Iftar is one of the religious observances of Ramadan and is often done as a community, with people gathering to break their fast together. Iftar is taken right after Maghrib time, which is around sunset. Traditionally but not mandatory, three dates are eaten to break the fast in emulation of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, who broke his fast in this manner. Many Muslims believe that feeding someone iftar as a form of charity is very rewarding and that such was practised by the Prophet Muhammad.
AH Qasmi provides this information for breaking the fast to say this prayer at the time of Iftar:
|“||O Allah! it is for thee that I observe fast and it is with Thine blessing that I break it.||”|
according to a publication of South Africa:
|“||Allahuma inni laka sumtu wa 'ala rizqika aftartu - "O Allah! for thy sake I have fasted and now I break the fast with the food that comes from thee."||”|
Around the world
In Afghanistan, Iftar usually includes the traditional dates, shorwa (soup), kebabs, du piyaza (meat stewed in an onion-based sauce), manto (seasoned, minced meat wrapped in pasta), kabuli palaw (rice with lentils, raisins, carrots, and lamb), shorm beray, bolani (fried or baked flat bread with a vegetable filling), and rice, as well as other dishes. Afghans also have an extensive range of sweet dishes and desserts.
In Bangladesh, a wide variety of foods is prepared to break the fast at Maghrib time. Some of the common iftar items from Bangladeshi cuisine include Piyajoo (made of lentils paste, chopped onions, green chilies, like falafel), Beguni (made of thin slices of eggplant dipped in a thin batter of gram flour), Jilapi, Muri ( puffed rice similar to Rice krispies), yellow lentil grains, usually soaked in water and spiced with onion, garlic, chilli and other iftar items), Halim, dates, samosas, Dal Puri (a type of lentil based savoury pastry), Chola (cooked chickpeas), fish kabab, mughlai paratha (stuffed porota with minced meat and spices), pitha, traditional Bengali sweets and different types of fruits such as watermelon.
Drinks such as lemon shorbot and yoghurt sharbat(made of yoghurt, water, sugar and rooh afza) are common on iftar tables across the country. People like to have iftar at home with all family members and iftar parties are also arranged by mosques. According to the prophet Muhammed, you should first break your fast with something sweet or with a prayer. Many break their fasts in Bangladesh by eating a kajur or a date and by saying one of the surahs in the Qur'an.
In Brunei Darussalam, iftar is locally referred to as "sungkai". Traditionally this is held at a regional or village mosque for those who have or will be performing the evening prayers. At the mosque, a mosque buffet is prepared by the local residents at which all are welcomed to break their fast together. Before the iftar, the beduk (a type of drum) must be heard as a signal to begin the sungkai. In the capital Bandar Seri Begawan, the firing of several cannons at the central business district also marks the sungkai. The sungkai is generally a welcomed time of the day, so Bruneians occasionally break their fast at restaurants along with their extended family. Additionally, only during the month of Ramadan, each district will be hosting an expansive network of tamu or Ramadan stalls with the exception of Brunei and Muara district, where freshly cooked local delicacies are sold more than other time of the year.
In India almost every Muslim stops to rejoice for a few minutes following the iftar sirens and adhan. Preparations for iftar commence hours before, in homes and at roadside stalls. The fast can be broken by eating dates or drinking water, if the former is not available.
In southern states such as Tamil Nadu, and Kerala, Muslims break their fast with nonbu kanji, a rich, filling rice dish of porridge consistency, cooked for hours with meat and vegetables. This is often served with bonda, bajji, and vadai. Vegetarians of other communities are given a dish called surkumba, which is prepared from milk. It is mainly done in certain parts of Karnataka.
In northern states like Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal, Muslims break their fasts with family and friends, with most Mosques also arranging free 'iftar'. Typically the fast is opened with fresh dates, cut fresh fruits (sometimes served as chaat) and fruit juice along with fried dishes like samosas, pakodas etc. The spread of 'iftar' can be grand sometimes with dishes varying from vegetarian to non-vegetarian dishes and a variety of juices and sherbets. Iftar usually is a heavy meal and is followed by a light dinner before the night (isha) prayers and the taraweeh prayers.
In Indonesia iftar is called "buka puasa", which means "to open the fast". Markets sell various foods for iftar, including the date, which is popular, as well as unique Indonesian food and drink such as kolak, es kelapa muda, es buah, es campur, cendol or dawet, etc. Most of them are only found easily in Ramadan.
Maghrib time is traditionally marked by the Bedug, a traditional big Indonesian drum. After Asr prayers, traditional markets will begin to open. The food stalls generally sell many kinds of items that are specifically for "iftar". Traffic jams often occur leading up to Maghrib time. Sometimes people invite groups of orphans to eat with them. After Iftar and maghrib prayer which is usually done at the homes, people go to the mosque for Isha'a and Tarawih prayer, which in Indonesia, is often accompanied by a short sermon known as "ceramah" before the Tarawih prayer commence.
