Assalamualaikum w.b.t SS Dato’ Seri, do we have to state the word ‘obligatory’ when we set our intention of fasting?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
Referring to the above question, first, it is important for us to know the time of setting our intention of fasting. If it is obligatory fasting, then its time starts from sunset (Maghrib prayer time) to sunrise (Subh prayer time). This is in accordance to a hadeeth:
مَنْ لَمْ يُبَيِّتِ الصِّيَامَ قَبْلَ الْفَجْرِ فَلاَ صِيَامَ لَهُ
"Whoever does not have the intention of fasting before dawn, then there is no fast for him."
Sunan an-Nasa'i (2332)
Meanwhile, the time of setting the intention for Sunnah fasting starts from sunset until the sun has crossed the celestial meridian (true noon). This is in accordance with a hadeeth narrated by Aisha RA, it is recorded that the Prophet PBUH said one day:
" يَا عَائِشَةُ هَلْ عِنْدَكُمْ شَىْءٌ " . قَالَتْ فَقُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ مَا عِنْدَنَا شَىْءٌ . قَالَ " فَإِنِّي صَائِمٌ "
'A'isha, have you anything (to eat)? I said: 'Messenger of Allah, there is nothing with us. Thereupon he said: I am observing fast.
Sahih Muslim (1154)
Getting back to the question, one of the differences in setting the intention of fasting for obligatory and Sunnah fasting is it is compulsory for obligatory fasting to have the components of tabyit and ta’yin, while it is not the case for Sunnah fasting. Tabyit means setting the intention during the night. The time starts at sunset until sunrise which is an indicator of Subh prayer time. This is a condition set by the scholars of mazhab al-Maliki, al-Syafi’e, and al-Hanbali.
Meanwhile, ta’yin means determining the type of the fasts themselves like Ramadhan fasting, Nazar, kaffarah as well as replacement fasting. Hence, stating the ‘obligatory’ when setting intention is not compulsory according to the dispositions of Mazhab al-Syafi’e, for none is obliged upon those of sound mind and reached the age of puberty except the obligations (Everything is obligation). Refer: al-Taqrirat al-Sadidat, 440]. It is also mentioned in al-I’anah [Refer: I’anah al-Tholobinm, 2/253].
To conclude, those who do not state the word ‘obligatory’ in his intention of fasting, their fasts are still valid as it is not an obligation of intention (for obligatory fasts). However, stating the ‘obligatory’ when setting the intention is one of the perfections of doing so. Lastly, may Allah SWT accept our fasts as well as other acts of worship in this holy month. Amen.