Alḥamdulillāh, I’ve managed to summarise the main points of the issues into a long article. See PDF attachment: The Ruling On Supererogatory Fasting on Saturdays
In the Name of Allāh, praise is due to Allāh and may prayers and peace be upon the Messenger of Allāh.
Allāh the Mighty and Exalted has scattered His immense blessings and mercy across different times and places in order to allow us to be able to benefit from them whatever time it may be and in whichever place we may reside. Part of that blessing and mercy is the fact that He has specified particular acts of virtuous deeds which we can perform throughout the year in different Islamic months whilst attaining unimaginably generous rewards and remission of sins. The month of Ramaḍān has just passed us by and we all know the virtues of Ramaḍān which include the obligatory fasting, the night prayers, the last ten nights which includes the Night of Decree and the fact that the rewards are determined by Allāh as He wishes etc. Following Ramaḍān is the first of the three months of Ḥajj: Shawwāl. This month has its own virtues and deeds which can be performed to earn even more rewards. Part of that are the six fasts of Shawwāl.
This article discusses the subject of the six fasts of Shawwāl and its related Fiqh issues which would be of interest to those engaging in this virtuous deed. The evidences establishing this practice are mentioned and a brief mention of the grading of the evidences. Following this, the fiqh issues related to the fasts are mentioned in which the discussions revolve around the exact ruling on these fasts, the rewards, the wisdom behind these fasts, how and when they should be fasted, some of the innovations that have developed around the month of Shawwāl and whether perpetual fasting is supported by the fact that the reward for fasting the six fasts of Shawwāl after having fasted Ramaḍān is equivalent to a year’s fasting. So let us begin.
There are a number of different routes to the ḥadīth with two different wordings with regards to the analogy of time mentioned in the text. The first of them and the most popular compares it to al-Dahr (more on that later) whilst the other compares it more specifically to one complete year:
From Abū Ayyūb al-Anṣārī (raḍiyAllāhu ʿanhu) that he narrated that the Messenger of Allāh (ṢallAllāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) stated:
“Whoever fasts Ramaḍān and then follows it up with six from Shawwāl, it is like fasting al-Dahr.”
Ibn Mājah (no. 1715) reports a more specific wording for the timing from Thawbān (raḍiyAllāhu ʿanhu) the client of the Messenger of Allāh (ṢallAllāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), from the Messenger of Allāh (ṢallAllāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) that he said:
“Whoever fasts six days after al-Fiṭr, it is [like] a complete year. Whoever performs a good deed has ten times its like.”
Grading of the Ḥadīth
The aḥādīth mentioned above are sound according to the masters amongst the muḥaddithūn. The first version for instance is mentioned in none other than Imām Muslim’s Ṣaḥiḥ.
Fiqh of the Ḥadīth
It is the 10th month of the Islāmic lunar calendar year following the blessed month of Ramaḍān and is also the first month of the Months of Ḥajj. It is said that it is called Shawwāl because “it coincided with the season when the she-camels raised their tails or because of their milk becoming then withdrawn” due to the scorching heat and the scarcity of sufficient fresh herbage. The plural is Shawwālāt.
This term is applied to varied lengths of abundant time. The intent here however is a lunar year based on the second ḥadīth mentioned amongst the proof-texts which specifically limits the time to a complete year.
The ḥadīth indicates that it is mustaḥabb or highly recommended to voluntarily fast six days of Shawwāl after having fasted the whole month of Ramaḍān.
There is an aberrant view held by Imām Mālik and also ascribed to Abū Ḥanīfah that it is disliked to perform these fasts. Imām Mālik’s fear was that to do so every year would give the impression that it is obligatory due to its close proximity to Ramaḍān. This is based on weak reasoning and thus incorrect for the following reasons:
- If we were to take this position it would mean that praying the optional prayers connected with the obligatory ones (rawātib) every single day is disliked. This necessary conclusion is false and the falsity of this necessary conclusion indicates the falsity of the premise which necessitated it. 
- Furthermore, the thing that they fear can easily be removed via teaching and explanation.
