In the 9th month of the Islamic calendar or Ramadan, Muslims around the world undergo a month-long duration of fasting in which they are prohibited from eating, drinking, smoking as well as intimacy from dawn and dusk. This ends with the Eid celebration which falls on the 1st day of Shawwal.
Although the month of Ramadan has passed by, there may be observations of some Muslims who continue to fast in Shawwal. This would usually last for six days and begin only on the second day as Muslims are prohibited to fast on the first day of the month being the Eid festival. This fasting period and practice is commonly referred to as the “Six Days of Fasting in Shawwal”.
Unlike Ramadan, this fasting practice during Shawwal is not compulsory. It can also be done on any six days (except the first) in Shawwal without being consecutive. With this, some Muslims would fast on the second to the seventh of Shawwal while others may fast on a weekly basis on every Monday and Thursday. Some may even do so on random days in Shawwal.
It is recommended for Muslims to fast six days in Shawwal as there is great virtue and immense reward in doing so as recommended in the Prophetic tradition. Muslims believe that by extending six days of fasting during Shawwal, this would enable them to gain rewards that are equivalent to fasting all year round.
This phenomenon of non-obligatory fasting in periods other than Ramadan can also occur in the other months besides Shawwal. Besides fasting six days of Shawwal, other recommended acts include fasting on every Monday and Thursday of the week, every 13th, 14th and 15th of the month and fasting on the ninth of Dhul Hijjah.
Catering to the Needs of Muslims Who Fast During Shawwal
Although fewer Muslims are fasting in Shawwal as compared to Ramadan, travel segments can still consider catering to this group by making minor adjustments to continue to accommodate to the Muslim travelers’ needs.
Airlines can identify Muslim travelers who are fasting during Shawwal by asking them if they are fasting when they begin the process of checking-in their luggage. In situations where Muslims have not indicated that they require Halal meals on board the airlines, staff should also check to ensure that this has been indicated correctly. If the travelers have indicated that they are fasting, then staff can inform the cabin crew to schedule the meals accordingly.
It is unnecessary for airlines to know specifically the Iftar and Sahour timing to accommodate Muslims who are fasting during Shawwal as these timing can actually be obtained by the daily prayer times. The timing for Iftar is the same as the Maghrib timing and the timing for Sahour is the same as the Fajr timing. In general, airlines can be more Muslim friendly by knowing the prayer timings and not only to accommodate Muslims during Shawwal but also in any month along the year.
In order for hotels to identify their Muslim customers who are fasting during Shawwal, hotels may ask the customer at the lobby reception during the initial registration process. If the guest is fasting, hotels can offer a morning wakeup call an hour before Sahour time or according to the preferred timing of the guest. While preparing the Muslim customer’s room, it would be helpful if hotels could paste a prayer direction sticker either on the ceiling or on the floor of the room.
For hotels that do not provide a Halal-certified kitchen or restaurant, they can continue to serve the Muslim traveler by giving out brochures that contain a list of Halal restaurants in the nearby premise. If creating a brochure is difficult, hotels can also just offer directions to the Halal restaurants.
As for hotels with a Halal-certified kitchen or restaurant, if a Muslim customer who is fasting makes an order during Fajr or Maghrib, it would be a nice gesture to serve some dates along with their order.