Imam Zijad’s Corner: CHILDREN IN THE MONTH OF RAMADAN

SUHUR (PRE-DOWN MEAL) & IFTAR (BREAKING FAST)

Almighty Allah says in the Qur’an: “And eat and drink until the white thread (light) of dawn appears to you distinct from the black thread (darkness of night).”         {Al Baqarah 187}

White thread is meant the light of the day (the white light coming across the horizon in the East) and black thread is meant darkness of the night. Hence, the verse is explicit in that eating and drinking are permitted until the doubt and uncertainty are removed from a mind of a fasting person.

SUHUR (PRE-DAWN MEAL):

Suhur (pre-dawn meal) is a light pre-dawn meal recommended before actual fasting begins. Suhur is one of the blessings during the month of Ramadan since it is compliance to the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S). It was reported that the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S) said: “Have Suhur for Suhur is the source of Barakah (blessing).” {Bukhari, Muslim}

The reason why it is Barakah is that it strengthens a person for fasting and increases his/her desire to fast more often because fasting is made easier by Suhur. It can be as little as a sip of water. The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S) said: “The Suhur is blessed, so do not neglect it even if you only take a sip of water. Verily Allah and the Messenger of Allah, pray for those who have Suhur.” {Ahmad}

He has also said: “The distinction between our fasting and the fasting of the people of the Book (Jews and Christians) is in taking Suhur.”  {Muslim}

As we can see my respected brothers and sisters in Islam, the Messenger of Allah called it the blessed morning meal and advised us to follow his Sunnah: “Come to the blessed morning meal (meaning Suhur).” {Ahmad, Dawud, Nasai}

Perhaps the greatest blessing of Suhur is that Almighty Allah covers believers with His forgiveness and sends His Mercy upon them. The Malaikah of the Most Merciful ask for forgiveness for them, and supplicate to Allah that He forgives them, so that they may be granted freedom from the Fire by the Most Merciful in the month of the Qur’an.

The time of Suhur: Suhur can be any time from the middle of the night until just before dawn, although it is better to have it as close to dawn as possible without running the risk of eating or drinking after dawn. The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S) and Zaid ibn Thabit (r.a), took Suhur and when they finished their Suhur the Messenger of Allah stood up for the Prayer (Fajr) and prayed. The time between the end of their Suhur and their starting the obligatory prayer was enough for a person to recite fifty verses (Ayat) from the Qur’an. Anas (r.a) reports from Zaid ibn Thabit (r.a) that he said: “We ate Suhur along with the Messenger of Allah then he stood up for the prayer (Fajr), I said: ‘How much time was there between the Athan and Suhur?’ He said: ‘The interval was sufficient to recite fifty Ayat (not too short neither too long).’”                            {Bukhari, Muslim}

It was reported by ‘Amr ibn Maimun (r.a) saying: ‘The companions of Muhammad (S), would be the first to break the fast and the last to eat their pre-dawn meals.” {Al Baihaqi}

In Suhur, Muslims usually eat moist foods, high in protein and vitamins, such as eggs, cheese, milk, yogurt, bread, fruits, vegetables, etc.

It is very important to mention again that Suhur is a blessing and there is a consensus that this meal is a highly recommended Sunnah.

In all mentioned Ahadith, the statement underscores the importance of Suhur, and to caution anyone from thinking that they can just stay without a meal all night and continue with fasting. This may explain why the statement came as a command.

Although it is not mandatory to eat Suhur, it is highly encouraged so that anyone intending to fast will make an effort to take Suhur.

What is important is not to show how strong one can be, but how  obedient one is. Suhur, above all, ensures that the ‘Abd (the servant of Allah) has the energy he /she will need during the course of the day, and it makes the fast easier.

IFTAR (BREAKING THE FAST:

Iftar is an Arabic term meaning breaking the fast immediately after the sunset. It is hastening in breaking fast with a light meal, preferably dates and if dates are not available then with any kind of fruits, milk, juice or water.

This is eaten after making the following Du’a for breaking the fast: “Allahumma laka sumtu wa bika amantu, wa ‘alaika tawakkaltu, wa ‘ala rizqika aftartu – O Allah! I fasted for Your sake, and I believe in You, and I put my trust in You, and I am breaking my fast from the sustenance You blessed me with.”

It was reported from Mu’ath bin Zuhra (r.a) that when the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S) broke his fast, he made Du’a as follows: “Allahumma laka sumtu wa ‘ala rizqika aftartu – O Allah! For You I have fasted and with Your provision I have broken my fast.”     {Abu Dawud}

When does the Saim (fasting person) break his/her fast? Almighty Allah says in the Qur’an: “The complete your fast till the nightfall.” {Al Baqarah 187}

The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S) explained this to mean the approach of the night, the passing away of the daylight and the disappearance of the sun below the horizon. Once the entire disk of the sun has disappeared, the fasting person should break his/her fast, and pay attention to the red glow that remains on the horizon, because the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S) said: “Once night comes from there and the days disappeares from there, and the sun set, the fasting person should break his/her fast.”  {Bukhari}

In doing this we would be following the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S). The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S) said: “The people will always remain in a good state of mind and body (during Sawm) as long as they hurry in the breaking of the fast (Iftar) and delaying the Suhur (pre-dawn meal).”                                    (Bukhari, Muslim}

It was reported by Anas (r.a) that the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S) used to break fast before he offered his Magrib prayer                                                                   {Abu Dawud, At Tirmithi}

As Muslims living in N. America, we should arrange Iftars in our Masajis and centers. These gatherings are excellent and are encouraged as they lead those who came for Iftar to Magrib, ‘Isha & Tarawih prayers in Jama’ah in the Masajid.

One of our duties as well is to provide Iftars for other fasting people. Muhammad (S) said: “He who gives food for a fasting person to break his/her fast, he/she will receive the same reward as him/her (a person fasted), except that nothing will be reduced from the fasting persons reward.”                                                                                {Ahmad, At Tirmithi, Ibn Majah}

If a Muslim who fasts is invited by someone for Iftar then he/she should accept the invitation, since anyone who does not respond to the invitation has disobeyed Abul Qasim (Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam).

It is also recommended for the guest to supplicate for the host, after finishing the food, with one of the following supplications reported from the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S):

  ‘Akala ta’amakumul abraru, wa sallat ‘alaikumul malaikatu, wa aftara ‘indakumus saimuna – May the righteous eat along with you, the angels seek forgiveness for you, and those who fast, break their fast along with you.’                                      {Ahmad, An Nasai}

  Allahumma at’im man at’amani, wasqi man saqani – O Allah! Feed the one who fed me, and give drink to the one who gave me drink.’                                            {Muslim}

 ‘Allahummagfir lahum, warhamhum, wa barik fima razaqtahum – O Allah! Forgive them, and have mercy upon them and place blessing in what you have provided for them.’ {Muslim}

My respected brothers and sisters in Islam. In Ramadan, as believers, we have to get up for Suhur early before dawn, stop eating, drinking and abstain from all mentioned acts during the day, and deliberately take Iftar (breakfast) in the evening exactly at the time after sunset. This is precision timing. The exact timing of the Suhur and Iftar teaches us that demarcation line between right and wrong, between Halal and Haram. At the end of the day, the fasting person rejoices at sunset for the sunset signifies the achievement of his/her victory over himself/herself during the day.     Allahumma Amin.