During the month of Ramadhan, when the adhan goes off at the onset of Maghrib, you can’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment. It marks the completion of your fast for that day.It is also a time to rejoice because it is time for iftar: time to break your fast! However, instead of simply rushing towards food, there are several acts of sunnah (the way of the Prophet (SAW)) that you can follow at iftar time to increase the reward for your act of fasting.
1. Hastening in breaking the fast
The way of the Prophet (SAW) suggests that it is recommended for the fasting person to hasten in breaking the fast when the sun has set and not delay in doing so.
Sahl ibn Sad (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) said: “The people will always be with the good as long as they hasten in breaking the fast.” (Related by al-Bukhari and Muslim)
2. Breaking your fast with dates and water
The fast should be broken with an odd number of dates or, if that is not available, with some water.
Anas (RA) reported: “The Messenger of Allah (SAW) 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.” (Mentioned in Abu Dawood)
Sulaiman ibn ‘Amr (RA) reported that the Prophet (SAW) said: “If one of you is fasting, he should break his fast with dates. If dates are not available, then with water, for water is purifying.” (Mentioned in Ahmed)
3. Supplications while breaking the fast
Making supplication to Allah (SWT), for Whose sake you fasted, should be an important part of your iftar/breaking fast process. The virtue of making du’a to your Rabb at that time is mentioned in a hadith in at-Tirmidhi, with a good chain. The Prophet (SAW) said: “Three people will not have their supplications rejected: a fasting person until he breaks his fast, a just ruler, and an oppressed person.”
Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen was asked when the du’a should be made – before breaking the fast or after breaking the fast, and he answered: “Du’a should be made before iftar (breaking the fast), at Maghrib, because this combines weakness and humility, and because he is still fasting. All of these are means of having one’s du’a answered. After breaking the fast, one is relaxed and happy, and may become negligent.”
However, there are many ahadith that show that it is also permissible to make du’a after breaking the fast. The Prophet (SAW) would say: “Dhahaba al-dhama’u, wa abtallat al-‘urooq wa thabata al-ajr insha Allah (The thirst has gone, the glands are wet and the reward is confirmed, if Allah Wills).” (Narrated by Abu Dawood and graded hasan) This du’a only makes sense to be said after breaking the fast.
4. When should one pray – before iftar or after iftar?
The hadith of Anas (RA), “The Messenger of Allah (SAW) would break his fast with ripe dates before he would pray…..” (Mentioned in Abu Dawood) shows that it is preferred to break the fast before praying. The person should then proceed to pray Maghrib salah and continue to their evening meal after praying. However, the sunnah suggests that if the evening meal is ready, one may begin with that.
Anas (RA) reported that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “If the food is already presented, eat before the sunset prayer and do not eat your meals in haste.” (Related by al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Following these sunnahs at iftar time will not only earn you more reward for your fasting, but also bring about ikhlas (sincerity) in your intention for fasting, in turn bringing you closer to your Creator and Sustainer, which is the ultimate goal of any act of ‘ibadah (worship).
May Allah (SWT) accept our siyam, qiyam and all other ‘ibadah that we do for His sake, ameen!
Kanika Aggarwal is a recent graduate of a Bachelors in Islamic Sciences program and conducts online seminars for sisters at http://habibihalaqas.org