What is the time to make intention for fasting according to Shafii madhhab? Is it fard to make intention?

The Details of the Question

Once, I forgot to make niyyah for fasting in time in Ramadan. I remembered it one day later. I performed fasting that day and I even got up at night for suhur. Is it necessary to perform qada fasting for that day according to Shafii madhhab?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Getting up for suhur is regarded as intention (niyyah) for fasting; therefore, your fasting is valid.

Niyyah (intention): Intention is necessary for a deed of worshipping to be valid. A deed of worshipping without intention will be invalid; it will also be meaningless . The Prophet (pbuh) states the following regarding the issue:

"Actions are but by intention and every man shall have but that which he intended. "1

Niyyah is part of fasting; therefore, it is not included among the conditions of fasting.

It is wajib for niyyah to be renewed every day for fasting. Besides, it is necessary for the intention to be made before dawn, whether in the evening or at night. If niyyah is made at night, much earlier than dawn and if something that is contrary to fasting is done before dawn, niyyah is still valid. For, fasting takes place during the day, not at night.   

If the fasting to be performed is a fard fasting like Ramadan, kaffarah or vow fasting, niyyah is made as follows: at night: 

"I intend for Ramadan fasting tomorrow..." or "I intend for the fasting that I vowed."

It is sunnah to utter the niyyah by the tongue. For, the tongue is the helper of the heart. For instance, it is sunnah to utter niyyah as follows:  

"I intend to perform the fard fasting of Ramadan tomorrow for Allah's sake."

If the fasting to be performed is nafilah, it is enough to make the intention during the day. However, this niyyah needs to be made at zawal time at the latest and nothing contrary to fasting must be done after dawn. This is the apparent view. A narration confirming this view is as follows:  

The Prophet (pbuh) said to Hz. Aisha,

"Is there anything to eat for lunch at home?"

Hz. Aisha said,

"No." The Prophet (pbuh) said,

"I will perform fasting then."

Hz. Aisha stated the following in the remaining part of the same narration: 

"Once, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said to me,

"Do you have anything to eat at home?" I said,

"Yes." He said,

"I made intention for fasting but I will break it."2

According to Hanafi madhhab, it is more virtuous to make intention at the time of imsak (dawn) in all kinds of fasting. However, when Ramadan fasting is performed as qada after Ramadan, it is necessary to make intention at dawn or earlier. It is permissible for Ramadan fasting and nafilah fasting or definite vow fasting to make niyyah after dawn too.   

To get up for suhur is not regarded as niyyah for all kinds of fasting. However, if the person who gets up for suhur remembers fasting and makes niyyah for fasting, or if he gets up for suhur with the intention of fasting, his niyyah becomes valid.

If a person avoids eating during dawn fearing that his fasting may be invalidated, this act is regarded as niyyah.


1. Tecrid-i Sarih Tercemesi, I /1.
2. Bayhaqi, Sunanul-Kubra, IV/20.

(Mehmet Keskin, Büyük Şafii İlmihali)

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