|ISTIQAMAH: LIVING THE SPIRIT OF RAMADAN AFTER THE MONTH OF RAMADAN
We left the blessed month of Ramadan, its beautiful days and its fragrant nights. We left the month of the Qur’an, taqwa, patience, strive, mercy, forgiveness and freedom from hellfire…
Have we fulfilled the requirements of taqwa and graduated from the Ramadan school with the diploma of the god-fearing?
Have we fought our souls and desires and defeated them, or have we been overtaken by our customs and blind imitations?
Have we performed our actions in a way that fulfills the conditions for receiving mercy, forgiveness and release from the Fire?
Many questions and numerous thoughts come to the heart of the sincere Muslim, who asks and answers with truthfulness.
It is well known that during the month of Ramadan Muslims reach the culmination of their ‘Ibadah (worship). It is also well known fact that Muslims’ attitude and manners during Ramadan season are improved greatly. Their Islamic engagement during this month is evidenced through visiting Masjids, as well as through Salat, Siyam, recitation of the Qur’an, Zakat, Sadaqat ul Fitr, good manners, virtuous behavior and many other activities associated with spiritual strength and renewal.
But for too many Muslims the end of Ramadan also marks a sudden and often drastic reduction – sometimes even a complete cessation — of Islamic activities and righteous actions. A true believer, however, is very conscious of the need to maintain constant awareness of Almighty God, a sense of connection and of the persistence of faith to carry out the obligations prescribed for us by Him – the Creator.
The term Istiqamah has been used in teh Qur’an in many verses.
In Surah Hud, verse 112, the Almighty commands: “Therefore, stand firm (on the straight path) as you are commanded and those who turn in repentance with you. And do not transgress, for He (Allah) sees well all that you do.”
Ibnu Abbas said that this verse was the hardest and most difficult verse of the Qur’an on the Prophet (S). He (S) said: “Shayyabatni Hudun wa Akhawatuha…Surah Hud and alike Surah have made my hair grey.”
Indeed it is a difficult task to achieve Istiqamah, hence, the Prophet (S) said; “Be straight on the path or be close to it.”
In another verse, Allah the Almighty says:
“So unto this (religion) invite (the people). Stand steadfast as you are commanded and do not follow their desires…..” (Surah al-Shura’ 15)
Almighty God addresses the believers in the following verse of the Qur’an:
“Verily, those who say, ‘Our Lord is only Allah,’ and thereafter Istaqamu (i.e. those who stand firm and straight on the Muslim faith by abstaining from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which Allah has forbidden and who perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained) on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” [Al Ahqaf, 13]
On the authority of Abu ‘Amr, though others call him Abu ‘Amrah Sufyan bin ‘Abdullah, radiyallahu anhu, who said: I said: “O Messenger of Allah, tell me something about Islam which I could not ask anyone about save you.” He answered: “Say: ‘I believe in Allah’, and then stand firm and steadfast.” (Muslim)
It is narrated by Aisha (radiyallahu ‘anha) that the Prophet (S) sad: “Ahabbul ‘A’amali ilallah adwamuha wa in qalla – the most loved of acts (deeds) in the sight of God are acts performed on regular basis.” (Muslim)
Istiqamah is one of the important concepts of Islam. In every time and every place and under all circumstances, Muslim should be steadfast and adhere to the noble principle of Istiqamah. Istiqamah emanates from strong faith and unshakable trust in Allah, and yields its ripe fruits in all spheres of life – in ‘Ibadah as well as in one’s daily activities.
The literal meaning of “Istiqamah”: to go straight into the right direction, acting rightly, allowing no deviation. It is derived from the stem “Qiyyam”, which implies the continuity of doing something, following up with it and making sure that it is done in the right way and there is neither deviation nor swerving.
Abu Bakr when asked about the meaning of istiqamah, replied: “That you do not associate partners with Allah.”
Umar ibn al-Khattab said: “It is that you should be steadfast on the matters that are obligated and to abandon the prohibitions.”
Uthman ibn Affan said: “To have ikhlas (sincerity) to Allah only in doing actions .”
Ibn Abbas (r) has defined Al Istiqamah in Din as one’s persistence in carrying out all duties and obligations which He has prescribed to us for eternity and for our greatest good. The Qur’an explains: “And worship your Lord until there comes unto you the Hour (the death) that is certain.” (Al Hijr 99)