Was Ramadan About Righteousness or Forgiveness?

Was Ramadan About Righteousness or Forgiveness?

We are on the cusp of Shawwal. For many, Eid is a time of eating, celebration, family connection and remembrance. But what will make your Eid truly transformative depends wholly on 2 things. I argue that forgiveness and righteousness are two different goals. One might be forgiven. But without putting into place a set standard for self-improvement, one will only find oneself back at square one the following Ramadan.

Every week before Ramadan, we hear mosques repeating the same mantra – preparation for Ramadan. They always quote the same verse, “Oh you who believe! Fasting has been prescribed upon as it was prescribed upon those before so that you are righteous,” 2:183. We also hear of the numerous narrations extolling the importance of seeking forgiveness. The hadith states, “Woe to the one who entered Ramadan and was not forgiven,” Sahih al-Bukhari. Therefore, is Ramadan about attaining righteousness or forgiveness? For the overwhelming majority, these two words are almost synonymous. If you are forgiven that equates to you being righteous. I disagree. I believe forgiveness is the immediate reward whereas attaining taqwā, or, righteousness, is the ultimate goal. Insofar as one seeks to clear one’s slate and be sinless, it is just as important to put into place lasting measures to keep yourself patient and steadfast. This transforms you from one that is maghfūr, or, forgiven, to being, muttaqī, or, a righteous individual. Take for example a parent who realizes that they didn’t use the best method to correct their child. They might have screamed at them while fasting. Perhaps they slapped their child on the face – a prohibited act found in the sunnah. If the parent repents and is forgiven, God willing, what is to hold them back from slipping into abusive parenting? Therefore, if you want a transformative Eid to make its mark on your life. You must not only make sure that you ask for forgiveness, but that you set into place a lasting standard and self-improvement plan to keep yourself goal oriented.  The verse from Surah al-Qasas beautifully encapsulates my message, “But as for one who had repented, believed, and done righteousness, it is promised by Allah that he will be among the successful,” Verse 67. This phrase, “done righteousness” is exactly what I mean. If not, we will end up back at square one the next Ramadan – asking for forgiveness and slipping back into old habits.

May Allah accept your fast, prayers and good deeds. Have a safe Eid.