OUTLOOK — By Nizar Al Musalmy — After a month of intensive worship — when you performed extra prayers, read the Holy Quran, purified your behaviours, engaged in charity and good deeds — it would not be appropriate to abruptly give them up. Although the fasting month of Ramadhan has ended, do not forget that fasting can be done at any time for extra benefits, according to one’s capabilities, needs or level of spirituality. It is recommended for anyone who fasted in Ramadhan to fast for six additional days in the following month, which is Shawwal. This fasting of ‘sittat Shawwal’ derives its name from the six days and it is called ‘sitta’, which means six. Shawwal is the month that immediately follows Ramadhan, making it the 10th month on the Islamic calendar.
The first day of Shawwal is Eid al Fitr (the feast of breaking the fast). It is forbidden to fast on this day. However, fasting the six days of Shawwal begins immediately after Eid al Fitr day. The six days (sittat Shawwal) can only be fasted in the month of Shawwal. Hence, Muslims should seize this opportunity and fast these six days to get Allah’s reward. This year, the month of Shawwal will end on the 15th, 16th or 17th September depending on the appearance of the crescent moon.
Fasting the six days of Shawwal is not obligatory as Ramadhan but if you want to be taken as if you have fasted the whole year, then you should fast the six days of Shawwal. In the Sahih Muslim: Book 006: Number 2614: Abu Ayyub al Ansari (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) as saying: “He who observed the fast of Ramadhan and then followed it with six (fasts) of Shawwal, it would be as if he fasted perpetually (continuously)” ie the whole year.
It is highly recommended to fast six days in the month of Shawwal, as this is a meritorious act which results in abundant reward. While some scholars are of the opinion that these six days of fasting must be completed in a continuous order right after the end of Ramadhan, many others say it is not required to fast six days continuously without any interruption. According to the second group, one can fast in accordance with convenience any time during the month of Shawwal.
The reward of a good deed is multiplied by 10. Consider fasting in Ramadhan successfully as a good deed. This equals 10 months of fasting. Likewise, if you fast for six days in Shawwal (which is still one of the four sacred months) and multiply that by 10, it equals 60 days. Mathematically, 60 days (2 months) added to 10 months equals 12 months or one year.
Fasting poses a prospect for that special direct connection with your Creator.
Indeed, it is a worship that draws the believer closer to Allah and closer to perfection. And it is an opportunity to a healthier and longer life for it has been proved that fasting helps the body to eliminate toxins from its system. May Allah guide us to that which pleases Him, correct our faith and establish us firmly upon the true religion. Amin!