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Making the proper intention to fast the month of Ramadan is required. Preferably, this intention should be made before dawn and during every night of Ramadan. However, it is valid if made during any part of the night and can even be made as late as noon if one forgot to make it before dawn. It does not have to be spoken out loud, for it is, in reality, an act of the heart that does not involve the tongue. In addition, it is fulfilled by one’s intention to fast out of obedience to God and to seek His pleasure. According to many jurists, the intention for a voluntary fast can be made until noon.

During the fasting hours, one cannot eat, drink, or engage in marital sexual relations. Before the Qur’an’s revelation, married couples could not engage in sexual intercourse during the fasting period. This rule was alleviated by 2:187, which allows sexual intercourse between married couples during the nights of Ramadan:

It is made lawful for you to go in to your wives on the night of the Fast; (there is such an inalienable intimacy between you that) they are a garment for you (enfolding you to protect you against illicit relations and beautifying you,) and you are a garment (of the same sort) for them. (2:187)

However, it is still forbidden during the fasting hours.