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'Every good deed of Adam's son is for him except fasting; it is for Me and I shall reward (the fasting person) for it.'

Fasting 6 Days of Shawwāl : Why & How?

shawwal fast why and howBismillah
Rabbi Zidnee Ilman
”My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.”

Nobody can deny that Ramadān is a spiritually charged month. It’s the one month of the year that is guaranteed to bring even the furthest person from Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’aala) that little bit closer. A month full of Qur’an, taraweeh, tahajjud and iftar with family and friends leads us nicely to the celebration of Eid-al-Fitr. And then come the presents! The money, the day-trips, the toys and of course Eid breakfast.

But what happens after this month? Do we put away our mus’haf and say goodbye to fasting until next Ramadān arrives? Unfortunately, for many of us that is exactly what happens. In some minds, fasting is reserved only for Ramadān. However, for the portion of Muslims Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) has favoured, fasting the month of Ramadān is only the beginning. And when Ramadān is over this favoured portion fast just six days of Shawwāl which is equivalent to fasting one whole year.

The Messenger of Allah (Salallahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said: “Whoever fasts Ramadān and follows it with six days from Shawwāl it is as if they fasted the entire year.”
[Muslim]

Why should we fast the 6 days of Shawwāl?
There are two reasons these six days have been made available to us. The first is so we follow the deeds of Ramadān with more good deeds; and the second is to give us the reward of fasting the entire year. We should see this as a mercy from Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala). The Al-Mighty is not in need of our worship. We mustn’t fool ourselves into believing that any worship we do benefits Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala). It doesn’t. As a matter of fact, in a famous hadith qudsi, Allah says: “If all of you, jinn and mankind, were to worship me like the most righteous amongst you, it would not increase the dominion of Allah in any way, shape or form.”
Any worship we do, therefore, is purely for our own benefit, and any opportunity He gives us to please Him is one that we should be grateful for. One way in which to express this gratitude is to take the golden opportunities that are presented to you. And as Muslims, when we aim for something, we should aim for its highest possible form. When we aim for Jannah, we should aim for Jannat-ul-Firdaws, the highest Paradise of all seven levels and the one that boasts Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala’s throne as its roof.

Our Prophet (Salallahu aleyhi wa sallam) has been narrated as saying: “When you ask Allah, ask for Al-Firdaws which is the best and highest part of Paradise,”
[Bukhari].

Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) makes it very clear that just as there are ranks and levels of Paradise and Hellfire, there are also ranks between the believers in righteousness:
“Look how We have favoured [in provision] some of them over others. But the Hereafter is greater in degrees [of difference] and greater in distinction.”
{Surah Al ‘Isra’ 17: Verse 21}

In Jannah inShaAllah, the people in the lower levels of Paradise will look up to those above them in wonder and amazement. The Rasool (Salallahu aleyhi wa sallam) explains this further:

“The people of Paradise will look at the people dwelling in the chambers above them in the same way that people look at a brilliant star shining far away on the horizon, in the East or West, because of their superiority [in reward] over them.” The people asked, “O Messenger of Allah, are these the dwellings of the Prophets which no one else can attain?” He replied, “No by the One in Whose Hand is my soul, they are for the men who believed in Allah, and also in His Messengers.”
[Muslim and Bukhari]

The best of the best will go to Jannat-ul-Firdaws, while the lower ranks among the best will be dispersed throughout the other six stations of Jannah. Of course when in Jannah, we won’t feel any jealousy or unhappiness regarding our station. We’ll be content inShaAllah, with each and every one of us seeing and hearing things that we could never have imagined. Even so, we must aim for the best because if one falls short of their aim for Jannat-ul-Firdaws, there are still six other stations one can land on inShaAllah. Falling short of your aim for the lowest level of Paradise, however, is a risk none of us should want to take. For this reason, we should attempt to perform sunnah acts of worship. We owe it to ourselves to do everything we can to achieve the highest level of Jannah.

How do I fast the 6 days of Shawwāl?
There are three important points to consider:
1. It is agreed upon by the majority of scholars – Hanbali, Shafi’i and Hanafi – that it is sinful to fast on the days of Eid. This means you should wait until Eid is over and then begin to fast your 6 days of Shawwāl.
2. It is permitted to fast these 6 days consecutively or separately throughout the month.
3. For those of us who have fasts to make-up after the month of Ramadān, for valid reasons such as menstruation or travel, there are differences of opinion as to whether these obligatory fasts can be combined with these six sunnah fasts. While Imam Hanbali stated it is impermissible to combine the intention of fasting to make-up missed fasts with voluntary fasts, Imam Malik is of the opinion that it is permissible and is in line with the Prophet’s (Salallahu aleyhi wa sallam) sunnah of following simplicity.

And Allah knows best.
On the Day of Judgement, if our obligatory acts are for some reason incomplete, Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) will look to the voluntary acts of worship we performed. Fill up your bank of good deeds while you can, so that on the Day of Judgement you will be among those to whom the angels say:

“Peace be upon you; you have become pure; so enter it to abide eternally therein.”
{Surat Az-Zumar 39: Verse 73}

Authored by Iimaan Shayma
Edited and Drafted by Sana Abdul Samad

Prophet Muhammad - "Convey (knowledge) from me even if it is just one ayah" [Bukhari 3461]

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