Muslims struggle to maintain conduct after Ramadan- study

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  • PIETY DIES. Most of us are guilty of being righteous for a month and falling back, sometimes deliberately, to our imperfections after Ramadan. Most likely, you know of people whose devotion was of nearly prophetic proportions but since Ramadan ended, they are the opposite, writes ABDUL-NASSER SSEMUGABI.

At first sight Abbas Tugume (not real name) is that typical Muslim young man. His above-the-ankle trousers, thick, well-kempt beard, and that zabiba—the mark on a Muslim’s forehead due to regular contact with the prayer mat—on his glowing light skin portray a practicing Muslim.
Yet, at 37, his adulterous marriage is a dilemma. During Ramadan, we usually met at the mosque, but after three coincidental meetings at a food point in Kabalagala, I asked him why he could not have supper at his home.
“Si byangu muganda wange,” he said, meaning issues are complicated. “I’m alone at home. My wife, I don’t even know whether I should call her my wife, went to her family because we are not legally married.”
For the last six years, during Ramadan this taxi driver lives like a ‘married bachelor’. “I’m confused I can’t easily let go of the mother of my three children but she has a big problem—she is usually attacked by evil spirits, I don’t know...”
But Tugume is not alone. Actually, most of us are guilty of being righteous for a month and falling back, sometimes deliberately, to our imperfections after Ramadan.
According to Surat Baqarah:183; “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may (learn) self-restraint,” scholars equate Ramadan to a boot camp or a refresher seminar, from which ‘skills’ like generosity, calmness, charity, regular prayer, are mastered and be practiced throughout our lives. But to some it is like captivity after which they revert to their loose ways.
Most likely, you know of people whose devotion was of nearly prophetic proportions but since Ramadan ended, (a week ago, by the way), they are the complete opposite.
You probably know that woman who threw away the veil and that long skirt or hijab for her skimpy outfits and to flaunt her braids or dreadlocks. Or those fellows whose verbal artillery would even shock Dr Stella Nyanzi.
Like Tugume, some have already reunited with their cohabiting partners, yet others boldly hire from brothels.
In this World Cup season, some Muslims storm bars for a beer or two as some bet on who will win which match. Others do challenging jobs such as those three beautiful young ladies who work in a beer shop in Kikuubo Lane, while dressed in Muslim attire.
Some of us no longer frequent mosques or as timely as before, while others have already resumed their Friday-only prayer schedule. And before you ask them what went wrong, you remember those whose last prayer was on Idd.
We cannot exhaust these devil-may-care tendencies which tempt even our non-Muslim colleagues into wondering what goes wrong between one fasting season and another.
To put the debate into perspective we engaged several Muslims through one-on-one interviews, casual group chats and questionnaires.

