The Types of Fasts and their Intentions in Islam

Fasts according to the Hanafi’s can be broken down into the following categories:

  1. Fardh (Obligatory)
    • Ramadhan fasting
    • Qada fasts
  2. Waajib (Mandatory)
    • Kafaara fasts1
    • Vowed fasts2
    • Making up Nafl fasts that one broke
  3. Sunnah (Prophetic encouragement)
    • Ashura3
  4. Mustahab (Prophetic)
    • Nafl fasts
    • Fasting three days in the month
    • Making the three days, the white days (13th, 14th, 15th)
    • Mondays
    • Thursdays
    • Six days of Shawwal consecutively or spread
    • Fast of Dawud4
    • Fasting the 9 days of Dhul Hijjah
    • Fasting in Sha’ban
  5. Makhruh Tahriman
    • Fasting on Eid Fitr
    • Fasting on Eid Adha
    • Days of Tashriq (11th, 12th, 13th)
  6. Makhruh Tanzihan
    • Singling out Friday to fast
    • Singling out Saturday to fast
    • Fasting daily for a long time5
    • To fast for two or more days consecutively without eating in between6
    • Fasting on 10th Muharram only
    • Fasting on days to venerate non-Islamic holidays
    • Fasting days leading Ramadan

The mustahab fasts are all fasts the Prophet ﷺ kept, but did not establish them as a sunnah for everyone. If one keeps them with intention of sunnah, then he is rewarded like so إن شاء الله.

Intentions for fasting

General Intention before Dawatul Kubra

The following fasts 1. Ramadhan and 2. A specific vowed fast (like I will fast on Thursday for Shifaa for my parents) 3. Supererogatory fasts require an intention to be made during the night (after maghrib) of the previous day. The last point one can make the intention is at Dawatul Kubra. Supererogatory fasts are the sunnah and mustahab fasts. These fasts do not require one to be specific in the type of fast to be valid, however if one is following a sunnah, then this should be intended.

Specific Intention before Fajr

The following fasts 1. Qaḍā’ of Ramadan 2. An unspecified general vow (like if one says If Allah cures me, I will fast for a day) 3. expiations (kaffārāt) 4. the fast for ẓihār 5. Make up of voluntary fast, all require an intention formed during the night yet before Fajr as well as a specification of the type of fast.

Dawatul Kubra is taking the mid-way point between the beginning of Fajr and Maghrib.

Multiple or combined intentions

  • During Ramadhan one may only intend to fast the Ramadhan fast.
  • One may combine intention to fulfil two sunnah’s like fasting on a Monday and 13th of the month
  • One may combine a qadha fast with a secondary intention of a sunnah/nafl fast
  • One cannot fulfil two types of fasts with one fast like intending to fast a qada and a vow at the same time.
  1. Some jurists say a Kafarah fast is Fardh, but majority later say Waajib ↩︎
  2. Some jurists say a Kafarah fast is Fardh, but majority later say Waajib ↩︎
  3. 9th + 10th Muharram or 10th + 11th ↩︎
  4. Fasting every other day ↩︎
  5. Even if one fasts daily but not on Makhruh tahrima days, it is still classed as consecutive ↩︎
  6. If one practices intermittent fasting for 48hrs of more, then this is fine as 1. This is not with intention of worship 2. One continues to drink water ↩︎

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