Checked & Revised
Abu Khuzaimah Ansaari
Taken from Monthly Al-Ḥadīth Hazro No. 120, P. 33,34
The Six Fasts of Shawwal
The purpose behind the creation of mankind is solely for the worship and obedience of Allah, Rabb of Al-‘Izzah (Might, Honour). Due to this there are many different forms of worship which are obligatory, regardless of whether they are done daily or annually, the most important matter is their continuity.
For example, the adhkar (invocations) which are always carried out after the prayers, and the attention paid to sunan and nawafil (voluntary actions) which are associated with the fara’id (obligations), this is one form of the continuity of worship. Sadaqatul Fitr and the encouragement of voluntary Sadaqah is a continuation of the obligatory Zakah (charity).
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,
“Follow Hajj with ‘Umrah…” (Sunan At-Tirmidhi, Kitab Al-Hajj, Hadith no. 810)
And another form of this can be found in the act of fasting: After an entire month of fasting, the Muslims are encouraged to not to give up their acts of worship, rather to increase in their voluntary fasts and make it possible for themselves to increase in righteous actions.
Sayyiduna Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari (may Allah be pleased with him), has narrated that the Prophet ﷺ said,
“Whoever fasts [the month of] Ramadan, then follows it with six [days] from Shawwal, it is as if he fasted perpetually.” (Sahih Muslim, Kitab Al-Siyam, Hadith no. 1164)
And it has also been narrated with the following wording,
“Whoever fasts [the month of] Ramadan, then follows it with six days from Shawwal, then verily it is as if he has fasted an entire year.” (Sunan Al-Kubra of An-Nasa’i, Hadith no. 2878)
Imam Ibn Khuzayma explained this as every righteous action is rewarded 10 times over, in this manner it will be as if they have fasted their entire life. (30 days of Ramadan with 6 days of Shawwal will amount to the reward of 360 fasts – approximately one lunar year, thus if one continuously does this throughout their lifetime, it will be as if they have fasted the entirety of it.) (Sahih Ibn Khuzayma 3:298)
How are these Fasts Kept?
In regards to the fasts of Shawwal, one has the option to fast either in the beginning, middle, or end of the month – however, if one decides to fast in the beginning, then they should do so by leaving some days in the very beginning of the month.
Imam ‘Abdullah, son of Imam Ahmad, asked his father about the fasts of Shawwal, so Imam Ahmad replied,
“There is no problem in fasting them as the Prophet ﷺ said, ‘[…] six days from Shawwal.’ So if he fasts six days from Shawwal, then it makes no difference whether he separates between them, or does them continuously.” (Masa’il Al-Imam Ahmad in the recension of his son ‘Abdullah, 2:662, no. 895)
So it is understood that there is leniency in this matter, and any portion of the month of Shawwal can be fasted – This is our stance, and Allah knows what is correct.