Benefits of Fasting Six Days of Shawwaal: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali begins his discussion of the activities and virtues of the month of Shawwaal by mentioning the famous hadeeth from Abu Ayyoob that the Prophet (ﷺ) said:

مَنْ صَامَ رَمَضَانَ , ثُمَّ أَتْبَعَهُ سِتًّا مِنْ شَوَّالٍ كَانَ كَصِيَامِ اَلدَّهْرِ

Whoever fasts Ramadan and then follows it up with six days of Shawwaal, it is as if he fasted the entire year.

[Saheeh Muslim #1164]

After a discussion of the hadeeth‘s chain of narration, the different views concerning it and the fiqh positions surrounding it, Ibn Rajab mentions the following points of great benefit about fasting six days of Shawwaal following the completion of Ramadan. He writes:

 وفي معاودة الصيام بعد رمضان فوائد عديدة: ـ

There are a number of benefits in resuming fasting after Ramadan:

 منها : أن صيام ستة أيام من شوال بعد رمضان يستكمل بها أجر صيام الدهر كله ، كما سبق . ـ

○ As has already been mentioned, one benefit is that fasting six days of Shawwaal after Ramadan will complete the reward of fasting all of the time.

 منها : أن صيام شوال وشعبان كصلاة السنن الرواتب قبل الصلاة المفروضة وبعدها ، فيكمل بذلك ما حصل في الفرض من خلل ونقص . فإنّ الفرائض تكمل بالنوافل يوم القيامة ، كما ورد ذلك عن النبي ﷺ من وجوه متعددة . وأكثر الناس في صيامه للفرض نقص وخلل ، فيحتاج إلى ما يجبره ويكمله من الأعمال ؛ ولهذا نهي النبي ﷺ أن يقول الرجل : صمت رمضان كله ، أو قمت كله . قال الصحابي : فلا أدري ، أكره التزكية أم لابد من غفلة . وكان عمر بن عبد العزيز رحمه الله يقول : من لم يجد ما يتصدق به فليصم . يعني من لم يجد ما يخرجه صدقة للفطر في آخر رمضان فليصم بعد الفطر ؛ فإن الصيام يقوم مقام الإطعام في التكفير للسيئات ، كما يقوم مقامه في كفارات الأيمان وغيرها من الكفارات ، مثل كفارة القتل ، والوطء في رمضان ، والظِّهار . ـ

○ Another benefit is that fasting in Shawwaal and Sha’baan is like the sunan al-rawaatib [regularly observed optional] prayers before and after the obligatory prayers, for those make up whatever defects and deficiencies took place in the obligatory prayers. For on the Day of Resurrection, the obligations will be perfected and completed by the optional deeds, as has been narrated from the Prophet (ﷺ) via numerous paths. And most people have some defects and deficiencies in their obligatory fasts, so they are in need of the actions which will make up for those and patch them up. It was for this reason that the Prophet (ﷺ) forbade any person to say, ‘I have fasted the entire Ramadan,’ or ‘I have done all of the night prayers.’ Al-Sahaabi said, “I do not know whether this was in censure of self-praise or that one should be cautious of heedlessness.”

‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azeez (rahimahullaah) said, “Whoever does not find anything to give in charity, then let him fast,” – meaning whoever does not find anything to bring forth as zakat al-fitr at the end of Ramadan should fast after ‘eid al-fitr. For when it comes to expiating one’s sins, fasting can take the place of feeding others, just as it takes the place for expiating a [broken] oath and other such expiations, such as the expiation of murder, sexual intercourse during the days of Ramadan, and thihaar divorces.

