Praise be to Allaah.
The fuqaha’ differed concerning this matter and there are two
views, based on their difference of opinion about making an intention
specific. The issue is, does he have to intend to fast specifically for
Ramadaan, or is it sufficient for him to have the intention of fasting,
whether he intends it as an obligatory or naafil fast?
The majority of Maalikis, Shaafa’is and Hanbalis are of the
view that he has to stipulate that he intends to fast for Ramadaan.
The Hanafis are of the view that he does not have to have a
specific intention. This was also narrated from Ahmad.
Based on this view, the fast of one who says “If tomorrow is
Ramadaan then this is my obligatory fast” is valid.
It says in al-Furoo’ (3/40): It is essential to form a
specific intention for each obligatory fast, according to Maalik and
al-Shaafa’i. This means that he should form the intention of fasting
Ramadaan or making up a missed fast or fasting in fulfilment of a vow or as
an expiation, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be
upon him) said: “Each person will have but that which he intended.”
Another view was also narrated from Imam Ahmad, which is that
he does not have to form a specific intention for Ramadaan, which is similar
to the view of Abu Haneefah, because specifying is for the purpose of
distinguishing and the time of Ramadaan is already distinct from other
times, therefore the general intention of fasting is valid. If someone wants
to form the intention of observing an obligatory fast but he was not certain
When he said “If someone wants to form the intention of
observing an obligatory fast but he was not certain”, such as if he formed
his intention on the night of doubt by saying: “If tomorrow is Ramadaan then
my fast will be obligatory and if it is not then it will be naafil,” this is
not valid, according to the first view, until he is certain that he will
fast tomorrow for Ramadaan. But according to the second view it is valid.
It says in al-Insaaf (3/295): If his intention is “If
tomorrow is Ramadaan it will be my obligatory fast otherwise it will be a
naafil fast,” this is not valid. This is our view and it is the view of the
majority of our companions. This is based on the fact that it is essential
to form a specific opinion. It was narrated from Imam Ahmad that this is
valid, and this is based on a report that says it is not essential to form a
specific intention in the case of Ramadaan. This view was favoured by Shaykh
al-Islam Taqiy al-Deen. It says in al-Faa’iq: This was supported by
the author of al-Muharrar and by our Shaykh, and it is the favoured
view. End quote.
See: al-Bahr al-Raa’iq, 2/280; Majma’ al-Anhaar,
1/233; Mughni al-Muhtaaj, 2/150; al-Mughni, 3/9;
al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah, 5/165,
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said,
commenting on the view of the author of al-Zaad: If his intention is,
‘If tomorrow is Ramadaan then it is my obligatory fast’, that is not valid.
This issue is important and comes up frequently. For example:
a man slept early on the night before the thirtieth of Sha’baan, and it is
possible that this night may be the first of Ramadaan, so he said: ‘If
tomorrow is Ramadaan then it will be my obligatory fast,’ or he said, ‘If
tomorrow is Ramadaan then I am fasting,’ or, ‘If tomorrow is Ramadaan then
it is my obligatory fast, and if it is not then it is an obligatory
expiation’ and the like. Our view is that this is not valid, because his
words, ‘If it is Ramadaan then it is my obligatory fast’ show a kind of
uncertainty, but intentions must be based on certainty. So if he does not
wake up until after dawn and he finds out that it is Ramadaan, then he has
to make up this day, according to the author.
The second view narrated from Imam Ahmad is that his fast is
valid if he finds out that it is Ramadaan. This view was favoured by Shaykh
al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him). Perhaps this is
included in the general meaning of the words of the Prophet (peace and
blessings of Allaah be upon him) to Dubaa’ah bint al-Zubayr: “Go for Hajj,
and stipulate that if you are prevented from continuing, you will exit
ihraam at that point and Allaah will accept whatever you stipulate.” This
man made his intention conditional because he did not know whether the next
day would be Ramadaan, so his hesitation was based on uncertainty about the
month, but there was no uncertainty about whether he would fast or not.
Hence if he said on the night before the first of Ramadaan: ‘I may fast
tomorrow or I may not,’ we say that this is not valid because it is
uncertainty. … Based on this, if we go to sleep on the night before the
thirtieth of Sha’baan , we may intend that if the next day is Ramadaan, we
End quote from al-Sharh al-Mumti’, 6/375.
And Allaah knows best.