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I've heard that it is part of the Sunnah to fast for 6 days in the month of Shawwal (the month next to Ramadan). What is the source of this information and is it correct?

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Ahadith on the recommendation to fast 6 days of shawwal

Generally we are recommended to fast outside of Ramadan. The only days we are not allowed to fast are: the two Eids and the three days of tashreeq (after Eid al-Adha) and we are also not allowed to fast on Friday (if we don't fast a day before or after it too) and all the year or life time.

For the six days of Shawwal the most prominent Hadith is:

He who observed the fast of Ramadan and then followed it with six (fasts) of Shawwal. it would be as if he fasted perpetually.

Which has been compiled in sahih Muslim, sunan ibn Majah, Jami' at-Tirmidhi, sunan abi Dawod, Musnad Ahmad, ... (all via Sa'ad ibn Sa'id and on the authorithy of Abu Ayub al-Ansari (May Allah be pleased with him), but there are other routes of this hadith which i couldn't find online but according this article are compiled by an-Nasa-i, abi Dawod, at-Tabarani ...

This hadith apparently also was compiled on the Authority of Thawban (May Allah be pleased with him) with two different wordings:

من صام رمضان وستاً من شوال فقد صام السنة
He who observed the fast of Ramadan and then followed it with six (fasts) of Shawwal. it would be as if he fasted the year.

This version could be found in sahih ibn Hebban, in Tabarani's al-kabir and al-Bayhaqi (in sho'ab al-Iman)...

من صام رمضان فشهر بعشرة أشهر، وصيام ستة أيام بعد الفطر فذلك تمام صيام السنة
He who observed the fast of Ramadan this month will count ten months and fasting six days after Eid al-Fitr would complete the fast of a year.

This version could be found in sunan an-Nasai al-kubra ...

And also on the authority of sahabi's like Jabir ibn Abdullah al-Ansari (with a similar wording as the above version from sunan abi Dawod, but instead of "perpetual" he used "a year") Abu Hurraira (two versions one similar to the one of sunan abi Dawod, and in the other with "a year" and "six successive days of shawwal") and ibn Abbas and Jabir (May Allah be pleased with them) in less familiar hadith collections. So one may not relay on these versions that much.

Problems with the ahadith

The major problem with the most prominent Hadith is the narrator Sa'ad ibn Sa'id, as some hadith authorities like an-Nasai, ibn Ma'yn and Ahmad ibn Hanbal have declared him as da'if, ibn Hazm has declared him as da'if jiddan (very much). But other scholars like ad-Dahabi , ibn Hajar and in another narration ibn Ma'yn have accepted him and ibn Mulaqin refuted the reasoning of ibn Hazm on this hadith clearly.

Also an other point scholars are pointing at is the wording "perpetual fast" as this kind of fast is haram, so this was a problem with this hadith which can be solved by this fatwa of Imam Malik.

The first version of the hadith of Thawaban has also some weaknesses, while the other has a sane narrator chain.

On the whole the hadith therefore seems to be sane.

Fiqh view: How to fast them?

Note that the scholars: Imam Abu Hanifa and Malik and abu Yusuf the student of abu Hanifa declared this fast as makrooh. But it was narrated that Imam Malik used to do it and he also had a clear explanation:

Yahya said that he heard Malik say, about fasting for six days after breaking the fast at the end of Ramadan, that he had never seen any of the people of knowledge and fiqh fasting them. He said, "I have not heard that any of our predecessors used to do that, and the people of knowledge disapprove of it and they are afraid that it might become a bid'ah and that common and ignorant people might join to Ramadan what does not belong to it, if they were to think that the people of knowledge had given permission for that to be done and were seen doing it. (Al-Muwatta' Malik, narration of Yahya ibn Yahya al-Laithi 1/310)

On the other hand there are the following views:

It is recommended to fast them: Shafi'i, Hanbali and some scholars of the Hanafi and Maliki school.

It is disliked (makrooh): An opinion of the Hanafi and Maliki school.

It is disliked (makrooh) to perform the fast in successive days, but allwoed on separated days: The opinion of the majority of the Maliki scholars, abu Yusuf and some other Hanafi scholars.

It is disliked (makrooh) to start fasting from day of Eid and go ahead with the next five days without separation: Some Hanafi and Maliki scholars.

Some say that Imam Malik might have declared it as makrooh either because he was fearing people will regard it as fard (as this was said to be the case with Christians who added some worships to others and they were later declared as obligatory, and this really happened afterwards) or because he didn't hear the hadith or didn't have reliable sources for it.

Here is a fatwa for those who missed to complete the six days of shawwal on time. See also this Arabic reference. And this about whether it is necessary to fast six successive days and this on when to start.

And Allah knows best!

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Yes, it is Sunnah to fast for 6 days in the month next to Ramadan which is the month of Shawwal. It was narrated from Abu Ayyub that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

“Whoever fasts Ramadan then follows it with six days of Shawwal, it is as if he fasted for a lifetime.” - Sunnah ibn Majah, Grade : Sahih (Darussalam)

The hadith cited above is from the book Sunnah ibn Majah and it's classed as Sahih. The reference of the hadith is as follows:

  • English reference : Vol. 1, Book 7, Hadith 1716
  • Arabic reference : Book 7, Hadith 1787

And Allah knows best.

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Assalaum alikum,

Yes , It is part of sunnah to fast 6 days after Ramadan but it is prohibited to fast the first day after Ramadan ( eid el fitr) and this is the hadeeth:

"Whoever fasts Ramadhan and follows it with six days of Shawwal, it will be as if he fasted for a lifetime."Narrated by Muslim, Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nisa'i and Ibn Majah

As you can see from the hadeeth it is highly recommended to fast those 6 days as it is as if you fasted the whole life .

Allah knows best

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