- Aside from the above, the simple fact that the ḥadīth mentions the practise unrestrictedly is enough as an evidence for its permissibility. For this reason, Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr seeks to exonerate Imām Mālik by mentioning a number of reasons why he adopted this untenable position:
- This ḥadīth did not reach Mālik and if it had he would have adopted it
i. This is despite the fact that one route of the ḥadīth reached us via an inhabitant of Madīnah, the very place in which Imām Mālik resided. This is why later on in his explanation of the Muwaṭṭa’ he states that he does not believe that Imām Mālik was ignorant of the ḥadīth
- He was extremely cautious about preserving the dīn for the general masses and for this reason he adopted the position of it being disliked to fast the six days of Shawwāl
- He considered the ḥadīth to be inauthentic and not practically applicable due to it not having reached him via sound routes
We learn from the above ḥadīths that the reward for following up the fasting of the month of Ramaḍān with six days from Shawwāl is equivalent to fasting a complete year. This is because each good deed is worth ten in Allāh’s account. Thus, 30 fasts of Ramaḍān multiplied by 10 is equivalent to 300 fasts. Add six days from Shawwal which is equivalent to 6 multiplied by 10 which is of course 60 and add that 60 fasts to the 300 fasts of Ramaḍān and you have a grand total of 360 fasts for the year – or a fast for every day of the year.
Or more simply, 1 month of fasting in Ramaḍān is equivalent to 10 months of fasting. Fasting another 6 days in Shawwāl is equivalent to 2 months of fasting. Add 10 and 2 and you get 12 months of fasting in total. This is how some of the scholars have explained the meaning of the ḥadīth, thus if a person does that every year it is like as if he has fasted nonstop every year of his life!
There is a popular inauthentic report regarding the reward of fasting six days from Shawwāl which states:
“Whoever fasts Ramaḍān and follows it up with six from Shawwāl; he leaves from his sins like the day his mother gave birth to him”
One of the narrators by the name of Abū ʿAbd Allāḥ al-Ḥimṣī is according to al-Albānī a man known by the name of Muḥammad b. Saʿīd al-Asadī the crucified liar and forger whose name has been altered around a hundred times by other less credible narrators to hide his notoriety. Consequently the ḥadīth is inauthentic and at worst forged.
The scholars have listed a number of wisdoms of this particular act of worship:
- To provide an opportunity for people to attain the reward for having fasted the whole year with little effort
- To ensure fasting is not neglected immediately after Ramaḍān since many people will have become exhausted physically from the previous month and may avoid fasting again for a while. This encourages them not to turn away from fasting so quickly.
- To allow this optional fast to cover the imperfections that may have harmed our obligatory fasts in the same way optional prayers cover the imperfections and short comings in our obligatory prayers
A person can fast them in the beginning of the month or in the middle or end since there is no evidence to state explicitly that they have to be performed in the beginning of the month etc and because the ḥadīth is absolute in its meaning without any restrictions. Whoever ends up fasting six days of Shawwāl during the month then he has successfully and correctly applied the ḥadīth and followed up Ramaḍān with six from Shawwāl – and that is sufficient.
However, as with all acts of worship, some methods are of a higher level of piety than others which is why for instance al-Tirmidhī states that the famous scholar ʿAbd Allāh b. Al-Mubārak was of the view that it is better to fast them at the beginning of the month. Before delving further into when it is best to fast these fasts we need to look at the issue of fasts that have to be made up for Ramaḍān:
Qaḍā’ Or Six Days of Shawwāl First?
If one intends to fast the six voluntary fasts of Shawwāl then the obligatory fasts must be made up before one can begin fasting for the six days of Shawwāl. This is because:
- The Qaḍā’ is a binding obligation upon the person which takes precedence over all other voluntary fasts.
- Voluntary acts of worship are not accepted until the relevant obligatory act is completed. There is an authentic athar from Abu Bakr (raḍiyAllāhu ʿanhu) in which he said that Allāh does not accept acts of worship from a person if he has obligatory ones pending.
- The ḥadīth states ‘Whoever fasts Ramaḍān…”. One who has not made up the Qaḍā’ has not fasted Ramaḍān and therefore cannot attain the reward mentioned in the ḥadīth until they have been kept.
Now returning back to when one should keep the six fasts of Shawwāl, an obvious point to note is that fasting 6 days from Shawwāl excludes the Day of ʿĪd which is the 1st of Shawwāl because of the prohibition of fasting on the Days of ʿĪd. Additionally, according to al-Albānī it also excludes Saturdays.
One should avoid fasting on Saturdays due to the prohibition of fasting on Saturdays unless it is an obligatory fast. The Prophet (ṢallAllāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) stated:
“Do not fast on Saturday except for what is obligatory upon you and if one of you does not find anything apart from the skin of a grape or the bark of a tree then let him chew it.”
