Ramadan, Ramadan, Side Feature

Iftaar – Breaking the fast

This is an extract from the book “Al Jaami’u li Ahkaam is Siyaam” (A complete guide to the rules of fasting) by Sheikh Abu Iyaas Mahmood bin Abdul-Lateef bin Mahmood (‘Uwaydhah). Please note this is a draft translation from Arabic. If any confusion arises from the translation then please refer to the original.

When does the Saa’im (fasting person) break his fast (yuftiru)?

In relation to the breaking of fast the following Ahaadeeth have been reported:

1) On the authority of Abdullah ibn Abi Awfi (ra) who said: “We were travelling with the Messenger ﷺ in the month of Ramadhaan and when the sun disappeared he said: Ya Fulaan (i.e. you there) get down and prepare a drink for us: He replied: Ya Rasoolullah there is still part of the day left. He ﷺ said: get down and prepare the drink (a mix of water or milk and barley/wheat or something like it). So he got down (from his mount) and prepared it. He gave to him ﷺ and the Prophet ﷺ drank and then he said: If the sun disappears from here (indicating with his hand) and the night comes from here, then the Saa’im breaks his fast”.

Muslim (2559), Al-Bukhaari, Abu Daawud, An-Nasaa’i and Ahmad.

2) Umar ibn Al-Kattaab (ra) said that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “When the night approaches from here and the day goes away from here and the sun has descended in the west, then the Saa’im breaks his fast”.

Al-Bukhaari (1954), Abu Daawud, An-Nasaa’i, Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi and Ad-Daarami.

Muslim (2558) narrated it slightly differently: “When the night comes, the day goes and the sun disappears the Saa’im breaks his fast”.

3) On the authority of Sahl bin Sa’d (ra) that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “The people will remain on the right path as long as they continue to hasten the breaking of fast”.

Al-Bukhaari (1957), Muslim, An-Nasaa’i, At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Maajah, Ad-Daarami and Ash-Shaafi’.

4) Abu Hurairah (ra) said that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “The deen will remain dominant/manifest as long as the people hasten to break their fast, the Jews and Christians use to delay”.

Ahmad (9809), Abu Daawud, An-Nasaa’i, Ibn Maajah and Ibn Hibbaan with a Hasan Sanad (chain). Al-Haakim and Adh-Dhahabi verified the correctness of the chain.

5) Sahl bin Sa’d (ra) said that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “My Ummah will remain on my Sunnah as long as they do not wait to break their fast with the stars”.

Ibn Hibbaan (3510), Ahmad, Ibn Khuzaimah, Ad-Daarami and Al-Haakim with a Saheeh Sanad (chain).

6) Ibn Abbaas (ra) said: I heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ saying: “Verily we the Prophets have been ordered to make haste with our Iftaar and to delay our Suhoor and to make our Imaan a characteristic of our Salaah”.

At-Tabaraani in Al-Mu’jam al-Awsat (1905), Ibn Hibbaan< Abu Daawud and At-Tayaalissy. Al-Haithami said: Its people are of the people of Saheeh i.e. its narrators. At-Tabaraani (3053) also narrated it from Ibn Umar (ra).

7) Abu Hurairah said that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Verily one part of the seventy parts of prophet hood is the delaying of Suhoor and the early taking of Iftaar”.

Abd-ur-Razzaaq in his Musannif (7610).

8) ‘Amru ibn Maymoon al-Azadi said: “The companions of the Prophet were the quickest at breaking their fast and the slowest in stopping their Suhoor.”

Al-Bayhaqi (238/4), At-Tabaraani, Ibn Abi Shaybah and Abd-ur-Razzaq (7591).

9) Abu Hurairah (ra) said that the Prophet ﷺ said: “Allah Azza wa Jalla says: Verily the most beloved of my servants are those who make haste with the Iftaar”.

Ahmad (7240), Ibn Hibbaan, Ibn Khuzaimah and Al-Bayhaqi. At-Tirmidhi also narrated it and classified it as Hasan Ghareeb.

The first and second Hadeeth although from different narrators came with one lafzh (meaning): That the coming of night from the east and the passing of the day from the west and the descent of the sun (also in the west) marks the time of Iftaar. This means that the mere going down of the sun in the west is sufficient for making Iftaar so there is no need to delay and no justification to wait more time in order for the Saa’im to break his fast like one group has said.

