A. (by #DrZakir Naik): Intention is a Fardh and our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has said, “a person’s fast is not accepted if he does not make the intention in the previous night”. It means for all the fardh fasting i.e. compulsory fasting, making intention the previous night is compulsory. It can be any part of the previous night, it can be as late as just before the Fajar time. Anytime of the night you can make intention. A person can also make the intention in the beginning of Ramadan and it can be valid for the whole month of Ramadan, unless he breaks it if he is sick or if he is travelling then he has again to make the intention but one intention is also sufficient. And many people think, they have a misconception that verbally saying it aloud is a must which is not a requirement. I won’t say verbally, “I intent to fast”! because my intention is the niyaah from the heart and I don’t know any hadith that our Prophet or any sahaaba said it loudly. Intention is in the heart. And one intention is sufficient for the full month of Ramadan. But this is only for the fardh fast. For a voluntary fast, intention is not a fardh because there is a hadith which says, “once the Prophet tells his wife that I want food to eat and his wife says that there is no food to eat, so he said, ok I am fasting…” that means his intention was not there before, in the previous night, he made it on the spot. He abstained from it before dawn but his intention was afterwards in the morning. So for the voluntary fast it is not important to make the intention the previous night except it was an important voluntary fast like Ashura – the 10th of Muharram or it can be the day of Arafat. It’s preferable to make the intention for such fasts in the previous night because these very important fasts. For the niyaah there are other three things which are very important. One thing is – if it is broken by force then it can be forgiven or by error or by forgetfulness. As Allah says in Quran in Surah An-Nahal Ch.16 V.106, “After a person has believed then if he does something of unbelief except by force, Allah will forgive”. So if someone forces a person to break the fast, his niyaah was not there, then he can be forgiven. And Allah says in Surah Al-Baqarah Ch. 2 V. 286, “O Lord please do not catch us, please don’t hold us responsible when we err, when we make a mistake or when we forget”. So if a person in his forgetfulness breaks his fast, Allah will forgive him or if the cause of a mistake Allah will forgive him.