Fasting Six Days in Shawwal

Merit

The Prophet (pbuh) stated in an authentic hadith, “Whoever fasts the month of Ramadan and then follows it with six days from Shawwāl then it will be as if they fasted the entire year.” There are many things that can be benefited from this hadith, a few of them are as follows:

–          It is the practice of the Prophet to fast at least six days in Shawwāl in order to acquire the benefit mentioned in the hadith.

–          Fasting is one of the greatest types of worship and the reward for it is with God, as mentioned in the hadith qudsi, “Fasting is for Me and I reward for it.” Therefore, Ramadan gives us a yearly chance to make fasting part of our regular routine of worship. It is well established that the Prophet (pbuh) used to regularly fast Mondays and Thursdays, as well as the three “white days,” (the middle days of the month when the moon is fullest) and that he would also encourage others to do so as well. If one fasts the month of Ramadan and then follows that with six days in the following month then they are well on their way to establishing fasting as part of their regular routine.

–          The reward of carrying out these fasts is equivalent to fasting the entire year. This is clarified in another tradition where the Prophet (pbuh) reminds us after stating the reward of fasting these days that the reward of good deeds is multiplied by ten. This is one of the secrets behind the reward of this action because in carrying out the fast of Ramadan and six days in Shawwāl the person would have fasted roughly 36 days, which, when multiplied by ten,  equates to 360 days.

 

Make up Missed Days of Ramadan First or Not?

There a couple of things to consider when thinking about this question.

The first is that it is not required to make up missed days of Ramadan immediately. It is necessary that one make them up before the next Ramadan but they may do that at any point throughout the year.

The second issue is that the hadith mentions that the person who fasts Ramadan and then follows it with six days of fasting in the month after, then it will be as if they fasted the whole year. This implies that one would have to finish the fasts of Ramadan before starting the six of Shawwāl. As such, a number of scholars required the completion of the missed days of Ramadan before the six of Shawwāl in order to receive the reward mentioned in the hadith. However, this is an area of disagreement amongst the scholars and if the person wants to fast the six days before making up their missed fasts of Ramadan in order to follow the sunnah then that is also okay.

The third issue is as to whether or not one can combine intentions between making up their fasts from Ramadan and fasting the six days of Shawwāl. Some scholars have held that it is permissible to subsume the intention of a voluntary deed under an obligatory one and as such this would be acceptable. However, they also noted that the one who did this for these days would receive the reward of following the sunnah of fasting six days in Shawwāl, but their overall reward would be less than the one who makes up their missed fasts and then fasts the six days.

 

Conclusion

Fasting the six days of Shawwāl is a meritorious sunnah which should be followed as much as possible. The best case scenario is to make up any missed days from Ramadan first and then fast the six days. However, if this is not possible or very difficult upon the person then they can either fast the six days first and then make up their missed days later or combine intentions between making those days up and completing the six days of Shawwāl.

One should also remember that in voluntary fasts the intention is not required from the night before and as long as the intention to fast is made before midday and the person has not done anything up to that point that would invalidate the fast then it is acceptable.

And God knows best.

Recitation for the Deceased

*Translated from al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuh by Dr. Wahbah Zuhayli

 

Herein there are several issues for the Legal Scholars.

 

A. There is a consensus amongst the scholars regarding the benefit of the deceased from: dua, and istighfar (seeking forgiveness for them), such as: “Oh Allah! Forgive him. Oh Allah! Have mercy on him.”, and charity, and the carrying out of physical and financial obligations which accept representation such as Hajj. This is according to what Allah says in the Quran, “And those that came before them say: Our Lord! Forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in belief.” [59:10]. And what Allah says, “And seek forgiveness for your sins and for the believing men and women” [47:19]. The Prophet PBUH made dua for Abu Salamah when he died, and for the deceased whom he prayed upon in the hadith of ‘Awf ibn Malik, and for all the deceased whom he prayed upon. The Prophet PBUH was asked, “Oh Messenger of Allah, my mother has passed away, will it benefit her if I give charity of her behalf?” Then the Prophet said, “Yes.” {narrated by Abu Dawud}. In another hadith a woman came to the Prophet and said, “Oh Messenger of Allah, the obligation of hajj has found my father in old age, incapable of travel (incapable of remaining of the animal that he would ride), should I make hajj on his behalf?” He said, “If your father had a debt would you pay it?” She said, “Yes.” He said, “The debt of Allah has more of a right to be paid.” {narrated by Ahmad and al-Nasaai}. He also said to someone who asked him, “My mother has passed away and she was required to fast one month, should I fast it on her behalf?” He said, “Yes.”

