بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
During the month of Ramaḍān our prayers, charity, fasting, etc., increase. Our liveliness and enthusiasm to hasten to good deeds is boosted throughout the month. Then, Ramaḍān eventually comes to an end. Allāh is exalted, glorified, and praised as we worship Him by celebrating Eid according to how the Prophet (upon him be peace) taught us. The day of Eid is the first day of Shawwāl; thus, we move forward transitioning into a new month and stage in our journey by pronouncing and proclaiming His exaltation: “Allāhu Akbār, Allāhu Akbar, Lā ilaha illā Allāhu, Allāhu Akbar, Allāhu Akbar wa liLlāhi al-ḥamd.”
In worshipful elation, we realize that Eid has returned. And with that, we may feel sad that Ramaḍān has come and gone. It may be over for the year, but it shall remain with us forever. On the Day of Qiyāmah, through Allāh’s mercy, it will be placed in the scale of our good deeds, inshāʾAllāh.
At this point, we continue in our worldly lives as wayfarers journeying onwards to our final abode. To reach the Hereafter in a righteous condition, we need to acquire all the good deeds that we can as we pass through this transient world. Continuing to perform our obligatory duties with punctuality is important; we shall eagerly await next Ramaḍān to submit to our Lord by fulfilling what He commands after the moon is sighted a year from now. May Allāh give us another Ramaḍān and allow us to fast for His pleasure and stand at night beseeching Him to shower us in His mercy.
As well, performing supererogatory acts must continue. Reciting the Qurʾān, standing in prayer at night, engaging in His remembrance, etc., are all acts that we should continue doing. Being consistent in these is important. One should do them to the extent that he is able. The Prophet (upon him be peace) said:
أَحَبُّ الْأَعْمَالِ إِلَى اللهِ تَعَالَى أَدْوَمُهَا وَإِنْ قَلَّ
“The most beloved act to Allāh the Exalted is the one that is done with consistency, even if it is only a little.”
There is a supererogatory fast that may be observed in the month of Shawwāl. Herein, some details regarding it will be discussed.
Some Narrations Mentioning Fasting in Shawwāl & Its Virtue
After Ramaḍān and Eid, there is an important fast that the Prophet (upon him be peace) recommended. Fasting the six days of Shawwāl is a fast that will earn one immense reward. The Prophet (upon him be peace) said:
مَنْ صَامَ رَمَضَانَ ثُمَّ أَتْبَعَهُ سِتًّا مِنْ شَوَّالٍ كَانَ كَصِيَامِ الدَّهْرِ
“Whoever fasts Ramaḍān and then follows it by fasting six days in Shawwāl, that is like observing a perpetual fast.”
And in another version of this ḥadīth the following wording comes:
مَنْ صَامَ شَهْرَ رَمَضَانَ وَأَتْبَعَهُ سِتًّا مِنْ شَوَّالٍ كُتِبَ لَهُ صِيَامُ السَّنَةِ
“Whoever fasts Ramaḍān and then follows it by fasting six days in Shawwāl, an entire year’s fast is written for him.”
The reward of a perpetual fast may be understood considering what is related on Thawbān’s authority that the Prophet (upon him be peace) said:
صِيَامُ شَهْرِ رَمَضَانَ بِعَشَرَةِ أَشْهُرٍ وَصِيَامُ سِتَّةِ أَيَّامٍ بِشَهْرَيْنِ فَذَلِكَ صِيَامُ السَّنَةِ
“Fasting Ramaḍān is equal (in reward) to ten months. And fasting six days, that is equal (in reward) to two months. That is a fast for the whole year.”
And in another version of this ḥadīth the wording comes:
مَنْ صَامَ رَمَضَانَ فَشَهْرٌ بِعَشَرَةِ أَشْهُرٍ وَصِيَامُ سِتَّةِ أَيَّامٍ بَعْدَ الْفِطْرِ فَذَلِكَ تَمَامُ صِيَامِ السَّنَةِ
“Whoever fasted Ramaḍān, it is a month equal to ten months. And fasting six days in Shawwāl after breaking the Ramaḍān fast, that is like observing a fast for the whole year.”
Accordingly, the Ramaḍān fast’s virtue is like ten months of fasting and fasting the six days of Shawwāl is like an additional two months. And when one observes both fasts, he will earn a reward that is equal to an entire year. There is such an immense reward associated with these days because they are difficult days to fast.
After having fasted for an entire month, one naturally finds an inclination that he returns to eating and drinking during the daylight hours. And by continuing to fast more, one is engaging in an act of worship that is arduous. It may also be noted that many of us who are fasting in Ramaḍān are surrounded by an environment that is conducive to fasting. One’s entire household may be fasting and the community one is a part of will be observing it collectively. After the month of Ramaḍān has ended, many go back to their normal routines. This means that food and drink are permissible and readily available. And continuing to fast for Allāh’s sake is an added supererogatory devotion that will earn His pleasure and reward. This is the reports’ intent, one who observes fasting in this way will get the reward of a perpetual fast by the reward he receives being multiplied.
