In the name of Allah,
Islamically, the fast of Ramadan is an act of worship to Allah, the Most High, which consists of refraining from eating, drinking, and sexual relations from dawn to sunset. Fasting is worshipping Allah through abstaining. He leaves them to worship Allah, not as a habit.
Timing of Intention
One fulfills the intention to fast by eating sahoor with the aim to become closer to Allah. If someone decides to fast the next day only for Allah’s sake, they have fulfilled their intention even if they didn’t eat before dawn.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) said: “Whoever does not determine to fast before fajr will have no fast” (that is, it won’t be accepted[iv]).
They believe that the fast of ‘Aashooraa was mandatory and substituted with Ramadaan while a daytime intention was allowed[vii]. They also say that if you set an intention before noon, it will cover most of the day[viii].
Imam Malik (May Allah have mercy on him) recommends one intention at the start of the month[ix]. The Maliki School’s proof is Allah’s statement,
“So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting.” (2:185). This command applies to the monthly fast.[x]
Intention for voluntary (Optional) fast
According to several jurists, the intention for a voluntary fast can be made at any moment before the consumption of food. This opinion is based on ‘Aishah’s hadith: “The Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) came to us one day and said:
‘Do you have any [food]?’ We said, ‘No.’ He said: ‘Therefore, I am fasting[xi].”
The Hanafiyyah says that the intention for voluntary fasting has to be made before noon (for voluntary fasts). Ibn Mas’ud and Ahmad believe the intention can be made before or after noon[xii].
If a prisoner is unclear about the Ramadan
A prisoner or hostage must fast if he sees the moon or is told by a trustworthy person that Ramadan has begun. If he doesn’t know when the month starts, he must figure it out on his own (ijtihaad) and act on what he thinks is most likely.
If he fasts after Ramadan, he doesn’t have to make it up. If he fasts before it, whether for one month or several years, it is not accepted. The Zahiris say this is not acceptable regardless of whether he fasted late or early[xiii].
If some of his fastings happened during Ramadaan and some didn’t, what happened during or after Ramadaan is fine, but what happened before is not valid.[xiv].
May Allah’s peace and blessings be on the last prophet.
[i] Summarized Islamic Fiqh In Light of the Qur’an and Sunnah, Muhammad bin Ibrahim bin Abdullah al-Tuwayjiri 1st Edition, page 842
[ii] Majmoo’ Fataawa Shaykh al-Islam, 25/215.
[iii] Rulings pertaining to Ramadan, A Collection of Works by Sheikh Muhammad Salih Al-Munajjid, Islamfuture, page 40
[iv] Ahmad, an-Nasa’i, at-Tirmizhi, Abu Dawud, and Ibn Majah. Ibn Khuzaimah and Ibn Hibban have classified it as sahih.
[v] The MUKHTAṢAR AL-QUDŪRĪ, A Manual of Islamic law, According to the Hanafi School, Page 127
[vi] A Complete Guide to Fasting and Ramadan, SeekersGuidance, Ustada Umm Ihsan, Page 15
[vii] Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya (ZAD AL M AA’D) PROVISIONS OF THE AFTERLIFE, WHICH LIE WITHIN PROPHETIC GUIDANCE, Translation Ismail Abdus Salaam, Dar Al-Kotob Al-llmiyah Publication, 2010, Page 134
[viii] Al-Hidayah THE GUIDANCE, Burhan Al Din Al Farghani Al Marghinani, Book of Fasting, page 307, see also A Complete Guide to Fasting and Ramadan, SeekersGuidance, Ustada Umm Ihsan, Page 17
[ix] Al-Qawanin al-Fiqhiyyah: The Judgments of Fiqh, Abu’l-Qasim Ibn Juzayy Al-Kalbi (Author), Asadullah Yate (Translator), Vol 1, page 217
[x] The Risala Ibn Abi Zayd Al Qaywarani’s Manual of Islamic Law, Translated by Aisha Bewley page 358.
[xi] Jami` at-Tirmidhi 733, Grade: Sahih (Darussalam)
[xii] Fiqh us sunnah, Sayed Sabiq, Chapter Fasting, Page 248
[xiii] Al-Qawanin al-Fiqhiyyah: The Judgments of Fiqh, Abu’l-Qasim Ibn Juzayy Al-Kalbi (Author), Asadullah Yate (Translator), Vol 1, page 218
[xiv] Rulings pertaining to Ramadan, A Collection of Works by Sheikh Muhammad Salih Al-Munajjid, Islamfuture, page 40