It is best to fast them immediately after the Day of ʿĪd because:
- We should hasten to do good deeds
- It indicates that a person is desirous of fasting and engaging enthusiastically in acts of worship and is not lazy or bored
- It reduces the chances of something preventing the person from completing the fasting
- One’s body is already accustomed to fasting and this allows the person to complete the fasts more effectively and continue some of the good habits acquired during the month
There are two ways the scholars have mentioned these fasts can be kept:
Although it is permissible to fast them in either form, Shaykh al-Albānī for instance takes the view that it is better to fast the six days consecutively but Friday and Saturday must be avoided because it is impermissible to fast voluntarily on Saturday except obligatory fasts. He holds the same view for the White Days (13th, 14th and 15th of each month).
Accordingly, one can fast for instance from Sunday to Thursday which would be 5 days and then fast on the Sunday after missing Friday and Saturday and that would be considered a consecutive fast according to the Shaykh’s opinion.
It is better to fast them consecutively because of the same reasons mentioned above for why we should fast them immediately the day after ʿĪd.
Some of the common people refer to the 8th of Shawwāl as the ʿĪd of the Pious based on the fact that those who rush to do good deeds do so by fasting the six immediately after the day of ʿĪd which is from the 2nd of Shawwāl until the 7th of Shawwāl thereby completing their 6 days of fasting for the month. This is an innovation since there is no evidence from the textual sources to support this. As Shaykh Ibn al-ʿUthaymīn, echoing Shaykh al-Islām before him, so eloquently puts it, it is neither the ʿĪd of the Pious nor of the Impious. Furthermore, this belief of theirs implies that those who do not fast six days from Shawwāl are not pious and this is a mistake for the one who completes his obligation is pious without doubt even if some acts of piety are more perfect than others.
Avoiding Marriage and Consummation of One’s Marriage
The pre-Islāmic Arabs used to consider marriage during Shawwāl to be an evil omen. They believed that a woman who gets married during Shawwāl would prevent herself from her husband just as a she-camel prevents herself from the male camel during the same period.
However, no attention should be paid to such superstitions. It is sufficient to cite the fact that the Prophet married the Mother of the Believers, ʿĀ’ishah (raḍiyAllāhu ʿanhā) during the month of Shawwāl. She stated: “The Messenger of Allāh (ṢallAllāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) married me in Shawwāl and consummated the marriage with me in Shawwāl…” Ibn Kathīr states that the fact that the Prophet consummated his marriage with ʿĀʾishah (raḍiyAllāhu ʿanhā) during Shawwāl refutes the misconception of some of the people who believe it is disliked to consummate one’s marriage during that period for fear of the spouses being separated. Al-Nawawī goes further and states that it is recommended for one to marry in Shawwāl and consummate the marriage therein based on ʿĀʾishah’s ḥadīth.
It is technically permissible for a person who is making up obligatory fasts in the month of Shawwāl to combine the intention with that of the six days of Shawwāl. However, al-Albānī states that the person would only receive one multiple of ten rewards for doing this whereas if he did them separately he would receive two multiples of ten rewards as they would be two separately practised good deeds.
What If You Receive An Invitation?
It is not obligatory to break one’s fast but it is obligatory to attend the invitation unless there is a legitimate excuse. He should supplicate for the host if he does not break his fast:
Abū Hurayrah (raḍiyAllāhu ʿanhu) reported that the Messenger of Allāh (ṢallAllāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said:
“When one of you is given an invitation let him respond, if he is fasting let him supplicate and if he is not then let him eat”.
One can break their voluntary fast and eat because of the maxim that a person who begins a voluntary act of worship is not obligated to complete it whereas one who begins an obligatory act of worship must complete it:
Umm Ḥani’ (raḍiyAllāhu ʿanhā) narrated that the Messenger of Allāh Allāh (ṢallAllāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said:
“…The one who is observing a voluntary fast is his own master; if he wishes he may fast and if he wishes he may break his fast.”
[Ṣaḥīḥ al-Jāmiʿ, 3854]
If, however, one feels that the host would be hurt if he did not break his fast and eat then it is better for the person to eat and he can make up that fast later if he wishes:
Abū Saʿīd al-Khudrī (raḍiyAllāhu ʿanhu) narrates an incident in which some food had been prepared for the Prophet and when it was served one man refrained from eating with the excuse that he was fasting. Upon hearing this, the Prophet (ṢallAllāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) then stated:
“Your brother has invited you and gone through some trouble. Break your fast today and make it up another day if you wish.”
[Irwā’, 1952 and it is Ḥasan].
Not Being Able To Fast During Shawwāl
If one is unable to fast during the month of Shawwāl due to a legitimate Sharʿī reason such as being prevented due to sickness or having to make up the whole month of Ramaḍān then it is permissible for that person to fast them even if Shawwāl has passed and he will have the reward written for him. This is based on the analogy that an obligation which is delayed due to a legitimate reason such as when an optional prayer connected with the obligatory prayer is delayed beyond its time then it is permissible to make it up as evidenced by the Sunnah.
