In Exploring Ramadan Part – I and Part –II, we had seen the concept of moon in the Islamic Calendar, virtues of Ramadan and importance of Tarawih, the special night prayer that is offered in congregation during Ramadan nights. In Exploring Ramadan Part –III, Maulana Izhar Bashir Madani, the young graduate from Islamic University of Madiah and the exuberant Head of the Student’s Section at Jamia Mohammadia Mansoora in Malegaon describes the virtues of Suhur (pre-dawn meal), Saum (fast) and dos and don’ts while fasting. The Excerpts:
Saum i.e. the fast begins with Suhur – the pre-dawn meal and ends with Iftaar – the food taken at the dusk. Taking Suhur is Sunnah and though it is not mandatory, Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings be upon him) had advised the Ummah to take the pre-dawn meal i.e. Suhur to begin the fast. Describing the virtues of Suhur the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
Take Suhur as there is a blessing in it. (Sahih Al Bukhari, Narrated by Anas bin Malik)
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) also termed it as the difference between the fast of the Muslims and of those from other faiths. As he said:
The difference between our fasting and that of the people of the Book is eating shortly before dawn. (Sahih Muslim, Narrated by Amr ibn al-'As)
At another place the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) said:I used to take the "Suhur" meal with my family and hasten so as to catch the Fajr (Morning Prayer) with Allah's Apostle. (Sahih Al Bukhari Narrated Sahl bin Sad)
There is no special Dua for Suhur. One can very well begin Suhur by reciting Bismillah and end it with any Dua that is normally recited after taking lunch, dinner or any other food. Likewise, you don’t need to verbally intend to begin your fast. Niyyat or intention has to be in heart and except Hajj and Umrah there is no other prayer for which verbal intention is required.
The best time for Suhur is just before Azan-e-Fajr. Those who take this pre-dawn meal very early or those who take it very late, both are wrong. In following tradition Zaid bin Thabit described the suitable time for Suhur:
We took the 'Suhur' (the meal taken before dawn while fasting is observed) with the Prophet and then stood up for the (morning) prayer. I asked him how long the interval between the two (Suhur and prayer) was. He replied, 'The interval between the two was just sufficient to recite fifty to Sixth 'Ayat.' (Sahih Al Bukhari, Narrated by Anas)
Once finished with Suhur now we are fasting and while fasting we are under the continuous divine blessings. The Almighty Allah has promised unique reward for the fasting people. He Himself says:
Fasting is Mine and it is I who give reward for it. [A man] gives up his sexual passion, his food and his drink for my sake. Fasting is like a shield, and he who fasts has two joys: a joy when he breaks his fast and a joy when he meets his Lord. The change in the breath of the mouth of him who fasts is better in Allah's estimation than the smell of musk. (Hadith Qudsi)
And the Prophet said:
Fasting is a shield (or a screen or a shelter). So, the person observing fasting should avoid sexual relation with his wife and should not behave foolishly and impudently, and if somebody fights with him or abuses him, he should tell him twice, 'I am fasting."
The Prophet added, "By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, the smell coming out from the mouth of a fasting person is better in the sight of Allah than the smell of musk. (Allah says about the fasting person), 'He has left his food, drink and desires for My sake. The fast is for Me. So I will reward (the fasting person) for it and the reward of good deeds is multiplied ten times. (Sahih Al Bukhari, Narrated by Abu Huraira)
Dos and Don’ts while fasting
While fasting what one should do and what one shouldn’t? A fasting person should do every good work and should refrain from every evil. If a fasting person doesn’t refrain from evil and foul talk, his fast would be unacceptable. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
Whoever does not give up false statements (i.e. telling lies), and evil deeds, and speaking bad words to others, Allah is not in need of his (fasting) leaving his food and drink. (Sahih Al Bukhari, Narrated by Abu Huraira)
While fasting if anyone eats or takes any food by mistake then there is no harm on him. As soon as he realizes his mistake he should stop and continue with his fast. The Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) said:
If somebody eats or drinks forgetfully then he should complete his fast, for what he has eaten or drunk, has been given to him by Allah. (Sahih Al Bukhari, Narrated by Abu Huraira)
At another occasion the Prophet said:
Neither vomiting, nor emission, nor cupping breaks the fast of the one who is fasting. (Abu Dawood, Narrated by a man from the Companions)
Saum i.e. the fast ends with Iftaar at the time of sunset. As the sun sets, one should immediately complete the fast without waiting further. The Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) was used to end his fats with dates. It is better if one follows the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) and ends the fast using dates. But it is not mandatory. One can take water, milk or whatever food easily available to end the fast. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
When one of you is fasting, he should break his fast with dates; but if he cannot get any, then (he should break his fast) with water, for water is purifying. (Abu Dawood Narrated by Salman ibn Amir)
Like Suhur, there is no special Dua for Iftaar also and one should end the fast reciting Bismillah. The time for Suhur and Iftaar both are very important. These are the times when Allah the Almighty listens to one’s prayers. Let us pray to Allah that He bestow on us the power to utilize these precious days to seek forgiveness from Him.