There is no denying the fact that Ramadan is the most celebrated and awaited month of the Islamic lunar calendar. It is the month of blessings and mercy in which every Muslim tries to make the most out of it by spending as much time possible in prayers and worship of Allah Almighty. Therefore, the sacredness and grandeur or Ramadan is undeniable and unquestionable.
The sad fact is that like all other months Ramadan also has to come to an end, however, the end of Ramadan is as blissful for a Muslim as is its beginning because after the end of Ramadan comes the month of Shawal. There are a many things for which Shawal is known, the most prominent of all is the 6 fasts of this month. The lines below discuss the importance of the month of Shawal in general and the imperativeness of six fasts in it.
Before moving on to the specialty imparted on the month of Shawal by Islam, it is imperative that one knows about its pre- Islamic context as well. In the pre- Islamic era the month of Shawal was notorious for its marriage breaking superstition. The Arabs of that time believed that people who got married in the month of Shawal their marriage did not last and they had to separate. Thus, the month of Shawal was known for its bad omens in the pre- Islamic era.
Shawal in Islam:
The pre- Islamic notions pertaining to the month of Ramadan was refuted by Islam and Islam regarded this month as one of the Holiest months in the Islamic calendar. The best example of this month is the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr in the this month. The lines below discuss the major components for which Shawal is known in the Islamic history.
Eid-ul-Fitr – The first and perhaps the most renowned attribute of the month of Shawal is the festival of Eid-ul-Fitr. The festival is celebrated on at the end of Ramadan on the first of the month of Shawal. It is an occasion of joy and happiness where Muslims who have fasted during the whole month of Ramadan rejoice and celebrate the gathering and give thanks to Allah. Therefore, the bad omen notion of Shawal is denied and refused straight away during the start of the month.
Birth of Hazrat Aisha (RA) – Hazrat Aisha (RA) was the wife of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). She was born in the month of Shawal. There is a vast majority of hadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) narrated by Her and She was known for Her wisdom and piety among Muslims. Moreover, She also got married to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in the month of Shawal as well.
Battle of Uhd – The battle of Uhd was the second Ghazwa fought by Muslims under the command of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It is a renowned Ghazwa as in it Muslims did not comply wholly to the commands of Prophet (PBUH) and the won battle turned into a lost one.
Birth Of Hazrat Hussain (RA) – Hazrat Hussain (RA) was the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the son of Hazrat Ali (RA) and Hazrat Fatima (RA). He is one of the most renowned icons for Muslim youth and was known for His piety and bravery.
Demise Of Abut Talib (RA) – Hazrat Abu Talib (RA) was the uncle of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the father of Hazrat Ali (RA). He is renoned as the protector and caretaker of Prophet (PBUH) after His parents had died and when He started preaching Islam.
Fasting In Shawal:
Although the festival of Eid single handedly grabs all the attraction and attention associated with the month of Shawal. However, there is another Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that is renowned because of its association with the month of Ramadan and that Sunnah is of fasting. There are numerous hadith of Prophet (PBUH) that address keeping fast in the month of Shawal and its virtues.
In one of the hadiths, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
“Whoever fasts Ramadan and follows it with six days from Shawwal it is as if they fasted the entire year.” (Muslim)
Ramadan is the month of fasting, therefore, keeping fast in that month is obligatory. However, if a Muslim keeps six fasts in the month of Shawal as well then it would mean as if he or she has fasted for the whole year. The thing to consider from the aforementioned hadith is that keeping the fasts of Shawal only don’t yield the desired benefit or significance, until and unless they are complemented with the obligatory fasts of the month of Ramadan. Similarly, the fasts of Ramadan are the fasts of Ramadan, to earn year long benefits, they have to be complimented with the fasts of Shawal.
In another hadith, Prophet (PBUH) said:
“Whoever fasts Ramadan and then six days after Eid, it is an entire year. Whoever does a good deed shall have ten times its reward.” (Ibn Majah)
From this hadith it is clear that in addition to receiving the reward for the entire month, the reward for the deeds committed during the days of fast also multiply ten times. Therefore, one should not limit the fasts of Shawal to fasting only, rather one must also go for doing as much good deeds as possible such as helping others, worshiping Allah, Quran recitation, Dhikr and so on.
In short, although with the end of Ramadan the fasting experience ends, however, one can continue the same experience along with the same ambiance of blessings and mercy by keeping 6 fasts in the month of Shawal. Thus, the blessings don’t end with the arrival of Shawal, rather Shawal reinvigorates them.