Perpetual Fasting – Recommended or Not?
Ṣiyām al-Dahr is to fast every single day voluntarily. It is impermissible to perform this type of fasting as it would involve the fasting of prohibited days such as the two days of ʿĪd and the Days of Tashrīq and Saturdays.
Some have argued that the fact that the reward for fasting six days from Shawwāl after having fasted Ramaḍān is equivalent to fasting nonstop for the year just as fasting three days out of every month is as well, is an indication that Ṣiyām al-Dahr is superior to all forms of fasting and its reward is also greater and that this is an act that people should aspire to for the Prophet made an analogy of the reward with perpetual fasting.
This form of reasoning however is invalid for the following reasons:
- The Prophet (ṢallAllāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) explicitly stated in a sound ḥadīth which is agreed upon that the best form of fasting is that of Dāwūd (ʿalayhissalām) which is to fast a day and break it for a day i.e. to fast alternate days and that there is nothing better than it. This explicit ḥadīth takes precedence over any other implicit deductions made from other proof-texts.
- The fact that the Prophet (ṢallAllāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) compared six fasts from Shawwāl and three days from every month to perpetual fasting does not necessitate its permissibility let alone it being recommended as a righteous act as Ibn al-Qayyim argues in Zād al-Maʿād. The similarity is only in the reward if it had been a recommended form of fasting. The evidence against this reasoning is in the very ḥadīth itself for it states explicitly that fasting three days out of every month is equivalent to perpetual fasting for every good deed is ten times its like which means the person attains the reward of fasting 360 days and it is known definitively that fasting every single day of the year is ḥarām according to consensus. Consequently, it is known that the intent is the attainment of the reward and not the form.
- Even more explicitly, the Prophet (ṢallAllāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) stated clearly in the version of the ḥadīth in Ibn Mājah which was mentioned in the beginning of this article regarding the six fasts of Shawwāl which ends with the words, “Whoever performs a good deed has ten times its like”. Thus the analogy is with regards to the reward and not the mode of fasting.
- Finally, the Messenger of Allāh (ṢallAllāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) routinely compared one act of worship which was within the capability of a person with one which is usually impossible to perform. He did this to emphasise the greatness of the act and its reward in terms of its quality even though the act is less than the comparison in terms of quantity. So for example, when the Prophet (ṢallAllāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) was asked regarding an action which is equal to Jihād, he compared it to praying nonstop without taking a break and fasting without breaking one’s fast. Now, the act of Jihād is within a person’s capability but in order to emphasise its greatness and reward the Prophet (ṢallAllāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) compared it to something that cannot be usually performed which is praying nonstop and fasting perpetually. This obviously does not contain any recommendation to perform those actions in that manner. Another example is when the Prophet (ṢallAllāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) stated that praying ʿIshā’ and Fajr in congregation is equivalent to praying the whole night even though he explicitly stated as reported in Būkhārī and Muslim that the best form of night prayer is not to pray it all night but to pray a third of it.
al-Bassām, ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān. Tawḍīḥ al-Aḥkām Min Bulūgh al-Marām, 7 vols. Makkah: Dār al-Asadī, 1423/2003.
Ibn Qudāmah, al-Muwaffaq al-Dīn Abū Muḥammad ʿAbd Allāh b. Aḥmad al-Maqdisī. Al-Mughnī, 5th Edition, eds. ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿAbd al-Muḥsin al-Turkī and ʿAbd al-Fattāḥ Muḥammad al-Ḥalw, 15 vols. Riyāḍ: Dār ʿĀlam al-Kutub, 1419/1999.
Al-Tuwayjirī, ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz b. Aḥmad. Al-Bidaʿ al-Ḥawliyyah. Riyāḍ: Dār al-Faḍīlah, 1421/2000.
al-ʿUthaymīn, Muḥammad b. Ṣāliḥ. Al-Sharḥ al-Mumtiʿ ʿalā Zād al-Mustaqniʿ, 15 vols. Al-Dammām: Dār Ibn al-Jawzī, 1422AH.
Yamāmah, ʿAbd al-Sanad Ḥasan. Mawsūʿat Shurūḥ al-Muwaṭṭaʾ, ed. ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿAbd al-Muḥsin al-Turkī, 25 vols. Cairo: 1426/2005.
 Reported by al-Tirmidhī and Ibn Mājah (Ṣaḥīḥ Sunan ibn Mājah (1403)), al-Ḥākim and others, Shaykh (al-Albānī) – may Allāh have mercy upon him – authenticated it in al-Irwā’ (960) and Tamām al-Minnah (405).
