Rulings pertaining to the intention for fasting

Section Three – Rulings pertaining to the intention for fasting

In this section read about:
1. Establishing the beginning and ending of Ramadan by sighting the moon
2. Making the intention to fast in Ramadan
3. The ruling regarding hesitancy towards whether to fast or not
4. Fasted without making the intention until later in the day
5. That which constitutes the intention to fast in Ramadan
6. The place of the intention is in the heart

1. Establishing the beginning and ending of Ramadan by sighting the moon

Question: Is it permissible for a Muslim to rely upon astronomical calculations in order to establish the beginning and ending of fasting or is it a must that the new moon is seen?

Response: The Islaamic Sharee’ah is a merciful legislation and is general. Its rulings are appropriate to all of man and jinn upon their differing status whether they be scholars or illiterate, city people or villagers and for this reason Allaah made it easy for them the way to establish the timings of different forms of worship. He made signs showing their beginning and end times all these people can participate in establishing that. He made, for example the disappearing of the sun a sign for the beginning time of the Maghrib prayer and for the ending time of the ‘Asr prayer. He made the setting of the red horizon a sign for the beginning time of the ‘Ishaa. prayer. He made the sighting of the new moon after it had been hidden at the end of the previous month a sign for the beginning of the new lunar month and for the end of the previous month and he did not burden us to establish the beginning of the lunar month by means that only a few people know, that being knowledge of the stars and the science of astronomy. In this manner did the text from the Book (the Qur.aan) and the Sunnah make the sighting of the new moon and it being spotted as a sign for the Muslims to begin fasting the month of Ramadan as was the sighting of the new moon of Shawwaal a sign to stop fasting. The situation is also the same when establishing the `Eed of sacrifice and the day of ‘Arafah. Allaah (‘azza wa jal) said: {So he who from amongst you should witness the month should fast it} [Soorah al-Baqarah, Aayah 185]. And Allaah (‘azza wa jal) said: {They ask you about the new moons, say these are signs to mark fixed periods of time for mankind and for the pilgrimage [Soorah al-Baqarah, Aayah 189]. And the Prophet (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) said: ((When you see it (the new moon) then (start to) fast and when you see it (again) break your fast (stop fasting). If your vision was impaired (due to clouds or mist) complete the period of thirty days)). So he (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) ordained that fasting start by affirming the sighting of the new moon of Ramadan and the end of the month of fasting be by affirmation of the new moon of Shawwaal. He (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) did not link any of that to astronomical calculations nor to the movement of stars. Based upon this, the people acted in the time of the Prophet (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) and in the time of the righteous Khaleefahs, the four Imaams and the three generations that the Prophet (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) bore witness to, with virtue and goodness. So going back to the science of astronomy to affirm the lunar months in beginning and ending forms of worship without actual sighting is from the innovations that has no good in it and has no basis in the Sharee’ah. And the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is holding fast to that which the Prophet (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) and the righteous predecessors were upon by affirming the beginning and the end of the month of Ramadan, the `Eeds and the times of Hajj and their like with the sighting of the moon. And all good is in following the predecessors in religious matters and all evil is in the innovations that were introduced into the religion. May Allaah protect us and all the Muslims from all trials, open or hidden. Allaah is the one Who grants success. May the peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad (sal-Allaahu `alayhe wa sallam) and his companions.
The Permanent Committee for Islaamic Research and Fataawa, comprising – Deputy Head: Shaykh ‘Abdur-Razzaaq ‘Afeefee; Member: Shaykh ‘Abdullaah ibn Ghudayyaan; Member: Shaykh ‘Abdullaah ibn Munay’. (Fataawa Ramadan, Volume 1/Page 60-61/Fatwa No.27), also (Fataawa al-Lajnah ad-Daa.imah lil-Buhooth al-‘Ilmiyyah wal-Iftaa., Fatwa No.386)

2. Making the intention to fast in Ramadan

Question: How does a person make the intention to fast in Ramadan? Is simply knowledge of the start of Ramadan sufficient to fast the rest of the days?