In Iran, a small selection of foods is prepared to break the fast at Maghrib time (just after sunset) and is summarily followed by a proper Persian meal. Most common iftar items are: Chai (tea, usually Darjeeling) with zulbia and bamiyeh, dates, halva, and other sweets, Noon (bread usually lavash or barbari) and paneer (cheese, usually feta) with greens and fresh herbs. Most family members will gather at one home for iftar.
In Malaysia, iftar is known as "berbuka puasa", which literally means "to open the fast". As usual, the Muslims break the fast with either dried or fresh dates. There are various foodstuffs from the Malaysian cuisine available in Bazaar Ramadhan (local food markets open during fasting month) such as bandung drink, sugarcane juice, soybean milk mixed with grass jelly, nasi lemak, laksa, ayam percik, nasi ayam, satay, popia basah and others. Besides, there are many exclusive restaurants and hotels providing special iftar and dinner packages for those who want to break the fast outside with the families and friends. Even most of the mosques in Malaysia also provide free bubur lambok (rice porridge) after Asar prayers.
After iftar and maghrib prayer, there will be Isya prayer followed by tarawih prayer. And after that, most Malaysian Muslims usually will have a special supper called moreh (pronounced as more-ray) with local traditional snacks and hot tea.
In the Maldives, iftar is known as roadha villun, which means "break fast". As usual, most Muslims break the fast with either dried or fresh dates. There are many exclusive restaurants and hotels providing special iftar and dinner packages for those who want to break the fast outside with the families and friends. All the mosques in the Maldives provide free dates and juice to break fast. At local homes you will find various cold fruit juices (water melon, mango, passion fruit, pineapple) sweet (boakiba, pudding) and salty shorteats called hedhika (boakiba, bajiya, gulha, masroshi, cutlets), the latter made with mainly fish, curries & roshi and salads made with local greens chilli onion and lemon.
Islam is the religion of over 52% of the citizens living within Nigeria. With its population of around 180,000,000 people, Nigeria easily hosts the largest Muslim community in West Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. Iftar (known in the Yoruba language as sọnu) holds the same importance in Nigeria's Sunni population as the rest of the Islamic world. Foods include Jollof rice, suya, ọbẹ̀ ẹgúsí, ewurẹ, àkàrà, dabinu/dabino, ọ̀pọ̀tọ́, etc.
In Pakistan, almost everybody stops to rejoice for a few minutes following the iftar sirens and adhan (call to prayer). Preparations for iftar commence about 3 hours before, in homes and at roadside stalls. The fast can be ended by eating dates, or simply by drinking water, if dates are not available. Many restaurants offer iftar deals, especially in the big cities like Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad. As a meal in Pakistan, iftar is usually heavy, consisting mainly of sweet and savoury treats such as jalebi (pretzel-shaped, deep-fried batter, soaked in sugar syrup), samosas (minced meat and/or vegetables, wrapped in dough and deep-fried or baked), pakora (sliced vegetables, dipped in batter and deep-fried) with ketchup or chatni, and namak para (seasoned cracker), besides the staple dates and water.
Other items such as chicken rolls, spring rolls, Shami Kebabs, fruit salads, papad (sheets of batter that are then sun-dried, deep-fried or roasted until they have the texture of potato chips or crisps), chana chaat (chickpea salad), and dahi balay (or "dahi baray"—fried lentil dumplings served with yoghurt) are also very common. Amongst the Punjabi, Sindhi and Mohajir households, iftar is often followed up by a regular dinner later during the night. Those in the north and west, including Pashtuns, Balochis, and Tajiks, on the other hand combine dinner and iftar. Laghman soup (noodle soup), locally called Kalli, is an iftar staple in Chitral and parts of Gilgit.
After iftar, Muslims rush to the mosques to offer Tarawih (an 8 or 20 rakat Muslim prayer during the month of Ramadan). Various television channels also stop their normal telecast and broadcast special Ramadan transmissions, especially at the time of Sehar and Iftar. The whole month of Ramadan is marked in Pakistan as a festive season when people make donations to the poor and give charity. Some organizations and companies also offer free iftar meals to the common people.
Russia and Ukraine
In Russia and Ukraine, Ramadan is observed mostly in Muslim-majority states (Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, Adygea, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia, Crimea, Tatarstan and Bashkortostan). In Moscow, it has become a tradition to open Ramadan Tent a public iftar event organised by Russia's Mufti Council. In Dagestan, Muslims gather in Makhachkala Central Juma Mosque to break their fast and pray taraweeh prayers. Dates and fruits are preferred to break the fast, followed by soup, bread, and different local delicacies such as beşbarmaq, kurze and others. It is widely believed that Russian and Ukrainian traditional drink kvass is very good to quell the thirst.
