How Do We Establish an Intention for Fasting

Intention for Fasting - GSalam.NetLet's establish genuine intentions for fasting

Introduction

Alhamdulillah… Infinite thanks and praises are due to the Almighty Allah, for the arrival of the month of Ramadan. I send abundant peace and blessings upon the best man who ever observed the month of Ramadan, our beloved Sayyidinā Muhammad, his household, his companions and all those who follow his guided path till end of time.

Having a genuine intention for fasting the month of Ramadan is crucial for its acceptance. Equal to importance of having it is the importance of making it. This is because, any obligatory fasting requires an intention. This article highlights how we make intention for fasting the month of Ramadan, as well as for fasting any obligatory fasting.

What in an Intention?

An intention is the action or fact of intending to do something. That’s to aim or plan to do something. Aiming to do something is one thing. Who we aim to please by doing it is another thing.

Thus, intentions are differentiated depending on whom we intend to please with the intended action. In other words, when an action is intended for sake of Allah alone, then the intention attains the quality of sincerity (ikhlāṣ). If, unfortunately and God-forbidden, it’s intended to please other than Allah, then it attains the label of duplicity or hypocrisy (riyā’); in other words, insincerity.

The Significance of Intention in Islam

In Islam, intention is the base of all deeds, the verbal and the actual. Allah rewards and accepts our deeds depending on the extent of our sincerity in doing it for Him. Sayyidunā ‘Umar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb, raḍiya Allāhu ‘anhu, narrated a ḥadīth which was authenticated by Imām al-Bukhārī and Muslim, that the Prophet, ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said:

Verily deeds are by intentions, and every person will be rewarded according to what he intended. So the one whose hijrah (migration) was to Allah and His Messenger, then his hijrah was to Allah and His Messenger. And the one whose hijrah was for the world to gain from it, or a woman to marry her, then his hijrah was for what he made hijrah for.”

The above ḥadīth explicitly implies that the rewards you reap from your actions are awarded according to whom you intended to please with your actions. It also implies that every action of the Muslim must be based on a genuine intention that will make his effort a worthwhile. Now how do we make intention for Ramadan?

How Do We Make Intention for Fasting

The importance of establishing a proper intention for fasting is highlighted in 9 Important Ramadan-Related Issues. It’s important to establish a proper intention for fasting any obligatory fasting because an intention is a condition for the validity of one’s fasting. In other words, one’s fasting is not counted if he fails to establish an intention for it. In a ḥadīth reported by Imām al-Nasā’ī from the narration of Sayyidatinā Ḥafṣah raḍiya Allāhu ‘anhā, the Prophet, ṣallā Allāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam said:

“There’s no [valid] fasting, for the one who did not make intention for it.”

When Is It Made

When it comes to the time of establishing intention for fasting, there’re two main opinions among the noble scholars of the major schools of thoughts. The majority of the schools, namely Ḥanafiyyah, Shāfi‘iyyah and Ḥambiliyyah are of the opinion that the Muslim must make a separate intention for every other day he’s going to fast in the month of Ramadan. On the other hand, Mālikiyyah are of the opinion that one intention established at the beginning of the month, to fast the entire month, is enough for the Muslim.

On that basis, you’re free to choose either of the two provided opinions. To play safe, follow your practical school of thought. Moreover, if the Muslim is to follow the opinion of the majority (Ḥanafiyyah, Shāfi‘iyyah and Ḥambiliyyah), then he’s required to establish a separate intention for every night throughout the month of Ramadan. What is applicable to Ramadan is also applicable to any obligatory fasting, i.e., making up for missed days of Ramadan, fasting for Kaffārah, and fasting to fulfil a vow (Nadhr). This means, if you forget to establish an intention for one day, you have to make up for that day after Ramadan.

Personally, I choose the opinion of the Mālikiyyah. And with one intention at the beginning of Ramadan, I’m safe for the whole month.

How Is It Made

When it comes to how it’s done, it’s enough for one to establish an intention  for fasting in his heart to fast for the next day, or for the whole of the month of Ramadan (depending on his preference). If you choose to establish your intention every night, waking up for saḥūr is a representation of your intention to fast for the day. If not, why do you wake up for saḥūr? Imagining yourself executing your duties while fasting also reflects your intention to fast. If not, why do you imagine yourself the next in the state of fasting?

If you choose to establish one intention for fasting for the whole month, your joy in welcoming the month of Ramadan reflects your intention to fast. Do you imagine yourself taking saḥūr and Ifṭār? Do you imagine yourself in during the month of Ramadan undertaking your duties while fasting? That shows your intention to fast.

However, if you choose to verbally say your intention for fasting, be it in Arabic (make sure you understand it) or in your language of comfort, then be it. Most importantly, ensure you have an intention to fast. That intention for fasting must be genuine and sincere one. It must be solely for Allah’s sake. Not impress. Not to please other than Allah.

However you do it, especially for those who establish their intention daily, it has to be between ‘Ishā’ and Fajr. It can be anytime at the night. In can be at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of the night. Most importantly before Fajr.

Conclusion

Fasting the month of Ramadan is one of the 5 pillars of Islam. The activity of fasting is also one of the most physically and determination demanding. Therefore, establishing a proper and an appropriate intention for fasting is vital.

May Allah purify our hearts and intentions. May He enable us to establish sincerity in all that we do. May He accept our deeds and intentions. Amīn.

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Allah knows best.
Allahu Hafiz 🙂

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