It’s the second day of Shawaal today and everyone is still in the fasting mode. Habits can form in thirty days, and due to Ramadaan, our bodies have been programmed to wake up for Sehri, not eat anything in between, and then await for Iftar. Before we break this pattern and change to our pre-Ramadaan habit, let us try to observe the six optional (nafl) fasts of Ramadaan.It’s another easy method of gaining rewards effortlessly.Although these six fasts are not compulsory (fardh), it is strongly recommended for a Muslim to observe them – either consequetively (one after the other), or broken up over the entire month. Indeed, there are great virtues in doing so. Whoever fasts these six days will have recorded for him a reward as if he had fasted a whole year, as was reported in an authentic hadith from the our noble Prophet, the Imam of Tawheed (Sallallahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam).
Sayyadina Abu Ayyub al-Ansari (Radiyallahu ‘Anhu) reported that our noble Prophet, the Imam of Tawheed (Sallallahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam) said: “Whoever fasts Ramadhan and follows it with six days of Shawwal, it will be as if he fasted for a lifetime.” (Muslim, Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nisa’i and Ibn Majah)
Our noble Prophet, the Imam of Tawheed (Sallallahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam) further explained the word “lifetime” in the above hadith when he said: “Whoever fasts for six days after (‘Eid) al-Fitr has completed the year (i.e whoever does a good deed (hasanah) will have ten hasanah like it).”
According to another report: “Allah has made for each hasanah ten like it, so a month is like fasting ten months, and fasting six days completes the year.” (Sahih at-Targhib wa’t-Tarhib, 1/421).
Another of the important benefits of fasting six days of Shawwal is that is makes up for any shortfall in a person’s obligatory Ramadhan fasts, because no one is free of shortcomings or sins that have a negative effect on his fasting.
On the Day of Resurrection, some of one’s optional (nafl) deeds will be taken to make up the shortcomings in his obligatory deeds, as our noble Prophet, the Imam of Tawheed (Sallallahu ‘Alaihi wa Sallam) said: “The first thing for which people will be brought to account on the Day of Resurrection will be their salah (prayer). Our Lord, may He be glorified and exalted, will say to His angels – although He knows best – ‘Look at the salah of My slave, whether it is complete or incomplete.’ If it is perfect, it will be recorded as perfect, and if something is lacking, He will say, ‘Look and see whether My slave did any voluntary (nafil) prayers.’ If he did some voluntary prayers, [Allah] will say, Complete the obligatory actions of My slave from his voluntary actions.’ Then all his actions will be dealt with in a similar manner.” (Abu Dawud)
When should a Muslim start fasting six days of Shawwal?
One can start fasting the six days of Shawwal from the second day of Shawwal, because it is haraam (forbidden) to fast on the day of ‘Eid. You can fast the six days at any time during Shawwal, although the best of good deeds are those which are done soonest.
Do the six days of Shawwal have to be fasted consecutively?
It is not a necessary that they should be fasted consecutively. If you fast them separately or consecutively, it is OK. However, the sooner you observe them, the better, because Allah says: “So compete in good deeds.” (Qur’an 5:48)
“(Sayyadina Musa said:] … and I hastened to You, O my Lord, that You might be pleased.” (Qur’an 20:84)
Unnecessarily delaying may cause a person difficulty in re-adjusting, and by saying “tomorrow, tomorrow,” the entire month may just fly pass you without even realizing.
Can a person start fasting the six days of Shawwal when he still has days (Qadha) to make up from Ramadhan?
If someone has missed some of the days of Ramadhan, he should fast them first, then fast the six days of Shawwal.
Does one have to fast the six days of Shawwal every year if one did it on one year?
Observing the six days of Shawwal after the day of ‘Eid is not obligatory on the person who does this once or more often, to continue doing it forever. He is not guilty of a sin if he skipped a year or a few in between. However, we should try to upkeep all our good deeds as Allah Ta’ala loves constancy in good deeds.
And Allah Ta’ala is our Source of strength. May Allah Ta’ala grant us all the ability of increasing in our good deeds and being steadfast on them – Ameen.