Fasting six days of Shawwaal after the obligatory fast of Ramadaan is Sunnah Mustahabbah. It is recommended for the Muslim to fast six days of Shawwaal, and in this there is great virtue and an immense reward.
Aboo Ayyoob al-Ansaaree (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported Allaah’s Messenger sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam as saying:
من صام رمضان وأتبعه ستا من شوال كان كصيام الدهر
“Whoever fasts Ramadaan and follows it with six days of Shawwaal, it will be as if he fasted for a lifetime.” (1)
The Prophet sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam explained this when he said: “Whoever fasts for six days after 3Eid al-Fitr has completed the year: (whoever does a good deed (hasanah) will have ten hasanah like it).”
According to another report: “Allaah has made for each hasanah ten like it, so a month is like fasting ten months, and fasting six days completes the year.” (2)
Therefore, 29/30 days (will be multiplied by 10) and adding the 6 days (which are also multiplied by 10), will be equivalent to one year (350/360 days).
Another of the important benefits of fasting six days of Shawwaal is that is makes up for any shortfall in a person’s obligatory Ramadaan 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 naafil deeds will be taken to make up the shortcomings in his obligatory deeds. (3)
When should we begin?
There is a common misconception that 3Eed al-Fitr last for three days; however, this is merely a tradition, not based on any Islaamic evidence. Aboo Sa3eed (may Allaah be pleased with him) narrated: “The Prophet sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam forbade the fasting of 3Eed-ul-Fitr and 3Eed-ul-Adhaa (two feast days) ….” (4)
Thus, one is not permitted to fast on the 3Eed day itself, but can start the next day.
The standing committee received the following question: Should fasting the six days be done immediately after Ramadaan, following the day of 3Eed or is it permissible to do it a few days after 3Eed in the month of Shawwaal or not?
They replied: “These days do not have to be fasted immediately after 3Eed al-Fitr; it is permissible to start fasting them one or more days after 3Eed, and they may be done consecutively or separately during the month of Shawwaal, according to what is easier for a person. There is plenty of room for maneuver in this matter, and this is not obligatory, it is Sunnah. (5)
It is not a necessary condition that they (shawwaal fast) should be fasted consecutively. If you fast them separately or consecutively, it is OK. The sooner you do them, the better, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meanings):
“so compete in good deeds.” [soorah al-Maaidah 5:48]
And (you should hasten to fast these six days) because delaying may cause problems. This is the view of the Shaafais 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.
Imaam ash-Shawkaani said: “It is apparent from the hadeeth that it is sufficient to fast for six days in Shawwaal, regardless of whether it is at the beginning, in the middle or at the end. Nor is it a condition that the days be consecutive, with no gaps between them except for the days of 3Eed al-Fitr. But if they fasted thus, it is better; although all forms are correct, it is more correct to fast them with no gaps in between them and the month of Ramadaan except for the day of 3Eed, the fasting of which is not permissible.
But as for the idea that those who do not fast it in this manner will not receive the reward of it, that is incorrect. This is because whoever fasted six days at the end of Shawwaal has without doubt followed the fasting of Ramadaan with six days of Shawwaal, and that is what is required.” (6)
Imaam Al-Nawaawee (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “Our companions said: it is mustahabb (recommended) to fast six days of Shawwaal. Because of this hadeeth they said: it is mustahabb to fast these days consecutively at the beginning of Shawwaal, but if one separates them or delays them until end Shawwaal, this is permissible, because he will still be following the general guidelines of the hadeeth. We have no dispute regarding this matter, and this was also the view of Ahmad and Daawood.” (7)
Muhammad ibn Ismaa3eel as-Sa3’aanee said, “It should be noted that the reward for fasting [the six days] will be given to whoever fasts them, whether separately or continually, immediately after 3Eed or during the month.
