It’s the 30th day of Ramadān. I’m sitting in the Holy Masjid in Makkah with my iftār in front of me, waiting for the adhān to be called so I can break my fast and complete a month of trying to worship Allāh and trying to seek His pleasure. I look around, and everyone is all smiles and full of happiness as the month is drawing to completion, but then I notice someone making du’ā, and as the minutes are passing, and it is getting closer and closer to Maghrib, his du’ā seems to get more intense, and his breath is getting much heavier. Then, the mu’adhin calls the adhān for Maghrib to announce the end of the month of Ramadān and the entering of the night of ‘Īd.
At this moment, you would expect this person to put his hands down and begin to break his fast. Instead however, he burst out crying. When I say crying, I don’t just mean tears rolling down his cheeks; I mean crying uncontrollably, as if he has just lost a very dear relative. He then forced a date in his mouth while trying to stop crying. I assume he did so because he knew it was from the Sunnah to hasten in breaking the fast, so he only ate it to try to stick to the Sunnah, as it was clear he really did not want to eat it.
Pondering over this person will lead us to the cause of his uncontrollable crying. He was crying because he did in fact lose a very dear friend, and this friend was Ramadān. The month of mercy was over. The month of forgiveness was gone. The month of being freed from the hellfire had ended. The shayāṭīn were now released from their shackles to spread evil in the lands. The chance to be among the hordes freed from hellfire had passed. The chance to witness Laylatul-Qadr had passed and no one was sure if their actions were accepted.
If we really understood Ramadān, why wouldn’t we cry when it finishes? How can we not be sad after it finishes when all of the blessings that were available in Ramadān will not return until another year? If even one of the blessings of Ramadān left us, then that is sufficient to make us cry from sadness. Have we ever contemplated on whether we have been forgiven because of Ramadān, or destroyed? We all know the hadīth of the Prophet (SallaAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) when he stepped on the pulpit and said “Āmīn” three times, then he clarified to the people the reasons why he said “Āmīn”, which was due to Jibrīl making three du’ās, and one of these du’ās were “May his nose be rubbed in the dirt, whoever witnesses Ramadān but is not forgiven.” 
My brothers and sisters, it is a win or lose situation, and there is no third category in this. You are either forgiven in Ramadān, or are from the ones who Jibrīl and the Prophet (SallaAllāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) made du’ā against. It is due to this fact that we need to be more prepared in how we approach this Ramadān, and need to ensure we do not waste a single moment of it. It is why we see many people crying at the end of Ramadān as they are never sure whether what they did has been accepted or not, and whether they have been forgiven or not.
Do we really perceive Ramadān as we should? Do we really make the most out of it? Imagine if we were told that a beloved guest will come and visit us once every year, and every time this guest comes, he brings with him presents for us, some to use while he is visiting us, and many to keep afterwards. How will our anticipation for his arrival be? How will our hospitality for this guest be? How much attention will we give this guest? How will we act in his presence? How much will our use of his presents be, knowing that some of them he will take back with him? How sad will we be when his visit comes to a close? How sad will we be when he actually leaves?
This guest is indeed the holy month of Ramadān, and it comes with many blessings which will not be available at any other time. When Ramadān leaves, we are never sure if we will be in this life when it comes back again, so we need to make the most out of it while we are in this life and while it is here. I want you to go back and read the paragraph above, imagining that this guest is a real human, and imagine how your reaction to his visit will be.
Now, I want you to ask yourself, did you treat Ramadān last year like you would have treated this guest? Did you prepare yourself for its arrival by repenting and cleansing yourself from the evil traits you carry? Were your actions in Ramadān the actions of a respectful and pious person, or were you swearing, wasting time, mocking others and doing other bad actions? Did you make use of the blessings of Ramadān—the locking up of the shayāṭīn, the rewards of praying all night by praying tarāwīh, Laylatul-Qadr? Did you feel sad when Ramadān finished?
My brothers and sisters, this is the reality of Ramadān. If we really look at ourselves, we will only come to the conclusion that we are heedless of tying to maximise our potential for this blessed month every year. We are very neglectful of its blessings and we rarely make use of them, yet they only come once a year. My brothers and sisters, Ramadān has just begun and before we know it, it will be drawing to a close, so let us make use of its blessings while they are still here. Let us make sure that we plan ahead from now, and ensure that the good you did last Ramadān does not even compare to the good you do this Ramadān.
Notes: Reported by Tirmidhi