It might be that the fifth hadeeth is even clearer than the first three: ‘That my Ummah will remain on my Sunnah as long as they do not make Iftaar waiting for the stars (to appear)’, and waiting for the stars means until the sky has become black and the stars are apparent and shining (in the darkness). This means delaying the Iftaar after the ghuroob (descending) of the sun by a minimum of fifteen minutes. So it was mentioned in the hadeeth that this delaying opposed the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ but agreed with the ways of the Yahood and Nasaara (Jews and Christians) like the fourth hadeeth mentioned.

Therefore it is not allowed to delay the Iftaar for any excuse or pretext. This is how the Sahaabah of the Messenger ﷺ understood it and so they were the hastiest of people in breaking their fasts as was mentioned in the eighth reference.

Also if making Iftaar early is what the Prophets (as) were ordered with, and it represents one part of the seventy parts of Prophet hood and that those who make haste are the most beloved of Allah’s سبحانه وتعالى servants, then all of this acts as a very strong prophetic guidance emphasising the early taking of Iftaar and not making delay in it.

I would like to make a point here: It has become normal in our current time to make Iftaar upon hearing the Adhaan of Salaat-ul-Maghrib and it has also become normal to delay the adhaan of Maghrib a little after the going down of the sun. This has led to those who are fasting to delay the Iftaar from its time and this delay is in opposition to the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ. It is therefore the responsibility of the fasting person to know the length of delay of the adhaan so as to correct the situation and if this means that he breaks his fast before the Adhaan then the Sunnah of the prophet ﷺ is more worthy to be followed than what the people have become accustomed to follow in today’s age.

What is recommended for the Saa’im to break his fast with?

It is Mustahabb (recommended) for the Saa’im to make Iftaar with Rutub (fresh, moist, ripe dates) and if he cannot find that then the recommendation moves towards Tamr (dry dates). If he does not have this then it is recommended to take mouthfuls of water and after that he can eat what he wishes. The texts do not come with a ta’leel (legal reasoning) for this order except for what came in the first Hadeeth that we will shortly mention that says that water is pure. As such it is not correct for people to delve into the reasons for choosing Rutub (wet dates) firstly, Tamr (dry dates) secondly and Maa (water) thirdly. We follow this in worship and obedience and it is incorrect to reason that Tamr should come first because they contain a plentiful quantity of sugar and that is what the Saa’im loses most of and a text has mentioned that the body should be compensated for what it has lost. Or the reasoning that the date is digested quickly, and it gives the nutrients that the fasting person needs and other reasons of the like that researches have suggested. None of these attempts bring anything in terms of advancement or decline in relation to this issue and if the upright Shar’a wanted to give a reason it would have done so and if it was silent on providing a reason then we must also be silent. Here are a selection of Ahaadeeth that discuss this issue:

1) Salmaan ibn ‘Aamir said: The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “If one of you is fasting then he should make Iftaar with tamr and if he can’t find any then water, because water is pure”.

Abu Daawud (2355), An-Nasaa’i, At-Tirmidhi, Ibn Maajah, Ahmad and Ad-Daarami. Ibn Hibbaan, Al-Haakim and Abu Haatim Ar-Raazi verified it as Saheeh and At-Tirmidhi said it is Hasan Saheeh.

2) Anas Bin Maalik (ra) said: “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ used to break fast with Rutub before he would pray, and if he did not have any then he would use Tamr and if there wasn’t any he would take sips (huswa) of water”.

Abu Daawud (2356), At-Tirmidhi and he said it is a Hadeeth hasan ghareeb. Ahmad also narrated it and Ad-Daaraqutni verified its soundness (saheeh). Al-Haakim narrated it and verified it and Adh-Dhahabi also verified it. Huswa with Dammah means ‘sips of drink’ and Haswah with a fathah means ‘one time’.

3) Anas (ra) said: “I never once saw the Messenger of Allah pray before breaking his fast and even if it was just a drink of water”.

Ibn Hibbaan (3504), Ibn Khuzaimah, Al-Bazzaar, Al-Haakim, Al-Bayhaqi and At-Tabaraani in his Al’Mu’jam Al-Awsat and its chain in saheeh.

These three Hadeeth indicate that it is the Sunnah of Iftaar to hasten it and that it comes before the Salaah of Maghrib so the Saa’im does not pray until after he has taken his Iftaar.

What does the Saa’im say when he breaks his fast?

When the Saa’im finishes his Ibaadah of fasting and breaks his fast, then the Du’a that he makes at that time comes from the very mouth that refrained from food and drink for the whole day in worship and obedience to Allah سبحانه وتعالى. It comes from a mouth which has worshiped its Rabb (lord) with patience enduring hunger and thirst so in this case it deserves that Allah سبحانه وتعالى accepts and responds to the Du’a that comes from it.

