The Blessings of Iftar
Iftar – an Arabic word which literally means ‘to break’ – is the time at sunset (maghrib) when we open (or break/end) that day’s fast. It’s a time when we can look forward to again consuming food and quenching the thirst that has built up during the day; hunger and thirst that has been held at bay but can now be legitimately sated.
It is a time not only for again meeting our material needs but a period for spiritual awareness and recognition of why we have sacrificed what normally are the essentials of life.
While some nowadays tend to over-indulge with a variety of rich foods and dishes at iftar, the Sunnah is to end the fast with dates or/and water.
Anas Bin Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah Be Upon Him) used to break his fast with fresh dates before he prayed. If he did not find fresh dates, then he would use dried dates. If he did not find that also, he drank a few sips of water.” (Hadith Ahmad)
Iftar should be regarded as an opportunity to earn immense blessings. It is why some people take part in collective iftars in a mosque where they bring food to be shared with fellow worshippers, an act of such kindness and generosity that it is said Allah opens the doors of forgiveness for those who help others in breaking their fast at iftar.
The Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah Be Upon Him) said: “Whoever feeds a person breaking his fast will earn the same reward as him, without anything being lessened from the reward of the fasting person”. (Hadith Tirmidhi)
When his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) said: “Not all of us find that with which to feed a fasting person,” the Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings of Allah Be Upon Him) replied: “God gives this reward to whoever breaks the fast of another even with a sip of milk, a date, or a drink of water."
It is said that a person who gives water to drink to someone who has observed their fast will be rewarded with a drink from Allah’s fountain and never again feel thirsty. So even the simplest act of generosity - giving a drink of water to another - carries great rewards in this and the next life.
The Dua for Iftar
The time for iftar is at Maghrib when the fast should be ended with the first chords of the adhan being sounded. In our weakened and vulnerable state from lack of food or water, it is tempting to rush into feeding ourselves, but it is one of the most valuable times to remember Allah and make dua before doing so.
As the dua for starting the fast at suhoor is our declaration of intent, so the dua at iftar is the expression of our gratitude to Allah. The dua for iftar:
Allahumma inni laka sumtu wa bika aamantu wa alayka tawakkaltu wa ala rizq-ika-aftartu
(O Allah! I fasted for You and I believe in You and I put my trust in You and I break my fast with Your sustenance)
Some Hadith also state that the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah Be Upon Him) used to read the following dua at iftar:
Dhahaba al-zama’ wa abtalat al-‘urooq wa thabat al-ajr Insha’Allah
(Thirst has gone, the veins are moist, and the reward is assured, if Allah wills).
The importance of dua at iftar was expressed by the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah Be Upon Him) who said: “Whatever is prayed for at the time of breaking the fast is granted and never refused”. (Hadith)
Iftar is regarded as a time when duas are answered because a person has completed the act of worship through fasting and is in a vulnerable and weakened state, a position of humility that brings them closer to Allah.
Iftar is also a time of recognition and empathy, strengthening our bond not only with Allah but with our brothers and sisters across the world who are not so fortunate and have to struggle against famine, starvation and malnutrition.
The experience of iftar can be the incentive to giving charity – another great act of worship – so that others may also enjoy the essentials of life that we take, too often, for granted.