What Is Iftar During Ramadan?

Iftar meal during the month of Ramadan

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The Iftar is the meal served at the end of the day during Ramadan, to break the day's fast. Literally, it means "breakfast." Iftar is served at sunset during each day of Ramadan, as Muslims break the daily fast. The other meal during Ramadan, which is taken in the morning (pre-dawn), is called suhoor.

Pronunciation: If-tar

Also Known As: fitoor

Significance

Fasting is one of the main components of observing the holy month of Ramadan, which is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar and is dedicated to fasting, abstinence, prayer, and service. In fact, the fast is one of the five pillars of Islam. During the month, all Muslims (aside from exempt groups such as the very young, the elderly, and the sick) are required to fast from sunrise to sunset. It's a strict fast that requires those observing to not eat anything or even drink a sip of water through the day, with the intention that abstaining from food, drink, and other actions can provide the opportunity to reflect spiritually and deepen one's connection to God.

Iftar, then, marks the end of each day's fast and often celebrates and brings together the community. Ramadan also emphasizes a renewed committment to generosity and charity, and iftar is connected to that as well. Providing food for others to break their fast is considered an important part of observance; many Muslims across the world help provide iftar meals to the poor and in-need through communities and mosques.

The Meal

Muslims traditionally first break the fast with dates and either water or a yogurt drink. After the formal breaking of the fast, they pause for the Maghrib prayer (one of the five daily prayers required of all Muslims). They then have a full-course meal, consisting of soup, salad, appetizers and main dishes. In some cultures, the full-course meal is delayed into later in the evening or even early morning. Traditional foods vary by country, although all the food is halal, as it is for Muslims year-round.

Iftar is very much a social event, involving family and community members. It is common for people to host others for dinner, or gather as a community for a potluck. It is also common for people to invite and share food with those less fortunate. The spiritual reward for charitable giving is considered to be especially significant during Ramadan.

Health Considerations

For health reasons, Muslims are advised not to over-eat during iftar or at any other time and are adviced to follow other health tips during Ramadan. Prior to Ramadan, a Muslim should always consult with a doctor about the safety of fasting in individual health circumstances. One must always take care to get the nutrients, hydration, and rest that you need.

It is strongly encouraged that Muslims observing Ramadan eat a filling, healthy meal at the start of the day - for suhoor - in order to provide the necessary energy and nutrition to get through the day's fast until iftar. While some may skip suhoor (as many people of all backgrounds occasionally skip morning breakfast), this is discouraged, as it makes it more difficult to complete the day's fast, which is more important.