So you started off the month with good intentions. You aimed to make it to Eid and become clean and sober or give up on your addicted ways. Then…Relapse. Time to rewind the tape. Use the 4 W’s (Where, What, When, Who). Where we you when you relapsed? What were you doing just before ? When did it happen? Night time? Your usual using time? Just when the kids were put in bed? When the fast was broken? And finally ,and usually most importantly, who were you with at the time and did this person have an effect on you?
If we want to avoid this from happening again we need to understand how and why it happened in the first place. What went wrong? If we relapse in Ramadan we need to reflect back on our intentions for fasting and what is it that we want to achieve out of this month. We must remember that the purpose of fasting is not to get clean. Getting clean is the bonus. The real purpose of Ramadan is to attain God-consciousness (Taqwa). The more consciousness we have of Allah, that He is Watching us and Hearing us, the less likely we are to sin in front of him. Ask yourselves this; would you smoke drugs in front of your father? Would you indulge in your addiction in front of your mother. Then why do we sin in front of Allah. And so when we do this in Ramadan we feel a deep sense of regret and shame. In our addiction, we taught ourselves to get rid of the feelings of shame we should try and use substances or act out our addictions again. No matter how hard we tried the feelings never went away. If we felt shame, then this is a good thing. Shame and guilt is from Allah. The one who has no shame for their sins is the one who is truly lost. But it is what we do with our shame that really matters in recovery.
So its Ramadan and we have relapsed! What next?
Utilise that guilt and shame to stand, kneel or sit before Allah and seek His Forgiveness. Does our sins outweigh His Mercy? NO!
“O son of Adam, as long as you call upon Me and put your hope in Me, I have forgiven you for what you have done and I do not mind. O son of Adam, if your sins were to reach the clouds of the sky and then you would seek My forgiveness, I would forgive you. O son of Adam, if you were to come to Me with sins that are close to filling the earth and then you would meet Me without ascribing any partners with Me, I would certainly bring to you forgiveness close to filling it.”
We must know that no matter how huge our sins, Allah can wipe them all out, every single one, within the blink of an eye. On account of our repentance Allah will love us more, seeing us humbled and begging of him in distress, seeking His vast Mercy and Forgiveness.
Sometimes this guilt and aftermath of a relapse is enough to put us off using substances again or acting out our addictive behaviours like gambling and so on. We need to utilise it in the right way so that we can steer clear of relapsing again.
We must not fall into the trap of thinking ‘That’s it! My Ramadan is over!” We must not allow ourselves to think this way. Ramadan is not over until Eid. Ramadan is a guest that comes every year and stays for one month. We can’t kick out our guest! We honour the guest of Ramadan and embrace it like a long lost relative. In fact, we should feel sad when Ramadan leaves us and be fearful that we will not live to see our guest arrive again next year. So no, Ramadan is not over just because we have relapsed.
The sin that could take you to Paradise
So we have committed great sins. We have wronged our Creator in the month of Ramadan. We feel the burden of sins on our back, weighing us down and tearing up our insides with remorse. How would you like these heavy sins to be turned into good deeds? Imagine! Vile sins, terrible crimes, being turned into good deeds that could take us to Jannah (Paradise)! How could this be? That would be like turning a rubbish heap into a mountain of gold, right? Allah says about the one who sincerely repents and then then tries again;
“Except him who repents and believes and does righteous work; as for such, Allah will change their evil deeds to good deeds. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.” (25:70)
So you relapsed. So get back on that saddle and gallop on that horse. Strive towards Allah, harder than before. Learn from your mistakes. Truly unpick where it all went wrong so you can avoid it happening again. And repent to Allah with a full commitment not to return back to that sin. This relapse happened for a reason. Maybe this relapse happened so it could be turned into a mountain of good deeds that will take you to Paradise. Have hope!