ومنها : أنّ المعاودة الصيام بعد الصيام رمضان علامة على قبول صوم رمضان ؛ فإنّ الله تعالى إذا تقبل عمل عبد وفقه لعمل صالح بعده ، كما قال بعضهم : ثواب الحسن الحسن بعده ، فمن عمل حسنة ثم أتبعها بحسنة بعدها ، كان ذلك علامة على قبول الحسمة الأولى . كما أنّ من عمل حسنة ، ثم أتبعها بسيئة ، كان ذلك علامة ردّ الحسنة وعدم قبولها . ـ

○ Another benefit is that resuming fasting after the fast of Ramadan is a sign of the acceptance of the fast of Ramadan. For when Allah the Exalted accepts a slave’s deeds, He enables him to perform another righteous deed after that. As some say, “a reward of a good deed is another good deed afterwards”. So whoever performs a good deed and then follows it up with another good deed afterwards, then that is a sign of the acceptance of the first good deed. Similarly, whoever performs a good deed and then follows it up with a bad deed, that is a sign of the rejection of the good deed and the lack of its acceptance.

ومنها : أنّ صيام رمضان يوجب مغفرة ما تقدم من الذنوب ، كما سبق ذكره ؛ وأنّ الصائمين لرمضان يوفون أجورهم في يوم الفطر ، وهو يوم الجوائز . فيكون معاودة الصيام بعد الفطر شكرا لهذه النعمة ، فلا نعمة أعظم من مغفرة الذنوب . كان النبي ﷺ يقوم حتى تتورم قدماه ، فيقال له : أتفعل هذا وقد غفر الله لك ما تقدم من ذنبك وما تأخر ؟ فيقول : أفلا أكون عبدا شكورا ؟

○ Another one of the benefits is that the fasting of Ramadan necessitates the forgiveness of whatever sins preceded it, as has already been mentioned. And those who fasted Ramaḍan will be given their full rewards on the day of ‘Eid al-Fitr, and that is the day of rewards. So resuming fasting after the ‘Eid al-Fitr is a form of gratitude for this blessing, for there is no greater blessing than the forgiveness of sins. The Prophet (ﷺ) used to stand in the night prayer until his feet cracked, so it was said to him, “You do this while Allah has already forgiven you you previous and future sins?” So he replied, “Should I not be a grateful slave?”

وقد أمر الله سبحانه وتعالى عباده بشكر نعمة صيام رمضان بأظهار ذكره ، وغير ذلك من أنواع شكره ، فقال : < وَلِتُكْمِلُوا الْعِدَّةَ وَلِتُكَبِّرُ‌وا اللَّـهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَاكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُ‌ونَ > . فمن جملة شكر العبد لربه على توفيق لصيام رمضان وإعانته عليه ، ومغفرة ذنوبه أن يصوم له شكرا عقيب ذلك . كان بعض السلف إذا وُفّق لقيان ليلة من الليالي صبح في نهارها صائما ، ويجعل صيامه شكرا لتوفيق للقيام . وكان وهيب بن الورد يُسأل عن ثواب شيء من الأعمال ، كطواف ونحوة ، فيقول : لا تسألوا عن ثوابه ، لكن سلوا ما الذي علي من وُفّق لهذا العمل من الشكر ؛ للتوفيق والإعانة عليه . ـ

And Allah – High and Exalted is He – has commanded His slaves to be grateful for the blessing of fasting Ramadan by manifesting His remembrance, as well as through other forms of gratitude, for He said:

وَلِتُكْمِلُوا الْعِدَّةَ وَلِتُكَبِّرُ‌وا اللَّـهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَاكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُ‌ونَ

[Allah wants for you] to complete the period of fasting and to glorify Allah for having guided you, and that perhaps you would be grateful [2:185]

One type of a slave’s gratitude towards his Lord is for him to be grateful for having been enabled and assisted to fast Ramadan, and for the forgiveness of his sins – so he should fast for Him as a form of gratitude immediately after that. When one of the salaf  would be given the ability to stand in the night prayers, he would enter into the next day fasting, and he would make his fasting as a form of gratitude for having been able to pray to night before. And Wuhayb ibn al-Ward was asked about the reward of something – such as al-tawaaf or something else – so he said, “Do not ask about the reward; instead, ask about the gratitude that is due from you for having been given the ability to perform this deed!” – i.e. for been enabled and assisted to do it.

