In the Name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Dispenser of Grace
Part 1: The Virtues of Voluntary Fasting
Claremont Main Road Masjid
10th Shawwal 1437
We have reached the 10th day of the 10th lunar month of Shawwal. Some of us have been blessed to emulate the sunnah practice of the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s everlasting peace and blessings be upon him) by following up our obligatory fasting in the month of Ramadan with six days of recommended fasting during the month of Shawwal. In this khutbah I would like to encourage others to follow suit by considering fasting six of the remaining days of the lunar month of Shawwal.
According to a well-known hadith tradition narrated by the companion Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari (may Allah be pleased with him) the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s everlasting peace and blessings be upon him) exhorted us as follows:
- مَنْ صَامَ رَمَضَانَ ثُمَ اَتْبَعَهُ سِتًا مِنْ شَوَالَ فَكَاَ نَمَا صَامَ الدَهْرَ
Whosoever fasts during the month of Ramadan and then follows it up with six days of fasting of Shawwal will be rewarded as if he or she had fasted the entire year.
(The hadith was recorded by Imam Muslim)
According to the Shafi’i and Hanafi schools of Islamic jurisprudence (madh-habs) it is preferred (afdal) that these days be fasted consecutively, i.e. the six days immediately following the celebration of ‘Id-al-Fitr. According to Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, however, one may choose to fast on any six days of the blessed month of Shawwal, as neither practice is preferred over the other. This is also the prevailing view of many contemporary Muslim scholars.
In response to the above prophetic tradition (hadith) I encourage those of us who have not already adopted this prophetic recommendation (sunnah) to consider doing so in the remaining days of this month of Shawwal.
Furthermore, it is my considered view that the practice of fasting in Shawwal could also serve as a wonderful way of assisting those of us who may have missed some fasts during Ramadan, as a result of illness, menses or traveling to make up for their lost fasts. By encouraging the entire family to fast in solidarity with those who have qada fasts, it would be a wonderful gesture so that they do not feel alone in making up lost fast days. Moreover such a gesture would surely help in strengthening our family bonds.
Fasting, as we can all personally testify to, is one of the best forms of worship and spiritual disciplines, which purifies the individual, and nourishes our souls and draws us closer to our Creator. Moreover, voluntary fasting has an even greater effect since it is undertaken by the free will of the believer. It is no small wonder that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is reported to have fasted on Mondays and Thursdays or during three days of every month. In order to underscore the great virtue of voluntary acts of worship the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in a longer hadith qudsi narration is reported by the companion Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased) to have exhorted us as follows:
وَمَا يَزَالُ عَبْدِي يَتَقَرَّبُ إِلَيَّ بِالنَّوَافِلِ حَتَّى أُحِبَّهُ
My servant continues to draw closer and nearer to me through acts of voluntary worship until I love him.
(This hadith was recorded by Imam Bukhari)
This hadith tradition is further supported by the Glorious Qur’an in surah al-Baqarah, chapter 2 verse 158, in which Allah, the Lord of Compassion, proclaims:
وَمَنْ تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ شَاكِرٌ عَلِيمٌ
Whoever does acts of goodness of his/her own accord, then know that Allah is Appreciative and rewards every good deed done, and is All-Knowing (Q2:158).
In conclusion, fasting in the month of Shawwal provides us with a wonderful opportunity of following up on our great spiritual accomplishments of the month of Ramadan and would cultivate in us the discipline of voluntary fasting (siyam al-tatawwu’). I would further like to exhort myself and everyone else to consider fasting occasionally during the rest of the year in order to nurture the inner-spiritual strength that such `ibadah brings. In doing so we would be able to take forward the great levels of ikhlas (sincerity), sakinah (tranquillity), khushu` (humility and devotion), and tazkiyya al-nafs (self-discipline and inner rejuvenation) fostered during the Ramadan month, and work to sustain and nourish these beautiful characteristics through the forthcoming year.