The Scholars’ Differences & Legal Reasoning Regarding the Practice
According to some jurists, observing this practice is established as a recommendation. The aforementioned ḥadīth evidence substantiates the premise on which they base this opinion. Imāms Shāfiʿī and Aḥmad held this view. Imām Nawawī related it from Imām Shāfiʿī himself. He also related it from the Aṣḥhāb al-Wujūh of the Shāfiʿī Madhhab without noting any difference of opinion on the matter. He mentioned that the best way to observe the fast is by fasting the six days consecutively, immediately after the Eid.
Imām Aḥmad considered that the fast is a sunnah. He looked at the ḥadīth’s generality and considered that the virtue is achieved by fasting the days throughout Shawwāl, be the fasting consecutive or nonconsecutive. Some mention that, according to the Ḥanbalīs, fasting them consecutively after the Eid is preferred.
There are some scholars who disliked fasting in Shawwāl after the Eid. One scholar whom this was related from is Imām Mālik. And Abū al-Walīd al-Bājī explained his position. He said that Mālik disliked it for reason that he feared that the laity may not distinguish between Ramaḍān and the fasts of Shawwāl. And this may lead to them mistakenly thinking that both are obligatory. While if one would desire to observe the fast based on the reports transmitted on it and its virtue, there would be no problem with that. Some books detail other qualifications that apply to one fasting these days. These qualifications (ar. quyūd) seem correlated in that they focus on ensuring that the supererogatory fasts do not become conflated with the fast of Ramaḍān.
A similar position was related from Imām Abū Ḥanīfah, who stated that fasting the six days of Shawwāl is disliked. According to Qāḍī Abū Yūsuf fasting them consecutively is disliked, but he did not consider it disliked if observed nonconsecutively. The reasoning behind this is similar to what was mentioned regarding Imām Mālik’s opinion. People may begin to believe that the fast in Shawwāl is required, like Ramaḍān’s, if routinely observed over time. The disliked nature of the fast is premised on this. Hence, fasting the days of Shawwāl is permissible when that fear is not found.
This perhaps underlies a difference of methodological approach that the scholars have regarding such issues. Some scholars take a preventative stance based on the principle of sadd al-dharīʿah. To avert a major creedal error, they close the door to it, lest one conflate a supererogatory act with an obligatory one. Upholding this is based on prophetic precedent. The following ḥadīth applies to it:
أَنَّ رَجُلًا دَخَلَ إلَى مَسْجِدِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَصَلَّى الْفَرْضَ وَقَامَ لِيَتَنَفَّلَ عَقِبَ فَرْضِهِ وَهُنَالِكَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَعُمَرُ بْنُ الْخَطَّابِ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ فَقَامَ إلَيْهِ عُمَرُ بْنُ الْخَطَّابِ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ فَقَالَ لَهُ اجْلِسْ حَتَّى تَفْصِلَ بَيْنَ فَرْضِكَ وَنَفْلِكَ فَبِهَذَا هَلَكَ مَنْ كَانَ قَبْلَنَا فَقَالَ لَهُ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَصَابَ اللَّهُ بِكَ يَا ابْنَ الْخَطَّابِ
“A man entered the mosque of Allāh’s Messenger (upon him be peace). He prayed his obligatory prayer and then immediately stood to perform optional prayers after the obligatory prayer. ʿUmar b. al-Khaṭṭāb was there with Allāh’s Messenger. ʿUmar stood and said to him: ‘You should sit to give a gap between your obligatory and your supererogatory prayers. With this, those who came before us were destroyed. Allāh’s Messenger said to ʿUmar: ‘Allāh has made it that the correct thing was said through you, O son of Khaṭṭāb.’”
ʿUmar meant that in the long run, when something that is supererogatory is persistently done along with something that is obligatory, ignorant people may conflate the two. With that, they will begin believing that something which is not obligatory is obligatory. And based on this line of legal reasoning, some scholars issued edicts declaring that fasting these days in Shawwāl is disliked.
The application of this principle applies not only to fasting in Shawwāl. In fact, it is found in other edicts given by these authorities. For instance, at one point some people began to misunderstand reciting Sūrat al-Sajdah in the morning prayer on Friday. Some began thinking that it was obligatory to recite it. While others began thinking that the sajdah was an extra rakʿah. And for this reason, some scholars inclined to not reciting the sūrah to close the door to peoples’ ignorance and confusion resulting in such mistaken notions.
Other scholars did not consider sadd al-dharīʿah a tenable principle to apply in these cases. For instance, the Shāfiʿī muftī, Ibn Ziyād, opined that the sūrah should be recited even if people may mistake it as an obligation. It should be noted that the principle of sadd al-dharīʿah is generally not admissible in the Shāfiʿī Madhhab. As well, as Ibn Ziyād said, “the cure for ignorance is education.” What is best is to teach the people to distinguish between the rulings that apply to the acts that they do, which is better than not practicing on an established sunnah.
Thus, a primary part of what underlies the differences of opinion between the scholars on this matter is found in the corpus of their respective legal theories and principles (ar. uṣūl al-fiqh). There may be a variation in their overall methodological outlook on the dynamic of what happens in some cases where an obligation and a supererogatory act are found to come together. This principled juristic effort influenced the different edicts that the scholars issued on fasting the six days of Shawwāl. Each maintains a position based on strong premises and supported by source evidence; additionally, each gave an opinion that will earn him reward on the Day of Judgement. May Allāh accept their efforts, be pleased with them, and allow us to benefit from their knowledge.