 Muslim (1164), Ibn Mājah (1716), Abū Dāwūd (2433), al-Tirmidhī (759)
 Lane, vol. 4, p. 347pdf or 1623 col. 1
 Al-Sharḥ al-Mumtiʿ, vol. 6, p. 467
 Ibid, p. 467
 Mawsūʿat Shurūḥ al-Muwaṭṭaʾ, vol. 9, p. 368-9
 Al-Ḍaʾīfah, no. 5190
 Al-Mughnī, vol. 4, p. 440
 Al-Tirmidhī, no. 579 – the statement of Ibn al-Mubārak follows on from the ḥadīth.
 Tawḍīḥ al-Aḥkām, vol. 3, p. 535. The narration is also mentioned by al-Albānī in his fatāwā on this topic.
 Al-Sharḥ al-Mumtiʿ, vol. 6, p. 465
 Muslim, Aḥmad, al-Tirmidhī, al-Nasā’ī and Ibn Mājah.
 Al-Bidaʿ al-Ḥawliyyah, p. 348
 Al-Sharḥ al-Mumtiʿ, pp. 466-7
 Zād al-Maʿād, vol. 2, pp. 77-8
In the Name of Allāh, all praise is due to Allāh and may the praise and security be upon the Messenger of Allāh.
This is a translation of a booklet entitled al-Aḥkām al-Maṭlūbah fī Ru’yat al-Makhṭūbah by Shaykh Samīr b. Amīn al-Zuhayrī. I came across the title of this work whilst reading the Shaykh’s annotated verification of Ibn Ḥajr’s Bulūgh al-Marām and managed to find it on the web. The topic is obviously a crucial one for those seeking to tread the path of marriage and want to know the relevant rulings associated with different aspects of the whole process. This booklet answers the most critical questions in relation to the actual viewing of the prospective bride and the manner in which the Salaf applied the Sunnic advice in this regard. The author dispels some misconceptions surrounding the topic as well. Critical notes have been added here and there to further supplement the value of the booklet and one hopes the readers will benefit from it as much as I have.
In the Name of Allāh, all praise is due to Allāh and may the peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allāh.
What follows is a collection of virtues connected with fasting as reported in numerous authentic aḥādīth from disparate sources contained within the book Ṣaḥīḥ al-Targhīb wa al-Tarhīb by Sh. Muḥammad Nāṣir al-Dīn al-Albānī (may Allāh have mercy upon him). With the month of Ramaḍān rapidly approaching our doorstep, I thought it would be appropriate to bring to the attention of those who intend to fast during the blessed month the tremendous virtues of fasting. The aim, if Allāh wills, is to increase one’s love of the act of fasting, to make one aware of the delights that await the sincere faster which should in turn strengthen our resolve and encourage us to make the best of the aforementioned month. I will add more aḥādīth pertaining to the virtues and rewards of fasting to this post inshā’Allāh over the coming days – I’ve got other projects to attend to before then!
FASTING IS FOR ALLĀḤ AND HE REWARDS IT HIMSELF
The first batch of aḥādīth mentions a number of different virtues of fasting, which seek to stir the soul of the believer with high expectations of immense reward from his Lord. Not only has Allāh, as we shall see from the narrations below, singled out fasting as an act of worship that is done for Him in contrast to other conspicuous acts of worship but also the odour of the fasting person’s mouth is more pleasant to Allāh than even the smell of perfume. Additionally, Allāh does not limit the reward of fasting to the usual multiples between 10 and 700, instead He will reward it as He sees fit. Finally, the fasting person will find that his fast is a shield from the Fire and that he will experience two moments of utter joy; the moment he breaks his fast and the moment he meets his Lord.
Now let us take a look at these wonderful aḥādīth:
 Abū Hurayrah (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: the Messenger of Allāh (may Allāh grant him peace and security) said:
“Allāh the Mighty and Exalted said: Every action of the Son of Ādam is for him, except fasting for it is for Me and I will reward it. Fasting is a shield so when one of you is fasting let him not behave obscenely nor clamor. If someone insults or fights him, let him say: I am fasting, I am fasting. By the One in Whose Hand is the soul of Muḥammad, the smell of the mouth of the faster is more pleasant with Allāh than the smell of musk. The faster has two moments of joy; when he breaks his fast he is happy and when he meets his Lord He is happy with his fast.”
One might ask the question – is not every act of worship performed by a person for him? Why did Allāh specify fasting? The response is that it means the reward for every other act of worship performed by a person is restricted between 10 and 700 multiples. However, the reward for fasting is unrestricted by normal parameters as Allāh will decide the amount by which the faster should be rewarded as we shall come to see, if Allāh wills.
