A very important act related to Saum (Fasting) is Iftaar or to break the fast at its appropriate time and in a manner that conforms to the sunnah. Devouring everything before one’s eyes like a vacuum cleaner is not or even near the sunnah way. Rasulullah Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa sallam emphasised the importance and the virtues of correct observance of Iftaar. Correct observance of Iftaar means to observe it in the Sunnah way. Although Iftaar is ostensibly a mundane act of eating some food, it is an ibaadat of much thawaab (reward) as well. However, Iftaar will be bereft of its spirituality and ibaadat dimension if it is not observed in the Masnoon manner. Instead of rewards gained ours will be rewards lost.

It should be well understood that Iftaar is not feasting as is common nowadays. It is not an act to discharge gluttonously or with impatience. It is a spiritually pleasurable act or should be so. Rasulullah Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa sallam is reported to have said that the Saa-im (the fasting person) experiences two moments of happiness or pleasure. The one moment is when he makes Iftaar and the other moment will be the occasion when he meets his Rabb (in the Aakhirah). The happiness experienced at the time of Iftaar has nothing to do with filling up the belly after the days fast. This happiness is on account of the Saaim’s closest connection that he establishes with his creator as he breaks his fast.

This pleasurable exercise should not be contaminated and ruined with greed and impatience when it is time to end the fast. The Masnoon method of breaking the fast is to eat some dates or to drink some water. It should not be transformed in a veritable feast with heavy foods as has become the norm in most places. Instead of the light Iftaar which was the practice of Rasulullah Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam and his Sahaabah, people have developed the greedy and impatient habit of stuffing their bellies with food of a variety of kinds while the Azaan is in progress. They are consequently deprived of the thawaab of responding to the Azaan. They suffer the loss of the Sunnat acts of responding to the Azaan and of the Masnoon light Iftaar which is not only spiritually beneficial but which is physically beneficial as well. The sudden avalanche of food which descends into the stomach which has become contracted as a result of the day-long abstention from food and water, leads to disorders in the body. The repercussion of such disorders can be severe and very harmful for even the physical health.

The excessive feasting at the time of Iftaar leads to spiritual lethargy, indigestion and delay in beginning of the Maghrib Salaah. Sometimes Maghrib Salaah is even missed totally. To gain the best rewards of Iftaar, spiritual and physical, it is necessary to break the fast with only some dates or water. The Maghrib Salaah should then commence almost immediately after the Azaan, perhaps three or four minutes after the Azaan, not 10, 15 and even 20 minutes after the Azaan as has been observed in some places where people feast like gluttons. In this way, they detract from the benefits of the Saum. The best results of ibaadat can be acquired only if the proper sunnah method is adopted. Until then, we will be throwing away moments whose value goes beyond description in lieu of food.

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