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Fasting » Things that invalidate (mubṭilāt) a fast → ← CHAPTER FOUR » Fasting (Ṣawm)

Fasting » Intention (niyyah)

Ruling 1529. It is not necessary for one to make an intention in his heart to fast, or to say, for example, ‘I will fast tomorrow’; rather, it is sufficient for one to decide that in humility to the Lord of the worlds, from the start of the time of ṣubḥ prayers until the time of maghrib prayers, he will not do anything that invalidates a fast. In order to be certain (i.e. have yaqīn) that one has fasted throughout this time, he must begin abstaining from a short period before the time of ṣubḥ prayers, and he must also refrain from doing anything that invalidates the fast for a short period after maghrib.

Ruling 1530. On every night of the month of Ramadan, one can make the intention to fast the next day.

Ruling 1531. The latest time available for a conscious person to make the intention to keep a fast of Ramadan is at the time of ṣubḥ prayers. This means that, based on obligatory precaution (al-iḥtiyāṭ al-wājib), at the time of ṣubḥ his abstinence [from the eight things that invalidate a fast] must coincide with his intention to fast, albeit subconsciously.

Ruling 1532. [With regard to a recommended (mustaḥabb) fast,] if a person has not done anything that invalidates a fast, then at whatever time of the day he makes the intention to keep a recommended fast – even if there is a short period of time until maghrib – his fast is valid (ṣaḥīḥ).

Ruling 1533. If someone goes to sleep before the time of ṣubḥ prayers in Ramadan – or on any day which he assigned for keeping an obligatory (wājib) fast – without making the intention to fast, and he wakes up before midday (ẓuhr)(1) and makes the intention to fast, his fast is valid. However, if he wakes up after ẓuhr, he must, as a precautionary measure, abstain [from the eight things that invalidate a fast] for the rest of the day with a general intention of attaining proximity to Allah (qaṣd al-qurbah al-muṭlaqah) [i.e. with the intention of attaining proximity to Allah without specifying any particulars about the fast], and he must also keep a qaḍāʾ fast for it [i.e. he must make up a fast for it after Ramadan].

Ruling 1534. If someone wants to keep a qaḍāʾ fast or a fast for recompense (kaffārah), he must specify it. For example, he must make the intention that ‘I am keeping a qaḍāʾ fast’, or ‘I am keeping a kaffārah fast.’ However, in the month of Ramadan, it is not necessary for one to make the intention that ‘I am keeping a fast of the month of Ramadan.’ In fact, if someone does not know or forgets that it is the month of Ramadan and makes the intention to keep some other fast, it will be considered a fast of the month of Ramadan. Similarly, for a fast of a vow (nadhr) and suchlike, it is not necessary to make the intention to keep a fast of a vow.

Ruling 1535. If someone knows that it is the month of Ramadan yet intentionally (ʿamdan) makes the intention to keep a fast other than that of Ramadan, then the fast for which he made the intention will not be valid. Similarly, it will not be considered a fast of the month of Ramadan if that intention is something that is inconsistent with attaining proximity to Allah. In fact, even if it is not inconsistent with attaining proximity to Allah, based on obligatory precaution, it will not be considered a fast of the month of Ramadan.

Ruling 1536. If, for example, someone keeps a fast with the intention of the first day of the month of Ramadan and afterwards he realises that it was the second or third of the month, his fast is valid.

Ruling 1537. If someone who makes the intention before the time of ṣubḥ prayers to fast the next day becomes unconscious, and during the day he regains consciousness, then based on obligatory precaution he must complete the fast of that day; and if he does not complete it, he must keep a qaḍāʾ fast for it.

Ruling 1538. If someone makes an intention before the time of ṣubḥ prayers to fast the next day, and he becomes intoxicated, and during the day he becomes sober, then based on obligatory precaution he must complete the fast of that day and also keep a qaḍāʾ fast for it.

Ruling 1539. If someone makes the intention before the time of ṣubḥ prayers to fast the next day, goes to sleep, and wakes up after maghrib, his fast is valid.

Ruling 1540. If someone does not know or forgets that it is the month of Ramadan and becomes aware of this before ẓuhr, in the event that he has done something that invalidates a fast, his fast is invalid (bāṭil) and [he must act according to two instructions:] (1) for the rest of that day, he must not do anything else that invalidates a fast until maghrib, and (2) after Ramadan, he must keep a qaḍāʾ fast for it. If someone becomes aware after ẓuhr that it is the month of Ramadan, then based on obligatory precaution he must fast with the intention of rajāʾ [i.e. with the intention of keeping the fast in the hope that it is desired by Allah]; and after Ramadan, he must also keep a qaḍāʾ fast for it. However, if he becomes aware before ẓuhr and he has not done anything that invalidates a fast, he must make the intention of fasting and his fast is valid.

Ruling 1541. If a child reaches the age of legal responsibility (i.e. becomes bāligh) before the time of ṣubḥ prayers in the month of Ramadan, he must fast. And if a child becomes bāligh after the time of ṣubḥ prayers, the fast of that day is not obligatory on him. However, if he had made the intention to keep a recommended fast, the recommended precaution (al-iḥtiyāṭ al-mustaḥabb) is that he should complete it.