إذا أنت لم تزدد على كل نعمة ***** لموليكها شكرا فلست بشاكر

If you do not increase in gratitude to you Lord for every blessing
Then you are not a grateful one

كل نعمة على عبد من الله في دين أو دنيا يحتاج إلى شكر عليها ، ثم التوفيق للشكر عليها نعمة أخرى تحتاج إلى شكر ثان ، ثم التوفيق للشكر الثاني نعمة أخرى يحتاج إلى شكر آخر ، وهكذا أبدا فلا يقدر العبد على القيام بشكر النعم . والحقيقة الشكر الاعتراف بالعجز عن الشكر ، كما قال : ـ

Every one of Allah’s blessings upon a slave – whether in terms of the deen or the dunya – requires gratitude. But then the ability to be grateful for it is another blessing which requires a second expression of gratitude. And then the ability to be grateful a second time is another blessing which requires yet another expression of gratitude – and so on forever such that the slave is not able to establish [complete and total] gratitude for these blessings. And the reality of gratitude is the recognition of one’s inability to express [complete and total] gratitude. This is as the poet said:

إذا كان شكري نعمة الله نعمة ***** علـي له فـي مثلهـا يجب الشكر
فكيـف بلوغ الشكر إلّا بفضله ***** وإن طالت الأيام واتصل العمر

If one was grateful for the blessing of Allah
Then this is likewise another blessing which requires gratitude

So then how can one achieve being grateful except by His grace
Even if his days and lifespan were lengthened?

قال أبو عمرو الشيباني : قال موسى عليه السلام يوم الطور : يا رب ! إنْ أنا صليت فمِن قبلك ، وإن أنا تصدقت فمن قبلك ، وإن بلغت رسالاتك فمن قبلك ، فكيف أشكرك ؟ قال : يا موسى ! الآن شكرتني . فأما مقابلة نعمة التوفيق لصيام شهر رمضان بارتكاب المعاصي بعده ، فهو من فِعل من بدّل نعمة الله كفرا . فإن كان قد عزم في صيامه على معاودة المعاصي بعد انقضاء الصيام ، فصيامه عليه مردود ، وباب الرحمة في وجهه مسدود . قال كعب : من صام رمضان وهو يحدث نفسه أنه إذا أفطر رمضان أن لا يعصي ، دخل الجنة بغير مسألة ولا حساب . ومن صام رمضان وهو يحدث نفسه أنه إذا أفطر رمضان عصى ربه ، فصيامه عليه مردود . ـ

Abu ‘Amr al-Shaybaani said: On the day of His meeting with his Lord on Mount Toor, Moosaa (‘alaihis salaam) said, “O Lord! If I pray, then it is by Your leave, and if I give charity, then it is by Your leave, and if I convey your messages, then it is by Your leave; so How can I express gratitude towards you?” He said, ‘O Moosaa! Now you have expressed gratitude!”

But as for the reacting to the blessing of having been able to fast the month of Ramadan by perpetrating disobedience afterwards, then this is one of the actions of those who exchange Allah’s blessings for kufr. And if while fasting he has the resolution to return to disobedience after finishing his fast, then his fasting is rejected and door of rahmah is shut in his face.

Ka’b said, “Whoever fasts Ramadan while saying to himself, ‘when Ramadan is finished I will not disobey,’ he will enter al-Jannah without questioning or reckoning. And whoever fasts Ramadan while saying to himself, ‘when Ramadan is finished I will disobey my Lord,’ then his fasting is rejected.”

ومنها : أنّ الاعمال التي كان العبد يتقرب الى ربه في شهر رمضان لا تنقطع بانقضاء رمضان ، بل هو باقية بعد انقضائه ما دام العبد حيا . وهذا معنى الحديث المتقدم أنّ الصائم بعد رمضان كالكار بعد الفار . يعني كالذي يفر من القتال في سبيل الله ثم يعود إليه . وذلك لأنّ كثيرا من الناس يفرح بانقضاء شهر رمضان ؛ لاستثقال الصيام وملله وطوله عليه . ومن كان كذلك فلا يكاد يعود إلى الصيام سريعا ، فالعائد إلى الصيام بعد فطره يوم الفطر يدل عودة على رغبته في الصيام وأنّه لم يمله ولم يستثقل ولا تكره به . ـ

