The Importance of Fasting the Six Days of Shawwalby Ustazah Eka Budhi Setiani
Just like the holy month of Ramadan that is full of blessings, the month of Shawwal also has its significance. Shawwal comes from the verb ‘syala’ which means to ‘lift or rise’.
Shawwal also becomes a month of proving the values of taqwa, it’s an opportunity to prove that Muslims are able to maintain and increase their faith, because their faith is not limited during Ramadan only.
During Ramadan, we get plenty of rewards by fulfilling the obligation to fast and also do more deeds and sunnah. Then Shawwal is the month to increase all worship we’ve done during Ramadan.
Quoted from Nu Online, “Shawwal is rafa’a, a month of rise, a month full of rise,” said PBNU’s Rais Aam, KH Miftachul Akhyar, at the end of the last Ramadan. This Kiai from Surabaya, East Java also said that back then, ulama oftenly held class promotion or started the new school term in the month of Shawwal. He continued, there was a conformity with the meaning of the word Shawwal, which is the month of leveling up.
When we look up Islamic history, there are various important events that occurred in the month of Shawwal. Such as Uhud War, the Khandaq War, the Hunain War, to the marriage of the Prophet ﷺ with Ummu Salamah and Aisyah.
A Recommendation to Fast in The Month of Shawwal
We all know that in the month of Shawwal, we’re recommended to fast for 6 days. Several hadiths explain this thing,
صِيَامٌ شَهْرِ رَمَضَانَ بِعَشَرَةِ أَشْهُرٍ وَصِيَامُ سَتَّةِ أيَّامِ بَعْدَهُ بِشَهْرَيْنِ فَذلِكَ صِيَامُ السَّنَةِ
“The fast of Ramadan is like observing ten months of fasting. Fasting six days of Shawwal is like observing two months of fasting. This together is like fasting throughout the year.” (Syekh Jalaluddin as-Suyuthi, al-Jamius Shagir, juz 2, h. 189)
قال صلّى اللَّهُ عليه وسلّم من صَامَ رَمَضَانَ ثُمَّ أَتْبَعَهُ سِتًّا من شَوَّالٍ كان كَصِيَامِ الدَّهْرِ (رَوَاهُ مُسْلِمٌ)
“Whoever fasts the month of Ramadan and then follows it with six days of fasting in the month of Shawwal, it will be as if he has fasted for the entire year.” [Hadith Muslim]
With the hadith above, the Islamic scholars and fiqh experts implied that an act of fasting 6 days in the month of Shawwal is sunnah. It’s categorized as sunnah because the Prophet never left the practice of this fasting.
However, the most important thing of this recommended act is not only about the sunnah. More than that, Islamic law wants to provide an easy way for its adherents to get a reward as much as when we doing fast for one year, without having to do it for a whole year. Moreover, fasting within one full year is considered as makruh.
The Virtues of Shawwal Fasting
Imam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali mentions five virtues that we get from doing sunnah fasting in the month of Shawwal:
1. Complete Ramadan Fasting Shortage
To complete the fardu prayer, we are encouraged to perform the sunnah rawatib prayers, namely qabliyah and ba’diyah. By practising sunnah prayers, the fardu prayers will be complete. Likewise, fasting the sunnah of Shawwal can complement the fast of Ramadan. The Prophet ﷺ said,
إِنَّ أَوَّلَ مَا يُحَاسَبُ بِهِ العَبْدُ يَوْمَ القِيَامَةِ مِنْ عَمَلِهِ صَلَاتُهُ، فَإِنْ صَلُحَتْ فَقَدْ أَفْلَحَ وَأَنْجَحَ، وَإِنْ فَسَدَتْ فَقَدْ خَابَ وَخَسِرَ، فَإِنْ انْتَقَصَ مِنْ فَرِيضَتِهِ شَيْءٌ، قَالَ الرَّبُّ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ: انْظُرُوا هَلْ لِعَبْدِي مِنْ تَطَوُّعٍ فَيُكَمَّلَ بِهَا مَا انْتَقَصَ مِنَ الفَرِيضَةِ، ثُمَّ يَكُونُ سَائِرُ عَمَلِهِ عَلَى ذَلِكَ
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “The first of man’s deeds for which he will be called to account on the Day of Resurrection will be Salat. If it is found to be perfect, he will be safe and successful; but if it is incomplete, he will be unfortunate and loss. If any shortcoming is found in the obligatory Salat, the Glorious and Exalted Rubb will command to see whether His servant has offered any voluntary (Sunnah) Salat so that the obligatory Salat may be made up by it. Then the rest of his actions will be treated in the same manner,” [At- Tirmidhi].