About the survey
This survey was done between the last week of Ramadan [2017] and the first two weeks after Idd. Most respondents came from Islamic University in Uganda, Makerere University, Kyambogo University, Muteesa I Royal University, Kampala University; Kakungulu Memorial School, Kibuli SS and St Janani Luwum Secondary School, Kabalagala.
Out of 112 respondents—majority students and a few university staff—69 were females. Most were aged between 19 and 31, with only 11 aged up to 36. All were born Muslims, except six converts. We asked them to briefly explain their environments during and after Ramadan, why do they fast? What do they practice during Ramadan? What do they continue with, what do they drop and why? Their post-Ramadan weaknesses, resolutions, and whether they agree that Ramadan being training, they can practice the skills throughout the year.
Their responses were as different as they were similar. Eighteen (16 per cent) respondents said they maintain the Ramadan behaviour but 94 (84 per cent) confessed guilt of deviating mostly because of disabling environments, such as peer influence, impatient partners, restricting jobs and unrestricted social climates.
Over 52 per cent expressed will to learn and practice Koran recitation, charity, quitting: fornication, dirty deals, foul language, music and performing arts because “they expose me to unlawful acts,” going to nightclubs and betting. But 80 per cent were hesitant to commit themselves to performing regular prayer and living the Ramadan way.
If helping the needy is heavenly rewarding, why does it begin and end in Ramadan? Do the needy die after Idd and resurrect on the dawn of another Ramadan?
I posed these rather rhetorical questions to a friend who heads a public relations department of a big Muslim organisation that visits upcountry prisons in Ramadan. She admits that these donations should be more frequent “if we really mean to make a difference in those sorry people’s lives,” but, “the decision isn’t mine.”
Why do we fall back?
Sheikh Abdul-Rahman Mukisa is a Masters student of Shariyah in Imam University, Saudi Arabia. He advances two reasons. Foremost, people behave differently in Ramadan because it is a special season. “Like Allah made prophets superior humans, He made Ramadan a superior month, generally peaceful,” Sheikh Mukisa explains. “Imagine laylatu alqadri, the night of power, which is better than 1,000 months, falls only in Ramadan. Everyone wants to target this rewarding month.”
More so, throughout Ramadan, Satan and his most dangerous agents are detained. That is why even the biggest sinners try to behave.
“But fast with the right intentions,” he says. “Fasting is supposed to refresh and reenergise one’s spirit towards total submission to Allah’s will. But those who fast because others are fasting are most likely to revert to their old ways.” In the Holy Koran (Surat Hajj:11)
Allah warns those who serve Him in seasons. “…they lose this world and the Hereafter: that is loss for all to see!” So how does one avoid such a big loss?
It’s a personal struggle
All respondents confessed that they fast not only to obey Allah’s command but also to seek His forgiveness. Sheikh Mukisa, however, warns that the forgiveness can be reversed, if a person gravely misbehaves after Ramadan.
He gives some tips
First, consistently ask Allah to enable you live righteously because only Him can guide mankind to the straight path.
Have the right intention why you are fasting. This will also guide you during and afterwards.
Know that death is so near. If you have managed to fast this year, you are not sure you will fast next year. So repent consistently and endeavour to desist from sin, always.
Fight Satan and his ways. Avoid places or people that aid your sinning. “What if they are inevitable? Say, they determine my income?” I asked. He advises that you approach them carefully, to avoid temptations. “Assuming you are a cross-border trader, why do you book a bus travel with a woman who is not yours?”
Fight your soul against sin by doing a consistent self-audit “because our souls have a weakness for evil and against good.” Always regret your past transgressions so that you feel ashamed to repeat them. Endeavour to do a lot of good deeds and constantly ask for Allah’s forgiveness.
Disabling environments?
Imam Ahmad Kyeyune, a renowned preacher on Pearl FM, reasons that before you complain of disabling environments, check yourself. “If at first you were okay with cuddling, hugging, flirting, when you are not fasting, definitely your colleagues will treat you as such,” he says, emphasising that all his female colleagues respect his “strict” principles because it is the first impression he gives and sticks to.
“And if you want them to start keeping a distance, you just don’t do it overnight…it’s a gradual process.”
And where necessary, Sheikh Mukisa says, migrate from evil environments such as residences, or friends if you cannot tame them.
In a nutshell, Imam Kyeyune equates life to a beam balance. On either side is the pursuit of worldly pleasure and paradise. What you give more attention outweighs the other. So, if paradise is your goal, it’s logical you give it more attention. He adds that balancing both is impossible. “A music addict cannot be a Koran consultant.”
Muhammad Ssekkadde, a scholar, in one of his weekly sessions at Makerere University warned his students against underrating sin. “Before you commit sin, don’t look at its weight; rather think of your Creator who outlawed it.”
Or as one of the respondents simply put, “faith isn’t knowing what the future holds, rather it’s knowing who holds the future.”
Psychologist’s view
Hajjat Masitula Namugenyi, a counselling psychologist and lecturer at Kyambogo University, says people should always endeavour to respect the values and virtues of their religion. Islam does not preach that we should behave well only in Ramadan.
While the clerics say manifesting the Ramadan conduct throughout the year is a personal struggle, the psychologist says we can help others cope by complimenting them. “For instance,” Hajjat Namugenyi says “if a husband compliments his wife for dressing Islamically, the wife might continue the trend even after Ramadan.”
Equally, she adds, if societies such as schools or universities recognise some members for good conduct, say decent dressing, charity, others can be inspired to emulate them. That can become a culture, not a one-off.
To those whose jobs pose a challenge, she advises one to weigh their options. “I don’t advise anyone to quit their job but we should mind about life after death; God will not judge us by how much wealth we accumulate,” she says. “So find a way of convincing your bosses to let you practice your religion, because, however, submissive and effective you are, you will never be guaranteed of job security.”
“When I started working, I had dreams buying land, a car, etc. but I chose the pilgrimage to Mecca…” Fortunately, she got even the others.


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