○ Another benefit is that the deeds which the slave did in order to seek closeness to his Lord during the month of Ramadan are not cut off by the completion of Ramadan. Rather, they are enduring after its completion for as long as the slave is alive. And this is the meaning of the hadeeth which has come previously that the fasting person is like an attack after a retreat, meaning like the one who retreats from fighting in the way of Allah and then returns to it. That is because many people rejoice at the close of the month of Ramadan, because the fasting is burdensome, fatiguing and long for them. Whoever felt that way will not return to fasting soon. But whoever does return to the fasting after having broken his fast on the day of ‘Eid al-Fitr demonstrates his fervent desire for fasting and that he was not weary of it, nor burdened by it, nor did he dislike it.

وفي حديث خرجه الترمذي مرفوعا : < أحب الأعمال إلى الله الحال المرتحل > . وفُسّر بصاحب القرآن يضرب من أولة إلى آخره ، ومن آخره إلى أوله ، كلما حل ارتحل . والعائد إلى الصيام سريعا بعد فراغ صيامه ، شيبه بقارىء القرآن إذا فرغ من قراءته ثم عاد إليه ، في المعنى ، والله أعلم . ـ

It comes in a marfoo’ hadeeth reported by al-Tirmidhi that “The most beloved of actions to Allah is the al-ḥaal al-murtaḥil,” and it was then explained that this is the person who recites the Qur’an from start to finish, and from its end to its beginning [i.e. he immediately begins again after having finished it] every time. So the one who returns quickly to fasting after finishing his fasts resembles the reciter of the Qur’an who finishes his recitation and then returns to it. This resemblance is in terms of the meaning, and Allah knows best.

وقيل لبشر : إنّ قوما يتعبّدون ويجتهدون في رمضان . فقال : بئس القوم قوم لا يعرفون الله حقا إلّا في شهر رمضان ، إن الصالح الذي يتعبد ويجتهد السنة كلها . وسئل الشبلي : أيما أفضل ، رجب أو شعبان ؟ فقال : كن ربّانيا ولا تكن شعبانيا . ثم أنشد :  ـ

It was onced said to Bishr, “The people certainly do worship devotedly and strive hard in Ramadan,” so he replied, ‘What an awful people who do not know Allah except in the month of Ramadan. The righteous person is he who worships devotedly and strives hard during the entire year.”

Shibli was asked, “Which is more virtuous – Rajab or Sha’baan?” So he said, “Be rabbaaniyan [people of worship and taqwa], and do not be sha’baaniyan [of common stock].” He then recited a line of poetry:

إذا كنت في حرب الهوى متجردا ***** فكل أرض ثغر لي وطرسوس

When I am in an honorable state of warfare against lowly desires
Then the entire earth is a front-line and a battleground for me

كان النبي ﷺ عمله ديمة . وسئلت عائشة رضي الله عنها : ها كان النبي ﷺ يخص يوما من الأيام ؟ فقالت : لا ، كان عمله ديمة . وقالت : كان النبي ﷺ لا يزيد في رمضان ولا غيره على إحدى عشرة ركعة . وقد كان النبي ﷺ يقضي ما فاته من أوراده في رمضان في شوال ، فترك في عام اعتكاف العشر الأواخر من رمضان ، ثم قضاه في شوال ، فاعتكاف العشر الأول منه .ـ

The deeds of the Prophet (ﷺ) were continuous. ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) was once asked, “Did the Prophet (ﷺ) specify any days [for special/extra acts of worship]?” She replied, “No, his deeds were continuous.” And she said, “The Prophet (ﷺ) did not increase above eleven raka’at [of optional night prayer] during Ramaḍan or otherwise.” And the Prophet (ﷺ) would complete whatever he missed of his Ramadan worship regimen in Shawwaal. One year he left off i’tikaaf of the last ten nights of Ramadan, so then he made it up in Shawwaal by making i’tikaaf during its first ten nights.