In Singapore, iftar is called "buka puasa". It is usually accompanied with dates and sweet drinks such as Bandung, Chendol and Air Sirap. Singaporean Muslims usually eat an array of dishes ranging from rice and noodles. Many buy food from bazaars that can be found in different parts of the city state such as in Bugis, Kampong Glam, Geylang Serai and even in populated towns such as Tampines, Jurong East, Jurong West, Clementi and West Coast.
Muslims in Sri Lanka make special snacks /appetisers at Muslim homes, such as samosas, cutlets, rolls, kanjee, falooda and many more dishes. They eat iftar with the family if possible. Muslims believe that giving to the poor is very rewarding. They eat a date and drink some water to break the fast or to perform iftar. Then they have the prepared meal. Some people like to prepare foods and give to the people performing iftar in the mosques.
Islam is a growing minority religion in Taiwan. During Ramadan, major mosques around Taiwan are filled with Muslims going to have their iftar followed by Tarawih prayer. Muslims in Taiwan usually break their fast with date fruits and water.
Trinidad and Tobago
In Trinidad & Tobago Muslims represent about 6% of the population. Iftar is traditionally performed in the social setting of the Masjid. Various food items showing the mixed ethnic nature of the country are usually available. Fare may include fried rice; roti; curried chicken, goat, and duck; curried channa; and alloo (potato). Depending on the persons presenting the meal, it may even include such non-traditional items as macaroni pie. The meal is usually served with persons sitting at tables with the components of the meal brought to the tables.
In Turkey, the month of Ramadan is celebrated with great joy, and iftar dinners play a big part in this. In larger cities like Istanbul all of the restaurants offer special deals and set menus for iftar. Most of the set menus start with a soup or an appetiser platter called iftariye. It consists of dates, olives, cheese, pastırma, sujuk, Ramazan pidesi (a special bread only baked during Ramadan), and various pastries called börek. The main course consists of various Turkish foods, especially the Ottoman Palace Traditional Foods. A dessert called güllaç- is served in most places. Most of the fine-dining restaurants offer live musical performances of Ottoman classical music, Turkish music and Sufi music.
Most of the Ramadan celebration practices in Turkey have their roots in the traditions of the former Ottoman Empire. Iftar is a fast-breaking dinner that takes place just after the sun sets. At the minarets of mosques, lights called kandil are switched on from sunset to dawn. As soon as the sun sets, a traditional "Ramadan Cannon" is fired from the highest hill in every city as a signal to start eating the iftar.
In Istanbul, one of the more notable places to celebrate the iftar dinner is the Sultanahmet Square. Located near the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque) the Sultanahmet Square hosts many activities, including mini restaurants opened during the month of Ramadan, special shows, and traditional Ottoman theatrical shows.
The Tarawih prayer is mostly practised in Turkish mosques as 20 rekahs, broken into 5 groups of 4 rekahs. Between each set of 4 rekahs, a hymn composed by the Turkish musician Buhurizade Itri is sung by all people attending the prayer. The hymn is a prayer to praise the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
As Ramadan is also the month of almsgiving, many people organise iftar dinners for the poor, students, guests, and foreigners. People can find Turkish food available in most mosques.
During Ramadan, Turkish NGOs like the Journalists and Writers Foundation have recently started to organise Interfaith Dialogue Dinners to promote dialogue between those of different religious and cultural backgrounds. These high-profile events have started a whole new era of organising large dinner parties by the NGOs in Turkey for people from different cultures and understandings even if they are not Muslims. In recent years Turkish NGOs, such as the Peace Islands Institute (former Interfaith Dialog Center), all over the world have organised iftar dinners for inter-cultural and interfaith dialogue, which helps promote the true understanding of the month of Ramadan.
United States and Canada
Iftar meals in the United States and Canada are often held at mosques, households, and Islamic community centres.
Since 1996, the United States Department of State has held an annual iftar dinner for local and national community leaders and faith groups as well as foreign policy officials.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper extended an invitation to Muslim leaders to break the Ramadan Fast with him at the Prime Minister’s residence in 2015. This is the first time the Prime Minister’s office has hosted an iftar.
- "The Hindu : Tamil Nadu / Tiruchi News : ‘Nonbu Kanji,’ a noble thing that paves way for communal harmony". The Hindu.
- Islam in Trinidad and Tobago
- Thomas Jefferson's Iftar, U.S. Department of State, 29 July 2011, retrieved 12 February 2013
- Remarks at the Annual State Department Iftaar Dinner Hillary Clinton: "Actually, we started in 1996 and held the first Ramadan Eid celebration at the White House."
- "Iftar in the Synagogue". Jewish Councils on Urban Affairs. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
- The Canadian Press. Huffington Post 2015. |url=http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/06/22/harper-invites-muslim-lea_n_7641480.html|accessdate= 24 June 2015
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Iftar.|
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