In a narration of Bukhārī:
“He forsakes his food, drink and desires because of Me, fasting is for Me and I will reward it and every good act is ten times its like”.
In a narration of Muslim:
“Every deed of the Son of Ādam is multiplied; good acts are 10 times its like up to 700 times. Allāh the Most High stated: Except for fasting for it is for Me and I will reward it. He leaves his desire and food because of Me. The faster has two moments of joy: a moment of joy when breaking his fast and a moment of joy when meeting his Lord and the smell of the mouth of the faster is more pleasant with Allāh than the scent of musk”.
In another one of his narrations as well as Ibn Khuzaymah:
“And when he meets Allāh the Mighty and Exalted, He rewards him thus he becomes happy”.
Tirmidhī reports in one narration:
“Indeed your Lord says: Every good deed is ten times its like up to 700, fasting is for me and I will reward it. Fasting is a shield from the Fire and the smell of the fasting person’s mouth is more pleasant to Allāh than the smell of musk. If a person acts ignorantly towards one of you while he is fasting, let him say: I am fasting, I am fasting”.
In one of Ibn Khuzaymah’s narration:
“He said: Every act of the Son of Ādam is for him; a good deed is ten times its like up to seven hundred times. Allāh said: Except for fasting, it is for Me, I will reward it, he leaves his food because of Me, he leaves his drink because of Me, he leaves his pleasure because of Me and he leaves his wife because of Me. The smell of the faster’s mouth is better to Allāh than the scent of musk. The faster has two moments of joy: a moment of joy when breaking the fast and a moment of joy when meeting his Lord”.
THE GATE OF AL-RAYYĀN
The Gate of al-Rayyān is a gate in Paradise which, according to the narrations to be mentioned below, can only be entered by those who performed the act of fasting in this life. Once it is closed none else may enter it. Furthermore, those who enter it will drink and will never become thirsty thereafter:
 Sahl b. Sa῾d (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported from the Prophet (may Allāh grant him peace and security) who said:
“Indeed in Paradise there is a gate called al-Rayyān. Those who fasted will enter it on the Day of Resurrection, none other than them will enter it, when they have entered it will be closed and none will enter it [thereafter]”.
In an addition by Bukhārī, Muslim, al-Nasā’ī and al-Tirmidhī:
“And whoever enters it will never experience thirst”.
Ibn Khuzaymah reports:
“When the last of them have entered it will be closed, whoever enters it will drink and whoever drinks will never experience thirst”
Fasting as an act of worship is an effective shield from the Fire. How? There are a number of explanations for this. Firstly, we have been informed from other authentic sources that the Fire is surrounded by desires and temptations. Fasting weakens the desire thus allowing one to protect oneself from falling into the traps of temptation which would have been kindled by one’s desire. Secondly, fasting is a shield in the sense that Allāh will remove a person far from the Fire by a great distance for every fast that a person undertakes sincerely.
 Abū Hurayrah (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported from the Prophet (may Allāh grant him peace and security) who said:
“Fasting is a shield, an impregnable fortress from the fire”.
 Jābir (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported from the Prophet (may Allāh grant him peace and security) that he said:
“Fasting is a shield with which the slave conceals himself from the Fire”.
 ῾Uthmān b. Abī al-῾Āṣ (may Allāh be pleased with him) said he heard the Messenger of Allāh (may Allāh grant him peace and security) say:
“Fasting is a shield from the Fire, just like one of your shield in battle and fasting is good three days of every month”.
FASTING INTERCEDES FOR A PERSON ON THE DAY OF JUDGEMENT
On the Day of Judgement every single soul will face an account of his deeds which will play a part in determining one’s final abode as either in eternal bliss in Paradise or eternal damnation in the Fire. One of the ways in which a person will be able to attain either salvation from the Fire on the Day or an increase in his station in Paradise is through the intercession of various agents such as the Prophets, Angels, martyrs etc. What we learn from the ḥadīth below is that fasting will also intercede to Allāh for the one who used to engage in it.
 From ῾Abd Allāh b. ῾Amr (may Allāh be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allāh (may Allāh grant him peace and security) said:
“Fasting and the Qur’ān intercede for the slave on the Day of Resurrection. Fasting will say: “O my Lord! I prevented him from food and desires so allow me to intercede for him”. The Qur’ān will say: “I prevented him from sleeping at night so allow me to intercede for him”. Both will then be allowed to intercede””.
