The Battle of Gratitude:
This battle requires one to strictly guard the promise he gave to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala: to persist in his fasting, remembrance (of Allah), recitation of the Qur’an, and to sustain the same good manners of spending, striving, sense of the close departure to the Hereafter and abstinence in this world. He should approach his Lord with full devotion, love, attachment, and imploring Him to guard him, make him successful, and not to leave him weary in those days. If he continues, for a long time, in the state of remoteness from worship, weariness, and slackness of his previous determination, by no means would he be able to return to it once again!
We have already mentioned in a Prophetic Hadeeth, that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Disgraced and a loser is the one who witnesses Ramadan without being forgiven.” [At-Tabaraani] [Al-Albaani: Saheeh]
If he came out with forgiveness in Ramadan, then, forgiveness, as we have already mentioned, would be the first thing for which gratitude is required. If he attained emancipation from Hell, and the mercy of being forgiven, then, the traces of this gratitude should, inevitably, be visible on him. I mean those traces that the devil seeks to corrupt in him, until he leads the believers to deviate from the way of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. What are those traces?
Traces of gratitude:
a. Offering Voluntary Night Prayer:
Offering voluntary night prayer is the first trace the devil endeavors to corrupt for the believers, in order to take them out of the way of gratitude. If the devil succeeds to corrupt this standing for you at night (in prayer), and your fixed portion of the Qur’an to be recited regularly, his problem with you will end, and he will be relieved of you, because he would know that you would have no power to resist that. If one’s night is good with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, this, without doubt, will return with good during his day, which will be good accordingly. The same is true of worship: the devil puts obstacles in the way of man during those days so that he would move away from acts of worship and acts of obedience, relieve himself of some of them, procrastinate in some of them, postpone some of them, and leave some of them and so on until he comes down to the lowest level and returns to his old ways once again.
After Ramadan, one is afflicted by schizophrenia, and reversion to his previous bad ways, as manifested in the abandonment of standing at night (in prayer). The devil first thinks of making him sleep the whole night, and causing him not to stand once again (in prayer) to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. When it is night, he says (to himself), “I will sleep only a little and then I will get up to stand (in prayer) before dawn.” This is one of the devilish machinations that we always succumb to. However, such a person neither stands nor prays. This is why, it is of great significance to fulfill the promise to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala as shown in the Hadeeth narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira radhiAllahu ‘anhu in which he said, “My beloved (the Prophet, ﷺ) advised me to do three (things), which I should never give up as long as I survive: to perform the Witr Prayer before I go to bed, to observe three fasts monthly, and to perform the Dhuha Prayer.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
The one who is careful, keen on, and watchful of his Hereafter, loves and approaches his Lord The Almighty, and likes to offer acts of obedience continuously and regularly. Nothing prevents from his Beloved; he is always attached to Him, draws closer to Him, and loves Him, so much that his soul would perish if he is kept away from approaching and loving Him. He is aided by his good reliance on Him. The good example for him to follow in this respect is the Messenger of Allah ﷺ and his noble state. He used to show gratitude, recite (the Qur’an), fast, stand (at night in prayer) and give in charity, not only in Ramadan, as if the Lord of Ramadan is not the same Lord of all months. It is the deed that is done regularly which is the dearest to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
Let man be careful of this point, because it is related to his fulfillment of the new promise with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Giving up standing (at night in prayer) is the first calamity that afflicts one in his heart and deeds, and causes him to fail in his pledge with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
Why has he relapsed after Ramadan, and not been helped to stand (at night in prayer)? What do you think he did? What is the reason that in Ramadan, he stood, performed Tahajjud (voluntary night prayer) and spent the whole night in prayer and after that he did not do so? What did he do which caused Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to deprive him of that?
Verily, standing at night (in prayer), and the pleasure of talking privately to the Lord belong to the deeds and happiness of Paradise, rather than of this world. The world has its happiness whose petitioners seek to attain in this life. But standing at night (in prayer), the pleasure of talking privately to and approaching Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, singing His praises, supplicating and love do not belong to this world’s happiness, bliss and pleasure, in so much as to the pleasure and the happiness of the Hereafter and Paradise.
This gift is given by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala only to those whom He loves and makes stand in front of Him. The question to raise then is:
Why did He make them stand only in Ramadan? Was their standing false in Ramadan? Did they stand in Ramadan without love and approach to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala? Did they stand in Ramadan only because of the presence of people, and after it, when they became alone with their Lord, they lost the reason for that, as regards their love for, attachment and approach to their Lord, or the feeling of the near coming of the Hereafter, and the close departure to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala? Do they not have confidence in the merits of standing at night (in prayer) and approaching it that were mentioned by the Messenger of Allah, ﷺ?
Reflection upon those concepts is the first step to remove these calamities. No doubt, the removal of these calamities will contribute to the solution of most problems. The solution is that which we have already mentioned to be done in Ramadan. Do you remember what we said in this issue? “If I am to attend another scene with the Messenger of Allah, ﷺ, Allah will see what I will do.” [Bukhari and Muslim] It is the way one should fulfill his promise with Allah. Let him say, “Now, this calamity has occurred after Ramadan. I should then fulfill the pledge.” Thus, he has to fulfill his promise with Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, to show his Lord The Almighty what he is going to do in this case of striving against himself. He must get accustomed to longing for and standing in front of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, making his principle, in this time, not to sleep until he performs the Witr Prayer, and stand (at night in prayer) as he used to do in front of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Thereby, he would feel the return to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, the sweetness of faith and his being one of those who stand at night (in prayer) to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, who spend their nights with their Lord in private talk, supplication, remembrance of, and approach to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, as referred to by Him in His statement:
تَتَجَافَىٰ جُنُوبُهُمْ عَنِ الْمَضَاجِعِ يَدْعُونَ رَبَّهُمْ خَوْفًا وَطَمَعًا وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنفِقُونَ
“They arise from [their] beds; they supplicate their Lord in fear and aspiration, and from what We have provided them, they spend.” [Qur’an 32:16]
كَانُوا قَلِيلًا مِّنَ اللَّيْلِ مَا يَهْجَعُونَ
“They used to sleep but little of the night.” [Qur’an 51:17]
If this aspect of his life is righteous after Ramadan, all of his states will become righteous accordingly, because the one whose night is good, no doubt, his day is good accordingly; and he, whose day is good, the traces of this are reflected on his night; and one’s bad night indicates his bad day, as pointed out by scholars.
Undoubtedly, it is your concern how to fulfill your promise: “Allah will see what I am going to do. I will not sleep this night.” Let nothing prevent you from standing after the ‘Isha Prayer, to guard your night. Of course, you will receive the devil’s whispers on your right, left, front and back, in order to cut you off; and you will encounter obstacles. The devil will say to you after the ‘Isha Prayer, “You have an appointment or a visit to pay; you have such-and-such things to do,” and so on until he wastes your night. He will whisper to you to delay the standing (in prayer) until a short time before dawn, where you could get up and try to pray. Thus, the night will be lost, followed by many nights, one after the other, until one slackens and finds himself in this bad state. In the end, he will weep for what he has missed, if there is an opportunity to weep, because he will come to such a stage in which there will be no weeping, because the heart will be harsh, the eyes dry, and he will no longer be able to feel his great loss. So, let his principle and standard be, “Allah will see what I am going to do.” Let him not sleep until he finishes his fixed portion of the night prayer that he regularly offers.