• 24 May

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The Virtue of Fasting in the Month of Shawwal

The month of Shawwal brings more opportunities to perform righteous deeds and earn multiplied rewards. Shawwal is the 10th month of the Islamic calendar, which begins after Ramadan ends. The moon of Shawwal marks the beginning of the Eid festival. The joyous occasion of Eid-al-Fitr takes place on the 1st of Shawwal. Apart from the Eid celebration, the month of Shawwal continues the spirit of Ramadan in many ways. One way to revive the blessing of Ramadan is by fasting.

The Significance of Shawwal Fasting

Fasting in Shawwal contains immense virtue. It is not obligatory to fast in Shawwal, but it is an established Sunnah and a matter of great reward. There are sound reports from the Prophet (PBUH) on the importance of fasting in the month of Shawwal. In a hadith, the Prophet (PBUH) said:

“Whoever fasts Ramadan and then follows it with six [days] from Shawwal, it is as if they have fasted a year” [Sahih Muslim]

According to another report:

“Fasting for the month of Ramadan brings the reward of ten like it, and fasting for six days brings the reward of two months, and that is the fasting of the whole year.” [Ibn Khuzaymah]

It is believed that fasting in the month of Shawwal compensates for any shortcomings of Ramadan. The scholars compare Shawwal fasting to voluntary prayers that are offered straight after the compulsory prayers. The acts of worship observed on a voluntary basis are rewarded highly as these are performed solely for the sake of Allah (SWT). Similarly, the recommended fasts of Shawwal make up for any shortfalls of the obligatory fasting period.

How to Observe the 6 Fasts of Shawwal

The above hadith highlights the enormous reward for six Shawwal fasts. The scholars have explained how to observe these voluntary fasts in Shawwal. According to some scholars, it is better to fast on consecutive days at the beginning of Shawwal. However, the majority opinion informs us that it is not necessary for Shawwal fasting to be consecutive. It is permissible to have a break in between the fasts or fast in different parts of the month as long as the six days are completed.

It is also advisable to make up for missed Ramadan fasts before observing the voluntary fasts of Shawwal. Allah (SWT) encourages believers to compete with each other in performing righteous deeds, as emphasised by the following verse.

“So compete in good deeds. The return of you (all) is to Allah; then He will inform you about that in which you used to differ.” [Al-Quran 5:48]

Benefits of Observing Shawwal Fasts

The reward for fasting the entire year: 

As mentioned in hadith, fasting in Shawwal involves the reward for fasting for a complete year. A hadith of the Prophet (PBUH) explains that a good deed is increased ten times in reward for a believer.

“Allah has made for each Hashanah ten like it, so a month is like fasting ten months, and fasting six days completes the year.” (al-Nasai and Ibn Majah)

In light of the above narrations and scholarly explanation, observing Shawwal fasts every year could amount to fasting for a lifetime!

The blessing of dua at Iftar time:

With the end of Ramadan, many people experience a kind of emptiness. Fasting in Shawwal brings another chance to fill our days with the beauty of Ramadan dua. Observing the six fasts of Shawwal means more Iftar meals in the company of loved ones. It also means more opportunities for the acceptance of dua.

Nurturing good habits: 

Shawwal fasts help believers strengthen the good habits learnt during Ramadan. These include gratefulness, avoiding extravagance in cooking and consuming food and remembering the less fortunate. Fasting reminds us of those who do not have enough to feed themselves and their families. It provides a great platform for bringing positive changes to our eating habits and adopting healthier lifestyles. The month of Shawwal offers the right environment for practising these good habits for longer until they become second nature to the fasting person.

Shawwal is also a great month to get into the habit of fasting occasionally at other times of the year, particularly on the white days. Fasting on the white days is recommended by the Prophet (PBUH) in the following hadith.

“Fasting three days of each month is fasting for a lifetime, and ayyam al-beed are the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth.” [al-Nasai 2420]

Gratitude and charity: 

The fasting of Shawwal is a way of showing gratefulness to Allah (SWT) for His countless blessings, particularly the blessings of Ramadan and Eid-al-Fitr. The believers are encouraged to continue the spirit of gratitude and giving in the path of Allah (SWT) even after the month of Ramadan ends. Fasting and charity go hand in hand. Although charitable deeds include other acts of kindness, donating to help people in need is highly recommended.

It is important to keep on spreading kindness during the month of Shawwal. You can support charitable organisations working to alleviate the suffering of the most vulnerable individuals. Extend your kindness and donate to Orphans in Need to help widows and orphans around the world.