 

Ibn Qudamah said, “These are authentic hadiths, in them is evidence that the deceased benefits from the rest of actions of others whereby the closeness of Allah is sought. That is because fasting, and dua, and istighfar are physical worship and Allah delivers their benefit to the deceased, so similarly for other than them.”

 

B. The Ulama differed regarding the reception of the reward for purely physical worship such as prayer and reading the Quran to someone other than the doer of these actions into two opinions:

1. The opinion of the Hanafis, and the Hanbalis, and the later scholars of the Shafiis, and the Malikis that holds that the deceased receives the recitation if it occurs in his presence or if he is supplicated for afterwards, even if he is not present because mercy and blessings descend in the place of recitation, and making supplication at the end of it is more hopeful for acceptance.

2. The opinion of the early Maliki scholars and the most well-known opinion of the early Shafii scholars which holds that the reward of purely physical worship is not received by other than the doer.

 

The Hanafis said: the preferred opinion for us is that it is not disliked for a group of people to sit and read Quran at someone’s grave. They also said in the section on making Hajj on behalf of someone else: it is allowed for a person to make the reward of his actions for someone else whether it be prayer or fasting or charity or something else and that does not reduce anything from his reward.

 

The Hanbalis said: There is no problem in reading Quran at someone’s grave because of the hadith that was previously stated, “Whoever enters the graveyard and reads Chapter Ya-Sin, it will bring ease to them (those in the graves) on that day, and they will get the reward for whoever is buried there.” And the hadith, “Whoever visits the grave of his parents and reads Chapter Ya-Sin he will be forgiven of his sins.” {both are weak hadiths and the first is weaker than the second according to Imam al-Suyūṭī}.

 

The Malikis said: Reading the Quran on the deceased after his death and at his grave is disliked because the early generations did not do it. But the later scholars are of the opinion that there is no problem with reading the Quran and making dhikr and making intention for the reward to go to the deceased, and he will receive the reward by the will of Allah.

 

The early Shafi scholars said: the well known opinion is that the deceased does not benefit from someone else’s deeds such as made up  prayers, or other than them, or reading of the Quran.

The later Shafi scholars however have verified that the deceased receives the reward of Quran recitation such as the Fātiḥah and otherwise. If it is established that the Fatiha benefits the live person who was bitten by a poisonous animal, as is shown in the hadith, “And what made you know that it is a healing?”, then the benefit of the deceased by it is more befitting.

 

Therefore the opinion of the later Shafis is the same as the other three schools in that the reward of reciting Quran reached the deceased. Al-Subki said: “It is understood from the hadith, by deduction, that some of the Quran if it is intended by it the reward and comforting of the deceased, it will benefit the deceased. That is because if it is established that the Fatiha benefitted the live, bitten person (with intention) as stated in the hadith: “and what made you know that it was a healing?” then the benefit of the deceased by it is even more befitting.” Qāḍī Hasan even allowed renting recitation of the Quran for the deceased. Ibn Salah said: “One should say: ‘Oh Allah! Deliver the reward of what we recited to such-and-such person.’ Thereby making dua for them. There is no difference in this between the close and the distant. And they should have certainty of the benefit in their action, because if there is benefit in dua and it is allowed for other than the one who is supplicating, then for it to be allowed for what is for him is even more befitting, and this is not specific for recitation only but for all types of actions.”

Salat al-Istikhara — The Guidance Prayer

Many people have questions about al-istikhārah, in the following article we will cover some of the things that the scholars have said about it and how to know what to choose after making it.

 

It was narrated by al-Bukhārī and Muslim on the authority of Jābir ibn ʿAbdillah, may Allah be pleased with them both:

The Prophet used to teach us to make the prayer of al-istikhārah in all affairs, the same way that he would teach us chapters from the Quran. He would say, “If one of you feels inclined to do something then let them pray two units of optional prayer, then say: ‘O Allah! I seek Your guidance by virtue of Your knowledge, and I seek ability by virtue of Your power, and I ask You of Your great bounty. You have power; I have none. And You know; I know not. You are the Knower of hidden things. O Allah! If in Your knowledge, (this matter*) is good for my religion, my livelihood and my affairs, immediate and in the future, then ordain it for me, make it easy for me, and bless it for me. And if in Your knowledge, (this matter*) is bad for my religion, my livelihood and my affairs, immediate and in the future, then turn it away from me, and turn me away from it. And ordain for me the good wherever it may be, and make me content with it.’”

