The six nafl fasts of the month of shawaal. If I intend to keep these fasts am I supposed to offer these fasts in a row (that is consequently) or can I take some gap in between, like one day I keep fast then after 2 or 3 days another fast like this.
What is the fazilat of keeping these fasts.
Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullah,
The six fasts of shawwal after Ramadhan are mustahab (preferable). Rasulullah salallahu alayhi wasallam has mentioned in one hadeeth that,
“Whoever completes the fasts of Ramadhan then adds to them the fasts of six days in the month of Shawwal, it will carry the thawab of fasting for the whole year.” Saheeh Muslim[i]
Ulama have explained these rewards by saying that every good deed is rewarded with 10 hasanaat (rewards), hence fasting 30 days of month of Ramadhan will amount to 300 rewards (30 x 10). Thereafter if a person fasts an additional 6 fasts, then this will attain 60 rewards him (6 x 10). 300 rewards from Ramadhan plus the 60 rewards from shawal adds up to 360, which is the total number of days of a lunar year. Hence a person collects the reward of an entire year.
While the virtue of these fasts may not be mere numbers, nontheless their certainty is not hidden.
With regards to your question about keeping them consecutively or spaced out, then some Ulama have mentioned that it is better to offer them spaced out. This could be for different reasons. Some of them are:
a. Since a person is already in a habbit of fasting for Ramadhan, he may trivialize these fasts and keep them just as a second nature instead of revering them.
b. A person can arrange his fasts to match the mondays and thursdays and include the intention of sunnah fasts as well.This can become a motivation to keep sunnah fast all year round.
c. Some people keep them right after Ramadhan from the following day of Eid. This tends to jeopardise people who wish to come and visit late for eid due to one reason or the other, and have to face the awkwardness of their host fasting. Alternatively, the host may end up breaking the fast for his guests. Either way the optimum will have to be compromised.
However, if someone feels that they will not be able to keep the fasts if they separate them, or if they delay it after Eid they may end up not fasting at all, then there is nothing wrong in fasting these days consecutively right after Eid as well.
Mufti Faisal al-Mahmudi
حدثنا يحيى بن أيوب، وقتيبة بن سعيد، وعلي بن حجر، جميعا عن إسماعيل، قال ابن أيوب: حدثنا إسماعيل بن جعفر، أخبرني سعد بن سعيد بن قيس، عن عمر بن ثابت بن الحارث الخزرجي، عن أبي أيوب
الأنصاري رضي الله عنه، أنه حدثه، أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: «من صام رمضان ثم أتبعه ستا من شوال، كان كصيام الدهر»
صحيح مسلم (2/ 822))