In Islam, one needs to be Muslim, of sound mind, and have reached puberty to be deemed accountable. These criteria also apply to fasting. Therefore, in order for an individual to be accountable for Ramadan fasting, they need to be Muslim, of sound mind, and have reached puberty (Kasani, Bada’i, II, 87). While some people possess the necessary qualities to be accountable for acts of worship, they may be excused from fasting due to certain circumstances. Although children who have not reached puberty yet are not held accountable for worship, it is encouraged for them to engage in prayer and fasting to become accustomed to these practices. In this respect, the Prophet Muhammad (saw) recommended that children from seven years of age until ten be made accustomed to performing prayer (Abu Dawud, Salat, 26).

When and how should one make an intention to fast?

To observe fasting, it is essential to express an intention, just as in all other forms of worship. Simply abstaining from food and drink without intending to fast does not constitute fasting. Therefore, articulating the intention for fasting is a prerequisite, regardless of whether the fasting is obligatory (fardh), obligatory as a duty (wajib), or voluntary (nafl). When one decides on something and puts effort to make it happen, then such a person is considered to have made the intention. It is deemed commendable to express this intention verbally. Waking up for suhoor (pre-dawn meal) is also considered a means of the same intention. The time frame for intending to fast during Ramadan, for votive fasting (nadhr), and for voluntary fasting starts from sunset and extends until mid-morning, allowing flexibility in making the intention within this period. Islamic scholars, however, have allocated a broader range of time to make the intention. The time to make the intention for Ramadan fasting, votive fast (nadhr), and superorgatory (nafl) fasting starts from sunset and continues until the middle of the morning. However, it is inappropriate to form the intention for fasting before sunset, at noon, or any time between noon and sunset. Making the intention until noon is permissible under the condition that no action invalidating the fast is performed from dawn until the time of intention. Since each day of fasting in Ramadan constitutes a separate act of worship, the intention should be made individually for each day. It is not acceptable to make a single intention encompassing all the days of Ramadan.

What is the importance of the suhoor meal in Islam?