Fasting the 6 days of Shawwal


the six fasts of shawwal

The reward of fasting the 6 days of Shawwal

Abu Ayyub Al Ansari (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that Allah’s Messenger said:

 “من صام رمضان وأتبعه بست مِنْ شَوَّالٍ، كَانَ كَصِيَامِ الدَّهْرِ ” رواه مسلم.

He who observed the fast of Ramadan and then followed it with six (fasts) of Shawwal, it would be as if he fasted for a lifetime. (Sahih Muslim)

In this hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said that the fasts of Ramadan with the 6 days fasts of Shawwal were like fasting a dahr. Dahr doesn’t mean a whole year, it means lifetime.

Many people are more familiar with this narration:

عن ثَوْبَانَ ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ : ” صِيَامُ شَهْرٍ بِعَشَرَةِ أَشْهُرٍ، وَسِتَّةِ أَيَّامٍ بَعْدَهُنَّ بِشَهْرَيْنِ، فَذَلِكَ تَمَامُ سَنَةٍ “. يَعْنِي شَهْرَ رَمَضَانَ وَسِتَّةَ أَيَّامٍ بَعْدَهُ. النسائي وأحمد والدارمي

Fasting one month equal ten months, and six days afterwards equals two months and this is one year. (Nasa’i and Ahmad)

It is from this narration that people equate these fasts with one year of fasting. Either way, we can see that the reward is huge. So both narrations are saying the same thing, if you do this every year it’s like you have fasted the whole year all your life.

Should we make up missed fasts before we do the 6 fasts of Shawwal?

The hadith says, ‘Whoever fasts Ramadan and follows it by fasting 6 days in Shawwal’, and as the missing days of Ramadan are part of Ramadan, you ought to make up the missed days of Ramadan before you do the additional fasts of Shawwal. This is one opinion.

Can we make a combined intention to make up missed fasts and the Shawwal fasts?

Another opinion is that we can make the intention in Shawwal to make up the missing days of Ramadan and because we are fasting in Shawwal, we can hope that we will get the reward of fasting in both Ramadan and Shawwal. By making up the missing days of Ramadan in Shawwal you will inshallah get the reward of both.

Yet another opinion is that you can combine the intention of the fard which you missed and the sunnah of Shawwal, but it’s disagreed upon.

Can you make the Shawwal fasts up first and then the Ramadan ones later?

Yes you can. But in general we should fulfil our obligations before we do extra voluntary acts of worship. Just as we should pay zakat before we give sadaqa, or perform Hajj, before going on Umrah, the Shawwal fasts are less important than the Fard. Though the Sunnah is important it is not an obligation. Therefore preferable to make up the missing Fard before doing the Sunnah.

Do the 6 fasts after Ramadan have to be made up in Shawwal?

According to some scholars, it is possible to postpone the 6 fasts of Shawwal. These scholars in the Maliki school say that the 6 extra fasts can be done even after Shawwal. Though this is a matter of disagreement among scholars, even within the Maliki school. Those who follow the opinion quote Ibn Al-Arabi Al-Maliki that the Hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him) saying:

“Whoever fasts Ramadan and follows it with six of Shawwal… is just as an example, and what is meant is:

Fasting Ramadan is the reward of ten months, and fasting six days the reward of two months, and that is the Madhab [means the opinion of Imam Malik]. Other than Shawwal, the ruling would still apply.

He said: This is an amazing consideration, so know it. (Tahdheeb al-Furuq 2/191)

While the majority of scholars in the Hanafi, Maliki and Shafi school are of the opinion that the hadith is restricted to Shawwal, this opinion gives hope to those who missed completing the 6 fasts during Shawwal. They can fast after Shawwal with this intention, especially ladies who may have many fasts to make up from Ramadan.

Some people feel that this opinion will make people relaxed about keeping up the momentum to fast after Ramadan. It is not my intention to discourage people who could have fasted in Shawwal from fasting, or to encourage people to postpone fasting, but it means that those who were unable to fast in Shawwal due to their personal circumstances, still have the hope of earning the same reward inshallah as those who fasted in Shawwal.

May Allah enable us to be fulfil our obligations and be consistent in our efforts to please Him. Ameen