The call to the evening prayer reverberates through the air, on radio channels and on television sets, in mosques dotted all across the world, as listening ears wait patiently in earnest, during the blessed month of Ramadan. Supplications are whispered hastily before hands dive towards food and water is gulped down swiftly; thirst and hunger finally quenched after a day-long fast. Parched mouths are relieved instantly and bodies energized and invigorated, for the much-anticipated time of Futoor has finally come.
Futoor, also known as Iftar, is an Arabic term that literally means breakfast and yet refers to the evening meal. The word breakfast interestingly can be divided into two words, ‘break’ and ‘fast’, symbolizing the essential purpose of this meal. It is a meal that Muslims eat when breaking their fasts and is eaten immediately after sunset.
Futoor is one of the most celebrated and enjoyable times during the month of Ramadan, as Muslim families gather at the table each and every evening, Muslim communities come together in mosques and restaurants all across the country and invitations are sent out to friends and loved ones. It is a meal that is founded upon the acts of sharing, generosity and compassion, as Muslims are reminded of those less fortunate than them and hasten towards assisting them. Elaborate meals are prepared, food is shared and a glowing warmth fills the atmosphere as Muslims share in the act of breaking their fasts and remembering the countless bounties of their Lord upon them.
Yet even as the fasting person desires nothing more than to break their fast at this precious time and appease their growling stomachs, many will be seen hastening forward to offer dates and water to others, some even placing themselves on sidewalks and at traffic lights to assist those traveling who have not yet reached their destination! This is undoubtedly a beautiful deed and one that will be most greatly rewarded, hence the competition and racing between Muslims to attain this. In fact, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) called to this and said that whoever gives food to a fasting person with which to break his fast, then they will have a reward equal to his, without it diminishing in the slightest from the reward of the fasting person. How amazing! So one can earn the rewards of the fasting of others as well simply by feeding them.
We also see another beautiful act manifest in the gatherings of Muslims at this special time. At a time when hunger is at its peak and minds are driven by their stomachs, and in those last few precious moments before the call to prayer is heard, hands are raised and tongues are moist with the remembrance of God Almighty as final supplications are made, with the knowledge that this special time carries many blessings with it, and from amongst these, the acceptance of supplications.
And following this, once the adhaan – call to prayer – has been called out, a special supplication is made for breaking the fast and is recited as follows:
ذَهَبَ الظَّمَأُ ، وَابْتَلَّتِ الْعُرُوقُ ، وَثَبَتَ الأَجْرُ إِنْ شَاءَ اللهُ
(Transliteration): “Dhahaba adh-dhama’u wabtallat al-‘urooq wa thabatal ajru InShaaAllaah.”
Which translates as, “The thirst has gone and the veins are quenched and the reward is confirmed, if God Almighty Wills.”
It is also recommended to hasten to break the fast as early as possible and to not delay it, even if just simply with a few morsels of food, as was the custom of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Similarly, the fast is most often broken with the eating of dates (preferably an odd number) and if that is not available then the drinking of a few sips of water, in an effort to continue the prophetic practice and increase in rewards. Eating so little and yet so much; this is the food of spiritual fulfilment.
So, dear brothers and sisters, we hope that you experience the unique sweetness of the Futoor time and enjoy the many blessings and joys that come with it. As the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) most eloquently said:
“The one who fasts has two moments of happiness: when he breaks his fast and when he meets his Lord.”
We ask God Almighty to bless our partaking in this blessed prophetic practice that only comes once a year and to allow us to make the most of it.
1. Make du’aa! Aim to take out 15-20 minutes from your the time before the Maghrib adhan – call to prayer – to make sincere, heartfelt du’aa. Indeed there are countless blessings in making du’aa during this time. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Whatever is prayed for at the time of breaking the fast is granted and never refused.” [Tirmidhi]
2. Eat a balanced meal. Not too much and not too less. Try to avoid oily and fatty foods and make sure to not over eat as this leads to laziness and sleepiness, making it difficult to increase in worship. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “The son of Adam does not fill any vessel worse than his stomach. It is enough for the son of Adam to eat a few mouthfuls to keep him going, but if he must (fill his stomach), then one third for his food, one third for his drink and one third for air.” [Tirmidhi]
3. Prepare the food for futoor and gain countless rewards. “Whoever gives iftaar to one who is fasting will have a reward like his, without that detracting from the reward of the fasting person in the slightest.” [Tirmidhi]