 It is based on al-Targhīb wa al-Tarhīb [Encouragement [to perform good deeds] and Discouragement [from perpetrating evil deeds]] of al-Ḥāfiẓ Zakī al-Dīn ῾Abd al-῾Aẓīm b. ῾Abd al-Qawī al-Munẓirī, which according to al-Albānī, is the most comprehensive and beneficial composition on the topic. See al-Albānī, Muḥammad Nāṣir al-Dīn (1421/200) Ṣaḥīḥ al-Targhīb wa al-Tarhīb. Riyāḍ: Maktabat al-Ma῾ārif, vol. 1, pp. 35-36. Forthcoming translations on the virtues of fasting are found in vol.1, p. 574ff.
“A RARE SUNNAH…”
The Text of the Ḥadīth
Abū Sa῾īd al-Khudrī (may Allāḥ be pleased with him) stated:
“The Messenger of Allāh (ṢallAllāhu ῾alayhi wa sallam) did not used to pray anything before the ῾Īd, when he would return to his home he would pray two units”.
Narrated by Ibn Mājah (no. 1293).
Grading of the Ḥadīth
The ḥadīth according to a number of leading muḥaddithūn is considered to be ḥasan (fair). Al-Ḥāfidh b. Ḥajar for instance, explicitly stated in Bulūgh al-Marām that the isnād (chain) is ḥasan. Al-Ḥākim went one step further and graded the isnād of the ḥadīth as ṣaḥīḥ (sound), something to which al-Dhahabī agreed. However, al-Albānī responds that it is only ḥasan because a narrator by the name of Ibn ῾Aqīl has been spoken about due to his memorisation. This is why, al-Ḥāfidh, as mentioned above, and al-Būṣayrī in al-Zawā’id (mss 2/80) both stated that the isnād is ḥasan.
Fiqh of the Ḥadīth
The ḥadīth indicates that there is no established prayer before the ῾Id prayer, although upon returning home one can pray two units of prayer if one wishes to do so as the Prophet did so. After narrating his version of the ḥādīth al-Ḥākim states that ‘this is a rare Sunnah…’ accordingly it would be in our best interest to revive it as a service to the Sunnah.
Al-῾Allāmah Muḥammad b. Ṣāliḥ al-῾Uthaymīn states in his lecture series in explanation of the above mentioned ḥadīth that if the ḥadīth is authentic, what is apparent from it is that the two units of prayer the Prophet prayed are either connected to the ῾Īd prayer or it was for al-Ḍuḥā. It appears to me that the two units of prayer were not for Ṣalāt al-Ḍuḥā because the least number of units that the Prophet is reported to have prayed himself is four units whilst the most he prayed was twelve units although he allowed two units to be performed. Evidence that he recommended others to perform at least two units of the prayer includes for instance what Abū Hurayrah reported:
“My intimate friend advised me with three: …two units of al-Ḍuḥā”
Evidence that appears to show the least he prayed was four is found in the report of Umm al-Mu’minīn, ῾Ā’ishah who stated:
“The Messenger of Allāh used to pray four units of al-Ḍuḥā and increase whatever Allāh willed”
On the day of the Conquest of Makkah he entered the home of Umm Hānī’ and prayed eight units of al-Ḍuḥā, considering the enormity of the day and the fact that he still prayed eight units it seems highly unlikely the Prophet would have prayed as little as two units of Ṣalāt al-Ḍuḥā on the day of ῾Īd. This is further substantiated by the fact that the Prophet would always exert himself in acts of worship and perform more than the lowest degree of a righteous act.
Based on the above it appears the two units of prayer are not connected to al-Ḍuḥā but have a connection with the ῾Īd.
Reconciliation of Conflicting Reports
One may raise the doubt: does this ḥadīth not contradict the ḥadīth of Ibn ῾Abbās reported in al-Bukhārī and others in which he stated that the Prophet did not pray anything before the ῾Īd ṣalāh nor after it?
Imām al-Albānī states that the reconciliation between this particular ḥadīth and the ḥadīth mentioned by Ibn ῾Abbās which negates praying anything after the ῾Īd lies in the fact that the intent of the negation is in regards to prayer in the muṣallā (field of prayer) as indicated by al-Ḥāfidh in al-Talkhīṣ (p. 144). This particular form of reconciliation has also been mentioned by al-Ṣan῾ānī in Subul al-Salām, and al-Albānī’s student, Samīr b. Amīr al-Zuhayrī in his editing of Bulūgh al-Marām. Al-Zuhayrī states:
“One should not think that there is a contradiction between this ḥadīth and the previous ḥadīth of Ibn ῾Abbās (no. 489) since the ḥadīth of Ibn ῾Abbās is specific to praying at the muṣallā and others have also stated this as reconciliation”
This is also what is apparent from al-Bassām who states in his explanation of Bulūgh al-Marām that there is no harm in praying in one’s house upon returning to it from the muṣallā.