Fasting on Eid & A Point Regarding the Fasts of Shawwāl
It should be noted that fasting on Eid, which is the first day of the month of Shawwāl, is unlawful. There is no difference of opinion regarding this. In fact, it is a point of scholarly consensus (ar. ijmāʿ). During Ramaḍān, fasting is obligatory. Then, when Ramaḍān ends and the day of Eid comes, fasting is unlawful. Then, in the days after the Eid, one may observe supererogatory fasts. Supererogatory fasting is optional. There are some specific supererogatory fasts of great merit that repeat each week, each month, and each year. Thus, it must be understood that fasting the six day of Shawwāl, which is an annual supererogatory fast, is not obligatory.
Regarding How the Fast is Observed in the Ḥanafī School
As mentioned, the Ḥanafīs consider that fasting the six days of Shawwāl is permissible. And this has been related as the Madhhab’s foremost opinion. There is a difference of opinion between the scholars regarding the best way to observe it. Some considered that it would be best to fast the days consecutively. While others considered that fasting them nonconsecutively is best.
The preference of fasting them consecutively is supported by the apparent meaning of the ḥadīth, specifically the wording:
“And then follows it.”
Fasting the days consecutively after the Eid ensures that one has “followed” Ramaḍān with the six days of Shawwāl.
Still, the preference of fasting them nonconsecutively is indicated to in some of the Ḥanafī Madhhab’s primary reference works. Ṭaḥṭāwī indicated to some of these passages and seemed to use them to substantiate the preference of fasting them nonconsecutively throughout the month.
Thus, one may fast these days either by fasting six days after the Eid or by fasting a few days each week throughout Shawwāl until one has fasted the six days.
Supererogatory Fasts When Make-Up Fasts Are Due
If one has Ramaḍān fasts that they need to make up and they intend to fast and formulate an intention to fast both the make-up and the supererogatory fast, then that suffices for the make-up fast that is due according to Qāḍī Abū Yūsuf. While, according to Imām Muḥammad, it does not suffice for the make-up that is due and the fast is counted as a supererogatory fast. Qāḍī Abū Yūsuf’s view has been preferred.
Thus, if one has make-up fasts from Ramaḍān due, he should perform them separately from the six days of Shawwāl. Fasting the six days of Shawwāl is a specific fast. And an obligatory Ramaḍān fast day that must be made up is also specific. One cannot achieve both by fasting just one day. The virtue of a year’s fasting that was mentioned above was based on the Ramaḍān fast being equivalent to ten months and Shawwāl’s fast being equivalent to two. If one would try to do one in place of the other, the full reward would not be achieved.
And Allāh knows best.
 Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, 1:541.
 Ibid., 2:822.
 Musnad Abī Dāwūd al-Tayālisī, 3:298.
 Ṣaḥīḥ Ibn Khuzaymah, 3:298.
 Musnad Aḥmad, 37:94.
 Fayḍ al-Qadīr, 6:161.
 Ḥujjat Allāh al-Bālighah, 2:85.
 Sharḥ al-Nawawī ʿalā Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, 8:56.
 Majmūʿ, 6:378.
 Rawḍat al-Ṭālibīn, 2:387; Sharḥ al-Rawḍ, 1:431.
 Sharḥ Muntahā al-Irādāt, 1:493.
 al-Muntaqā Sharḥ al-Muwaṭṭaʾ, 2:76. Also see: Mawāhib al-Jalīl, 2:414.
 al-Baḥr al-Rāʾiq, 2:278; Fatḥ al-Qadīr, 2:349; al-Fatāwā al-Hindīyah, 1:201.
 Tuḥfat al-Fuqahāʾ, 344.
 Fatḥ al-Qadīr, 2:349; Radd al-Muḥtār, 3:435.
 The wording that Qarāfī used in the passage from Anwār al-Burūq, 2:191 was presented here. The ḥadīth is located in Sunan Abī Dāwūd, 1:264.
 Anwār al-Burūq, 2:191.
 Ghāyat Talkhīṣ al-Murād, 8. In the passage, Ibn Ziyād does indicate that others, like Ibn Daqīq al-ʿĪd, held a differing opinion.
 Ikhtilāf al-Aʾimmah al-ʿUlamāʾ, 1:251.
 Fatḥ al-Qadīr, 2:349; Marāqī al-Falāḥ, 236; Radd al-Muḥtār, 2:435.
 Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, 2:822.
 Ḥāshiyat al-Ṭaḥṭāwī, 639.
 See: al-Fatāwā al-Hindīyah, 1:201; Radd al-Muḥtār, 2:435.
 Ḥāshiyat al-Ṭaḥṭāwī, 639.
 al-Muḥīṭ al-Burhānī, 2:381.
 Fatāwā Qāḍī Khān, 1:98.
 Aḥsan al-Fatāwā, Kitāb al-Ṣawm, 144.