Fasting Six Days in Shawwal After Ramadan
Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim
(In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful)
The Prophet Muhammad (saws) also said: "The one who fasted the month of Ramadan and the six days of Shawwal, is also purified of his sins as if he was born just today." [Sahih Muslim]
So you have made it through fasting the month of Ramadan, but wait, your fasting isn't necessarily over quite yet. Although it is haraam (forbidden) to fast on Eid al-fitr, which is the day after Ramadan and the first day of Shawwal, the Prophet Muhammad (saws) says that whoever fasts six days during the month of Shawwal in addition to fasting Ramadan it will be like fasting for the whole year.
It was narrated from Thawban, the freed slave of the Messenger of Allah, that the Messenger of Allah said: “Whoever fasts six days after the Fitr will have completed the year, for whoever does a good deed will have the reward of ten like it.” [Sahih Sunan Ibn Majah 1715]
So in essence, the 30 days of fasting during Ramadan times ten plus the 6 days of Shawwal multiplied by ten is equivalent to 360 days. (30x10+6x10=360 days)
Keep in mind that you don't have to fast six days consecutively. You can split these days up throughout the month of Shawwal. Also note that fasting the six days of Shawwal isn't obligatory, it is Sunnah (based on the teachings and traditions of the Prophet Muhammad). Although it is voluntary, it is highly recommended.
Fasting these six days during Shawwal is said to help make up any deficiencies or mistakes you make during Ramadan. Fasting during Shawwal is a good way to show gratitude to Allah (swt) for his mercy and for forgiving your sins.
Ibn Rajab said:"The fasts of Shaban & Shawwal are like the sunnah prayers which are performed before and after. They serve to fill the shortcomings that were committed in the compulsory prayer” [Sahih Muslim]
Some believe that by fasting soon after Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr it is a sign that those who fasted during the month of Ramadan, their fast was accepted. This is because Allah accepts our worship when He inspires us to continue with acts of piety and taqwa (being mindful of Allah). There is a saying that says, "The reward of virtue is continued virtue." So if one has removed bad habits during Ramadan and fasted for the sake of Allah during this month but goes back to old habits and sins, then this is thought to be a sign that your good deeds may not have been accepted. The thought is that good deeds and act of worship is to inspire one to be a better Muslim throughout the rest of the year. Again, it boils down to sincerity and intent for doing good deeds and acts of worship during Ramadan.
What about those who have fasting days from Ramadan to make up? Does fasting these six days in Shawwal count toward making up missed fasting days during the month of Ramadan?
Sure there is some disagreement among scholars when answering this question. According to Sheikh Yasir Qadhi, you should make up the fasting days before fasting the six days of Shawwal. This is based on the following hadiths:
The Prophet Muhammad (saws) is reported to have said: "Whosoever fasted in Ramadan and then followed up with six days of fasting of Shawwal, it is like fasting every day." [Sahih Jami` at-Tirmidhi 759]
Abu Ayyub al-Ansari (Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah's Messenger as saying: "He who observed the fast of Ramadan and then followed it with six (fasts) of Shawwal. it would be as if he fasted perpetually." [Sahih Muslim 1164a]
It was narrated from Abu Ayyub that the Messenger of Allah said: “Whoever fasts Ramadan then follows it with six days of Shawwal, it is as if he fasted for a lifetime.” [Sahih Sunan Ibn Majah 1716]
Sheikh Yasir Qadhi emphasizes that the hadith clearly states that "whosoever fasts in Ramadan and then follows up with six days of fasting in Shawwal."
However, according to Sheikh Abdul Nasir Jangda, he says that a majority of the scholars agree that you can combine these intentions of making up days of fasting for Ramadan and the six days of Shawwal. He states that you can have a primary intention of making up for Ramadan with a secondary intention of fasting the six days of Shawwal.
The month of Shawwal is also a great month to begin following the sunnah of fasting throughout the year. Some Muslims follow the Prophet Muhammad's (saws) example by fasting Mondays and Thursdays as well as the 13th, 14th, and 15th of each month in the Islamic calendar. For those that have difficulties in fasting during the month of Ramadan, this is also a great way to condition yourself throughout the year.
© 2014 Linda Soaring Eagle Sarhan