 وقد تقدم عن أم سلمة أنها كانت تأمر أهلها من كان عليه قضاء من شهر رمضان فليبدأ أن يقضيه الغد من يوم الفطر فمن كان عليه قضاء من شهر رمضان فليبدأ بقضائه في شوال فإنه أسرع لبراءة ذمته وهو أولى من التطوع بصيام ستة من شوال فإن العلماء اختلفوا فيمن عليه صيام مفروض هل يجوز أن يتطوع قبله أو لا وعلى قول من جوز التطوع قبل القضاء فلا يحصل مقصود صيام ستة أيام من شوال إلا لمن أكمل صيام رمضان ثم أتبعه بست من شوال فمن كان عليه قضاء من رمضان ثم بدأ بصيام ست من شوال حيث لم يكمل عدة رمضان لم يحصل له ثواب من صام رمضان ثم أتبعه بست من شوال كما لا يحصل لمن أفطر رمضان لعذر بصيام ستة من شوال آخر صيام السنة بغير إشكال ومن بدأ بالقضاء في شوال ثم أراد أن يتبع ذلك بصيام ستة من شوال بعد تكمله قضاء رمضان كان حسنا لأنه يصير حينئذ قد صام رمضان وأتبعه بست من شوال ولا يحصل له فضل صيام ست من شوال بصوم قضاء رمضان لأن صيام الست من شوال إنما تكون بعد إكمال عدة رمضان.

And it has previously been mentioned on the authority of Umm Salamah that she used to command whoever of her family that had days of Ramadan to make up to starting making them up on the day after the ‘Eid al-Fitr. So whoever has to make up some days of Ramadan should begin to make them up in Shawwaal, for that is quickest way to free oneself from their custody, and they are more deserving than the optional fasting of six days of Shawwaal. But the scholars have differed concerning the one who has obligatory fasting to make up – is it permissible for him to perform optional fasting prior to those or not? According to the position of those who permit optional fasting prior to making up the obligatory fasts, then the objective of fasting six days of Shawwaal is not achieved except for the one who has completed the fasting of Ramadan and then follows that up with six days of Shawwaal. So whoever has days to make up from Ramadan and then he begins the optional six days of fasting Shawwaal does not achieve the reward of the one who fasted Ramadan and then followed it up with six days of Shawwaal since he has not completed the period of Ramadan, just as there is no question that the reward of fasting the entire year is not achieved by fasting six days of Shawwaal for the one who broke his Ramadan fasting due to an excuse. And whoever begins making up their days in Shawwaal and then wants to follow that up with fasting six days of Shawwaal after having completed making up his Ramadan fast, then that is good, because in this case it becomes like he fasted Ramadan and followed it up with six days of Shawwaal. And one does not achieve the virtue of fasting six days of Shawwaal by making up the fasts of Ramadan, because the fasting the six days of Shawwaal is only to take place after the completion of the period of Ramadan.

عمل المؤمن لا ينقضي حتى يأتيه أجله . قال الحسن : إنّ الله لم يجعل لعمل المؤمن أجلا دون الموت ، ثم قرأ < وَاعْبُدْ رَ‌بَّكَ حَتَّىٰ يَأْتِيَكَ الْيَقِينُ > . ـ

The deeds of the believer do not come to an end until his predetermined time comes. Al-Hasan said, “Verily Allah does not make the end of a believer’s deeds anything other than death,” and he then recited,

وَاعْبُدْ رَ‌بَّكَ حَتَّىٰ يَأْتِيَكَ الْيَقِينُ

And worship your Lord until death comes to you [15:99]

[Lataa’if al-Ma’aarif pg. 393-398]

 For more from ibn Rajab’s great work detailing the different actions and virtues of the Hijri calendar, Lataa’if al-Ma’aarif, click here.

See also: Benefits of Fasting: Sheikh ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sa’di

See also: Khutbah at the Beginning of Shawwaal: Imam al-Sa’di

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5 thoughts on “Benefits of Fasting Six Days of Shawwaal: Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali

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