It is therefore on the Muslim at the end of this ‘Ibaadah, and indeed after any act of ‘Ibaadah to praise his Lord and make Du’a to him, and to be sincere in the Du’a because the Du’a at that time is accepted and responded to by the permission of Allah (bi idhnillah).

Abdullah ibn Abi Mulaikah said: ‘I heard Abdullah ibn ‘Amru bin Al-‘Aas (ra) say that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Verily at the time of Iftaar the Saa’im has a du’a that is not rejected” Ibn Abi Mulaikah said: I heard Abdullah ibn ‘Amru bin Al-‘Aas say when he broke his fast: O Allah I ask by your mercy which is more expansive than everything to forgive me’.

Ibn Maajah (1753) and its Sanad is saheeh and Al-Haakim. Abu Daawud and At-Tayaalissy also narrated it without mentioning the Du’a of Ibn ‘Amru.

The Dhikr (remembrance) and Du’a have been legislated to be made using any form but it is better to use those that have been mentioned in reports. The following are some of the Dhikr and Ad’iyah (du’as) that have been mentioned in reports:

1) Abdullah Ibn Umar (ra) said: “When the Messenger of Allah ﷺ used to break his fast he would say: The thirst has gone, the veins have been moistened and the reward has been confirmed by Allah’s سبحانه وتعالى leave”.

An-Nasaa’i in As-Sunun Al-Kubraa (3315), Abu Daawud, Al-Haakim and Al-Bayhaqi. Ad-Daaraqutni narrated it and said: Its Isnaad (chain) is hasan.

2) Abu Hurairah (ra) said: “When the Prophet ﷺ fasted and broke his fast he would say: For you O Allah I have fasted and I have made Iftaar with your provision (rizq)”.

Ibn Abi Shaibah (511/2), Abu Daawud (2358) and Al-Bayhaqi by way of Mu’aadh bin Zahra who said that he informed him that when the Prophet ﷺ used to break his fast he would say: He then mentioned the wording of the hadeeth of Abu Shaibah. It is said that Mu’aadh was of the trustworthy Taabi’een.

3) Anas Bin Maalik (ra) said: “The Prophet ﷺ used to say when he made Iftaar with the people: Those who were fasting have broken it at your house, and the Abraar (righteous) have eaten from your food and the Angels have descended upon you”

Ad-Daarami (1773), Ibn Abi Shaibah, Al-Bayhaqi and Abd-ur-Razzaaq.

In a second version from Al-Bayhaqi (240/4): “…and the angels have prayed upon you (made du’a for you)…”

It is therefore recommended for the one who breaks his fast to say:

O Allah I have fasted for you and have broken my fast with your Rizq (sustenance). The thirst has gone and the veins have been moistened and the Ajr (reward) has been confirmed with the will of Allah. After that he can also make Du’a with whatever he wishes to say. I am personally fond of the Du’a of Abdullah ibn Umar (ra): ‘O Allah I ask you that by your most bountiful mercy to forgive me’.

The fasting person can add it to his Du’a if he wishes.

The reward of the one who provides Iftaar for a Saa’im

The one who provides a fasting person with Iftaar receives the same reward as the faster so he can attain two rewards in one day without reducing anything of from the fasting persons reward. In addition every reward is multiplied by Allah سبحانه وتعالى up to seven hundred times like the Hadeeth in the first part of this book indicated. There is no doubt then that anyone who realises this great multiplied reward would dedicate the utmost attention to inviting people to have their Iftaar at his residence.

It has been narrated from Zid bin Khaalid al-Juhanni that the Prophet ﷺ said: “Whoever provides the Iftaar for a Saa’im then the same reward of the Saa’im is written for him without taking anything from him. And whoever prepares a Ghaazi (warrior) in the way of Allah or stays behind to look after his family then the reward of the Ghaazi is written for him without diminishing anything of the Ghaazi’s reward”.

Ahmed (17158), An-Nasaa’i, Ibn Maajah, Ibn Hibbaan, At-Tabaraani and at-Tirmidhi who said it was ‘Hasan saheeh’.

Ad-Daarami (1703) also narrated the first section of this hadeeth.

Ibn Khuzaimah narrated it in the following wording: “Whoever prepares a Ghaazi or Haaji, or takes care of his family, or feeds a Saa’im, then all of them attain the same reward without taking away any of the others reward” and its chain is Saheeh.

Umm ‘Amaarah (ra) said: “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ came to us and then we brought food to him and some of those with him were fasting. So the Messenger ﷺ said: If a fasting person eats food in your residence (or from you) then the Angels have prayed (made Du’a) on them”.

