Ramadan is the most sacred month of the Islamic Calendar; during with the true disciples of Islam fulfill the 4th Pillar of Islam, i.e. fasting for 30 consecutive days in order to please the Almighty Lord. Muslims throughout the world keep away from fulfilling their physiological needs like eating and drinking etc. along with maintaining the overall state of morality. The act of fasting has been prescribed for the believers by Allah SWT from a very long time.
“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.” [Quran, 2: 183]
The above mentioned Ayah describes the great significance of accomplishing the sacred deed of “Soum” (fasting) which is to make the devotees more upright in their actions. It means that it is continuous act which should be carried out regularly the whole year instead of just in Ramadan. It is because fasting is a shield and it can help to fortify and improve one`s belief and faith in God`s commandments. The Holy Prophet ﷺ used to fast frequently before and after the highly blessed period of Ramadan, especially after Eid ul-Fitr.
“Whoever fasts Ramadan, then follows it with six days (of fasting) of Shawwal, it as if he fasted the entire year” (Muslim)
It shows that Rasulullah ﷺ has directed us to accomplish Nafl (Non Obligatory) Six Soum of Shawwal as well besides those in Ramadan. He (PBUH) also called fasting in Ramadan as well as 6 days of Shawwal equal to carrying it out in the entire year time. On another account, the Messenger ﷺ is reported by Thawban (R.A) to have 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)
This Hadith beautifully makes it clear to the audience about how the act of fasting in Shawwal in addition to that of Ramadan renders reward equal to that of entire year.
Virtues of Fasting in Shawwal
Maintaining Soum in Shawwal is Nafl (Mustahab). Since the Sunnah of Hazrat Muhammad ﷺ contains the best code of action for the believers, therefore, fasting in 6 days of Shawwal must also lead to one`s moral development. Some of the potential virtues of this act are described as under:
1. First of all, every extra noble effort made in the way of Allah SWT brings one closer to Him, which ultimately results in purification of heart and soul.
“O you who have believed, fear Allah and seek the means [of nearness] to Him and strive in His cause that you may succeed.” [Quran, 5: 35]
This Ayah Kareema clearly explains the value of availing the opportunity of carrying out every dignified attempt to come nearer to the Almighty Lord. Fasting in Shawwal is also one of those noble deeds making one come closer to the Almighty Lord resulting in achievement in both worlds.
2. It shows the positive effects that fasting in Ramadan has on an individual. After a month long struggle of hunger and thirst for the Most Beneficent, returning to same routine after Eid tells that the person has succeeded in its effort during Ramadan and is on the right path.
3. Fasting in 6 days of Shawaal after having celebrated Eid ul-Fitr for three consecutive days demonstrates that a believer is humble and highly grateful to Allah SWT for all the blessings received during the festival.
“… Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.” [Quran, 2: 185]
This is a part of a Quranic Verse which is a continuation of Allah`s command on fasting in Ramadan. In the end, the Gracious God directs everyone to be thankful to Him. This is the exact achievement that one unlocks by fasting in 6 days of Shawaal.
Benefits of Fasting in Shawaal
Some of the advantages of the act of Soum in six days of Shawaal after Ramadan include:
1. It will compensate for one`s lacking in compulsory Fasting on the Day of Judgment. The Holy Prophet ﷺ said:
“The first thing for which people will be brought to account on the Day of Resurrection will be their salah (prayer). Our Lord, may He be glorified and exalted, will say to His angels – although He knows best – ‘Look at the salah of My slave, whether it is complete or incomplete.’ If it is perfect, it will be recorded as perfect, and if something is lacking, He will say, ‘Look and see whether My slave did any voluntary (nafil) prayers.’ If he did some voluntary prayers, [Allah] will say, complete the obligatory actions of My slave from his voluntary actions.’ Then all his actions will be dealt with in a similar manner.” (Abu Dawud)
It means that by fasting in Shawaal for only 6 days can make it up for any kind of deficiency done during Ramadan as it is Nafl action which is also dear to Allah SWT.
2. Thawban (R.A) reported the Messenger ﷺ saying as:
“Whoever fasts Ramadan, and then six days after Eid, it is [like fasting] an entire year. Whoever does a good deed shall have ten times its reward.” (Ibn Majah)
This Hadith suggests that one is able to earn as much as ten times of reward through fasting in Shawaal after Ramadan.
3. Narrated by Abu Hurrairah (R.A):
“The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, though there is good in both. Be avid for that which benefits you. Rely on Allah and do not deem yourself incapable…” (Muslim)
Thus, by fasting in 6 days of Shawaal which is a sign that one has increased faith in its heart than normal Muslims, it proves that this act results in attaining the Love of the Most Merciful and becoming prominent in front of Him.
In short, fasting in six days after Eid ul-Fitr is an exceedingly blessed action that is not to be taken lightly. Although it is Sunnah Mustahab, yet it comes up with fulfillment of high morals of virtue and renders countless gains for a believer.