Suhoor – The significance of the pre-fasting meal

By Amreen Pathan

Suhoor – also commonly referred to as Sehri – is the meal that is taken before commencing with one’s fast. The time that one should stop eating and start the fast can be readily found on prayer timetables published by Masajid (places of worship) though this is basically a short period before the Adhan (call to prayer) is given for Fajr (morning prayer).

What is your experience of Suhoor?

In my home growing up, Suhoor was a lively experience with the warmth already radiating from the fire (colder months) and the ‘basics’ already laid out before my siblings and I even made it downstairs. Sleepy eyes would turn into wide ones and tired yawns into grunts of acknowledgement, which then slowly became remnants of lively chatter and giggles as the meal progressed. It felt like a highly special midnight feast extended to only a select few after the initial tiredness had passed.

As an adult now, the prospect of Suhoor doesn’t always seem as magical. The ‘initial tiredness’ isn’t overcome as easily and as Ramadan progresses, staying awake/waking up becomes more challenging. I state this with a tone of unfortunate remorse because actually there is much beauty and blessing in partaking in Suhoor.

I pray this serves as a positive reminder to all of us, with me at the very top of the list!

The Benefit of Suhoor

About this meal, Abu Sa’id al-Khudri reported:

The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “The pre-fasting meal is a blessed meal, so do not abandon it even if you take only a sip of water. Verily, Allah and His Angels send blessings upon those who take the pre-fasting meal.” [Source: Musnad Ahmad]

How is the meal blessed?

The glaringly obvious blessing is the form of energy provided to a person by partaking in Suhoor. The fasts in the UK this Ramadan will start off being at least 12 hours long, which means that if one skips the meal before dawn, their fast will unnecessarily extend to over 17-18 hours. I’m sure everyone can attest to the ‘hangry’ feeling that pervades their physical and mental form on a normal day and skipping a meal in Ramadan makes that likelihood, quite frankly, even more likely. Eating Suhoor with the right intention therefore will be a source of strength for a person as well as a kind of barricade against anger, impatience and pessimism.

Actually, if one intends to use this strength for the purpose of worship during the day, then the reward is amplified.

Further, it is a blessing in the way it follows in the footsteps of the Prophet (PBUH)’s noble Sunnah (traditions). Partaking in some form of Suhoor, despite not being hungry, thirsty or just too tired, purely because it is a Sunnah, will increase the scope for reward for the meal.

Importantly, Suhoor differentiates the fast of a Muslim from that of a non-Muslim. Many different religious denominations fast but a pre-fasting meal is not ordained for them as such.

The noble Prophet (pbuh) stated: “The difference between our fasting and the fasting of the people of the Book [Christians and Jews] is eating Suhoor.” [Source: Muslim]

We should also consider the time between Suhoor and Fajr: one who wakes up for Suhoor will stay awake until the Fajr prayer has started. Benefits?

1) Impossible to sleep through and miss the Fajr prayer

2) Opportunity to engage in Du’a (supplication) and the recitation of the Qur’an or other forms of worship such as Dhikr (remembrance of Allah) as we wait for the call to prayer.

Whilst Du’a anywhere anytime is fantastic, Du’a during the latest part of the night or when waking up at night from sleep is considered somewhat superior. It would be a massive loss to be bereft from this opportunity. By making the effort to wake up from Suhoor, one can trust in Allah Almighty to guide him towards such actions.

Clearly, there is a spirituality associated with this morning meal that elevates its status to more than just filling one’s stomach. It involves the manifestation of one’s religion in the preservation of the Prophet’s traditions, the distinction from other faiths and the scope for worship.

To reiterate the Hadith above: “…. Do not abandon it even if you take only a sip of water.” [Source: Muslim]

The sheer Mercy of Allah (SWT) that a sip of water coupled with the right intention in the darkness of the night culminates in a showering of blessings by Allah and the prayers of the Angels.

Du’a for Suhoor

Arabic: Can be found here.

Translation: I intend to fast tomorrow in this month of Ramadan

Transliteration: Wa bisawmi ghadinn nawaytu min shari Ramadan

#Ramadan #Suhoor #MonthOfFasting

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