This article was originally posted on the 23rd June 2017
Ramaḍān is drawing to a close and the people of īmān are sad. For them, Ramaḍān was what brought happiness.
1 – They were happy because the Prophet (sall Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam) would be. When Ramaḍān would arrive, he would ascend the pulpit and announce:
قَدْ جَاءَكُمْ رَمَضَانُ شَهْرٌ مُبَارَكٌ
“Ramaḍān has come to you! A blessed month!” 
2 – They were happy because in Ramaḍān, Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) created for them the most perfect conditions for worship.
In Ramaḍān, “all of the gates of Paradise open, and all of the gates of the hell-fire are closed, and the devils and rebellious Jinns are chained up”. 
For an entire month, all those who really wished to draw closer to Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) were overjoyed at the perfect conditions of worship. It is said that a caller calls out in Ramaḍān, “O you who wants goodness, come! And O you who wants evil, enough!”
3 – They were happy because it was a chance to attain the reward of an unprecedented amount of good deeds.
Consider how short our lives are compared to those who lived before us. We need this month to compensate for our far shorter lives. Thus, Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) has given us Laylat al-Qadr which is “greater than a thousand months”. 
4 – They were happy because Ramaḍān is a golden opportunity to shed some of sins which weigh down on us once and for all.
The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) would say, “May his nose be soiled in dust! (may he be humiliated and disgraced); the one who witnesses Ramaḍān but then isn’t forgiven from his sins!” 
From Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā)’s part, He has made the offer to forgive. From our end, it is up to us to have accepted the offer and made serious repentance.
5 – They were happy because “Allāh frees people who were destined to the fire every single night of Ramaḍān“. 
As you break your final fasts in the masjid or at home, think to yourself, have I been set free from the fire yet? Or am I still waiting?
6 – They were happy because Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) has taken it upon His Magnificent Self to reward those who fast.
Imagine your employer saying, “Give so and so their wages. As for so and so, leave their wages to me. I will take care of them”. Clearly, a massive reimbursement is on its way. With that in mind, Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) said: “Fasting is for me and I shall reward for it!” 
7 – They were happy because they have been promised two joys for fasting.
The Prophet (sall Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam) describes the fasting Muslims. He says, “When he breaks his fast, he is happy with his food. And when he meets His Lord, he will be happy with his fast.”  This is because “fasting and Qur’an will intercede for a person on the Day of Judgement”. 
8 – They were happy because they recognised that this Ramaḍān could have been the one that made all the difference, and they took advantage of it.
Two men came to the Prophet (sall Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam) and embraced Islam. One of them went on to die as a martyr whilst the other died a year later. Amazingly, one of the companions – Talha (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) – saw in his dream that the one who died a year later entered paradise before the martyr.
The Prophet (sall Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam) told Talha (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu), “Did he not fast an extra month of Ramaḍān?” 
Yes, this month could have been the life changer.
9 – They were happy because, at a time when the sun is out, fasting is major protection.
The Prophet (sall Allahu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “Fasting is a shield”. 
Sins which we would have otherwise been far more susceptible to are now largely pushed aside.
10 – They were happy because happiness upon Ramaḍān’s arrival is a real sign of īmān.
Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) said about the reactions of the believers when verses from the Qur’ān were revealed:
وَإِذَا مَا أُنْزِلَتْ سُورَةٌ فَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ يَقُولُ أَيُّكُمْ زَادَتْهُ هَذِهِ إِيمَانًا فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا فَزَادَتْهُمْ إِيمَانًا وَهُمْ يَسْتَبْشِرُونَ
“And whenever a sūrah is revealed, some of the hypocrites say, ‘Which of you has this increased in faith?’ As for those who believed, it has increased them in faith, while they are rejoicing!” 
Ramaḍān arrived and we should have rejoiced, but why were so many of us not happy?
Let us be frank with ourselves. Not everyone is overjoyed with Ramaḍān’s arrival. In fact, when the topic of Ramaḍān would be brought up, they would feel a sense of tightness in their chest. Now that they are in Ramaḍān, they are counting the days for its departure.
If such sentiments ring true, then one’s relationship with Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) is in a critical state.
“Why was I not happy with Ramaḍān’s arrival like everyone else is? And why am I happy for its departure?”
Because there is a barrier which is currently standing between you and the sweetness of worship; that barrier is sins.
Wuhayb b. Ward was asked, “Can the one who sins taste the sweetness of worship?”
He said, “No, not even the one who considers doing the sin.”
Similarly, Yaḥya b. Muʿādh would say:
سَقَمُ الجسد بالأوجاع، وسَقَمُ القلوب بالذنوب؛ فكما لا يجد الجسد لذة الطعام عند سقمه، فكذلك القلب لا يجد حلاوة العبادة مع الذنوب
“The sickness of bodies is in the form of pain, and the sickness of the hearts is in the form of sins. So, the same way that an ill body cannot experience the sweetness of food, a heart that is sick with sins cannot experience the sweetness of worship.”
The sadness within you was never Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā)’s fault, nor was it the fault of hunger and thirst, nor was it the fault of “this Ramaḍān being the longest month of fasting for 33 years”. Rather, the fault is that sin in which you have yet to rid yourself from. This is the barrier which is blocking you from accessing the joy of worshipping Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā).
So, immediately reassess your habits, reconsider your private affairs, re-think those secret relationships, re-evaluate your fallout with your Muslim brother or sister, reconsider – my sister – your appearance in public, think deeply about your commitment to ṣalāh. Identify that barrier and knock it down at once.
Knocking it down is not always that easy, but with patience and insistence, your soul will eventually surrender and join you in your journey to Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā).
Abū Yazīd said:
ما زلت أسوق نفسي إلى الله وهي تبكي ، حتى سقتها وهي تضحك
“I continued dragging my soul to Allāh whilst it cried, until it finally surrendered itself and came with me to Allāh smiling.” 
Perhaps this is the reason why the scholars of Islām always urge us to repent before the arrival of the month of forgiveness; Ramaḍān. So that when it does finally arrive, no barrier stands between us and the joy of fasting for Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā). And that when it does depart we will not lament an opportunity wasted, a treasure lost and a gift rejected.
 Musnad Aḥmad
 Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī and Muslim
 Al-Qur’ān 97:3
 Al-Tirmidhi and Aḥmad
 Ṣaḥīḥ al-Albāni in Ṣaḥīḥ al-Targhīb
 Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī
 Al-Albāni in Ṣaḥīḥ al-Jāmi
 Musnad Aḥmad
 Al-Bukhārī and Muslim
 Al-Qur’ān 9:124
 Bada’i al-Fawā’id by Ibn al-Qayyim
Shaykh Ali Ihsan Hammuda is Islam21c’s Tarbiya Editor. A UK national of Palestinian origin, he gained bachelors and masters’ degrees in Architecture & Planning from the University of the West of England, before achieving a BA in Shari’ah from al-Azhar University in Egypt. He is currently based in Wales and is a visiting Imām at Al-Manar Centre in Cardiff, and also a senior researcher and lecturer for the Muslim Research & Development Foundation in London. Shaykh Ali is the author of several books including ‘The Daily Revivals’, ‘The Ten Lanterns’ and ‘The Friday Reminder’. He delivers sermons, lectures and regular classes across the country.