Assalamu‘alaikum SS Dato’ Mufti. I want to ask regarding the situation that often happens in Ramadhan where mosques prepare some light meals such as dates and water for breaking fast, then they perform maghrib prayer first before properly eating. The question is, is this the prioritized way of breaking fast?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
In a hadith narrated by Sahl bin Sa’ad said, the Prophet PBUH said:
لاَ يَزَالُ النَّاسُ بِخَيْرٍ مَا عَجَّلُوا الْفِطْرَ
“The people will remain on the right path as long as they hasten the breaking of the fast.”
Sahih al-Bukhari (1957)
The above hadith shows that among the sunnah in fasting is hastening in breaking the fast when the sun sets. From a narration of Anas bin Malik RA, he said: “The Prophet PBUH breaks his fast with several ruthab (half-ripened dates) and then perform his prayer.”
Whereas regarding the issue of performing prayer when the food is already prepared and served, there are several narrations answering this matter. Among the hadiths is a narration from Ibn ‘Atiq RA, where he said the Prophet PBUH said:
لاَ صَلاَةَ بِحَضْرَةِ الطَّعَامِ وَلاَ وَهُوَ يُدَافِعُهُ الأَخْبَثَانِ
“Prayer should not be offered in the presence of meals, nor at the moment when one is struggling with two evils (e.g. when one is feeling the call of nature).”
Sahih Muslim (560)
According to the above hadith, the word لاَ is La al-Naafiyah, which in this context is the vitiation of the perfection of prayer. Thus, it is makruh (undesirable) to perform prayer when the food is served as well as when someone is feeling the call of nature (urinate or defecation).
Imam al-Nawawi Rahimahullah said: “These hadiths are the evidence that it is makruh to perform prayer when food is already prepared and served when one is hungry. The reason is, it will hinder one from perfecting his prayer from thoughts (of the food) in his heart.”
The same is stated in a hadith from Ibn Umar RA, where the Prophet PBUH said:
إِذَا كَانَ أَحَدُكُمْ عَلَى الطَّعَامِ فَلاَ يَعْجَلْ حَتَّى يَقْضِيَ حَاجَتَهُ مِنْهُ، وَإِنْ أُقِيمَتِ الصَّلاَةُ
“If anyone of you is having his meals, he should not hurry up till he is; satisfied even if the prayer has been started.”
Sahih al-Bukhari (674)
Furthermore, there is a hadith narrated by Anas bin Malik RA saying the Prophet PBUH said:
إِذَا قُدِّمَ الْعَشَاءُ فَابْدَءُوا بِهِ قَبْلَ أَنْ تُصَلُّوا صَلاَةَ الْمَغْرِبِ، وَلاَ تَعْجَلُوا عَنْ عَشَائِكُم
“If the supper is served start having it before praying the Maghrib prayer and do not be hasty in finishing it.”
Sahih al-Bukhari (672)
Imam al-Bukhari cited the words of Abu al-Darda’, where he said: “Among the feqh (understanding of religion) of someone is prioritizing his necessity (his need for food), then he fulfills his prayer while his heart is empty (at ease from interferences)”
Imam Abu Daud said:
وكان ابن عمر يوضع له الطعام ، وتقام الصلاة فلا يأتيها حتى يفرغ ، وإنه يسمع قراءة الإمام
“If food was served for Ibn `Umar and Iqama was pronounced, he never came to the prayer till he finished it (i.e. food) in spite of the fact that he heard the recitation (of the Qur'an) by the Imam (in the prayer).”
Sahih al-Bukhari (673)
Meanwhile, in other narration of Nafi’, it is stated that:
كَانَ عَبْدُ اللَّهِ إِذَا وُضِعَ عَشَاؤُهُ أَوْ حَضَرَ عَشَاؤُهُ لَمْ يَقُمْ حَتَّى يَفْرُغَ
“When the evening meal was put before ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Umar, or it was brought to him, he did not get up until he finished it”
Sunan Abi Dawud (3757)
There is also a narration where it is stated that when Abu Hurairah and Ibn Abbas R.Anhuma were eating and they heard the muezzin call out the iqamah for prayer, Ibn Abbas said to Abu Hurairah:
لا تعجل لئلا نقوم وفي أنفسنا منه شيء
“Don’t hasten yourself (due to iqamah) so that we will not stand in prayer while thinking about the food.” Refer Fath al-Bari, Ibn Hajar (2/188)
As a conclusion, after analyzing the above evidences and discussion, we would like to state that if food for breaking fast is already served, then one should eat and finish breaking the fast properly before he performs his prayer. The reason is, this is so that he can be at ease without having the thoughts of the food while he is praying his Maghrib prayer.
On another hand, taking into consideration of the situation of today where they will break their fast with light refreshments first, we would like to state that it does not contradict with syarak and instead, is prioritized, for it is sunnah to hasten in breaking one’s fast and performing prayer in congregation early.
This is in line with the words of al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar:
لأنه يكون قد أخذ من الطعام ما دفع شغل البال به
“The reason is, he eats some of the food in the amount of which it will no longer be on his mind.”
We would also like to add that when someone breaks his fast, he should eat in moderation. If someone eats excessively and his stomach becomes full, it will weaken his body from performing worship, especially in performing the Maghrib, Isha’ and tarawih prayer. Eat in moderation, so that it will help us to have the energy for worship, not excessively that it will make us lazy in worship.
Lastly, we pray that this explanation gives us an understanding of our religion. Ameen.