Question: A Moulana claims that it is Makrooh to fast six days during the month of Shawwaal. He claims that according to Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh) it is Makrooh. Is it Makrooh or Sunnat to fast six days during the month of Shawwaal?
Answer (By Mujlisul Ulama):
The Maulana talks drivel. Fasting six days during the month of Shawwaal is Sunnat. It is a practice observed from the age of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). Whilst the juhhaal (ignoramuses) baselessly claim that the Hadith on which the validity of this practice is based is a fabrication, the Hadith is authentic. Imaam Ahmad Bin Hambal (rahmatullah alayh) said that this Hadith is narrated via three authentic Chains of Transmission from the Sahaabah Abu Ayyub Ansaari, Thaubaan and Jabir Bin Abdullah (radhiyallahu anhum).
Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
“Whoever fasts the month of Ramadhaan and follows it up with six days of Shawwaal, is as if he has fasted a whole year.”
This Hadith is recorded in Saheeh Muslim, Tirmizi, Nisaai, Abu Dawood and Musnad-e-Ahmad. Thus, the claim of it being Maudhoo’ (fabricated) is palpably baatil (false).
The Makrooh view attributed to Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh) was predicated with prevalent circumstances. In his era the practice was assigned a higher level. It was elevated to the level of Wujoob (being compulsory). It is a well-known principle of the Shariah that when even a Sunnah practice is elevated to the degree of Wujoob, it shall be labelled bid’ah and prohibited until such time that the belief of the masses has been rectified.
When Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) mentioned the virtues of fasting six days during Shawwaal and encouraged its observance, it was just natural for the Sahaabah to embrace the practice with great enthusiasm. They steadfastly observed this practice of fasting six days in Shawwaal. Their steadfast and enthusiastic observance of this practice resulted in the belief during the Taabieen age that fasting the six days of Shawwaal was akin to Ramadhaan.
Commenting on the elevation to Wujoob of this practice, Allaamah Ibn Hummaam (Rahimahullah) of the 9th Islamic century states in Fathul Qadeer:
“The reason for the Makrooh view is that among the masses the belief of incumbency gained ascendancy. Thus, we have heard some saying on the Day of Fitr (Eid): ‘For us it is not yet Eid.’, or similar such statements. However, in the absence of this (type of idea), there is nothing wrong fasting the six days because of the Hadith (encouraging its observance).”
In Al-Muheetul Burhaani is mentioned:
“The Makrooh view is based on the fear that it (the 6 days) would become enumerated with Ramadhaan…..However, today, that idea does not exist. It is therefore not Makrooh.”
Al-Qustalaani states in Mawaahibur Rahmaan:
According to our Ulama and Imaam Shaafi’ it is not Makrooh to follow Eidul Fitr with six fasts of Shawwaal, for the Hadith of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) says: ‘Whoever fasts Ramadhaan (same Hadith as above).”
There is consensus of the Fuqaha that fasting six days in Shawwaal is Sunnat. It is a practice which has existed in the Ummah since the age of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). The rare view of Karaahat (it being Makrooh) has to be incumbently set aside or appropriately interpreted to reconcile it with the well-substantiated practice – substantiated by the consensus of the Ummah. A rare view may not be cited to abrogate an established practice of the Shariah.
The Makrooh view is also attributed to Imaam Maalik (rahmatullah alayh). It is quite clear that the Hadith on this subject did not reach Imaam Maalik. There is no Sahaabi, no Imaam and no Muhaddith who had claimed or who could claim to have encompassed all the hundreds of thousands of Ahaadith of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). It is precisely for this reason that the Aimmah Mujtahideen had instructed their Students who were Mujtahids and Fuqaha of the highest calibre, to set aside their views should they come across a Saheeh Hadith stating another view.
In our time, the idea of the six Shawwaal fasts being considered to be part of Ramadhaan or being Waajib is furthest from the mind. Leave alone believing these fasts to be part of Ramadhaan, most Muslims are unaware of this Sunnat practice, and most of those who are even aware, do not observe this practice. Thus, the original Sunnat practice remains intact, and the baseless view of Makrooh propagated by the juhhaal of our time is rejected.