I have always disliked the concept of traditional bachelor/bachelorette parties. The whole idea of enjoy a “last night of freedom” before the wedding shows a lack of appreciation for and loyalty towards the future spouse. I could never wrap my head around how someone can claim to love one person enough to want to spend their life with them, but also be okay with going wild (sometimes even with other men & women) before they tie the knot.
Unfortunately, some of us act the same way towards Ramadan. We plan on being more religious and upping our worship as soon as the holy month sets in, and especially going the extra mile during the last 10 nights. And that’s great, of course. But that doesn’t make it okay to treat Sha’ban (the month before Ramadan) like a spiritual bachelor party. If we’re squeezing in all of the last-minute sins that we can before Ramadan starts, then trying to cut them out cold-turkey as soon as the month sets in will most likely either not work, or not affect us in the long run.
There is a difference between genuinely intending on using this month to enact a long-term change, and planning on having and keeping an Islamically unacceptable lifestyle before and after Ramadan.
Don’t get me wrong; Ramadan is a month for all Muslims, not just those who are considered to be religious. After all, nobody is perfect, and Ramadan is a month of forgiveness and religious revival. It is the month to get closer to Allah and His Book than ever before. However, there is a difference between genuinely intending on using this month to enact a long-term (hopefully permanent) change, and planning on having and keeping an Islamically unacceptable lifestyle before and after Ramadan.
It’s all about our intentions, which Allah knows better than anyone else. “Whether you conceal what is in your hearts or reveal it, Allah knows it” [Qur’an 3:29]. After all, He is even closer to us than our jugular vein [Qur’an 50:16]. For those of us who feel our intentions may not be as pure as they should be regarding this special time of the year, it is never too late to change for the better. That change, of course, should begin with cutting out bad deeds and fulfilling religious obligations, first and foremost.
For example, if we are not praying 5 times a day right now, then praying taraweeh every night in Ramadan should not be the first step. We should try to pray our daily prayers now, before Ramadan starts, and keep up the habit after Ramadan is over. That way, our taraweeh will be accepted (inshaAllah) and we will be using Ramadan in an effective way to improve our spirituality and get closer to Allah.
We need to try to do the required deeds and avoid sins as best as we can before thinking about extra credit.
Similarly, if someone has been drinking alcohol, or is in an illigitimate relationship, then reading the whole Qur’an during the month of Ramadan is still a good deed, but is not the proper way to go about things. Allah’s pleasure is earned by cutting out our sins and living our lives the way that He has told us to. Anything beyond that is like extra credit.
If this life were like a school exam, then leaving some answers blank and marking the rest wrong, but getting the extra credit questions right, would not result in a passing grade. That’s why we need to try to do the required deeds and avoid sins as best as we can before thinking about extra credit.
Let’s make this the best Ramadan yet, by preparing for it from now and checking our intentions. May Allah guide us and accept our efforts, ameen.