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Fasting the six days of Shawwal

Fasting six days of Shawwal after the obligatory fast of Ramadan is Sunnah mustahab, not wajib.
It is recommended for the Muslim to fast six days of Shawwal, and in this there is great virtue and an immense reward. Whoever fasts these six days will have recorded for him a reward as if he had fasted a whole year, as was reported in a Sahih Hadith from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Abu Ayyub (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever fasts Ramadan and follows it with six days of Shawwal, it will be as if he fasted for a lifetime.” (Narrated by Muslim, Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nisa’i and Ibn Majah)
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) explained this when he said: “Whoever fasts for six days after Eid Al-Fitr has completed the year: (Whoever does a good deed (hasanah) will have 10 hasanah like it).”
According to another report: “Allah has made for each hasanah 10 like it, so a month is like fasting 10 months, and fasting six days completes the year.” (An-Nisa’i and Ibn Majah). It was also narrated by Ibn Khuzaymah with the wording: “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.”
The Hanbali and Shafii fuqaha explained that fasting six days of Shawwal after fasting Ramadan makes it as if one has fasted for an entire year of obligatory fasts, because the multiplication of the reward applies even to nafil fasts, because each hasanah brings the reward of ten like it.
Another of the important benefits of fasting six days of Shawwal is that is makes up for any shortfall in a person’s obligatory Ramadan fasts, because no one is free of shortcomings or sins that have a negative effect on his fasting. On the Day of Resurrection, some of his nafl deeds will be taken to make up the shortcomings in his obligatory deeds.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) 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 (nafl) prayers.” If he did some voluntary prayers, 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.” (Narrated by Abu Dawud)
One can start fasting six days of Shawwal from the second day of Shawwal, because it is haram to fast on the day of Eid. One can fast the six days at any time during Shawwal, although the best of good deeds are those which are done soonest.
Or, they may be done consecutively or separately during the month of Shawwal, according to what is easier for a person. There is a plenty of room for maneuver in this matter, and this is not obligatory, it is Sunnah.
It is not a necessary condition that they should be fasted consecutively. If you fast them separately or consecutively, it is OK. The sooner you do them, the better, because Allah says (interpretation of the meanings): “So compete in good deeds.” (Qur’an, 5:48); “And march forth in the way (which leads to) forgiveness from your Lord.” (Qur’an, 3:133) Qur’an mentions about Moses (peace be upon him) saying “… and I hastened to You, O my Lord, that You might be pleased.” (Qur’an, 20:84)
And (you should hasten to fast these six days) because delaying may cause problems. This is the view of the Shafi’is and some of the Hanbalis, but it is OK if you do not hasten it and you delay it until the middle or end of the month.
An-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said: “Our companions said: It is mustahab to fast six days of Shawwal. Because of this Hadith they said: It is mustahab to fast these days consecutively at the beginning of Shawwal, but if one separates them or delays them until after Shawwal, this is permissible, because he will still be following the general guidelines of the Hadith. We have no dispute regarding this matter, and this was also the view of Ahmad and Dawud.”
Can a person start fasting six days of shawwal when he still has days to make up from Ramadan?
If a person fasts six days of Shawwal after Ramadan when he has not yet completed the Ramadan fast, because he did not fast 10 days of Ramadan for a legitimate reason, will he have the same reward as a person who fasted all of Ramadan and followed it with six days of Shawwal, i.e. will he be like a person who fasted for a lifetime?
The precise rewards for the deeds which people do for the sake of Allah is something which is known only to Allah.
If a person seeks the reward from Allah and strives to obey Him, his reward will not be lost, as Allah says: “We shall not make the reward of anyone who does his (righteous) deeds in the most perfect manner to be lost.” (Qur’an,18:30)
If someone has missed some of the days of Ramadan, he should fast them first, then fast six days of Shawwal, because he cannot follow the fast of Ramadan with six days of Shawwal unless he has completed his Ramadan fast.
Does one have to fast six days of Shawwal every year? If someone fasts six days of Shawwal, then one year he gets sick or something prevents him from fasting, or he is too lazy to fast, will there be any sin on him? We have heard that if a person fasts these six days one year, he must never give up this practice thereafter.
Fasting six days of Shawwal after the day of Eid is Sunnah. It is not wajib (obligatory) on the person who does this once or more often to continue doing it. He is not guilty of a sin if he does not fast these days.
And Allah is the source of strength. May Allah bless our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions, and grant them peace.

(Source: Fatawa Al-Lajnah Ad-Daimah)

Courtesy: salaf-us-saalih.com

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