Virtues of Fasting Six Days in Shawwâl
Abu Ayyub al-Ansari relates that Allah’s Messenger ﷺ says: “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 they had fasted the year through” (Sahih Muslim 1163).
The month of Shawwal is singled out for the observance of extra fasts since this month follows immediately after Ramadan. The six days of voluntary fasting in Shawwal compare to how the Sunnah prayers compare to the obligatory prayers.
It is related from Thawban that the Prophet ﷺ said: “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.” (Sahih Ibn Khuzaymah 2115).
Scholars have explained that it is like observing a year of fasting because the reward of one’s good deeds is multiplied tenfold. Therefore fasting during the month of Ramadan is like fasting for ten months, and fasting for six days in the month of Shawwal is like fasting for two months.
Virtues of Fasting Six Days in Shawwal
- The reward of fasting throughout the year
- Like the Sunnah prayers, these extra fasts cover up for the deficiencies in our performance of our obligatory worship.
- On the Day of Judgment, our voluntary acts of worship will compensate for the shortcomings in carrying out our duties. Most of us have deficiencies in the observance of our Ramadan fasts, and we need something to cover up for those deficiencies.
Returning to fasting right after Ramadan signifies that our fasts were accepted. When Allah accepts our worship, He blesses us to engage in further acts of righteousness. The saying goes: The reward of virtue is additional virtue. Therefore, following one good deed with others like it signifies that Allah has accepted the first deed. By contrast, if a sinful act follows a person’s good deed, it indicates that the first good deed might not have been accepted.
- Those who observe the fast of Ramadan are given their compensation on the day of Eid al-Fitr.
- Getting into the habit of fasting again is a means of giving thanks to Allah for the blessings we have received. There is no blessing greater than forgiveness for one’s sins, and we know that the fast of Ramadan is recompensed with forgiveness of one’s previous sins.
Indeed, Allah has commanded us to give thanks for the blessings of the Ramadan fast and to do so by mentioning Him and other means of giving thanks. Allah says: “(He wants you) to complete the number of days, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you, and perchance you may give thanks” (Quran 2:185).
Fasting these days in Shawwâl is one way to express our thanks for Allah blessing us in our observance of the Ramadan fast. It is known that some of the Pious Predecessors would try to get up at night to pray the Tahajjud prayer. When Allah blessed them to wake up and do so, they would fast the next day in thanks to Allah for gifting them to observe that prayer.
Once Wuhayb b. al-Ward was asked about the blessings of various acts of devotion, and he replied: “Do not ask about the blessings that can be earned by performing these acts of worship. Rather, ask how you can show your thanks to Allah if He blesses you to perform them, for he is the one who assists us in doing so.”
Every blessing that Allah gives us is something that we have to be thankful for. Moreover, when Allah blesses us to show thanks, this is a further blessing from Allah that deserves further thanks from us. If we offer additional thanks, this, in turn, is another blessing earning our gratitude. There is no end to this; we can never be thankful enough. When we recognize that our thanks are never enough, this is the highest expression of gratitude we can give.
By Sh. Jamal Said