When it comes to worship we are either performing an action, the wajibat, or refraining from one, the prohibitions. However, fasting is an action that is in its essence, abstaining and refraining and this is what makes it special and unique amongst the other acts of worship. So when we fast we stop ourselves from eating and drinking and we also abstain from other desires.
There are two types of fasting, the obligatory fast which we have just completed a couple days ago in the month of Ramadan, and voluntary fast, like the six days of Shawwal, which is connected to Ramadan in the Hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him)
“Whoever fasts Ramadan and follows it with six days of Shawwal, it will be as if he fasted for a lifetime.”Sahih Muslim
Some people feel that they didn’t make the most of fasting in the month of Ramadan. So when they follow up with fasting the six days of Shawwal it makes up for any shortcomings, like the voluntary prayers before or after the obligatory prayers that make up for any shortcomings in the obligatory prayer.
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: Allah said: My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love himBukhari
So from the beauty and blessings of Islam is the sunnah of following the fast in the month of Ramadan with a short 6 days of fasting that together gives the reward of fasting for one whole year. Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) says: “Whoever fasts the month of Ramadan and then follows it with six days of fasting in the month of Shawwal, it will be as if he had fasted the year through.” (Sahih Muslim)
You can fast any 6 days of the month, beginning, middle or end and it can be done consecutively or separately. If you have days to make up from Ramadan, some scholars say you have to make them up first and then do the six days of Shawwal and others say you can do the six first. In either case, remember the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), said “Actions are according to intentions, and everyone will get what was intended. (Bukhari & Muslim)
Don’t lose out on following up a good deed with another. After all, it is a strong indication of accepted Ramadan and a display of gratitude for all the blessings.
‘If you are grateful, I will certainly give you more’(14:7)