Wednesday, 7 October 2009

The voluntary is more difficult than the compulsory

I am of course, talking about the voluntary fasting for six days in the month of Syawal, or more popularly known in Malay as Puasa Enam.

The act of carrying out six days of fasting within the month of Syawal (also known as bulan raya for Malays) is highly encouraged. Prophet Muhammad's (s.a.w.) hadeeth, as recorded in Sahih Muslim, says : He who observed the fast of Ramadan and then followed it with six (fasts) of Shawwal, it would be as if he fasted perpetually.

On the face of it, it really shouldn't be that difficult to fast for six days, since we just completed doing the same thing for 30 straight days just the month before. Furthermore, we are allowed to choose any six days within the month (except for the first day of Aidilfitri), and these six days need not be consecutive. We can spread them out if we so wish.

So why is it then, many Muslims (yours truly included) find it difficult to carry out this task?

I would humbly venture to give the following reasons :

1. Nobody else is doing it. That's why it is difficult to do alone.

Well perhaps, rather than saying `nobody', it is more correct to say `not many'. Muslims who fast in Syawal don't normally declare to others that they are doing so. Since everyone else around you is eating and drinking as they please, it becomes a real challenge for you to fast in such a situation. Fasting the first day out of six is always the most difficult. You go to work and see someone on the roadside lighting up a cigarette.... and you wonder why isn't that guy fasting? It takes a while for it to hit you back... that you're the one who is fasting and not the rest of the world. It becomes doubly difficult when you reach your workplace because you would always have friends and colleagues inviting you out for lunch or teh-tarik.

2. Many friends invite you for a raya makan-makan

The Malaysian culture of holding `open houses' to celebrate the festivities make it difficult for you to find a suitable day to fast. Sometimes when you have already decided to start fasting for the day, a last minute invitation to a makan-makan would tempt you to break your fast. It is somehow not proper for you to accept a friend's invitation but yet, not partake in the spread of delicacies. Nowadays, many companies hold their `open houses' during working hours, hence it can also be tough to fast during the weekdays too.

3. The willpower and motivation becomes weak

Perhaps, this is the main reason why most of us can't do the Puasa Enam. Fasting in Ramadan trains us to be patient and reserved. We are reminded to be watchful of what we hear, say and look at. The moment Syawal arrives, many of us can't wait to free ourselves of such inhibitions and behave in our normal self. Puasa Enam is not obligatory anyway, so why bother? I have to constantly remind myself that the incentive to do voluntary deeds is only evident to those who seek.

Over the years, I have tried a few strategies in maintaining the willpower to carry out Puasa Enam. Initially I thought that doing two days in every week (say each Monday and Thursday) would be a good method. Unfortunately, the uncertain schedule of my work (outstation travel, site meetings etc.) meant that I missed some days. Now, I am trying a different way... I am fasting for six straight days from Monday to Saturday. I'm sticking to my plan, no matter what. Sorry friends, if I can't join you for breakfast or for afternoon tea.


D said...

I can't agree more with you! This year I just HAD to start on 2nd Syawal. I target the weekdays. It's much easier so. :)

Chahya said...

I guess it's still not too late to wish Selamat Hari Raya to you. I hope to follow your footsteps soon...Happy Fasting again Oldstock. Semoga anda dirahmati.

Patricia said...

I didn't know about this extra six days, Fadhil. I've learnt something new today. And you only have the Syawal month. Hmmm.

And yes, it must be doubly hard, since you'd be doing it alone. But, I've always found that the reason behind the fast is good: it helps you temper all that eating and gluttony which would come naturally, no? Hahaha. A very practical move, I think, this extra fast.

pakmat said...

..salam, oldstock..
..make a pact with your better half..puasa bersama dan raya bersama..tambah mesra & tambah sayang..inshaAllah..:)

3yearshousewife said...

Very true indeed. Doubly hard(for the ladies)as the new fatwa said puasa ganti and puasa 6 don't go together. One must finish before the other starts. Adoi...Glad that this year I have the will power to do it straight away. My last day tomorrow. My children have been wondering when will I end my puasa. I guess they miss the makan2 with me.

Oldstock said...


Second Syawal is impossible for me la... still in the visiting and makan-makan mode.

Oldstock said...

Hi Chahya,

Happy fasting again for you too.

Oldstock said...


Good to spread the info to my non-Muslim friends. Actually, there a few other days of certain months where fasting is highly encouraged but suffice for you to know that the six extra days in Syawal is commonly practiced by many Muslims.

Oldstock said...

Salam Pak Mat,

Yes, I'm doing the puasa 6 together with the other half. Initially she started on her own but could manage the first day only. Too tough to do on her own, she said.

The part of tambah mesra dan tambah sayang itu memang tepat sekali :-)

Oldstock said...


You're quite right about it being doubly hard for the ladies. Kena ganti yg wajib dulu baru boleh buat yg sunat... there still is a lot of discussion on this aspect though, but for me, it is the niat yg ikhlas that counts.

Not to despair... for the many difficulties that women face, the rewards in the hereafter are incomparable.

HLiza said...

I have all the same reason like you the previous years but this year we don't celebrate raya much now that we're back in Ipoh so early..and since I don't work.. I think it's the best time; don't know if I can have so much free time like now. So far so good, today is my last day of the six. Wish you all the best too! (You can be my Facebook friend, I've sent an email to you..I just don't want to expose too much in my blog!)

Nurie said...

yep, it is extremely difficuly esp in msia coz kita raya sebulan! Terbalik kat sini, kat office my hubby his friends ramai yg puasa, so kalau tak puasa rasa segan la pulak.. :-)

I think to fast on 6 days direct is better than to break em..coz after 2nd day, insyallah your mind and body will fall into the fasting pattern. Selamat berpuasa oldstock..insyallah u can complete posa nam! (kata org utara)

Tinta Mustika said...


I wish you all the best in completing the all six days. Really tough indeed. But I think man has better chance to finish it on time as woman must stop at the 'red light'.

I am 100% agree with Pak Mat. Sama-sama lapar, sama-sama dahaga. Then sama-sama kenyanglah!

Huaa! The sweet and spicy prawn with hot buns look sooo YUMMY!!!
Makes me wanna go there straight awaylah!

Just dropped by at Along's blog.
Keep up writing the short story.

Anonymous said...

Mr Oldstock, I think it'll be easier if you have a "puasa buddy" to do this with you. But I agree --harder to do the voluntary than mandatory.

Oldstock said...


Wah... your puasa enam is over and done. Mine is last day today. Thanks for the FB add. Your're the 4th blogger-friend that's also an FB friend.

Oldstock said...


I rasa kat Mesia je yg sambut aidilfitri sebulan suntuk. That makes us quite unique.

When I worked at UAE, first few days je ada rasa raya.... lepas tu dah macam hari biasa.

Oldstock said...

Selamat datang wahai Tinta Mustika. Gelaran ini sungguh familiar... di manakah pernah ku dengarnya? ;-)

Oldstock said...


Today's the last day of six. Almost broke the fast because everyone else at home is eating heartily :-)

Yeah... a bit tough, but all it takes is a bit more willpower. That's why I'm online and blog-hopping to while away the time.