Every book, article, lecture on self-help/improvement emphasises on the importance of making goals or intentions and trying to adhere to them. As this is the first step towards your achievement. Why is it so important after all? These formed goals gives us a sense of purpose, keeps us on a focused track and sense of accomplishment when we achieve it!
The practicality and beauty of Islam is it is in tune with the inherent nature and need of humans. So many people all over the world ask themselves this question “what is our purpose in this world?” The answer is a simple - to worship the One and Only Allah! This purpose has a method called Islam and followers are called Muslims! We worship Allah and we do it in many forms. Praying, fasting, giving to charity, helping others – all comes under worshipping Allah.
Fasting is one type of worship which is done exclusively for Allah. Allah the Exalted and Majestic said:
Every act of the son of Adam is for exclusively for him except for fasting. It is (exclusively) meant for Me and I (alone) will reward it. [Muslim]
We are promised of great rewards of Jannah when we strive to establish His Deen in our lives. Allah is so Kareem and Rahmaan that He rewards us just for making an intention for doing a good deed!
Ramadan is the spiritual self-improvement month appointed by Allah for all Muslims. In this month we all fast from dawn till dusk i.e. from Fajr to Maghrib. In this blessed month Allah’s mercy is showering upon His slaves day and night!
We have been given the honor of Ashraf-ul-Mukhloqaat (the best of all creatures).Yet we disgrace our status by wasting away our lives by living aimlessly. In Ramadan by Allah’s mercy we start our journey towards spiritual nourishment by fasting and reciting Quran, duaas and praying Taraweeh.
For me this was the usual beginning for my first Roza (fast). I wake up for suhoor, recite the duaa and then prayed Fajr. By reciting this duaa I intended to make an intention by tongue for fasting for that day. During the course of the whole month sometimes when I was rushing to finish my suhoor I forgot to recite this duaa. During the day I remember that I forgot to recite this duaa there is a rush of panic! Whether my fast will be accepted or not? When I researched about it I found it much to my surprise that making an intention by tongue is not a requirement at all!
Majority of ulema conclude that we do not have to make an intention EVERY day before Fajr. As fasting in Ramadan constitute as a continuous form of worship it does not need daily renewal. Only if there is a break in this continuous cycle for example a traveler came back from his travels or a woman after her periods. In these situations a renewal of an intention is necessary or the fasts will be considered void.
Addressing another misconception a lot of South Asians Muslims have that the above mentioned words are a “dua’a” for starting the fast in Ramadan. According to Sheikh Muqbil bin Hadee (rahimahullahu Ta’la) there are no specific words for intending to fast. Instead the intention is made in the heart and there is no need for verbal affirmations. On the other hand, there are Sahih (authentic) supplications when breaking the fast.
When we make honest intention to improve our spiritual well-being this Ramadan Allah will help us in achieving those goals. The key is to set realistic and achievable goals. We make intention and then lots of duaa that Allah helps us meet those goals - be it memorizing one verse, chapter or the whole Quran.
May Allah help us become better Muslims and soak up His blessings in this holy month of Ramadan.
I'd love to hear your views on intentions and their importance, in the comments section below :)