What is the ruling on expressing intention verbally, such as saying: "I intend to perform Fajr (Dawn) Prayer as two Rak`ah (unit of Prayer)
for the Sake of Allah"?
Salah (Prayer) is an act of worship. Acts of worship are Tawqifiy (bound by a religious text and not amenable to personal opinion). It should be performed according to the Qur'an and the authentic Sunnah. It was not authentically reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) pronounced his intention during obligatory or supererogatory Salah. Had it been done by the Prophet (peace be upon him), the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) would have conveyed it to us. But this was not done, and therefore pronouncing intention is a Bid`ah (innovation in religion). It was authentically reported that 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.
He also said:
Beware of newly-introduced matters in (religion), for every newly-introduced matter is a Bid‘ah, and every Bid‘ah is a Dalalah (deviation from what is right).
(Part No. 6; Page No. 320) May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.