By Shahid Salman
There is no authentic dua/prayer in Quran and Hadith for beginning your fasting in Ramadan. The dua you have heard or even recite to begin your fasting is not from Quran and Hadith – although there is no harm in reciting it, but calling it and considering it authentic (from Prophet Mohammad Peace Be Upon Him) should be avoided.
Then what about the popular dua that Muslims recite during Ramadan? This dua is particularly popular in countries like Pakistan, India and Bangladesh and people memorize and recite it and even share it widely through the electronic, social and print media. However, if you have found a hadith and Quran reference to this dua, please enlighten me.
For instance, all the TV channels in Pakistan broadcast this dua (roza rakhne ki niyyat) during suhoor (sehri) transmissions with religious vigour without scholars and muftis noticing it. The newspapers, novels and other popular print publications mention this dua in their Ramadan editions. The social media, which is already a free platform for everyone to share their thoughts, becomes the fastest and easiest tool to spread an unauthentic dua as an authentic one.
I came to know about this dua being unauthentic only recently as the Imam of our masjid talked about his own research on its authenticity. “There is no single hadith that mentions this dua, but people have been recommending it and labeling it ‘roza rakhne ki niyyat from Hadith’ without even knowing,” the Imam said.
Up until now, I have been reciting this dua for as long as I can remember because I learned it from my Quran teacher who taught me dozens of Islamic duas and supplications.
Ok it is not authentic, but reciting it is not haram
You are probably wondering whether you should recite this dua as it is just some words that have been translated into Arabic from their original language. There is no harm in reciting this dua if you are doing it to formally make the niyyah (intention) as its words are right and serve the purpose, but we should know that the niyyah (or niyyat) is not about verbally saying some words -- it is more about being aware of what you are doing and why you are doing it. Since Suhoor (Sehri) is a Sunnah of the Prophet Mohammad Peace Be Upon Him and a Muslim formally practice this Sunnah by eating meal, it is niyyah already.
I sometimes recite this dua, but if you ask me to recommend a dua, I will repeat what I have discussed above. Rather than memorizing an unauthentic dua which you don’t even understand, you should do the niyyah for fasting in your first language (your mother tongue) as you will at least know what you are saying and why you are saying it.