QUESTION: Is it legislated to fast the six days of Shawwāl before making Qadā of the missed days for the one who has days from Ramadan to make up? Some people allow it saying that A’ishah (radiyallāhu ‘anhā) did not make up the days she missed of Ramadan until Sha’bān, in the month before the next Ramadān ―so what is apparent is that she fasted the six days of Shawwāl [before making up the days she missed] due to what is known of her desire to do good deeds.
ANSWER: In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy. May Allah extol and praise the Messenger in the highest company of Angels ―and likewise, his family, his Companions and whoever is guided by his guidance.
What is apparent in this affair is that it is not allowed to fast the Sunnah (nafal) fasts before the obligatory fasts due to two reasons:
ONE: Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “Whoever fasted Ramadan and followed that with six days of Shawwāl, it is like he has fasted the whole of the year.” Therefore, those who have days to make up (Qadā) from Ramadan cannot follow-up with fasting the six of Shawwāl because they still have days to fast from Ramadan ―so they cannot follow-up Ramadan with the six days of Shawwal until they have completed all the Ramadan fasts.
So, if a man (for example) has days still left from Ramadan because he missed some fasts due to travelling or because he was sick and then Allah cured him―he must begin by fasting what he missed from Ramadan (Qadā). This is the same for the woman who did not fast due to menstruation or postnatal bleeding―she too must begin by making up what she missed in Ramadan then she can fast the six days of Shawwāl if she is able to. As for beginning with fasting the six of Shawwāl, then that is not correct.
TWO: The debt to Allah has more right to be fulfilled and it is more worthy that one begins with the obligations to Allah ―and to hasten with them before the recommendations (nāfilah). Allah (the Mighty and Majestic) obligated fasting Ramadan upon the woman, so it is not befitting that she fasts the optional fasts (nāfilah) of Shawwāl before completing what is obligatory upon her.
From this, we see that there is no validity to a fatwa that allows fasting the six of Shawwāl while a person has days to make up from Ramadan. Rather, a person is to begin by fulfilling the obligatory fasts. Thereafter, if there remain days from the month of Shawwāl and the person is able to fast the six days, they can do so, and if not, they can leave them because they are optional ―and thus take precaution with respect to their religion based upon the two matters already stated.
So, in the second point (above), it is affirmed that the obligations have a greater right that one begins with them―and they have a greater right to be fulfilled over the recommended acts. It is authentically reported in a hadeeth that the Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said: “The debt of Allah has more right that it is fulfilled.” And his saying: “Accomplish what is due to Allah for Allah is more worthy that His right is fulfilled.”
As for what is mentioned (in the question) regarding Ā’ishah (radiyallāhu ‘anhā)―then Ā’ishah (radiyallāhu ‘anhā) would delay what she had to make up from Ramadan until the month of Sha’bān and she said it was due to her being occupied with Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam). So, therefore, she delayed the obligation due to Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam)―and it is even more befitting that she would have delayed the recommended fasts due to her being busy with the Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam).
So, there is no evidence in the act of Ā’ishah (radiyallāhu ‘anhā) in using that as a proof to precede fasting the six days of Shawwāl before the obligatory fasts of Ramadan. That is because she delayed making up the obligatory fasts because she was pre-occupied with Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) so it is far more befitting that she would have also delayed the six of Shawwāl.
Furthermore, even if she had fasted the six of Shawwāl before the obligatory fasts, that is not a proof because it opposes what is apparent from the texts.
Source: Noor ‘alad-Darb (website), very slightly adapted.