Muslims throughout the world use the Islamic calendar as a frame of reference for understanding the historical and significant Islamic events throughout the year. While many of us wait the entire year for Ramadan, we tend to forget the significance of the months that follow or precede it. One such month is the month of Shawwal.
The month of Shawwal is the 10th month of the Hijri/Islamic Calendar, and its first day marks the celebration of Eid-al Fitr. The name Shawwal signifies spiritual cleansing and renewal. The name Shawwal was given to the month as it was during this time of the year that a female camel would be expecting her baby.
This year, Shawwal will be beginning on April 21, 2023, or April 22, 2023, and will be ending on May 20, 2023. It is followed by the holy month of Ramadan, and within this month are great opportunities for Muslims to earn rewards and rectify any errors that have been made while fasting in the month of Ramadan.
The End of Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr
The first day of Shawwal is the day of celebration as Muslims unite to enjoy the gift they receive from Allah for having fasted the entire holy month of Ramadan. Eid al-Fitr is one of the two annual Eid that Muslims celebrate. On the day of Eid Al-Fitr, Eid prayers are held in congregation, and Muslims pay Sadaqat-ul-Fitr in the form of Fitranah.
Shawwal is the month before Dhul Hijjah, which means that the Hajj season commences during Shawwal, and this month serves as a preparatory phase for Muslims to perform certain rituals related to Hajj. Otherwise also known as Ash-hur Al-Hajj or the months of Hajj; therefore, the month of Shawwal is significant in many ways.
The Six Fasts of Shawwal
The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said, “Whoever fasts in the month of Ramadhan and then follows it with six days of fasting in the month of Shawwal, it will be as if he fasted for the entire year.” [Sahih Muslim – 1164a]
Fasting for six days in Shawwal is an opportunity for reward and forgiveness, as it was practiced by the Holy Prophet (ﷺ). These fasts are voluntary fasts that any individual can keep throughout the month before Shawwal ends. However, fasting on the first Shawwal or the day of Eid-al Fitr is forbidden.
The significance of keeping these six fasts is to redeem any errors that we made while fasting during the month of Ramadan. Fasting for six days in Shawwal, followed by the month of fasting in Ramadan, is not incumbent upon anyone, but it’s recommended to do so for the believers to take the maximum benefit of their religious practices.
Many scholars suggest that fasting for six days in Shawwal is a sign that a Muslim’s observance of fasting during Ramadan has been accepted. Fasting for six days in Shawwal is a way of keeping the momentum of fasting and making the best of this time to hold onto the spiritual regeneration that the month of Ramadan has to offer.
The ayah through which scholars interpret this is through the verse, ‘Whoever comes with one good act shall have (the reward) of ten times the like of it’ [Qur’an, 6:160]. Thus, fasting during Ramadan is like fasting for 10 months, and fasting for six days of Shawwal is like fasting for 60 days. Combining the two is equivalent to fasting for an entire year.
The Historical Significance of Shawwal
During the age of ignorance in Arab, marriages were forbidden during the month of Shawwal as people believed that the wedding would not last, but it was during the month of Shawwal that the marriage of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) and Aisha (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهَا) took place and it is considered to be one of the best months to get married.
In the month of Shawwal in 8 AH, the battle of Hunain was fought by Muslims against Hawazin and Thaqif tribes in the valley of Hunain, which is located between Makkah and Ta’if.
Apart from these events, here is a list of important dates in the month of Shawwal:
- 1 Shawwal: Eid al-Fitr
- 7 Shawwal: Battle of Uhud.
- 13 Shawwal: Birth of Imam Bukhari.
- 25 Shawwal: Martyrdom of Imam Jafar as-Sadiq (رَضِيَ ٱللَّٰهُ عَنْهُ)
Sunnah Practices during Shawwal
Apart from fasting for six days in Shawwal, other Sunnah that you can practice during Shawwal include praying Nawafil and seeking forgiveness of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى).
Narrated by Anas Bin Malik, “The Messenger of Allah said to me: ‘Whoever revives my Sunnah then he has loved me. And whoever loved me, he shall be with me in Paradise.’ [Tirmidhi – 2678]
Fasting on the 13th,14th, and 15th of every month is considered to be a sunnah, and many religious scholars recommend either fasting three days before or after these days. Fasting on Mondays and Thursdays is a sunnah, and doing that in Shawwal makes these fasts more rewardable.
Charity, giving in the way of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى) is a practice that Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى) will reward and compensate an individual for. To make the most out of the month of Shawwal by performing both voluntary and obligatory charitable practices. Certainly, the ones that give in the way of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى) are blessed with even more abundance.
Conclusion for Shawwal – Significance, Major Events & Nawafil
If you are someone who struggles to keep up with the routine of fasting and trying to resume their ‘daily routine,’ Shawwal is the month that carries a weighty reward for carrying out all these practices, such as praying at night and reading Quran. When you strive to keep the regular Ramadan habits, not only do they become a source of immense rewards but a good act done regularly is loved by Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى).
Shawwal is a month when we bid farewell to Ramadan and welcome Hajj. This makes it a month of extreme value and importance where we can perform our Nawafil worship to please Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى) while also setting a momentum for ourselves to carry our faith and material lives together. Shawwal offers us a chance to stick with our religious practices, making the concept of worship a timeless and significant part of our fast-paced lives.