Ibn Maajah (1748), Ahmad, Ibn Hibbaan and Ibn Khuzaimah. At-Tirmidhi (782), An-Nasaa’i and ad-Daarami narrated it in this wording: “…The angels pray on the fasting person when people eat in his abode until they finish or maybe he said: until they are satisfied” and he said this hadeeth is Hasan saheeh.

We mentioned a little while ago the Hadeeth of Anas (ra) collected by Abi Shaibah, Abd-ur-Razzaaq and Al-Bayhaqi which stated: “The fasting people have broken their fast in your place of abode, the righteous have eaten your food and the angels have prayed on you”.

In another narration: “…and the angels descended on you…” and another similar narration.

So the prayers of the Angels over the one that provides Iftaar for another fasting person is another blessing added to the blessings and rewards already mentioned so the Saa’im pays great attention and effort to invite the Saa’im to take Iftaar with him. This is even if the Saa’im is Faqeer or Miskeen (poor) and does not have anything (substantial) to break his fast with.

Breaking your fast due to forgetfulness

The Scholars Imaam Abu Haneefah, Imaam Ash-Shaafi’ and Imaam Ahmad Bin Hanbal held the opinion that if a fasting person breaks his fast due to forgetfulness he has not broken his fast and nothing is required from him. This is the same whether he ate a lot or a little.

Al-Hasan al-Basri, Mujaahid, Ishaq bin Raahuwiyah, Abu Thawr, Daawud bin ‘Ali, ‘Ataa, AlAwza’i and Al-Laith all held this same opinion. Rabee’a and Imaam Maalik said: The fast is made faasid by eating and drinking through forgetfulness and Qadaa is required.

The correct view is the first and this is supported by the following evidences:

1) Abu Hurairah (ra) said that the Prophet of Allah ﷺ said: “Whoever eats out of forgetfulness and he is fasting then he should complete his fast because verily it is Allah who has given him food and drink”.

Al-Bukhaari (6669), Muslim, Abu Daawud, At-Tirmidhi and Ad-Daarami.

The lafzh (wording version) of Muslim (2716) is: “Whoever forgets that he is fasting and then eats or drinks something then he should complete his fast for verily it is Allah who has given him food and drink.”

2) Also from Abu Hurairah (ra) that the Prophet ﷺ said: “Whoever breaks his fast in Ramadhaan out of forgetfulness then neither Qadaa nor Kafaarah are not required of him”.

Ibn Hibbaan (3521) and its Sanad is hasan. Ibn Khuzaimah, Ad-Daaraqutni, Al-Bayhaqi and Al-Haakim reported it and verified its soundness (saheeh).

Also Ibn Khuzaimah (1990) and At-Tabaraani in Al-Mu’jam al-Awsat mentioned another (similar) hadeeth with the following wording: “Whoever eats or drinks in Ramadhaan out of forgetfulness then there is no Qadaa or Kafaarah required of him”. Its Sanad (chain) is Hasan.

3) Abu Hurairah (ra) said: “A man approached the Prophet ﷺ and said: O Messenger of Allah, I ate and drank forgetfully and I was fasting. He ﷺ responded: Verily Allah provided you with food and drink”.

Abu Daawud (2398), An-Nasaa’i, Ad-Daaraqutni and At-Tirmidhi said it is a Hasan, Saheeh Hadeeth.

4) On the authority of Umm Hakeem bint Deenaar from her mistress Umm Ishaq (ra): “That she was at the residence of the Messenger ﷺ when some porridge was brought so she ate and Dhul Yadayn was with him. The messenger took a bone with a little meat and said: O Umm Ishaq, take some of this. Then I remembered that I had been fasting, so I prevented my hand from moving forward or back. He ﷺ asked: What’s wrong? She said: I was fasting but I forgot. Then Dhul Yadayn said: Now you say this after satisfying yourself? Then the Prophet ﷺ said: Complete your fasting because this was Rizq (sustenance) that Allah provided for you”.

Ahmad (27609), At-Tabaraani in Al-Mu’jam Al-Kabeer.

These evidences provide ample clear proof that the one who breaks his fast out of forgetfulness does not have to make Qadaa or Kafaarah (expiation). This is the same in regard to the obligatory fast of Ramadhaan or any non-obligatory (tatawwu’) fasts. It also does not matter if a little was eaten or drunk or it reached the level of satisfaction. I have not been able to find an evidence for Maalik’s view which is contrary to these evidences. I did not find anything in his most famous recorded works except the verdict that eating and drinking makes the fast faasid. May Allah Ta’aalaa forgive him (in this issue).