Making the intention to fast Ramadan
Is it necessary to make the intention for fasting for each day of Ramadan or does it suffice to make a single intention for the entire month?
Islam attaches great importance to intentions since they determine the purpose of man and his direction in various matters. The Prophet [pbuh] said: "Actions are [judged] according to intentions and each person will be rewarded accordingly. So he whose emigration was for the sake of Allah and His Messenger, then his emigration was for the sake of Allah and His Messenger and he whose emigration was for the sake of some worldly gain or a woman he desired to marry, then his emigrations was for that for which he emigrated."
The intention for fasting
The Messenger of Allah said, "He who does not make the intention for fasting before dawn, there is no fast for him" i.e. it is not necessary to utter the intention for each fast day, but to resolve in his heart that he will fast the following day.
Scholars differed on whether making the intention to fast Ramadan is a pillar or condition. Some scholars maintained that the intention must be made during the night before dawn and renewed for each fast day of Ramadan. They also maintained that a person must be specific when formulating his intention for an obligatory fast and say, "I intent to fast tomorrow [a day from] the month of Ramadan."
Another group of scholars maintained that it suffices for a person to resolve in his heart that he will fast the following day. According to them, the time for making the intention extends from sunset till before noon. Therefore, a person who forgets to make the intention during the night is to make it any time before noon such that the remaining part of the day is greater than the former. Maliki scholars maintained that it suffices to make a single intention for a consecutive fast such as Ramadan.
It can be concluded from the above that the principle and better course of action is to make the intention for each fast day if possible. But if a person fears forgetfulness, he is to make the intention for the current performance of the Ramadan fast for the sake of Allah on the eve of the first night of Ramadan. According to Hanafi scholars, it is not a condition to make the intention for fasting Ramadan since it is an obligatory fast. A person's fast is valid as long as he refrains from food and drink.