Click here for the Arabic.

 

It’s Ruling

As a result of this hadith there is a consensus between the scholars that al-istikhārah is recommended and part of the Sunnah. They said that the purpose of it is to depend entirely upon Allah in one’s affairs, as He is the One who sees and knows all. Therefore, the person who makes al-istikhārah should not go into it with their mind already made up, but rather have an open heart and mind and ask Allah to guide them to what is best.

 

What Kinds of Things to Make It For

They also noted that it is not to be prayed for things that are prohibited, disliked, or required, but rather only for things that are permissible or recommended (if a choice must be made between various recommended actions). This is because in the first group of rulings there is really no decision to be made, but rather action to be taken. In the second group there can be decisions that need to be made and al-istikhārah is prescribed for such decisions.

 

Consultation and al-Istikhārah

Imam al-Nawawi says about this: “It is recommended for the person to consult others before making al-istikhārah. He/she should consult those whom they trust to care and give sincere advice and are reliable in their piety and experience.”[1]Many times we consult others during or after praying al-istikhārah, but Imam al-Nawawi is specifically stating here that such consultations should actually take place before the supplication is made.

 

When to Do It

If one is making al-istikhārah without praying two units of prayer with it then they can make it at any time because duʿāʾ is not restricted by any times. However, if one is praying two units with it then, according to the four schools, they should not pray it during the times wherein prayer is disliked. The Shafiʿis stated an exception for this in the case of the person who is praying in the Sacred area of Mecca by making analogy on the two units which are performed after al-Ṭawāf, because they are not restricted by any times.

 

How to Do It

The scholars stated that there are three different ways to make al-istikhārah.

1)      The best way, which is agreed upon by the four schools[2], is to pray two units of optional prayer then make the supplication afterwards, as mentioned in the hadith.

2)      The three schools except the Hanbalis said that one can also make the supplication without performing two units of prayer before it if need be.

3)      The Malikis and Shafiʿis also allowed one to make the supplication after any prayer, even if it is an obligatory prayer.

 

Regardless of which of these the person chooses they should follow the manners of supplication such as beginning by praising Allah and praying for His Messenger and ending by praying again for the Prophet, peace be upon him.

 

The person should also not rush when awaiting a response to their prayers because the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “A person’s prayers will be answered as long as he or she does not become impatient and say, ‘I prayer and my prayer was not answered.’”[3]

 

The scholars differed as to how many times the prayer can be repeated, with many of them mentioning seven times. However, if one does experience the results of the supplication after seven times then they may continue in their al-istikhārah, or they make as few times as is needed.

 

Another issue that some of the scholars discussed regarding al-istikhārah is whether or not one can make it on behalf of someone else. The Shafiʿis and Malikis held that it is permissible to do so because the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Whosoever amongst you is able to benefit his brother, then he should do so.”[4] The Maliki scholar al-Ḥaṭṭāb said that he did not find any evidence indicating that this should or should not be done but that he did find some of the shuyūkh doing it. The Hanafis and Hanbalis did not discuss this issue.

 

The Results of al-Istikhārah

Contrary to popular opinion, one does not wait for a dream after al-istikhārah. Rather, one should look to what their heart opens up to or what is made easy for them. However, one should try as hard as possible to make sure that they are not mixing their istikhārah with their own desires and leanings and try to make sure that it is as pure and sincere as possible. A person can also look to the negative effects of al-istikhārah to know how it was answered. For example, if they were turned away from a particular decision and then did not find anything in their heart for it thereafter they can know that it was turned away from them, as mentioned in the supplication itself.

 

And God knows best.

 

 

*Extracted from al-Mawsūʿah al-Fiqhhiyyah al-Kuwaytiyyah


 


[1] Al-Adhkār

[2] The Malikis, Hanafis, Shafiʿis, and Hanbalis.

[3] Narrated by al-Bukhārī.

[4] Narrated by Muslim.