General Islamic Topic

Fasting Six Days of Shawal: Ruling whether Consecutive and Combining Intentions?

On the authority of Abu Ayyub, the Messenger of Allah said, “Fasting Ramadan and following it with six days from Shawal is like continual fasting.” [Narrated by Muslim]

This is because the reward of actions is multiplied (at least) ten-fold. So Ramadan is like fasting 300 days, and the six days of Shawal like fasting 60 days. The Prophet himself stated this explicitly: “Fasting Ramadan is like fasting ten months and fasting six days [of Shawal] is like fasting for two months. That is like fasting a full year.” [Narrated by Ahmad and An-Nasa’i]

1. Religiously recommended. Based on the outward purport of this above hadith, the majority of the scholars–including Imam Shafi’i, Imam Ahmad, and Imam Abu Hanifa consider it a recommended sunnah to fast six days in Shawal. There are narrations from Abu Hanifa indicating its disliked-ness, but these are understood to relate to considering it a duty to fast these days. [Refers Nawawi, Majmu’; Ibn Qudama, Mughni; Ibn al-Humam/Marghinani, Fath al-Qadir ‘ala al-Hidaya; Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

2. Consecutive or not? Some of the scholars considered it recommended to fast these days consecutively after Eid al-Fitr, including Imam Shafi’i. They based this on a hadith related by Tabarani and others in which the Prophet is reported to have said, “Fasting six consecutive days after Eid al-Fitr is like fasting the entire year.”

Other scholars, including both the Hanbalis and Hanafis, considered it the same to fast consecutively or not–because they deemed the above hadith to be excessively weak.

However, they caution that one shouldn’t put it off such that one ends up missing the great reward of fasting six days. It is also a consideration that avoiding difference of opinion is religiously recommended–so trying to fast the six days consecutively would appear to be superior.

3. Combining intentions with missed fasts. It is valid to combine the intention of making up missed Ramadan fasts and the Sunnah of fasting the six days of Shawal, though performing both separately is greater in reward.

The wisdom of fasting these six days.

Among the benefits of fasting the six days of Shawal is:

  1. Sign of acceptance. It is a sign of the acceptance of one’s Ramadan fasts. This is because a sign of Allah’s accepting a good deed is to be granted the success to perform similar good deeds, with consistency.
  2. Consistency itself is beloved. The actions most beloved to Allah and the Messenger are those done most consistently.
  3. Sign of thankfulness. Fasting these six days is an expression of thankfulness for the reward of fasting that Allah grants on the day of Eid. Continuing to fast is a sign of being, as the Prophet described himself, “A truly thankful servant.” Thankfulness is the key to increase, and a means of securing one’s blessings and good.
  4. Sign of commitment to continue. Fasting these six days is a sign of one’s commitment to continue in worship and submission to Allah, willingly–and not merely out of obligation.

What if Unable to Fast Six Days of Shawal?

If unable to fast the six days of Shawal due to some genuine excuse, one should make the firm intention that if this excuse didn’t exist one would have fasted. If one is sincere & true in one’s intention, then one will–by Divine Grace–have the full reward of fasting these days, because, “Actions are by their intentions, and each person shall have whatever they intended,” as the Prophet explained [Narrated by Muslim]. The signs of being true in one’s intention is that if one’s excuse is lifted, one hastens to fulfill the intended matter.

And Allah alone gives success.


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