5.2 Obligatory Actions
There are four obligatory actions of fasting.
The first obligatory action is intention. When the fast is obligatory, an individual needs to declare their intention sometime during the night before the Dawn Prayer. When making the intention, one must also have in mind that they will be carrying out an obligatory fast. So, during Ramaḍān they can formulate their intention with something like “Tomorrow I will carry out an obligatory fast of this year’s Ramaḍān for the sake of Allah Most High.” Or if it is a makeup fast, they can formulate it with something like “Tomorrow I will carry out an obligatory fast of a missed day of Ramaḍān for the sake of Allah Most High.”
Each day of Ramaḍān requires an intention. It is not sufficient to make a single intention at the beginning of Ramaḍān.
Fasts that are not obligatory are a bit different. When the fast is not obligatory, the individual can declare an intention any time before the Noon Prayer provided that he has not done anything that invalidates the fast. Suppose someone woke up at ten o’clock in the morning and hasn’t drunk or eaten anything since before the Dawn Prayer, and he decides that he wants to fast that day as a voluntary fast. Since it is a non-obligatory fast, and it is before noon, he can make an intention to fast and then fast the rest of the day. But this only works with non-obligatory fasts.
The other three obligatory actions are abstaining from eating and drinking, intercourse, and inducing vomit.
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