The Significance of Shawwal
By Musa Bukhari.
Have you ever struggled with a task in your life, one that felt intense and overwhelming? Remember a time when you were sat thinking about the weight of that circumstance. In that moment, it is easy to feel defeated and remain so but as humans, with every fall is a chance to rise higher than before. All you need is training.
Like with any discipline, to excel, you need to train your mind and body to not only survive but to thrive. The same way you would work out in the gym - you start with the smaller weights, and with time and hard work, you build up the strength and courage to lift heavier.
There is a month that is 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, the heart responds with mercy and guides us to making better decisions that nurture our souls and protect us.
Allah made Ramadan special because for 30 days He obligated fasting for us, and within that we made this month a haven to recite more Quran, guard our tongues, pray in congregation, and give more in charity. So in essence, this month gave us the tools to thrive for 11 months of the year, and when we are almost depleted and dunya enslaves us, we once again recharge with Ramadan.
Post-Ramadan, we have a month that tests our eeman. Welcome to the month of Shawwal. Whilst there is a great honour 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.
"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." [Muslim]
This is a very powerful hadith. The Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) 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. 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 truly Allah is The Most Generous.
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 endeavours in Ramadan. We also have the opportunity to extend ourselves in charity giving. Imagine you plant a tree, and it grows and blossoms to yield much fruit. For the tree to develop resilience, the roots need to be planted firmly. This will allow it to endure the storms that reach it. Ramadan lays the foundation for the year and Shawwal is the starting point to grow its first branches and run with the baton of deeds that will allow the tree to grow from a shrub into a beautiful cherry blossom. We all have the ability to stand out and grow into a beautiful state if we heed and apply the lessons gained from our training in Ramadan.