Wednesday, 13 June 2018

The Significance of Shawwal

Samar Yahya
The month of Shawwal is the tenth month in the Hijri calendar and it has great significance for all Muslims. During pre-Islamic times, Arabs believed that any marriage held in Shawwal would always turn out to be a failure. Superstitions and pessimistic beliefs were common in the pre-Islamic Arabian society. Islam came to change these mistaken beliefs and negative perceptions, including that of the month of Shawwal. Islam transformed these negative ideas and beliefs into positive ones. Shawwal begins Eid-ul-Fitr, the day of festival as a reward for fasting and long prayers throughout the month of Ramadan. Shawwal is the month of one of the two annual festivals in Islam; Eid-ul-Fitr. This happy day is a sign of gratefulness by the Muslims on the accomplishment of Ramadan, and as an immediate reward by Allah for those who spent the month of Ramadan in fasting, praying, and performing other forms of worship. The celebration of Eid itself also encourages Muslims to perform more forms of worship. First, one must give Zakat-ul-Fitr one or two days prior to Eid or on the morning of Eid day. This is a charity given to the poor and needy so that they too can enjoy the day along with others. Eid prayers are performed on the morning of Eid in an open area so large numbers of Muslims can gather and perform Eid prayers collectively and meet and congratulate each other on the occasion of Eid.

Following the Eid prayer, is a sermon which the worshipers listen to. The month of Shawwal is the only other month in the Muslim lunar calendar in which certain days of fasting are prescribed. It is highly recommended to fast six days in Shawwal, as narrated by Abu Ayyub Ansari that the Prophet (peace be upon him) has said, “If one throughout his life keeps the fasts of Ramadan and keeps six consecutive fasts in Shawwal it will be as though he has kept a whole lifetime of fasts, and if one fasts for six consecutive days in Shawwal it will be as though he has fasted all year round.”(Muslim) There is considerable flexibility in the opinions on how people should fast the six days of Shawwal. Some scholars hold the view that it is preferable to fast the six days in consecutive order, starting from the second day of Shawwal, yet others are of the opinion that it is better to fast the six days intermittently, spreading them out throughout the month of Shawwal. The wisdom of fasting these six days comes as sign to continue our commitment to worship just as we had been doing so in Ramadan. Fasting these six days is a sign of one’s commitment to continue in worship and submission to Allah, willingly and not out of obligation. Also as a sign of thankfulness, fasting these six days is an expression of thankfulness for the reward of fasting that Allah grants on the day of Eid. Thankfulness is the key to increase one’s blessings from Allah, and a means of securing one’s blessings and good. Fasting six days in Shawwal after observing Ramadan gives the person the reward of fasting all year long. Fasting is an action most beloved to Allah. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to fast frequently throughout the year. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Allah, the Exalted and Majestic, said, “Every act of the son of Adam is for him, except for fasting which is (exclusively) for Me, and I will reward him for it.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) Fasting in Shawwal following Ramadan can cover up for the deficiencies in our performance of our obligatory worship during Ramadan. Acquiring the habit of fasting again soon after Ramadan helps to keep the spirit of worship of Allah high just as it was during Ramadan. Shawwal is also significant because it marks the onset of Hajj season.

The verse from the Holy Qur’an states, {Hajj is during well-known months} (Chapter 2, verse 197) Abdullah ibn Omar informs us that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) declared that the well-known months referred to in this verse are the lunar months of Shawwal, Dhul Qidah and the first ten days of Dhul Hijah. (Recorded in Al-Bukhari) Shawwal is the first of the three months named as the months of Hajj. Although the major rituals of Hajj are performed in the first ten days of Dhul Hijah, yet it comprises the whole period staring from the first of Shawwal until the end of the tenth day of Dhul Hijah. Shawwal also witnessed major events in the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The marriage of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to Aisha took place in Shawwal The battle between Banu Qaynuqaa took place in Shawwal. The battle of Uhud also took place in Shawwal, three years after the Hijrah. Its history is significant as are the acts of worship and fasting that believers should observe in this month.

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