan, which makes it the perfect opportunity to quit cigarettes.
Fast Throughout the Year
The fast of Ramadan is obligatory for every adult Muslim, but there are numerous other fasts that Muslims are encouraged to undertake throughout the year, that you might want to try and participate in. For instance, Prophet Muhammad encouraged Muslims to fast six days of the month of Shawwal, the month after Ramadan. The reward is equivalent to fasting the entire year. For Ashura, the day that commemorates the exodus of the Children of Israel from Egypt, Muslims are encouraged to fast that day as well as the day before. (Ideally, Muslims should fast the first nine days of the month of Dhul-Hijjah, when the Hajj occurs.)
During the month of Ramadan, Muslims gather together and perform the Isha, or night prayer, and then special devotional prayers, called Tarawih, in congregation (together these are called, qiyam, extra devotional night prayers). This is a wonderful part of Ramadan where everyone is together in the the mosque, and get to hear the entire Qur'an recited.
You could think about having your own "mini-Tarawih" at home. You can read from the Qur'an itself and If you continue this throughout the year, it is quite possible to finish reading the entire Qur'an many times over. This is an excellent way to keep the feeling and spirit of Ramadan alive.
Ramadan is also the month of charity. Along with teaching the believer discipline and spiritual focus, the fast of Ramadan is a potent reminder that there are millions of people around the world who must forgo food and drink involuntarily, out of sheer poverty. As a result, Muslims are frequently motivated to give to the poor during Ramadan, and the reward for an act of charity-already substantial-is multiplied many times over in the month of Ramadan. Why not consider giving to charity when Ramadan is over and perhaps donate a little bit of what you earn to help the poor.
Another beautiful aspect of Ramadan is the frequent invitation to people's homes for iftar meals after sunset. Here, Muslims gather and break their fast together. This is an opportunity to see friends (and maybe even family) they do not normally get a chance to see during the rest of the year. Why not keep up the contacts made during Ramadan throughout the rest of the year? Have monthly gatherings at each other's homes or at a favourite restaurant. Let it not be another year when you say to a friend, "Wow! I haven't seen you since last Ramadan!"
Help to keep the spirit of Ramadan alive throughout the rest of the year.