Virtues of Itikaf in Shawwal

The month of Ramadan is coming to an end, and now we are headed towards the month of Shawwal. Shawwal is the tenth month of Islamic calendar; it is marked by the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr, celebrated on the first day of Shawwal.

Narrated by Ibn Umar [1]:

I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “When you see the crescent (of the month of Ramadan), start fasting, and when you see the crescent (of the month of Shawwal), stop fasting; and if the sky is overcast (and you can’t see it) then regard the crescent (month) of Ramadan (as of 30 days)”.

It is Sunnah to fast for six days in Shawwal. Abu Ayyub al-Ansari (Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) as saying [2]:

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

It is highly recommended to fast for six days of the month of Shawwal, but it is not obligatory. There are various opinions regarding this. For instance:

  • Imam al-Shafi’i and Ibn al-Mubarak have suggested to perform the fasts consecutively from the second day of Shawwal.
  • Imam Waki’ and Imam Ahmad ibn-Hanbal feel that there is no difference in virtues when it comes to performing the fasts consecutively or separately.
  • In the opinion of Ma’mar and Abd al-Razzaq, it is not allowed to perform fast right after the day of Eid al-Fitr, as those are the days for people to eat and drink. Rather, it is better to perform the fast during mid-Shawwal.

One can choose to follow any of these opinions that one wishes.

Apart from fasting, one can perform Itikaf in the first ten days of the Shawwal. Narrated by ‘Amra [3]:

Aisha (RA) said, “The Prophet (PBUH) used to practice Itikaf in the last ten days of Ramadan and I used to pitch a tent for him, and after offering the morning prayer, he used to enter the tent.” Hafsa asked the permission of Aisha (RA) to pitch a tent for her and she allowed her and she pitched her tent. When Zainab bint Jahsh saw it, she pitched another tent. In the morning, the Prophet (PBUH) noticed the tents. He said, ‘What is this?” He was informed about the whole situation. Then the Prophet (PBUH) said, “Do you think that they intended to do righteousness by doing this?” He therefore abandoned the Itikaf in that month and practised Itikaf for ten days in the month of Shawwal.”

These six fasts or Itikaf in Shawwal are voluntary acts of worship to help one get closer to Allah. Thus, fasting for six days in Shawwal is an exceedingly blessed action that earns countless gains for the believers.

Lastly, one should follow the way of life shown by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and The Quran and one should always engage oneself in good deeds in order to please Allah. To quote Surah al-Haj [4]:

“O you who believe! Bow down and prostrate yourselves and serve your Lord, and do good so that you may succeed.”

Oh wait, Eid Mubarak everyone!

References

  1. Sahih Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 31, Number 124
  2. Sahih Muslim, The Book of Fasting, Number 2614
  3. Sahih Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 33, Number 249
  4. The Quran 22:77 (Surah al-Haj)

photo by Ariff Ahmad Tajuddin