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Then and Now – Ramadan meals

Then and Now – Ramadan meals

How do our iftar and suhoor compare to those of the best generation?

By Sanya F.

Dubai, UAE

Now – 4.29am

It’s almost time for Fajr. The minute hand of the clock is slowly edging towards the moment when the muaddhin in the neighbouring mosque will call all to prayer. Meanwhile, someone else is calling, too. Ma shakes her head after she calls you for the fourth time from the dining table. ‘Let her be, just wake her up for salah,’ Baba tells her as he spoons rice into his plate. You pull your blanket over your head and fall deeper into sleep, just as the adhaan begins…

Then – 4.29am

No day began in Ramadan, without Rasul Allah(صلى الله عليه وسلم)and his companions partaking in suhoor.

Amr Ibn al Aas reported that the Messenger of Allah(صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “The distinction between our fasting and the fasting of the people of the book [Jews and Christians] is the taking of Suhoor.” [Muslim]

Even if it is a morsel of food or a drink of water, the suhoor holds blessings for those who fast, and what easier way to seek Allah’s pleasure?

Abu Said al-Khudri said: The Prophet(صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “The Suhoor is a meal of blessings, so do not leave it, even if one of you just takes a gulp of water, since Allah sends mercy and His angels seek forgiveness for those who take Suhoor”. [Ahmad and Ibn Abi Shaibah]

He was partial to dates, and once said: “How excellent are dates as the believer’s Suhoor”. [Abu Dawood, Ibn Hibban and al-Baihaqee; Sahih]

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم)and his companions would be the first to break their fast, and the last to eat their suhoor.

Zaid ibn Thabit reported: “We ate Suhoor with the Messenger of Allah  and then we got up for the prayer. He was asked: ‘What was the amount of time between the two?’ He responded: ‘[The time it would take to recite] fifty ayat.”‘ [al-Bukhari and Muslim]

They would eat till the adhaan, which signaled the arrival of dawn.

As mentioned in the Quran: “…and eat and drink until the white thread (light) of dawn appears to you distinct from the black thread (darkness of night), then complete your Sawm (fast) till the nightfall” [Al-Baqarah 2:187]

Now – 5.29pm

The kitchen is bustling with the sound of microwave pings and the crash and bang of dishes and juice pitchers. You and your siblings help your mother hurry with the samosas, pakodas, fruit chaat and various sweets, ferrying the dishes to the table and running back for more. ‘Hurry Ma!’ you say excitedly, ‘just one more minute to go!’ Your sister announces that she’s going to quickly pray and return for iftar, so she can eat her fill without any disturbance. Ma can’t hear anyone over the pressure cooker she’s got going – she hopes to finish cooking dinner right after iftar, so she can start on a light meal for suhoor. As the adhaan grows louder in the distance, she looks at the spread on the table and tries to remember if she forgot anything…

Then – 5.29pm

The joy of breaking the fast is one of two, mentioned by Rasul Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم).

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “Whosoever fasts experiences two joys. He is joyful when he breaks his fast, and is joyful because of his fasting when he meets his Lord.” [Sahih Muslim]

But how often do we get swayed by the aromas of our kitchen, and lose out on the true focus of the fast itself?

The Prophet(صلى الله عليه وسلم)would supplicate during the time of breaking the fast, never forgetting that Allah is the Provider of blessings we often take for granted, such as food on the table.

He would say: “O Allah, I have fasted for Your sake, I have broken my fast with what you have provided. Thirst is gone and the veins are moist once again. God willing, the reward is established, too.”

The practice of Rasul Allah(صلى الله عليه وسلم)and his companions was to eat just enough to be reenergized.

Anas (رضي الله عنه) reported: “The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) would break his fast with ripe dates before he would pray. If those were not available, he would eat dried dates. If those were not available, he would drink some water.” [Abu Dawud, al-Hakim and at-Tirmithi / Sahih al-Jami`]

It is significant to know that we must hasten to iftar, as per the Sunnah, as breaking the fast takes precedence over salah.

Ahmad and Abu Dawood recorded through Anas with a Hasan Isnad that the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم)used to break the fast before praying. He would not pray Maghrib unless he broke his fast, even if it were done with a sip of water. [Sahih al-Jami’]

Anas (رضي الله عنه) reported that the Messenger of Allah said: “If the food is already presented, eat before the sunset prayer and do not eat your meals in haste.” [al-Bukhari and Muslim]

But is iftar all about eating and feasting?

Abu Hurairah (رضي الله عنه) narrated that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم)said: “Perhaps a fasting person will get nothing from his fast save hunger, and perhaps the one who stands to pray at night will get nothing from his standing except sleeplessness.”

It is a fasting person’s mission to guard against any act that may cause him/her to lose out on the benefit of the fast. Many people miss the opportunity of making du’a at the moment of breaking the fast, just before the call for Maghrib. This is a blessed time.

On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه) it is related that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, “Whatever is prayed for at the time of breaking the fast is granted and never refused.” [Tirmidhi]

The fasting person’s dua is one of the three to be accepted by Allah (apart from the duas of a just ruler and an oppressed person).

On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (رضي الله عنه), the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: ‘Allah lifts [the dua] above the clouds and opens unto it the doors of Jannah, and says: “I swear by My Honour, verily I shall assist you, even though it may be after some time.”‘ [Tirmidhi]

Time spent doing anything else during these blessed moments, is certainly time wasted.

About Sanya N. Hussain

The writer is a media professional and a life-long student, who is constantly spellbound by the beauty of Islam.

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