In conclusion the ḥadīth mentioned in Ibn Mājah is authentic and has been graded at the level of ḥasan by the likes of al-Ḥāfidh. Al-Būṣayrī and more recently; al-Albānī among others. Al-Ḥākim’s claim that it reaches the level of ṣaḥīḥ to which al-Dhahabī agreed is untenable due to the question mark over the memorisation of Ibn ῾Aqīl. Since the ḥadīth is authentic and carries probative force the fiqh deduced from it indicates to us there is no established prayer before the ῾Id prayer. However, upon returning home one may pray two units as the Prophet did. There is some ambiguity over the precise nature of the prayer raised by ibn al-῾Uthaymīn – whether it is connected to the ῾Īd prayer or al-Ḍuḥā. I have argued that it appears unlikely that the two units were for al-Ḍuḥā due to the existence of reports which appear to indicate that although he advised his Companions and the Ummah to pray at least two units of al-Ḍuḥā; he himself is not reported to have prayed less than four as per ῾Ā’ishah’s report in Muslim.
Whatever the case may be it is necessary to implement this Sunnah at least once in our lifetime and spread the knowledge of it, especially if we consider ourselves Ahl al-Ḥadīth wa al-Āthār. For indeed, al-Ḥākim was correct when he stated at the end of the ḥadīth; ‘…it is a rare Sunnah’.
I ask Allāh to make this article an attempt to spread this particular Sunnah.
Whatever mistakes are found within this brief piece of research is from my imperfect self and the accursed shayṭān and whatever is correct is from Allāh the Most Mighty and Exalted.
Written by the slave of Allāh: Abū Ḥayyān Ṣalāl Aḥmed Ḥaque al-Salafī
On the Day of ῾Arafah, 1431 corresponding to Monday, 15th November 2010.
 The standard supplications for the eminent names mentioned within this article should be automatically assumed even though I may not have included them within the text.
 Al-῾Asqalānī, Aḥmad b. Ḥajar (1424/2003) Bulūgh al-Marām min Adillat al-Aḥkām, ed. Samīr b. Amīn al-Zuhayri, 7th edition. Al-Riyāḍ: Dār al-Falaq, p. 142, ḥadīth no. 491
 Al-Naysābūrī, Abū ῾Abd Allāh al-Ḥākim (1997) Al-Mustadrak ῾alā al-Ṣaḥīḥayn, ed. Muqbil b. Hādī. Cairo: Dār al-Ḥaramayn, vol. 1, p. 328, no. 1103
 Al-Albānī, Muḥammad Nāṣir al-Dīn (1405/1985) Irwā’ al-Ghalīl fī Takhrīj Aḥādīth Manār al-Sabīl, 2nd edition. Beirut/Damascus: al-Maktab al-Islāmī, vol. 3, p. 100
 Al-Ṣan῾ānī, Muḥammad b. Ismā῾īl al-Amīr (1425) Subul al-Salām al-Muṣilah Ilā Bulūgh al-Marām, ed. Muḥammad Ṣubḥī Ḥasan Ḥallāq, 5th edition. Al-Dammām: Dār Ibn al-Jawzī, vol. 2, part. 3, p. 187
 Supra, no. 2
 Ibn al-῾Uthaymīn, Muḥammad b. Ṣāliḥ, Sharḥ Bulūgh al-Marām, Kitāb al-Ṣalāh, Lecture 25a, 00:24:00. Available at: http://www.ibnothaimeen.com/publish/cat_index_126.shtml Last accessed: 15.11.10 NOTE: It appears the discussion has been truncated; this might explain why the Shaykh only spends less than a minute explaining the ḥadīth.
 Al-Bukhārī no. 1981 and Muslim no. 721
 Muslim no. 719
 Al-Bukhārī no. 1176 and Muslim no. 336
 Al-Bukhārī no. 964, Muslim no. 884, Abū Dāwud no. 1159, al-Nasā’ī no. 1587, al-Tirmidhī no. 537, Ibn Mājah no. 1291 and Aḥmad no. 3153
 Supra, no. 3
 Supra, no. 6
 Supra, no. 1
 Al- Bassām, ῾Abd Allāh b. ῾Abd al-Raḥmān (1423/2003) Tawḍīḥ al-Aḥkām min Bulūgh al-Marām, 5th edition. Makkah: Maktabah al-Asadī, vol. 3, p. 40