Allah (SWT) says, “And do not be like the woman who unravels to shreds her weaving once she has spun and made it strong. Nor take your oaths to practice deception between yourselves, lest one party should be more numerous than another: for Allah will test you by this; and on the Day of Judgment He will certainly make clear to you (the truth of) that wherein ye disagree.” (16:92)
In this verse, Allah (SWT) provides a parable for clarification.. One of a woman of Quraish during the days of Al Jahiliyyah. She was nicknamed the “Foolish Qurashiyah.” Her real name was Rayt’a Bint ‘Amer. What earned her this nickname? Well, early morning to noon Rayt’a would order her servant girls to sort and prepare animal shearing for spinning, then hand spin them into yarn, and finish off by weaving them into cloth. But from noon to evening, she would order them to unravel what they had woven to “shreds”—to the very animal shearing they had initially started with that very same morning. Let’s contemplate on Rayt’a’s daily endeavor.
Sorting animal shearing and preparing the wool fibers for spinning, then spinning them into yarn with a hand spindle, and finishing off by weaving the yarn into material is a difficult and time consuming process. The fine irregular threads of fiber are made into one single, wide, long, knot-free, and streamlined yarn with a device called a spindle. Then the yarn is woven into cloth. The basic principle of cloth weaving involves lacing two sets of threads together at 90 degree angles. The warp consists of thread laid parallel to one another, stretched across a loom or other structure that keeps it in place. The woof is then pulled through the warp in an under and over pattern, creating a single joined piece of fabric when completed. It is a process that needs time, patience and strength, hence Allah (SWT) says, “. . . once she has spun and made it strong” (16:92). The strength needed for the whole process is magnified as the verse associates it with the weaker of the two sexes, physically speaking that is. So, the effort and time exerted is no doubt manifold. So, there is no mystery as to why Rayt’a bint ‘Amer was nicknamed the “Foolish Qurashiyah”–for indeed she was involved in a foolish endeavor. She bore the hard labor in the sorting, preparing, spinning, and weaving (check out the videos to see how much time and labor goes into the whole process) only to undo a hard days labor. Allah (SWT) captured an image of utter foolishness and is witness to it Himself, and through it conveys a lifelong lesson of guidance through the Qur’an.
This verse is of significance to us today, especially, as we bid Ramadan farewell. All of us have worked hard this Ramadan—we have toiled and sweated. We have deprived ourselves of food, rest, and sleep. Many of us have gotten rid of bad habits. Many of us have returned to Allah (SWT) after being away for so long. Remember, Shaytan will be released tomorrow after Maghrib prayer , determined to take revenge from us for unraveling his work of the past year. He is mad; he is angry. He has unprecedented energy and determination to ruin what we have managed to accomplish this Ramadan. Such is his state after every obedient act by a Muslim; he exerts super duper power to lead us astray. You will find temptations practically running after you, so don’t say I did not warn you. So, let Allah’s expectations ring in your ears, and mutter it to yourself in the days ahead, “And on them did Satan prove true his idea and they followed him, all but a party that believed” (34:20). What does this mean? This means that Satan expects to undo your work with a wave of his finger. Don’t live up to his expectations? Be among the “party that believe” (34:20).
Shaytan is not going to delay a month or two. He wants us to fall into his trap right after he is released from incarceration—right after Maghreb, or during Eid prayer at the most. He wants to gain a foothold on you by winning over you psychologically—by throwing you into doubt about whether your effort in the past blessed month has been accepted by Allah (SWT). He will attempt to lower your self-esteem by making you feel worthless right after Ramadan. He will target that good feeling in your heart—the sweetness of eman—and empty your heart of it. If you let him, know that things will go downhill from there. So, resist him with all your might, and have faith and trust in Allah (SWT) that He (SWT) has accepted you. Don’t be like Ray’ta who after all the work and labor that went into her and her servant girls’ labor, she ordered them to pull one string and undo it all.
It’s scary! I know. But it is easier when you know what to expect, or so I believe. It keeps you awake. Most importantly it doesn’t make you let your guard down. Indeed, many of us right after the “Crash Course of Ramadan” want to relax, rest and take it easy. Naturally, we have been working hard for a month now. But know, this is his cue. He will mobilize his forces while you are in this laid back state, and guess what he will win. So, what do we do? Well, hold onto yourself with both hands. Guard your heart and mind. Clutch your tongue. Of course he will notice you’ve changed, and accordingly he will change his tactics. But stay strong—and know that those who remain strong the first week after Ramadan continue through the rest of the year, Insha Allah. Success the first week is enough to build confidence to continue after Ramadhan, and hope that maybe our deeds have been accepted. In no way am I claiming that you are going to turn into angels after Ramadan, but rather: be on your guard, know his plans, and be in on his game plans and Insha Allah you will be granted immunity from his workings.
Don’t let Shaytan jump up gleefully and say, “Hurray! Hurray! O Allah, for a whole month they have been working hard to worship you and come close to you. But it only took me a day to undo it all.” Remember Rayt’a bint ‘Amer.