In Sunan at-Tirmithee [it is reported] from Ibn al-Mubaarak that he preferred [the fast to be] six days from the beginning of the month of Shawwaal. It was also narrated from Ibn al-Mubaarak that he said, “Whoever fasts six days from Shawwaal separately is permissible.” My opinion is that there is no evidence for choosing them from the beginning of Shawwaal, as whoever does them in any days of Shawwaal can be described as having followed Ramadaan with six days from Shawwaal.” (8)
Fasting the six days of Shawwal in another month
Fasting six days at a time other than Shawwaal, some scholars regarded that as being like fasting them in Shawwaal, and some stated that there is virtue therein but it is less than the virtue of fasting six days in Shawwaal. And some scholars hope for the reward for the one who is not able to complete six days because of an excuse. The bounty of Allaah is great and His generosity knows no end.
Shaykh Ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy upon him) said: “It is not prescribed to make them up after the end of Shawwaal, because they are Sunnah and the time for them has passed, whether one missed them for an excuse or otherwise.”
He said concerning one who fasted four days in Shawwaal and did not complete six because of circumstances: “Fasting the six days of Shawwaal is a mustahabb (recommended) act of worship but is not obligatory; but you will have the reward of whatever you fast of them, and there is the hope of a complete reward if there was a legitimate shar3ee excuse for not completing them, because the Prophet sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam said: “If a person falls sick or travels, Allaah will decree for him (the reward of) what he used to do when he was not traveling and was healthy.” (9). So you do not have to make up what you did not do. (10)
Making up missed Ramadaan fasts with fasting six days of Shawwaal with one intention:
That is not valid, because fasting the six days of Shawwaal can only be done after fasting Ramadaan in full.
Shaykh Ibn 3Uthaymeen said: “Whoever fasts the day of 3Arafah, or the day of 3Ashoorah, but still owes days from Ramadaan, his fast is valid, but if he intends to fast this day to make up for a missed Ramadaan fast, he will have two rewards: the reward for the day of 3Arafah or 3Ashoorah long with the reward for making up the missed fast. This has to do with voluntary fasts in general that are not connected to Ramadaan.
With regard to fasting the six days of Shawwaal, they are connected to Ramadaan and can only done after making up missed Ramadaan fasts. If he fasts them before making up missed Ramadaan fasts he will not attain that reward, because the Prophet sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam said: “Whoever fasts Ramadaan then follows it with six days of Shawwaal, it will be as if he fasted for a lifetime.” It is well known that whoever still owes days from Ramadaan is not regarded as having fasted Ramadaan until he makes up the days he missed.” (11)
Observing a voluntary fast when you still need to make up days from Ramadaan?
Fasting six days of Shawwaal is dependent upon having completed the Ramadaan fast, according to the correct view. This is indicated by the words of the Prophet sallAllaahu 3Alayhi wa sallam: “Whoever fasts Ramadaan then follows it with six days of Shawwaal, it will be as if he fasted a lifetime.” (12).
The conjunction thumma (then) indicates that this must be done in this order. This indicates that the fast of Ramadaan must be completed first (by observing the Ramadaan fast and making up any missed fasts), then after that one may fast the six days of Shawwaal, so as to attain the reward mentioned in the hadeeth.
The one who still owes missed Ramadaan fasts is said to have fasted part of Ramadaan; we cannot say that he has fasted Ramadaan. (13) If someone has missed some of the days of Ramadaan, he should fast them first, then fast six days of Shawwaal, because he cannot follow the fast of Ramadaan with six days of Shawwaal unless he has completed his Ramadaan fast.
Does one have to fast six days of Shawwaal every year?
Fasting six days of Shawwaal after the day of 3Eed is Sunnah.
It is not waajib (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. (14)Details Taken from Islamqa.com & Fasting in Shawwal by 3Imraan Ayoob from Al-kitaab & Sunnah group
=====================================================================References: (1) Narrated by Muslim, Abu Dawood, al-Tirmidhee, al-Nisaa’i and Ibn Maajah) (2) Al-Nisaa’ee and Ibn Maajah. See also Saheeh al-Targheeb wa’l-Tarheeb, 1/421