If you are regretting all the opportunities that you missed this Ramadaan to benefit from the extension of Allah’s mercy even beyond its normal measure, then perhaps the following few thoughts may be of use, insha-Allah.
No doubt there are specific acts of worship that are emphasised for this blessed month, but that does not mean that it is the only way to obtain the blessings of Ramadaan. What we may not have been able to achieve or fulfill this year, insha-Allah we will be able to improve on next year, with a consistent and gradual build up of our iman from now until that point. And that is really part of the essence of the sincerity of a believer.
The benefits of Ramadaan are not limited to fulfilling the optional acts of worship only. So if you had good and sincere intentions of performing Taraweeh with Jamaat, or you intended to sit for i’tikaaf, or perhaps you wanted to contribute more actively towards a feeding scheme or other efforts that you had in mind, it will be good to remind yourself of the following hadith:
Book 1. Hadith Qudsi. Hadith 037.
On the authority of Ibn Abbas that the messenger of Allah, among the sayings he relates from his Lord is :
”Allah has written down the good deeds and the bad ones.” Then he explained it [by saying that] :” He who has intended a good deed and has not done it, Allah writes it down with Himself as a full good deed, but if he has intended it and has done it, Allah writes it down with Himself as from ten good deeds to seven hundred times, or many times over. But if he has intended a bad deed and has not done it, Allah writes it down with Himself as a full good deed, but if he has intended it and has done it, Allah writes it down as one bad deed.”
Reporters – Related by Bukhari and Muslim in their two sahihs.
For every act that we made a sincere intention to follow through on, we already received an abundance of mercy and rewards from Allah. The one who struggles to fulfill those acts of worship will be rewarded even more than the one who finds it easy. It is all relative to our individual cases in Allah’s court as confirmed by the following hadith:
`Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, “The one who is proficient in the recitation of the Qur’an will be with the honourable and obedient scribes (angels) and he who recites the Qur’an and finds it difficult to recite, doing his best to recite it in the best way possible, will have a double reward.”
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
So focus on the good that you did, and expect Allah to grant you benefit and blessings in that good that you have done. It could have been as simple as smiling at someone even though you felt weak and not in the mood while you were fasting, or perhaps you spent a little more time with your family, or bought extra gifts for them, especially those that were unexpected, or for no specific reason but to show appreciation for someone. Any improvement in your character, no matter how small, can be attributed to the blessings of Ramadaan making it easy for you to achieve those improvements.
Islam has never been a religion of chastisement but rather a way of life that encourages constant improvement. Don’t help Shaytaan by insulting your own efforts or the efforts of others, no matter how meek or weak it may seem. Take the good from it and build on that, and insha-Allah any slump that you may be experiencing will quickly subside while you focus on the blessings and mercy of Allah, rather than focusing on His wrath.
“Allah says, ‘I am as my servant expects Me to be, and I am with him when he remembers me. If he thinks of Me, I think of him. If he mentions Me in company, I mention him in an even better company. When he comes closer to Me by a handspan, I come closer to him an arm’s length. If he draws closer to Me by an arm’s length, I draw closer by a distance of two outstretched arms nearer to him. If my servant comes to Me walking, I go to him running.” (Al-Bukhari)