By Amreen Pathan
Iftar, also commonly known as Futoor, is the meal taken at sunset to break the fast of a Muslim individual. This year in the UK (only a few hours away now!), the sun will set at approximately 19.40 for the first fast which will then extend to 20.30 by the end of Ramadan.
This means that the fast is long. Not the longest compared to previous years, but long nonetheless.
So as you can well imagine, sunset is welcomed gladly by all fasting Muslims.
Nearing sunset, the air is tinged with anticipation, touches of decadent fried food, the buzz of Qur’an recitation or the snippets of a lecture streaming from the local Masjid (Muslim place of worship) and the hustle and bustle of the activity warranted by this meal.
Naturally then, food is a central point of Iftar but in a month of religious and spiritual reflection, there is more to take away from this beautiful practice of Futoor.
1. As Muslims, we realise the essentialism of food and water having spent the day with a hungry stomach. Especially in the first few days of Ramadan, energy wanes because of the abstinence from food and drink. This is an opportunity to exercise Shukr (gratefulness) for Allah and the provisions he has given us to sustain our bodies and essentially our souls based on the energy we derive from this nourishment.
2. It is a great blessing that food awaits us at the end of the fasting day. There are people in need who are not as fortunate and the practice of Iftar can inspire philanthropy as we realise our own good fortune and our capacity to help others. As a fasting person partaking in Iftar, our scope for sensitivity and empathy increases.
3. Iftar is not the closing of the old day but the opening of a new one. The meal consumed at this time replenishes the body for the ‘Ibadah (worship) that will follow. A Muslim will learn to eat mindfully with this in view. Eating ‘gluttonously’ will impact energy levels, desire to worship and sleeping habits in the following hours of the night and day.
4. Partaking in the meal at the time prescribed is a sign of a Muslim’s submission to their faith. Though one may assume that there is a reward in prolonging the fast instead of opening it at sunset, this is actually greatly disliked.
Sahl ibn Sa’d reported Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) as saying: ‘The people will continue to prosper as long as they hasten the breaking of the fast.’ [Muslim]
There is mercy in the time ordained to break one’s fast and adherence to this helps an individual to come to this realisation. A Muslim fasts for the sake of Allah and for Allah alone. Acts of extremity, like prolonging the fast intentionally, are therefore baseless and lacking the spirit of submission.
5. The choices we make about the food we partake in at Iftar tells us a great deal about what makes a healthy and moderate diet. Muslims look to those foods that provide both immediate and long-term nourishment for the preservation of energy so Iftar is an opportunity to inculcate good eating habits for after the month of Ramadan too.
Du’a to be recited at the time of Iftar:
Allahumma inni laka sumtu wa bika aamantu wa alayka tawakkaltu wa ‘ala rizqika aftartu
“Oh Allah. I fasted for You and I believe in You and I put my trust in You and I break my fast with Your sustenance.”
I leave you with the prayer that the Prophet (PBUH) would teach his companions upon the advent of Ramadan:
‘Oh, Allah! Safeguard me for Ramadan (by keeping me fit and healthy so that I can benefit from its virtues and blessings), safeguard Ramadan for me (by making circumstances such that I can take maximum benefit from it) and safeguard it for me (in such a way that it is) accepted (in Your court).’
May Allah accept from us all.
#Iftar #Ramadan #2022