2. Permanent Reward of Fasting Throughout The Year
As promised in the Hadith of Prophet ﷺ in the book of Sahih Muslim, “Whoever fasts the month of Ramadan and then follows it with six days of fasting in the month of Shawwal, it will be as if he had fasted the year through.”
3. Getting Used to Fast After Ramadan is A Sign of Acceptance of Our Ramadan Fast
Verily, when Allah accepts someone’s good deed, he will reward them to do more good deeds after that.
ثواب الحسنة الحسنة بعدها فمن عمل حسنة ثم اتبعها بعد بحسنة كان ذلك علامة على قبول الحسنة الأولى كما أن من عمل حسنة ثم اتبعها بسيئة كان ذلك علامة رد الحسنة وعدم قبولها
The reward of a merit is another merit, so whoever performs a good deed and follows it by the another good deed, then it is a sign that the first deed is accepted by Allah; and whoever performs a good deed and follows it by committing a sin, then this is the sign that his deed is rejected.
4. Sign of Gratitude to Allah’s Blessings
Performing sunnah fasting in the month of Shawwal is a sign of our gratitude towards Allah’s abundant blessings in the month of Ramadan. Be it from fasting, qiyamul lail (night prayers), zakat, and other form of worship.
Based on the Prophet’s hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah r.a:
مَنْ صَامَ رَمَضَانَ إِيْمَانًا وَاحْتِسَابًا غُفِرَ لَهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْ ذَنْبِهِ [وفي رواية]: مَنْ قَامَ رَمَضَانَ إِيْمَانًا وَاحْتِسَابًا غُفِرَ لَهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْ ذَنْبِهِ
“Whoever fasts in the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.” [in another narration]: “Whoever liven up the night of Ramadan month out of faith and hope for Allah’s reward and please, then all his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
We should be grateful for Allah’s forgiveness by obediently worshipping, including performing fasting in Shawwal.
5. To Keep Connected With Ramadan Practices
The end of Ramadan does not mean the end of our worshipping practice. Instead, we should continue to strive in maintaining the quality and quantity of worship in the following months as we did in the month of Ramadan. It can be said that Shawwal fasting is one of the efforts we can do to maintain the worship that we do in the month of Ramadan.
The five points above are quoted from the book Lathâif al-Ma’ârif fîma li Mawâsim al-‘Am min al-Wadhâif by Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (Dar Ibn Hazm, first edition, 1424/2004, page. 219-223).
How to Fast in The Month of Shawwal
In his book Fatawa ar-Ramli, Imam ar-Ramli said he got a question about a person who has a dependent fast in Ramadan and is replaced in Shawwal, whether he gets the reward of making up and the reward of 6 days of Shawwal, he replied:
فأجاب: بأنه يحصل بصومه قضاء رمضان وإن نوى به غيره ويحصل له ثواب ستة من شوال وقد ذكر المسألة جماعة من المتأخرين
Then Imam ar-Ramli replied: “He will get the reward of making up for Ramadan by fasting 6 days of Shawwal, even if it is with other intentions. He will also get the reward of 6 days of Shawwal.This issue has been conveyed by the scholars of the last generation (contemporary).” (Imam ar-Ramli, Fatawa ar-Ramli, juz 2, p. 339).
The majority of scholars among the Shafi’i school say that fasting in the month of Shawwal might be performed continuously (in consecutive) after Eid al-Fitr, or separately. Both methods are equally rewarding as sunnah practice. However, it is better to do it continuously. (See, al-Fawaidul Mukhtarah, p. 231)
Allah has given extraordinary virtues to those who fast in the month of Shawwal. Let’s look at the following of Sheikh Muhammad Nawawi Al-Bantani book of Nihayatuz Zain.
