Monday, 28 September 2009

The Six Days Fast of Shawwal


In Islam, it is recommended to fast for six days within the month of Shawwal.

The best way and most virtuous way to do this is by fasting the six days consecutively, immediately following the Eid of Eid-ul-Fitr. That means, one should start his/her fast on 2nd Shawwal.

Although it is permissible to fast the six days later as well as non-consecutively in Shawwal, it is important to understand that:

1. performing this fast consecutively - one after another - until completed; and

2. performing this fast immediately after Eid (i.e. starting 2nd Shawwal)

- are two separate Sunnahs.

The grand scholar, Khatib al-Shirbini RH explains the reasoning for this as being:

"In order to hasten to do the good, and because of the problems inevitable in delaying..." - such as becoming lazy and not actually fulfilling this Sunnah in the end, though he points out that the Sunnah is fulfilled by both consecutive and non-consecutive fasting of six days in Shawwal. (Mughni Al-Muhtaj)

With regards to the evidences for the Six Days Fast of Shawwal from the Ahadith of the Prophet Muhammad SAW, these are as follows:


Ayyub RA relates that the Rasulullah SAW said:

"Whoever fasts Ramadhan and follows it with six days from Shawwal, it is as if they fasted the entire year." (Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, and Ibn Majah; Ahmad transmitted it from Jabir, Muntaqa)


Thawban RA relates that Rasulullah SAW said:

"Whomsoever fasts Ramadhan, and then six days after Eid, it is (like fasting) an entire year. Whoever does a good deed shall have ten times its reward." (Ibn Majah, Muntaqa)


In another Hadith, the rendition is as follows:

The Prophet Muhammad SAW is reported to have said:

"Whoever fasts Ramadhan, then follows it with six from Shawwal, it is as though he fasted all of time."

All of time here basically implies the whole year, for if one did this every year, it would be all of time.

In further elaborating on this, it is mentioned in Nuzhat-Al-Mutaqin, the commentary of Imam Nawawi's Riyadh-us-Salihin (2/132) that:

"Whoever fasts Ramadhan and follows it up with six (days) from Shawwal, it is as though he has fasted all of time, because each day is equivalent to ten days."

(This is supported by the Hadith:)

"Whoever performs a good deed, he will have ten like it."

Hence, the holy month of Ramadhan would count as ten months; whereas the six days fast multiplied by ten would equal two months. Both added together will make - one whole year.

It is then explained:

"It is best that one fast the six altogether and directly after the day of Eid."

According to the above, our understanding is that the reward of one's fasting is according to how much one fasts. Should Allah accepts our fasts, and then counts each day of fast as equivalent to ten, it will be considered as such, from Allah's Limitless Mercy. Due to the fact that a Hadith has not come to us about fasting less than six days in Shawwal, one can assume that his worship (in attaining the virtue of one year fast) would not be complete unless he/she performed the full number.


With regards to striving to do what is most superior and virtuous, the evidence may be rendered as follows:

Abu Hurairah RA narrates that the Prophet Muhammad SAW said:

"The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, though there is good in both. Be avid for that which benefits you. Rely on Allah and do not deem yourself incapable…" (Muslim: Hadith 4816, Ibn Majah: Hadith 76, Ahmad: Hadith 8436)

Thus - the core advice of my spiritual mentors when it comes to Deen in its learning, practices and propagation:

"Be Hard On Yourself, Be Easy On Others..."

Imam Nawawi RH explained that the 'strength' in the above Hadith refers to:

"’s determination and ability in matters of the next life." (Sharh Sahih Muslim)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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