The month of Shawwāl is often overlooked as it is preceded by a month that is filled with spirituality, community, and a constant physical reminder of battling with our inner selves.
As the month of Ramaḍān comes to an end it can sometimes be very easy to fall back into our patterns, habits, and behaviors that were commonplace prior to it. However, the very first day of the month of Shawwāl, Eid al-Fiṭr, is an opportunity for us to commit to the spiritual changes that we were able to manifest in this holy month.
It is said that when the month of Ramaḍān would end, the scholars of Islam would feel a profound sense of sorrow as they felt that they were being deprived of the blessings of this great month. In contrast, many of us celebrate the fact that our life can now “go back to normal”.
The following words of Imām ʿAlī as-Sajjād Zayn al-ʿĀbidīn (ʿa) should help us truly mirror how we should feel about this month, “How much did we long for thee yesterday; and how intense will be our eagerness for thee tomorrow. Peace be on thee and thy excellence of which we have been deprived, and thy blessings which will no longer be with us.”
Sayyid Sa’eed Akhtar Rizvi gives three points to keep in mind as we begin this month of Shawwāl
- Be wary of your actions – stay mindful of the rules of Islam that you carefully adhered to in the month of Ramaḍān. Do not let this month pass as just a time when you follow certain restrictions and the rest of the year is someone distanced from the teachings of the Ahl al-Bayt (as)
- Take “spiritual stock” of yourself. The blessed month of Ramaḍān shows us our weaknesses and our strengths. Ponder and reflect on what you have seen of yourself in this month and where you should focus your efforts to improve for the rest of the year.
- Give from your wealth and time to those less fortunate. This month allows us in small part to feel a degree of hunger that many others around us feel on a daily basis. Do not let this month pass without remembering and helping those in your community and around the world in whichever way you can.
As this month of Shawwāl continues, there are important dates that we should pay heed to:
- Yawm e Gham (Day of Sorrow) on Shawwāl 8th
The Day of Sorrow commemorates the destruction of the holy shrines in Jannatul Baqī, the cemetery in Medina. We mark this day to remember and raise awareness of who is buried in that cemetery and why their graves were demolished and to pray and petition for its rebuilding.
- The Battle of Uhud on Shawwāl 17th
A key battle from the early years of Islam, which holds many lessons for Muslims to be mindful of who their leader is and the importance of following the guidance of our Ahl al-Bayt (as).
- The Death Anniversary of Imām Jaʿfar aṣ-Ṣādiq (ʿa) on Shawwāl 25
The death of the 6th Imām is a critical date for the Shīʿah school of thought as the Shīʿah are defined by his title and his significant dissemination of knowledge. His profound knowledge of religion and other sciences was famed throughout the entire Islamic world. People came from distant regions to learn from him. The number of his students reached over four thousand. Among them were scholars of Jurisprudence, tafsir, hadith such as Imam Noman bin Thabit, Abu Hanifa, and Imam Malik Ibn Anas.
Heads of other religions also came to discuss matters of dispute with the students of the Imām and many a time returned home having embraced the religion of Islam. Sometimes the Imām himself discussed with those of differing viewpoints, especially atheists. Apart from religious sciences, he used to teach mathematics, chemistry, medicine and astronomy. Jabir Ibn Hayyan, the famous pioneer of physics, chemistry and mathematics, was his disciple who wrote about four hundred treatises based on his mentor’s instructions.
This year, let us treat the month of Shawwāl with the sanctity and recognition that it deserves, with an awareness and renewed understanding of the significant dates within.
Rizvi, “Fast” (1971), 10
Shabbar, “Story of the Holy Ka’aba and Its People”, 77