Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Does one have to orally make an intention before starting salah? I was told recently by a few salafi brothers that it is a bida’ to orally make the intention for salah and that one should only do it in one’s heart. Is this true?
The place of the intention is the heart. It is not in itself recommended to say one’s intention. However, if one finds that it helps the heart, then the fuqaha have deemed it to be recommended.
As for the Salafis, these problems arise from their lack of understanding of the traditional definition of innovation, which is accepted by the overwhelming majority of the scholars of our Umma, who cannot possibly agree on error, as the Prophet (Allah bless him & give him peace) explained.
Sh. Nuh Keller’s article on bid`a, and the other articles on Sidi Mas’ud Khan’s excellent site (http://www.masud.co.uk) are essential reading for sunni Muslims in troubled times.