Does the six optional fast of Shawwal have to be done within the first six days after Ramadhan/Eid or could it be done throughout the month of Shawwal.if so,would it be more rewarding to complete it in the first six days?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.
Fasting six days in Shawwaal after the obligatory fast of Ramadaan is mustahab (preferable). Fasting these days holds great virtue and an immense reward. Whoever fasts these six days will have recorded for him a reward as if he had fasted a whole year. The Messenger of Allaah (ﷺ) said: “Whoever completes the fasts of Ramadhan then adds to them the fasts of six days in the month of Shawwal, he will gain the reward of fasting for the whole year.” (Muslim)
This is because the reward of each fast is multiplied tenfold, therefore a person who fast the entire month of Ramadhan gains the rewards of fasting 300 days (10 months) and if he then fasts six days in Shawaal he will gain the rewards of fasting 60 days (2months). If a person does this every year he earns the reward of fasting a lifetime.
These six fasts may be kept consecutively or spaced out in the month of Shawwaal. As with all good deeds, one should perform them at the earliest opportunity.
NB: Fasting these six days with the intention of Shawaal nafl fast will not compensate or absolve a person from any missed fast that occurred in the month of Ramadan. Qadha (Make-up) must be done for missed fasts.
From the important benefits of fasting six days of Shawwaal is that is makes up for any shortfall in a person’s obligatory Ramadhan 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, as the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “The first thing for which people will be brought to account on the Day of Resurrection will be their salaah (prayer). Allah Ta’ala will say to His angels – although He knows best – ‘Look at the salaah of My slave, whether it is complete or incomplete.’ If it is perfect, it will be recorded as perfect, and if something is lacking, He will say, ‘Look and see whether My slave did any voluntary (naafil) prayers.’ If he did some voluntary prayers, [Allaah] will say, Complete the obligatory actions of My slave from his voluntary actions.’ Then all his actions will be dealt with in a similar manner.” (Abu Dawood).
And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
Mufti Arshad Ali
Darul Iftaa, Jaamia Madinatul Uloom (Trinidad)
This answer was collected from Fatwa-tt.com, which is operated by the Darul Iftaa of Jaamia Madinatul Uloom (Trinidad and Tobago) under the advice and guidance of Mufti Ebrahim Desai (Daamat Barakaatuhum) of South Africa.