( و ) الرابع صوم ( ستة من شوال ) لحديث من صام رمضان ثم أتبعه ستا من شوال كان كصيام الدهر ولقوله أيضا صيام رمضان بعشرة أشهر وصيام ستة أيام بشهرين فذلك صيام السنة أي كصيامها فرضا وتحصل السنة بصومها متفرقة منفصلة عن يوم العيد لكن تتابعها واتصالها بيوم العيد أفضل وتفوت بفوات شوال ويسن قضاؤها
“The fourth is (the six-day sunnah fasting in Shawwal) based on the hadith, ‘Whoever fasts Ramadan, then follows it with six days of fasting in Shawwal, it is as if he has fasted a whole year.’ Another hadith says, fasting a month of Ramadan is equivalent to fasting ten months, while fasting six days in Shawwal is equivalent to fasting two months. All of that seems to be equivalent to fasting (mandatory) for a whole year’. The virtue of the sunnah of fasting in Shawwal has been achieved by fasting it separately from the day of Eid. It’s just that it is better to perform it in a row. And the virtue of the sunnah of fasting in Shawwal will end as the month of Shawwal ends. But it is recommended to make up for it.” (See Sheikh Muhammad Nawawi Al-Bantani, Nihayatuz Zain, Al-Maarif, Bandung, No Year, page 197).
The narration above explains the time of six day sunnah fasting implementation in the month of Shawwal quite clearly. Ideally, the six-day Shawwal sunnah fast is done right after Eid al-Fitr on 2-7 Shawwal. However, those who fast outside that date will still receive the virtue of fasting in Shawwal as if they have completed an obligatory fasting for a whole year. Even though they do not do it consecutively.
Furthermore, people who make up the fast or fulfill their vows of fasting in the month of Shawwal will still get the virtues of those who do the sunnah fasting of Shawwal. The following information from Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Baijuri will be quite helpful to understand it.
وإن لم يصم رمضان كما نبه عليه بعض المتأخرين والظاهر كما قاله بعضهم حصول السنة بصومها عن قضاء أو نذر
“Fasting in Shawwal is still recommended even if a person does not fast in Ramadan, as some muta’akhirin scholars have warned. Yet to make it clear –as some scholars have said– is that a person will gets the benefit of the sunnah of fasting in Shawwal by fasting for qadha or fasting vows (in the month of Shawwal).” (See Ibrahim Al-Baijuri, Hasyiyatul Baijuri ‘alâ Syarhil ‘Allâmah Ibni Qasim, Darul Fikr, Juz I, page 214).
Some scholars even explain that people who voluntarily do fasting, such as Monday-Thursday, fasting in 3 white days monthly (date 13,14,15 of lunar month), or fasting of Prophet Dawood AS, still get the virtue of fasting in Shawwal.
ومما يتكرر بتكرر السنة (ستة من شوال) وإن لم يعلم بها أو نفاها أو صامها عن نذر أو نفل آخر أو قضاء عن رمضان أو غيره. نعم لو صام شوالا قضاء عن رمضان وقصد تأخيرها عنه لم يحصل معه فيصومها من القعدة
“One of the annual fasts is (fasting six days in Shawwal) even if that person does not know it, denies it, or performs votive fasting, other sunnah fasts, fasts to make up Ramadan, or other things (in Shawwal). However, if he fasts Ramadan in the month of Shawwal and he deliberately delays six days of fasting until Shawwal passes, then he does not get the priority of the sunnah of Shawwal so he fasts the sunnah of Shawwal on Dhul Qa’dah.” (See Sheikh Muhammad Nawawi Al-Bantani, Qutul Habibil Gharib, Tausyih alâ Ibni Qasim, Darul Fikr, Beirut, 1996/1417 H, page 117).
All of these sources show how great the virtue of fasting the sunnah of Shawwal is. So, the ideal time for its implementation is six days in a row after one Shawwal, but the virtue can still be obtained even by those who fast nonconsecutive sunnah in the month of Shawwal.
Contributed by Eka Budhi Setiani
Ustazah Eka Budhi Setiani, Lc, is one of the sharia advisors at Muslim Pro. A servant of Allah who studies the science of Usuluddin at Al-Azhar University – Cairo, Egypt. Currently she is devoting her knowledge by teaching at an Islamic school managed by the Education Department in a province. In addition, together with her husband, she currently manages her own Islamic boarding school in a small town in Banten Province called Ponpes Balonk Faidhul Barokaat.