Response: The intention takes the form of a determination and a resolve to fast, and it is imperative to determine the intention to fast in Ramadan during the night and every night. And with Allaah (subhaanahu wa-ta’aala) is the success, and may Allaah send prayers and salutations upon our Prophet Muhammad and his family and his companions.
The Permanent Committee for Islaamic Research and Fataawa, comprising – Head: Shaykh ‘Abdul-‘Azeez ibn ‘Abdullaah ibn Baaz; Deputy Head: Shaykh ‘Abdur-Razzaaq ‘Afeefee; Member: Shaykh ‘Abdullaah ibn Ghudayyaan. (Fataawa Ramadan, Volume 1/Page 162/Fatwa No.94), also (Fataawa al-Lajnah ad-Daa.imah lil-Buhooth al-‘Ilmiyyah wal-Iftaa., Fatwa No. 11455)

3. The ruling regarding hesitancy towards whether to fast or not

Question: We heard the cannons tonight, (in Saudi Arabia, the cannons indicate the beginning and ending of Ramadan) more than once and we doubted whether or not it was `Eed or Ramadan so we waited until we heard something from the imaam before Fajr. But we didn’t hear anything. So what is the ruling regarding hesitancy towards whether to fast or not?

Response: It is obligatory upon a person to make verification and the basic rule (‘asl) is that things remain as they were. If there was something else it would have been openly clear so that the people would know and hence not make sahoor nor fast. In any case this day is considered as a day of Ramadan and if the ending of the month was established the matter would have been clear. So (based) upon this, it is obligatory upon the person to fast in such a situation without hesitancy. Because, the basic rule (‘asl) (in this case) is that Ramadan remains. If it became clear later on, that it was actually the day if `Eed he would break his fast.
Shaykh Ibn al-‘Uthaymeen / (Fataawa Ramadan, Volume 1/Page 167/Fatwa No.101), also (Fataawa ash-Shaykh Muhammad as-Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen, Volume 1/Page 476,477)

4. Fasted without making the intention until later in the day

Question: On the first night of Ramadan (preceding the first day of Ramadan), a person went to sleep before knowing that the next day will be the first day of fasting. So, when he woke up (and went) for the Fajr prayer he asked one of the worshippers, who happened to be the last one (left in the masjid) but he did not know. So this man continued as he was and did not eat (or drink) anything. When he reached work he found that the people were fasting and so, only then found out (for definite) about the fasting. So, based on this, he continued in this state and fasted until the evening. Was his fast correct on that day or does he have to make it up? We request you to give us a fatwa and may Allaah (subhaanahu wa-ta’aala) grant you much good.

Response: One who does not know about the arrival of Ramadan except during the (first) day, then it is obligatory for him to refrain (from all that breaks the fast, from food and drink etc.) for the rest of the day, then make up that day because he did not make the intention to fast the previous night. And it is mentioned in many ahaadeeth that there is no fast for the one who did not make intention in the night for the obligatory fast. So, with this, some of the day passed whilst he had not made the intention to fast.
Shaykh Ibn Fowzaan / (Fataawa Ramadan, Volume 1/Page 168/Fatwa No.103) also, (al-Fataawa libni Fowzaan, Kitaab ad-Da’wah, Volume 1, pages 154-155)

5. That which constitutes the intention to fast in Ramadan

Question: Is it a must for one who is fasting, that when he makes the intention to fast in Ramadan that he specify that it is an obligatory fast?

Response: It is enough for him to make the intention that it is the fast of Ramadan and not say “I have made the intention that it is (an) obligatory (fast)”, since it is understood that the fast of Ramadan is obligatory.
Shaykh Ibn Jibreen / (Fataawa Ramadan, Volume 1/Page 171/Fatwa No.108) also, (Fataawa as-Siyaam libni Jibreen, Page 37)

6. The place of the intention is in the heart

Question: What is the ruling regarding making the intention vocally, such as when some people make the intention to fast (by saying); “O Allaah, I have made the intention to fast”?

Response: The place of the intention is in the heart and it is not permissible to vocally make the intention either for the prayer, or the fast, or the purification or other than these.
Shaykh Ibn Jibreen / (Fataawa Ramadan, Volume 1/Page 173/Fatwa No.111), also (Fataawa as-Siyaam libni Jibreen, Page 39)