There’s no question that, each year, Muslims around the world eagerly await the appearance of the crescent moon declaring the month of Shawwal, as it comes right after Ramadan, the holy month of fasting. The first day of Shawwal is also Eid-ul-Fitr, a momentous day of the Islamic year. With the joy and happiness of Eid comes family reunions and the renewal of ties with both kith and kin. It’s incumbent upon every Muslim to reflect upon the quality of their worship during the month of fasting in order to assess their spiritual status. We also have an assurance from the Prophet (SAW) that fasting any six days during Shawwal, in conjunction with the month of Ramadan, will be as if we’ve fasted the entire year. The rewards will no doubt also correspond to this holy equivalency.
In a hadith reported by Imam Muslim, the Prophet (SAW) said, “Whoever fasts the month of Ramadan and follows it with any 6 days of Shawwal will be as if he has fasted the whole year.” Some of the scholars interpret this in terms of the “10 multiples of rewards.” In Surat Al-Anam, (chapter 6: verse 160), Allah (SWT) says:
Whoever comes [on the Day of Judgement] with a good deed will have ten times the like thereof [to his credit], and whoever comes with an evil deed will not be recompensed except the like thereof; and they will not be wronged.
In this verse, it is clear that we are going to be rewarded by a multiple of ten for every deed while, with the Mercy of Allah (SWT), we shall be punished only once for every sin. The sin can also be pardoned by Allah (SWT) or could even be exchanged with a good deed, if He so wills. Taking into account this divine formula, fasting for the 30 days of Ramadan actually equals to fasting for 300 days. Additionally, fasting for 6 days during Shawwal would equal to 60 days. Thus, 300 plus 60 equals 360 days, which is about the exact number of days in the lunar calendar.
Among the most important recorded incidents of this month is the passing away of Imam Muhammad Ibn Sireen on the 10th of Shawwal, 110 Hijri. He was born in Basra, Iraq, and passed away there at 77 years of age. His father brought him to Medina when he was young and put him under the care of Anas ibn Malik, the famous sahabi of the Prophet (SAW). As such, he is considered one of At-Tabe’en – those who never met the Prophet (SAW), but rather one or more of his companions. It was reported that he met with 30 of the key sahaba of the Prophet (SAW), among them being Abu Huraira, Abdullah ibn Umar, Abdullah ibn Az-Zubair, Imran ibn Haseen, Oday ibn Hatim, and, of course, Anas ibn Malik. His mother was also put under the care of Abu Bakr As-Siddiq.
Ibn Sireen became very knowledgeable in the sciences of hadith, particularly in the interpretations of dreams. More importantly, he was a very pious man. There have been many reported incidents that support his reputation of piety. For example, one time, a ruler became angry with Ibn Sireen and threw him into prison. The prison guard knew Ibn Sireen and wanted to make a deal with him so that he can sleep at home during the night, and return to prison in the morning. Ibn Sireen said to him: “By Allah, I will never help anyone to betray his ruler.” In 93 Hijri, Anas ibn Malik died, and he wrote in his Will that the person to wash him and pray for him should be Ibn Sireen. At that time, Ibn Sireen was in prison, but he was permitted to perform the ritual washing and burial for ibn Malik. He then returned to prison without even visiting his family. He said: “I was given permission to do the washing and come back.”
Among the things said about Ibn Sireen is that he would consider himself doing a disobedience to Allah (SWT) even if he saw a woman in his dreams, and would do anything to ask for repentance. Although he was not obligated to do so in this case, he felt it necessary to seek repentance. A scholar once said that when Ibn Sireen would pass people in the marketplace, they would remember Allah (SWT) and start making tasbeeh. This was how famous Ibn Sireen was for his piety.
At the time, it was of normal practice for rulers of the land to give gifts to scholars. When Ibn Sireen was offered a gift by one of the rulers, he said, “If you are giving this to me as a sadaqa, I don’t deserve it. If you are giving it to me for my knowledge, the knowledge of Allah (SWT) is not for sale. And if you are giving it to me for a bribe, you know this is haram.”
In addition to his piety, Ibn Sireen also became very famous for interpreting dreams. In fact, he wrote a famous volume entitled, Ta’beer Ar-Ru’ya (Interpretation of Dreams). The sheer diversity of this volume is further accentuated by the wonders that Ibn Sireen infused within it. While he was a very pious and serious man, he was also a jubilant person who often told jokes. Once, he was asked about the whereabouts of a famous person, to which he answered: “Tawafa al-bariha.” The person was surprised and said, “Inna lillah wa inna ilayhi raji’oon.” Ibn Sireen then laughed and said, “Didn’t you read what Allah (SWT) said in Surat Az-Zumer?” (Chapter 39: verse 42):
Allah takes the souls at the time of their death, and those that do not die [He takes] during their sleep. Then He keeps those for which He has decreed death and releases the others for a specified term. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought.
Ibn Sireen meant that the man was sleeping, but would indeed wake up after his sleep (i.e., death).
He was widely known to be a man of fine moral conduct and was exceptionally kind to his mother. Ibn Sireen would take special interest in what she likes most and would cater to it. For example, his mother used to like certain colors. Before buying his clothes, Ibn Sireen would always ask what colors she likes and choose his attire accordingly.
Once, Ibn Sireen asked a guest in his house to sit on the chair while he himself sat on the floor. So the guest said, “I will not accept for myself anything that you don’t accept for yourself.” Ibn Sireen replied: “Not in my house, because in my house, I don’t accept from my guests what I accept for myself.”
Despite his piety, Ibn Sireen also used to be a man of great elegance and high fashion, in addition to many other things. If someone mentioned anything bad about a person in his presence, he would respond by saying good things about the person to counter the negative remarks. He was a scholar of hadith, yet he was very careful about giving fatwas, especially about matters of halal and haram.
To conclude, Ibn Sireen said there are three things that one can do to ensure they do not regret anything in their life:
- Upholding good conduct
- Holding oneself from doing wrong to others or evil deeds
- Staying away from doubtful things
May Allah (SWT) have mercy on Ibn Sireen.