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36 turned to 360 fasts- But how?
Let’s focus on the issue of fasting for six days in the month of Shawwal- in order to get the reward that is mentioned in the Hadeeth that the Prophet (sa) has said: “Whosoever observes fasting during the month of Ramadan, then succeeds it (follow that) immediately with fasting six days in the month of Shawaal- he shall receive the reward of fasting lifetime.” For the entire “Dahr”. The word Dahr expresses the meaning of lifetime; lifetime of the individual who fast during Ramadan and the six days. While, the Prophet Muhammad (sa) says that: “Al Hasantu Bi-Ashri Amsaalihaa”, and Allah (swt) says in Surah Al-Anam, “Man Jaa’aa Bil-Hasanati Falahu Ashru Amsaalihaa”- there is a minimum reward for a good deed multiplied ten times; so if you fast during Ramadan, we will assume it is thirty days times ten- that is three hundred.
If you fast six days in the month of Shawwal, then it equals to sixty; hence, total fasting is three hundred and sixty- a whole year! If you observe this virtuous act on an annual basis, it would be as if you have fasted throughout your life.
How to fast in Shawwal?
The Hadeeth says: “…then succeeds the month of Ramadan with fasting six days.” So, it recommends following the fasting of the month of Ramadan immediately. Of course, Eid-ul-Fitr is only one day- it’s called Youm-ul-Fitr; then the following days are the regular days, so you may begin the fasting of the six days of Shawwal from the very next day after Eid.. In many cultures, they assume that Eid-ul-Fitr is for three days, because the government gives them the vacation for three days; and Eid-ul-Adha is for four days, which is not true. Eid-ul-Fitr is only one day which allows you to fast soon after Eid; if you can manage that, that’s fine. But- whether to fast consecutively or discretely, in the month of Shawwal? – It is optional, although it is best to fast in a row.
Some people prefer to discrete the six days as- two days in a week, Monday and Thursday,-that’s perfectly fine. And, scholars say that if you do have the habit of fasting these two days, then you receive double the reward; the reward of fasting your voluntary fasting on two days, Monday and Thursday, in addition to observing fasts for the six days of the month of Shawwal. Similarly, fasting the three white days- that is the 13th, 14th and 15th of the lunar calendar will get you double the reward as well Insha’Allah. So, if you fast while following your routine fasts, with the intention of having the reward for both then Insha’Allah you will get the reward of both.
Making up for the missed fasts of Ramadan in Shawwal
If one could not fast in Ramadan, then he/she should begin by making up for the days that he missed in Ramadan- because the Hadeeth stated that: “Whoever fasts in the month of Ramadan, he has to complete the course, and then follow that with fasting the six days in Shawwal.
For example, a woman’s monthly period was for fifteen, or twenty days; or somebody was sick for twenty days- more or less- it means he/she first has to make up for the missed fasts and then follow by the six fasts in Shawwal. But if, one tries to make up the number of days which he missed during Ramadan, it would consume most of the month of Shawwal, and they will not be able to catch the prescribed six days of Shawwal; hence, it is recommended in such a condition, to make up for the six days first, and then to make up for the missed fasts.
Aisha (ra), Ummahat-ul-Mumineen, stated that they used to postpone making up the days of Ramadan until Shaban of the next year. They used to postpone it; however, they would also observe six days fast during the month of Shawwal.. Most preferably, make up for the first few days which you missed during Ramadan, then succeed them or follow them with fasting six days from the month of Shawwal; but if, the time does not allow you, and the month of Shawwal will finish before you get to do both- then begin fasting the six days of Shawwal, and Allah (swt) knows best.