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For Sunnis, it is at the time of the call to prayer for the evening prayer; for Shias, it is after the evening prayer. ARY held a discussion on the context and reason for this difference in Iftar timings between Sunni and Shia Islamic school of thoughts.
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 the Majlis 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 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 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 is 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 marked by the Bedug, a traditional 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, people go to the mosque for Isha'a and Tarawih prayer, which, in Indonesia, is often accompanied by a sermon.
In Iran, a small selection of foods is prepared to break the fast at Maghrib time (just after the sunset) and is summarily followed by a proper Persian meal. Most common iftar items are: Chai (tea, usually Darjeeling), Noon (bread usually lavash or barbari), Paneer (cheese), fresh herbs, sweets, dates and halva. 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 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.
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 drinking water, if the former is not available. Many restaurants offer iftar deals specially 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, and 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), 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, but not necessarily, 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, the mosques are rushed with Muslims 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 or companies also offer free iftar means to the common people.
In Russia, Ramadan is observed mostly in Muslim-majority states such as Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, Tatarstan, Bashkortostan and other areas. 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, khinkal, chudu, kurze, mokhmokh and others. It is widely believed that Russian traditional drink kvass is very good to quell the thirst.
Muslims at Sri Lanka make special snacks/appetizers at Muslim homes, such as samosas, cutlets, rolls, and many more. They perform iftar with the family if possible. Muslims believe that giving to the poor is a 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. Despite that, during Ramadan, major mosques around Taiwan is fully filled with Muslims going to have their iftar followed by Tarawih prayer. Taiwanese Muslims are mostly originated from Mainland China coming since the 17th century, therefore the Islamic culture in Taiwan is roughly similar with the one in the mainland. With the more recent new Muslims around Taiwan from other Asian countries, mostly South East Asia and South Asia, it adds to the diversity of the Islamic culture in the island. Muslims in Taiwan usually break their fast with date fruits and water.
Trinidad and Tobago
In Trinidad & Tobago Muslims represent some 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 range from fried rice to roti, curried chicken, goat and duck, along with curried channa and alloo (potato). Depending on the persons presenting the meal may even differ to 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 the big 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, Turkish Pide bread (which is a special bread only baked during the Ramadan) and various pastries called "börek". The main course consists of various Turkish foods, especially the Ottoman Palace Traditional Foods. A dessert called "güllaç", which is made of rose water is served in most of the 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 and fasting people should break their fast 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, like the mini restaurants opened during the month of Ramadan, special shows and traditional Ottoman theatrical shows.
The Tarawih prayer is mostly practised as 20 rekahs in Turkish mosques and between every 4 rekahs a hymn composed by the Turkish musician Buhurizade Itri is sung with all the people attending to the prayer. The hymn is basically 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 Journalists and Authors Foundation started to organise Interfaith Dialogue Dinners to promote the "dialogue" between the "different". These high profile events have started a whole new era of organising big dinner parties by the NGOs in Turkey for the people from different cultures and understandings even if they are not Muslims. In the recent years you can find Turkish NGOs, such as the Interfaith Dialog Center, all over the world organising 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. In Toronto, Canada, an iftar is held for Muslims and non-Muslims of all genders and sexual orientations.
- "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.
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