At the end of Ramadan, Muslims all over the world experience a feeling of sadness mixed with happiness. Sad to let the month full of blessings and forgiveness go but at the same time also thrilled to welcome Eid al-Fitr. Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr are indeed two moments that are fully treasured by the Muslims.
The sadness caused by the end of Ramadan is soon redeemed by the happiness from the night before Eid al-Fitr, known as the Night of Rewards (Laylat al-Jaiza) where every prayer is believed to be granted. After one month of fasting, it feels like there is some kind of divine energy that opens the Heaven’s door and brings every prayer directly to God. It is mentioned in one narration that the Companions of the Prophet even continued to take the wisdom of Ramadan six months after Eid al-Fitr. They prayed that their deeds during Ramadan six months back would be accepted by Allah and that they would live long enough to see the next Ramadan in the next six months.
Their stories are examples of His servants’ high spirit and hope for Ramadan. They did not want to take the abundant blessings during the Holy Month—like forgiveness of sins and multiplication of rewards for good deeds, for granted. The holiness of Ramadan is also written in a hadith narrated by Bukhari Muslim which metaphorically states that during Ramadan the gates of Heaven are opened, the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are shackled, to express how Ramadan is synonymous with purity.
Another noteworthiness of Ramadan is that during this month, the Qur'an was revealed as a guide for mankind and at the same time becomes the criterion between right and wrong (Q.S. 2:185). Additionally, Muslims are also seeking for the night of Laylat al-Qadr (Night of Decree) which is referred to as a glorious time, believed to be a month better than a thousand months.
Various narrations say that whoever succeeds in obtaining Laylat al-Qadr will experience enlightenment. Their spirituality will change drastically. In the Qu’ran Surah Al-Qadr, it is stated that on that night the angels descended to earth at the command of Allah who made the whole world seem to submit to silence. Therefore, one of the impressions felt by people who get Laylat al-Qadr is incomparable serenity and bliss.
Meanwhile, the Sufis have the view that anyone who succeeds in getting the night of Laylat al-Qadr will experience mukashafa (derived from the word Kashf which means disclosure), predominantly the opening of the barrier between a servant and his God. He will experience incomparable pleasure because God is truly present in his soul.
For the average Muslims, this process must be pursued through the self-cleansing practice of fasting for one month. In contrast for the Sufis, where they believe every night is Laylat al-Qadr, because their souls are already pure and clean. That is the essence of Laylat al-Qadr.
The month of Ramadan is given by God to the mankind as an opportunity to cleanse themselves and purify their souls. Essentially, every child is born in a state of fitrah (nature), but because of their nafs (soul) and worldly pleasure, they fall into sins, their souls become dirty and their hearts are filled with spiritual diseases such as greed, pride, envy, and hatred. Hence, Ramadan comes to cleanse the soul and heart of the mankind.
If we can make it through Ramadan by doing good deeds and reaping its principal values, then Eid al-Fitr will complete the success, which is why it is called the Day of Victory. Needless to say, there is a connection between winning and achieving good values from fasting, namely releasing ourselves from spiritual diseases and controlling nafs.
On the other hand, if we fail to purify our hearts, then the reward we may get is to be free from physical ailments, because fasting has shown several health benefits. We can conclude that is the minimal benefit that can be obtained.
What if we fail to conquer our nafs? Excessive eating and drinking, not protecting ourselves from seeing and hearing wicked and sinful things, such practices can cause our fast benefits neither our mental nor physical health. On the contrary, we expose ourselves to the diseases because of those excessive eating and drinking. Perhaps this is what is meant by the Sunan Ibn Majah Book: 7, Hadith: 1760 “There are people who fast and get nothing from their fast except hunger, and there are those who pray and get nothing from their prayer but a sleepless night.”
In order to avoid falling into this category, people must perceive fasting as a phase or process. In the first ten days, our fast is in the realm of the body (resisting hunger and thirst). On the second ten days, our fast is in the realm of the soul (protecting the eyes, ears and heart). And on the third ten days, we ascend to a spiritual level. At this final stage, we are ready to reach the Laylat al-Qadr because our heart and soul are already pure and clean.
At the end of every Ramadan, we are ready to embrace the Day of Victory, Eid al-Fitr which essentially means returning to a pure state of being once again, just like a newborn baby. We feel immeasurable peace and happiness because God’s presence feels so real within us. That is how powerful the effect of fasting is to our spirituality. If that effect could last for our entire life, then every night could be the night of Laylat al-Qadr, and every day is Eid.