The reward of offering iftar
Zayd ibn-i Khalid al-Juhani narrates:
- The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
Whoever offers meal to his/her Muslim brother/sister at the time of iftar (the meal eaten by Muslims breaking their fast after sunset during the month of Ramadan), s/he receives as much reward as s/he has earned. Nothing becomes less of the reward of those s/he offered meal to. (Tirmidhî, Sawm: 82; Ibn-i Majah, Siyam: 40)
With the start of Ramadan, feasts and invitations of iftar increase. We invite our friends and relatives for iftar; we also attend their invitations and eat iftar together. This beautiful tradition enables people to get closer and revitalizes the feelings of helping one another and of generosity, as well.
However, when invitation is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is the elaborateness and excellence of the meal. We sometimes get beguiled by this wrong idea and exceed our budget when we invite friends and incur debts above our finance.
That is possible for those with good financial state; however, for those with straitened circumstances, it is not appropriate. It is because such a preparation will not continue, and it will prevent visits to friends and relatives, which is fard (obligatory).
While the hadith encourages offering meal to the fasting person, as we learn from another hadith, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) states that it is possible to offer iftar even with a sip of water, a sup of milk or with a single date.
Thus, one can offer iftar without extravagance and excessive cost. One can make preparation and offer in accordance with one’s circumstances. In the hadith, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) informs us of its lowest limit and points out that the same reward may be obtained also by offering a small amount.
For this reason, if we do not neglect visiting friends and relatives and offering iftar in Ramadan on the pretext “I do not have enough money to prepare iftar meal.” and thus acquire its spiritual reward, we will not only gain many things, but also carry out a beautiful sunnah (an act which the Prophet performed; not required but carries much reward).
It is also a sunnah to attend the invitation of iftar of our brother/sister and to pray for him/her after eating and drinking.
As Abdullah ibn-i Zubayr, may Allah be pleased with him, narrates, the Prophet (PBUH) ate iftar at the house of Sa’d ibn-i Muadh, may Allah be pleased with him, and prayed for them as follows:
Aftara indekumu’s-saimuna wa akala taamakumu’l-abraru ve sallat alaykumu’l-malaika. (Let the fasting ones eat iftar with you. Let the good eat of your meal. And let the angels pray for you for forgiveness.) (Musnad, 3:138)
The Prayer of the Angels for those who offer iftar in Ramadan
In one of the narrations of Abu’sh-Shayh, Ibn-i Hıbban, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
Whoever offers iftar to a fasting person out of one’s halal (lawful) income in the month of Ramadan, on all the nights of Ramadan, the angels pray for him/her and at Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Power) the Archangel Gabriel, peace be upon him, performs ‘musafaha’ (shaking hands) with him/her. With whomever Gabriel performs musafaha, his/her heart becomes tender and tears in his/her eyes increase.
The narrator says:
- When I said “O Messenger of Allah! If one does not have anything to offer iftar to the fasting person, what should he do? Tell me.”
He said: “A handful of food is also enough.”
- When I said “What if one does not find even a morsel of bread?”, he said:
“Then one should offer milk mixed with a little water.”
- When I said “What if one does not have it, either?”, he said:
“A sip of water.” (at-Targhb wa’t-Tarhib, 2:431)
About the topic that the angels pray for the fasting people in Ramadan, Caliph Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, narrates this hadith:
When the month of Ramadan starts, Allah commands the angels who carry the Arsh (the highest heaven):
Now, abandon your tasbih (proclamation of Allah’s greatness and exaltedness), pray for forgiveness for the Community of Muhammad! (Ramuzu’l-Ahadth, Hadith number: 584)