I have not completed fully the 30/29 days of Ramaḍān, and now it’s Shawwāl. Can I fast the six days of Shawwāl before making up for the days I missed in Ramaḍān?
Alhamdulillāh… All praise and thanks are due to the Almighty Allāh. I send peace and blessings upon Ḥabībī Muḥammad, his household, his companions and all those who follow his guided path, till the Day of Judgement.
It’s rare that Ramaḍān would end without some of us, especially our sisters missing a few days out of it. Some of us also fall sick during the holy month, that they are unable to complete fasting the whole month, especially the elderly. There’s another group of people who choose to miss some days in Ramaḍān for no valid reason.
The elderly, who may fall sick more serious if he fasts, is exempted from fasting, but required to pay ‘fidyah’ for each day he is unable to fast. Fidyah is estimated as the amount sufficient for a standard meal in the country where one stays. The same thing applies to the person with permanent sickness, who can’t survive a day long without food. They pay the fidyah, without the need (for them) to make up for the days they couldn’t fast.
Any other person is required to make up for any days he has missed during the fasting month. This is including pregnant women.
Among all this, we are encouraged to fast six days in the month of Shawwal. Thus, questions like these frequently arise:
- When should one make up for the days he missed?
- Should he make them up before fasting the six days of Shawwāl?
- Or can he start with the six days of Shawwāl first?
For the one who had a valid excuse for missing some days in Ramaḍān, if he can make up those days together with the six days of Shawwāl, before the month (of Shawwāl) ends, then he should make up the missing days first, and then offer his six days of Shawwāl.
For the one who had a valid excuse for missing some days in Ramadan, but is afraid he can’t finish making up for those days together with offering the six days of Shawwāl before the month ends, then he can first fast the six days of Shawwāl, and then makeup for those he missed in Ramaḍān.
As for the one, who didn’t have a valid excuse for missing some days in Ramaḍān, he has to make up for Ramaḍān first. And only then if there are some days left in Shawwāl for him to catch up and fast the six days, then he can proceed.
The reason why the six days should be fasted only after one has completed fasting the month of Ramaḍān is because the Prophet, ṣallā Allāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said in a ḥadīth reported by Imām Muslim from the narration of Abū Ayyūb al-Ansārā, raḍiya Allāhu ‘anhu:
مَنْ صَامَ رَمَضَانَ ثُمَّ أَتْبَعَهُ سِتًّا مِنْ شَوَّال، كَانَ كَصِيَامِ الدَّهْرِ
“He who observes fasting in the month of Ramaḍān, and then observes another six days of fasting, in the month of Shawwāl, it is as if he has observed fasting for the whole year.”
The Prophet ṣallā Allāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “He who observes Ramadan and then…observes another six days of Shawwāl…” He didn’t say “He who fasts Ramaḍān and six days of Shawwāl…” It’s therefore understood that we are encouraged to fast the six days of Shawwāl only after we have fulfilled fasting the month of Ramaḍān and have made up for whatever days we’ve missed.
It’s worth mentioning here, that one will be asked if he fails to make up for the days he has missed in Ramaḍān. This is because fasting the month of Ramaḍān is a decree and hence, an obligation. In the contrary, if one fails to fast the six days of Shawwāl , he will not be asked why he failed to fast them.
In other words, fasting the six days of Shawwāl serves as if one has fasted the whole year, only when it’s observed after observing Ramaḍān. It doesn’t serve as if one has fasted the whole year if one has failed to fast or make up for even a single day in Ramaḍān.
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Allāh knows best.
Allāhu Hafiz 🙂