Which is preferable, to express intention verbally or inwardly?
Intention is one of the devotional acts based on the religious principle of Tawqif (bound by a religious text and not amenable to personal opinion). It should be expressed inwardly. It is an act of Bid`ah (innovation in religion) to express it verbally. Neither the Prophet (peace be upon him) nor his Sahabah (Companions) are known to have expressed it verbally. It is authentically reported in the two Sahih (the two authentic books of Al-Bukhari and Muslim) and other books of Hadith that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said to the Bedouin who was at fault in performing his Salah (Prayer):
When you stand up for prayer, say Takbir (saying: "Allahu Akbar [Allah is the Greatest]") and then recite from the Qur’an what you know.
It is also reported in the Sunan (Hadith compilations classified by jurisprudential themes) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
The key to Salah is Taharah (ritual purification). (Part No. 6; Page No. 321) Its Tahrim (forbiddance of any actions outside prayer) is through the Takbir (saying: ‘Allahu Akbar [Allah is the Greatest]’ upon commencing Prayer), and its Tahallul (ending of the praying state) is through the Taslim (salutation of peace ending the Prayer).
It is also reported in the Sahih of
on the authority of
`Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her):
The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to commence Salah (Prayer) by saying 'Allahu Akbar (Allah is the Greatest)' and reciting Surah Al-Fatihah.
It has been authentically reported and unanimously agreed upon by all Muslims that the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Sahabah used to start their Salah with Takbir. Neither the Prophet (peace be upon them) nor his Sahabah are reported to have expressed intention verbally. The claim on the permissibility of expressing it verbally is rejected because the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
Anyone who introduces anything into this matter of ours (Islam) that is not part of it will have it rejected.
Authenticity of this Hadith is agreed upon by both Al-Bukhari and Muslim.
In another narration related by
Imam Muslim (may Allah be merciful to him), it is stated:
Anyone who does an action which is not in accordance with this matter of ours (Islam) will have it rejected.
May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.