Ruling 1542. If someone has been hired to keep the qaḍāʾ fasts of a dead person, or, if he has to keep a kaffārah fast of his own, there is no problem in him keeping a recommended fast of his own. However, if someone has to keep his own qaḍāʾ fasts of the month Ramadan, he cannot keep a recommended fast [until he has kept his own qaḍāʾ fasts]; and in the event that he forgets and keeps a recommended fast and he remembers this before ẓuhr, his recommended fast is annulled and he can change his intention to an intention of keeping a qaḍāʾ fast. However, if he becomes aware after ẓuhr, then based on obligatory precaution his fast is invalid, but if he remembers after maghrib his fast is valid.

Ruling 1543. If it is obligatory on a person to keep an assigned [i.e. time-specific] fast other than the fast of the month of Ramadan – for example, he had made a vow that he would fast on a particular day – in the event that he intentionally does not make the intention to keep that fast until the time of ṣubḥ prayers, his fast is invalid. However, if he does not know that it is obligatory on him to fast on that day, or he forgets and remembers before ẓuhr, in the event that he has not done anything that invalidates a fast and consequently makes the intention to fast, his fast will be valid. However, if he remembers after ẓuhr, he must exercise the obligatory precautionary measure that was mentioned concerning the fast of Ramadan [in Ruling 1533, which stated that he must abstain for the rest of the day from the eight things that invalidate a fast with a general intention of attaining proximity to Allah, and that he must also keep a qaḍāʾ fast for it].

Ruling 1544. There is no problem if someone intentionally does not make the intention to fast until near ẓuhr for an obligatory fast that has not been assigned for a particular day, such as a fast for kaffārah. If a person decides not to fast or is indecisive as to whether he should fast or not, in the event that he has not done anything that invalidates a fast, he can make the intention before ẓuhr to fast and his fast will be valid.

Ruling 1545. If a disbeliever (kāfir) becomes a Muslim during the daytime in the month of Ramadan, and from the time of ṣubḥ prayers until the time he became a Muslim he did not do anything that invalidates a fast, then based on obligatory precaution he must abstain [from the eight things that invalidate a fast] until the end of the day with the intention to fulfil whatever his legal obligation happens to be (mā fī al-dhimmah); if he does not do this, he must keep a qaḍāʾ fast for it.

Ruling 1546. If in the middle of a day in the month of Ramadan a sick person gets well before ẓuhr and until that time he did not do anything that invalidates a fast, then based on obligatory precaution he must make the intention to fast and keep the fast on that day; and in the event that he gets better after ẓuhr, it is not obligatory on him to fast on that day but he must keep a qaḍāʾ fast for it.

Ruling 1547. If someone doubts (i.e. has a shakk) whether it is the last day of Shaʿbān or the first day of Ramadan, it is not obligatory on him to fast on that day; and if he wants to fast on that day, he cannot do so with the intention of keeping the fast of Ramadan. However, if he makes the intention that if it is Ramadan then he is keeping the fast of Ramadan, and if it is not Ramadan then he is keeping a qaḍāʾ fast or another legitimate fast [including a recommended fast], the validity of the fast is not farfetched (baʿīd)(2) [i.e. the fast will be deemed valid]. In this situation, it is better that he fasts with the intention of keeping a qaḍāʾ fast or another legitimate fast, and in the event that afterwards it becomes known that it was the first day of Ramadan, it will be counted as the fast of Ramadan. Furthermore, if a person makes the intention of fasting in general [i.e. with the intention of attaining proximity to Allah without specifying any particulars about the fast] and afterwards it becomes known that it was Ramadan, it is also sufficient.(3)

Ruling 1548. If there is doubt as to whether it is the last day of Shaʿbān or the first day of Ramadan and someone keeps a fast with the intention of a qaḍāʾ fast or a recommended fast or suchlike, and if during the day he finds out that it is the month of Ramadan, he must make the intention of the fast of the month of Ramadan [and continue fasting].

Ruling 1549. If someone [having no legitimate excuse (ʿudhr)] is indecisive as to whether or not to invalidate an assigned [i.e. time-specific] obligatory fast – such as the fast of Ramadan – or decides to invalidate his fast [but does not do anything to break his fast] and he does not make the intention to fast again, his fast becomes invalid. And if he does make the intention to fast again, the obligatory precaution is that he must complete the fast of that day and afterwards keep a qaḍāʾ fast for it.

Ruling 1550. With regard to a recommended fast or an obligatory fast that does not have an assigned time – such as a fast for kaffārah – if someone decides to do something that invalidates a fast or is indecisive as to whether or not to invalidate it, then, in the event that he does not do so and makes the intention to fast again before ẓuhr in the case of an obligatory fast, and before sunset (ghurūb) in the case of a recommended fast, his fast is valid.

(1) For the legal definition of ẓuhr, see Ruling 717.
(2) For practical purposes, a legal opinion that is termed ‘not farfetched’ equates to a fatwa.
(3) This ruling and the next concern a matter that is referred to as ‘yawm al-shakk’ (day of doubt).
Fasting » Things that invalidate (mubṭilāt) a fast → ← CHAPTER FOUR » Fasting (Ṣawm)
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