Question: How many fards (conditions for the validity of an act of worship) does the fast have?
The fast has three fards:
1. Niyyah (intention),
2. To make the intention within the period between the earliest time and the latest time for making intention,
3. To avoid all things that invalidate the fast from imsak (the time when night ends and prohibition on eating and drinking begins) up to sunset.
Question: When does the time for intention for the fast begin?
For the Ramadan fast and voluntary fasts, the time for intention begins after sunset and lasts until one hour before the time of early afternoon prayer on the actual day of fasting. For the fasts of qada (make-up) and kaffarah (expiation), the time for intention begins after sunset and extends up to imsak. When one makes intention for a fast in Ramadan, if one makes intention within the period from sunset to imsak, one must say, "I intend to fast tomorrow." If one makes intention after imsak, one must say, "I intend to fast today." If one is mistaken and says it incorrectly, there is no harm upon one because one knows the day of fasting.
In Ramadan, intention cannot be made once for the whole month. It is fard to intend every day for each.
If one, before going to bed, makes intention after eating a meal or without eating, there is no religious obstacle to eating when one wakes up in the night or gets up for pre-dawn meal (sahur). It is good to make the intention while eating dinner in the evening. After making the intention, there is no religious obstacle to eating and drinking until the time of imsak.
If one makes such an intention in the evening, "If my tooth does not ache tomorrow, I will fast. If it aches, I will not," fasting with such a doubtful intention is not valid.
Intention may be made until one hour before the time of early afternoon prayer. Getting up for pre-dawn meal is considered intention. Likewise, going to bed having the intention of fasting is considered intention, too. In such a case, one is considered to have made the intention, even if one does not get up for pre-dawn meal.
Last but not least, eating and drinking must not continue until the adhan (Islamic call to namaz) is called.
Question: Is it permissible to make the intention for Ramadan fast after imsak lest expiation (kaffarah) might be required in case it is broken?
It is permissible, but there is no need for such a thing.
Question: If we forget to make intention at night, what should we do?
Intention may be made until one hour before the time of early afternoon prayer. Getting up for pre-dawn meal (sahur) is considered intention. Likewise, going to bed having the intention of fasting is considered intention, too. In such a case, one is considered to have made the intention, even if one does not get up for pre-dawn meal.
Question: What does imsak that is written on calendars refer to? Can we perform the morning namaz at this time?
Imsak refers to the time when night ends and prohibition on eating and drinking begins. Eating and drinking must be stopped at the imsak time written on Türkiye Calendar. In Turkey, the morning namaz can be performed 15-20 minutes later than this time. If people act upon the wrong calendars and eat and drink until the adhan is called, their putting the blame on the wrong calendars will not absolve them of the responsibility.
White Thread and Black Thread
Question: When my father fasts, he acts not according to calendars, but the Qur'an. He eats and drinks until a white thread is distinguished from a black thread. I am in doubt because the sky gets light. Is what he does true?
The 187th verse of Baqara Sura purports, "Eat and drink until the white thread becomes distinct from the black thread." The threads mentioned in this verse are the whiteness of the day and blackness of the night. This verse means, "Eat and drink until the light of the day is separated from the darkness of the night like a thread." A person who had heard this Qur'anic verse said, "O Messenger of Allah! I put a white thread and a black thread under my pillow so that I could determine the time when the day became clear from the night. Nevertheless, I could not determine the end of the night. Thereupon, our master the Prophet stated, "Those threads are the light of the day and the darkness of the night." If our master the Prophet had not clarified it, how could we now know that the white thread refers to light and the black thread refers to darkness? Acting upon what we understand from the Qur'an al-karim, as this youngster's father does, we would eat and drink, especially when the weather is cloudy, until the sun rises on the assumption that it is still dark.
Forgetting Intention in the Shafi'i Madhhab
Question: If followers of Shafi'i Madhhab forget to make intention to fast the following day when they go to bed and if they fail to get up for pre-dawn meal and if they wake up after sunrise, will their fasts be valid if they make intention at that time and fast?
In the Shafi'i Madhhab, the time for intention ends at the time of imsak. When it is forgotten, they can observe the fast by imitating the Hanafi Madhhab. When such an excuse that prevents the performance of the fast arises, the fast is saved by imitating (following) the madhhab that shows a way out.
Intention for Missed Fasts
Question: What intention should we make for missed fasts (fasts of qada)?
Intention should be like this, "I intend to observe the earliest Ramadan fast that I missed." One can substitute the phrase "the latest Ramadan fast" for "the earliest Ramadan fast." When a person keeps a missed fast, it is compulsory to make the intention until the imsak time.
One who forgets to intend before the imsak time should not give up fasting with the thought that the opportunity for a qada fast was missed and voluntary fasting will be useless. That is, one should observe fast, even if it may be a voluntary one.
Also, there is a misconception that one cannot eat after having made the intention. It is wrong. One can make intention in the evening and can eat and drink until the imsak time written on Türkiye Calendar.
Making Intention in the Daytime
Question: In the month of Ramadan and for voluntary fasts, intention can be made before the time of dahwa. When we intend before this time, do we have to intend that we have been fasting since the time of imsak?
Yes, you have to intend that way. It is also a condition that you have abstained from the things that invalidate the fast until that time. When you make intention in the daytime, if you do not intend that you have been fasting since the time of imsak but intend that you start fasting at the time you make intention, your fast will not be valid. (Radd-ul-mukhtar)
The time of dahwa-i kubra: It is the middle of the duration of the fast, and it is around one hour before the time of early afternoon prayer. For example, if imsak appears at 5:00 a.m. and the sun sets at 5:00 p.m. in a city, then fasting will be 12 hours long. The half of it equals 6 hours. Intention can be made until 6 hours after the imsak time, that is, until 11:00 a.m. If imsak appears at 4:00 a.m. and the sun sets at 7:00 p.m., it lasts for 15 hours. The half of it is seven hours and a half. When it is added to the imsak time, the time of dahwa is 11.30 a.m. In other words, it varies from season to season and city to city.