The intention [Niyyah] of fasting the obligatory month of Ramadan

نية صيام فرض رمضان

The intention [Niyyah] of fasting the obligatory month of Ramadan

What does it mean to have an intention?

The free online dictionary defines intention as:  “A course of action that one intends to follow”.

Islam defines intention as having certainty and complete agreement in ones mind, heart, body & soul prior to starting any act.

According to the Fuqahaa of Islam there are two methods to having correct intention:

1. By heart

2. Verbally out loud

Intention was originally only to be made by one’s heart. However, there is a difference of opinion whether the verbal method can, should, or must be made.

وفي المنهاج:”النية شرط للصوم”

Imam An-Nawawi stated in his book, “Al Minhaj”: “Intention is a condition for fasting”.

The Importance of having intention in everything we do

قال عمر بن الخطاب رضي الله عليه سمعت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول:” إنما الأعمال بالنيات ولكل امرا ما نوى”.

Umar bin Al-Khattaab stated that he heard the messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) say: “Actions are valued by the intentions in which they were fulfilled for”. Thus, intentions are obligatory actions [Rukn] in all acts of worship in Islam. From this hadith we extract one of the Five Fiqh Foundations: “الأمور بمقاصدها”

Affairs are valued by the reasons behind them

It has been narrated from Ashafa’i, Ahmed bin Hanbal, Abdullah Al Madeeni, Abu Dawood, Ibn Mahdi, and Ad-Daraqutni that this hadith holds a third of our deen.

It was also narrated from Ashafa’i that intentions enter into over 70 sections of our Deen.

Imam As-Sueti actually gathers most of them in his book, “Al Ashbaah w An-Natha’ir”.

When is an intention made?

صلى الله عليه وسلم: من لم يبيت الصيام من الليل فلا صيام له. رواه النسائي والترمذي ولفظه: من لم يجمع الصيام قبل الفجر فلا صيام له. رواه ابو داود

For an obligatory Sawm, it has to be completed in between the setting of the sun and the entry of the authentic fajr. The Fuqahaa call this “Tabyeet”.

The Fuqahaa of Islam differed in the matter of Tabyeet by having three main opinions:

1. The Hanafis say that Tabyeet is not a condition for obligatory or optional fasting.

2. The Malkis say that Tabyeet is a condition for both obligatory and optional fasting.

3. The Shafais & Hanbalis both say that Tabyeet is a condition for obligatory fasting only and not  for optional fasting.

How is the intention worded?

No exact words are required for your intention. The goal is to get your heart set. However, it is required to identify what your intention is for. In addition, one can not have multiple intentions where an obligatory act is being fulfilled.

How many intentions are needed for this month of Ramadan?

The Fuqahaa differed whether or not one intention will suffice for the full month or whether to make intention for each individual night.

This point was divided into two opinions:

1. The Malkis didn’t distinguish between an obligatory fast and an optional one, which lead them to stating that one intention will suffice for the full month.

2. The Shafais distinguished between an obligatory fast and an optional one, which lead them to stating that each day requires its own intention.