بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيْم

اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْن،وَالصَّلاۃ وَالسَّلامُ عَلَی النَّبِیِّ الْکَرِيم وَعَلیٰ آله وَاَصْحَابه اَجْمَعِيْن۔

FASTING OF SIX DAYS IN THE MONTH OF SHAWWAL

Is observing six fasts in Shawwal Farz or Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH)?

We don't find evidences neither in the Holy Qur’an nor in Ahadeeth of the Prophet (PBUH) which may lead us to say that fasting of six days in the month of Shawwal (10th month of the Islamic calendar) is obligatory. Therefore, Muslim Ummah unanimously agreed that it is not obligatory fasting like Ramadan, rather it is Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH). Majority of the scholars have the same opinion. They are of the view that though six days of fasting in the month of Shawwal is not obligatory, there is no doubt that it is the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH).  Only Imam Malik (RHA) has a different view on the subject, he wrote in his book "Mu’atta Malik" that it is 'makrooh' (reprehensible) to observe fast for six days just after Eid celebration, i.e. fasting for six days from 2nd Shawwal on regular basis. Actually, some people started celebrating at the end of six days of Shawwal’s fasting too, just like the practice at the end of Ramadan. That might be the reason which compelled Imam Malik (RHA) to consider it as a makrooh (reprehensible). Moreover, if this practice had prevailed at that time, it would have been difficult to distinguish between the fasting of Ramadan and the fasting of Shawwal and people would have learnt that both had equal importance, while this was not true in the light of the Qur’an and Hadeeth. Fasting in the month of Ramadan is highly important and an obligatory action, while fasting in Shawwal is a desirable deed and it depends on a person's choice. If a person observes it, he follows the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) and would be rewarded for that, if he leaves it, he commits no sin. Imam Malik's (RHA) view may be based on this point and in order to highlight the importance of Ramadan, he considered it as a reprehensible deed. Imam Qurtubi (RHA) has also written that some people in the city of Khurasan used to observe fast for six days from 2nd Shawwal just like Ramadan. However, opinion of majority of the scholars is that fasting of six days in the month of Shawwal is Sunnah and there is no problem at all if anyone observes it, rather it is a rewardable deed.

Virtue of Six Fasts in the Month of Shawwal:

It is narrated by Abu Ayyub Ansari (RA) that the Prophet (PBUH) said: 'Whoever observes fasting in Ramadan, and then he also observes six fasts in the month of Shawwal, he is just like the one who observes fast throughout the year' (Sahih Muslim, Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi, Ibne Majah). In the above Hadeeth, the Arabic word 'Dahr' has been used which means 'Time/ era', but here it means complete one year and that is because of other Ahadeeth. The Prophet (PBUH) has expressed the virtue of the six fasts in the month of Shawwal and has given glad tidings to his Ummah that if fasting of Ramadan is followed by six days fasting in Shawwal, it would be a great virtuous deed. The one who observes it deserves great rewards, his six day fasting is just as if he has observed the fasting of the whole year. The virtue of fasting complete one year is based on Almighty Allah's generosity. Allah the Almighty has promised at least 10 virtues for every virtuous deed in His book, He says: 'If anyone comes with one good deed he would be given 10 virtues' (Surah al-An’aam, 160). According to this generous promise of Allah the Almighty, a person deserves virtue of 10 months' fasting, for one month of Ramadan's fasting. Similarly he deserves virtue of fasting for 60 days, i.e. two months, if he fasts for six days in the month of Shawwal. Now if we add 10 months and 60 days, which is equal to two months, it would be in total one complete year, thus the Prophet (PBUH) expressed the virtue of one year. In addition to this, scholars have expressed that six days fasting in the month of Shawwal is the supplement for the shortcomings and mistakes made while fasting in Ramadan. Because of these six fasting Allah the Almighty forgives all that lessens the value of Ramadan's fasting. It is just like Sunan and Nawafil (supererogatory) salah, which is a supplement for the Farz (Obligatory) prayer. Nafl prayer removes mistakes and becomes supplement for Farz salah, the same thing is with the six days fasting of Shawwal, it is supplement for the Farz (obligatory) fasting of Ramadan. The same thing was described very clearly by the Prophet (PBUH) as well.

Six fasts of Shawwal are not necessary to be observed on regular basis:

In the light of the Prophet's (PBUH) traditions we find that it is not necessary to observe the fast for six days on regular basis. It is optional, it may be observed on regular basis or with a gape. It is declared by Ahanaf (one of the four Islamic schools of thought) scholars, as well as by Saudi Council of great scholars that it is not compulsory to observe 6 fasts of Shawwal on regular basis. Similarly it is not conditioned to observe fast of Shawwal just after Ramadan, starting it from the 2nd of Shawwal. A person can observe it according to his/her convenience, it may be completed in the first part or the middle part of the month or it may be at the end of the month. The only thing which should be kept in mind is that, it should be in the month of Shawwal and it should be 6 in number. Whosoever, fulfils this condition, will get the virtue of this fasting.

Different opinions about the type of virtue of Shawwal’s fasting:

If a person observes fasting of Shawwal for six days, he will get the virtue of one year's fasting. Which type of virtue would it be?  Virtue of one year obligatory fasting or Nafl fasting? Scholars are in two groups, Imam Shafa'ee and Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (RHA) are of the view that he will get the virtue of Farz fasting, while Ahnaf specifically Imam Abu Hanifah says that it would be one year Nafl fasting' s virtue. Both groups argued but none of them mentioned clear and solid evidences in support of their views. There is no clear proof which may describe the type of virtue. Anyway, it is sure that if a person observes fast for 6 days in the month of Shawwal he will get the virtue of one year's fasting. There are different opinions about the type of virtue.

Which fasts should be kept first, Qadha of Ramadan or 6 fasts of Shawwal?

If anyone missed some Ramadan fasts due to Shari’ah reasons, he will complete it after Ramadan, but it is not conditioned that it should be observed first then 6 fasts of Shawwal, rather it is optional, he can observe any of them just after Ramadan, both fasting would be valid and lawful. The reason for this is that Qadha (completion) of Ramadan's fasts is not bounded to be made indispensably just after Ramadan, it may be completed according to the convenience in any month. At the time of Prophet (PBUH) it was the common habit of women to complete Ramadan fasting after 11 months in the month of Sha'ban, which comes just before Ramadan. Even the same habit prevailed among ‘Mothers of believers’ (RA) too. If we look at the Prophet's (SAW) traditions, we find the same. Only Imam Ahmad ibne Hanbal (RHA) has different view regarding Qadha of Ramadan’s fasts. To him, it is unlawful to observe Nafl Shawwal fasts before the completion of farz (obligatory) Ramadan's fasts.

Earlier, we have discussed opinions of scholars about the type of the virtue which would be given to those who observe six fasts of Shawwal after Ramadan. Now the question is that if a person has not completed his Ramadan’s fasts yet, how will he get the virtues of the whole year's fasting? The answer to this question is that Almighty Allah is great and very generous, seeing His bounties upon us we may hope that He would give this reward also to the one who observes 6 fasts of Shawwal, even though he has not completed Ramadan's fasts yet.

Note: If anyone started observing fasts of Shawwal and completed one or two but later due to some reasons he could not complete 6 fasts, in this case he is not liable to make Qadha of the remaining ones, because it is not Farz fasts. Similarly, anyone who observes 6 fasts of Shawwal every year, if he misses it any year, there would be neither any sin on his part nor he would have to make Qadha for that.

Mohammad Najeeb Qasmi (www.najeebqasmi.com)