1. Do not Follow the Devil’s Advice:
To put off making a new start to the coming Ramadan. The devil comes to a party of the believers, and gives them (false) promises and hopes, saying, ‘Ramadan has passed and you have received no forgiveness nor mercy, nor have you done the righteous deeds you liked to do, nor have you fulfilled what is due on you in Ramadan, nor have you done so-and-so. Now, you have come out of Ramadan, and I do not think that anyone of you could expect to be forgiven by Allah, or be emancipated from Hell. Who is the one who has done righteous deeds whereby he would be emancipated from Hell? Who is the one who has righteous deeds that cause him to receive forgiveness? Who is the one who has done such-and-such?’
He keeps whispering thus, until he brings about despair in their hearts and convincing them that this is their real state. He alleges that at the end of Ramadan, they had already promised Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala that when this Ramadan would come, they would get ready from the first day, spend their efforts and time, perform prayer, stand (at night in prayer), stay in I’tikaaf, give in charity, and do such-and-such good deeds, under the claim that the previous months of Ramadan were sufficient, in which they evoked no feeling of forgiveness, repentance, or of emancipation from Hell – and then Ramadan has come, and was over, and they have remained the same as they were at the previous times. This is indeed the argument of the devil. It is a correct argument in a sense: that is, you have really come out of Ramadan, and done nothing: so, let me advise you, and that is the advice of the devil, to decide once again and promise Allah The Almighty to be, in the coming Ramadan, better than you have been in that month of Ramadan. That is his promise, the promise of the devil that he gives to the believers in those days.
The devil advises them today to get ready for the coming Ramadan, Allah willing; leave this (Ramadan), and, Allah willing, the coming Ramadan, you will be better, and promise Allah The Almighty that; and beware lest you would not fulfill your promise. You should fulfill your promise. This is the devil who instructs you. It is true. We have promised Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala in those days to get ready, Allah willing, in the coming Ramadan. Is it not so?
So, let the believer be careful then of this advice, and let him know that the devil seeks to cut him off the way.
He has cut him off today, and will stand against him tomorrow
Of course, the devil will not come to him the next day to say to him:
‘You are a kind man. I cut you off from the Way of Allah yesterday, and today you have promised your Lord. So, go, Allah willing, and obey your Lord, and complete your way to Him!’
No! But he will say to him, ‘O fool! I deceived you yesterday, and gave you false hopes of today and tomorrow. I have really deceived you, and today is like yesterday, and tomorrow will be like today, and so on.’
He does with him the same as he did the last Ramadan, and all the months of Ramadan before it. Every Ramadan comes upon him, he says to him, when he fails to achieve the means of forgiveness and gratitude, and the traces of the light of the acts of worship do not appear on him: Allah willing, next Ramadan, you will begin.
Next Ramadan, he says to him:
O heedless one! Do you imagine I will leave you to worship your Lord? No! Just as I did with you last year, I will do with you this year.
Now, you have come to know your answer to the statement of the devil to you: ‘Allah willing, next year, you will be better’. That is, you should say to him: ‘It may be that this play we are doing, the hesitation, and the carelessness with which we treat the words of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, and the words of the Messenger of Allah, ﷺ, will be the reason why the gate of repentance is closed.’
It may be that you will live to the coming day, as you lived the last time. Nevertheless, who can make you know that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will keep the gate of repentance and forgiveness open for you?
Consider! The Lord is looking at you, in the hope that you would come to Him, while being in a bad state with regard to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. It may be that when you are in this very state, He closes the gate of repentance against you. Such being the case, you will find that gate closed by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala in your face. Then, who would let you know that if you live, the Gate of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will remain open for you, and will not be closed in your face because of your evil deeds, hesitation, play, failure in your promise with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, and abstention from fulfilling your covenant with Him?
2. Beware of Conceit about the Worship in Ramadan:
One may say: I have come out of Ramadan and was able to successfully perform righteous deeds, and done such-and-such good deeds. It is said to him: The devil has come to you this time to reassure you about your righteous deeds. The devil, in fact, has come to dissemble him, saying to him: No! You are not like anyone else. You have strove your utmost, performed fasts, stood (at night in prayer) – to the end of those aspects of striving which he claims for himself.
Those are other false impressions made by the devil, intended thereby to stop him from working and continuing his procession towards Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, and make this poor man, who has this vision, believe himself doing Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala a favor, giving too much weight to his work, and thinking he has done great things. We have already mentioned the Hadeeth of the Messenger of Allah, ﷺ, which ruins this false impression made by the devil: “‘None of you shall enter Paradise because of his deeds.’ They said, ‘Not even you (O Messenger of Allah)?’ He said: ‘Not even me, unless Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala encompasses me with His mercy.’” [Muslim]
If the devil comes to say, ‘You have fasted, stood (at night in prayer), and done such-and-such,’ then, you should say to him: No, all of this should not prevent me from continuing the journey towards Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, to get ready, and to give thanks to Allah. Even if he says to you: You have done such-and-such, and prayed such-and-such, you should say to him, ‘Then, I need to give thanks to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, submit to Him, and save time and effort to obey Him.’ Let him spend all those favors granted to him by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, to please Him, out of gratitude to Him.
These are other false impressions invented against the righteous believers; who come out of Ramadan, having obtained something of piety as Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says (what means): “O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.” [Qur’an 2:183]
Let them beware of those devilish whispers, by seeing themselves having done something, although they have done nothing at all, for (what they do) is only out of the bounty of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Let one also fear lest making much of one’s deeds should cause him to be one of those driven away and rejected by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala; and this should be a beginning once again to negligence in those rights, in those acts of worship, and in those mercies he has obtained in Ramadan.
However, if they do anything, they will need to give thanks; and if they are made successful to give thanks, they will need to give thanks for such gratitude. That is because gratitude is a favor from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala which you could hardly do (alone). Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala never enables all people to give thanks. If you are made successful to give thanks, it will be a great favor for which you need to give thanks, and so on until you fail to give thanks.