Assalamu‘alaikum. What is the meaning of there is a blessing in sahur from the hadith (تَسَحَّرُوا فَإِنَّ فِي السُّحُورِ بَرَكَةً)?
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many 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.
Sahur is an act of eating and drinking in the early morning before sunrise with the intention of fasting for that day.
The mentioned hadith is narrated by Anas bin Malik RA, where he said the Prophet PBUH said:
تَسَحَّرُوا فَإِنَّ فِي السُّحُورِ بَرَكَةً
“Take Suhur as there is a blessing in it.”
Sahih al-Bukhari (1923) and Sahih Muslim (1095)
The Difference Between Sahur (السَّحور) and Suhur (السُّحور)
In the above-stated hadith, there are two opinions as for the word sahur; whether it is read as sahur (السَّحور) with fathah and suhur (السُّحور) with dhammah (fathah and dhammah are diacritical marks in Arabic).
Imam Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani in Fath al-Bari said: “The word sahur with the fathah (السَّحور) and dhammah (السُّحور), which means blessing as rewards and remuneration, then the accurate diacritical mark is dhammah for it is a masdar (derivative word), with the meaning that the act of taking sahur or a blessing.” (See Fath al-Bari, 4/140)
In Lisan al-‘Arab written by Ibn Mandzur: Sahur (السَّحور) means food and drinks for sahur. (See Lisan al-'Arab, by Ibn Mandzur, 4/351).
Imam al-Azhari said: “Sahur (السَّحور) is whatever is eaten or drank for sahur from any type of food or milk from all types of food eaten during that time. As an example, a man takes his sahur, which means he had eaten before sun rise.” (See Tahdzib al-Lughah, by Muhammad bin Ahmad bin al-Azhari al-Harawi, 4/171-172).
While Imam Ibn al-Athir said: “Sahur (السَّحور) with fathah means anything that is eaten or drank for sahur, meanwhile suhur (السُّحور) with dhammah is a derivative and fi’il (the act) itself, and in most narrations it is said that it is with fathah, whereas dhammah is the accurate diacritical mark for the word, for when the letter sin with fathah means food. As for the meaning of blessing and reward is the act of eating itself, not food.” (See al-Nihayah fi Gharib al-Hadith wa al-Athar, by Ibn al-Athir, 2/347).
According to the above discussions, it can be concluded that the word sahur means the food and drink taken during the time of sahur, while the word suhur is the act of sahur itself. Then, the accurate word is suhur, for it is the accurate word according to the meaning of the hadith where the word means a blessing for the act of sahur itself.
The Time for Sahur
Sahur starts at the end of the night before the sun rises. It is a sunnah to delay our sahur until it is near to Subuh time, as stated in the hadith from Zaid bin Thabit RA, he said:
تَسَحَّرْنَا مَعَ رَسُولِ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، ثُمَّ قُمْنَا إِلَى الصَّلَاةِ، قُلْتُ: كَمْ كَانَ قَدْرُ مَا بَيْنَهُمَا؟ قَالَ: خَمْسِينَ آيَةً
“We took meal shortly before dawn along with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ). We then stood up for prayer. I said: How much span of time was there between the two (acts, i. e. taking of Sahri and observing of prayer)? He said (a span of reciting) fifty verses.”
Sahih Muslim (1097), Sunan al-Nasaie (2155) and Sunan Ibn Majah (1694)
50 verses stated in the above hadith means the duration of time for the recitation of the Quran, which is similar to the time of imsak, which is the time of caution towards the Subuh time.
Imam al-Nawawi commented on the above hadith saying: “It means, the duration is as long as the time for the recitation of 50 verses of the Quran and the encouragement to delay the sahur near to the time of sun rise.” (See Syarh al-Nawawi 'ala Sahih Muslim, 7/208-209).
Imam Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani stated: “The time of sahur is before sun rise.” (See Fath al-Bari, 2/487)
The Encouragement of Sahur
The stated hadith is an encouragement of taking sahur, and it is an encouraged sunnah according to the evidences that encouraged it, besides, it also differentiates the fasting of the people of the book and the fasting of a Muslim, as stated in the hadith from ‘Amr bin al-‘As RA, where the Prophet PBUH said:
فَصْلُ مَا بَيْنَ صِيَامِنَا وَصِيَامِ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ، أَكْلَةُ السَّحَرِ
“The difference between our fasting and that of the people of the Book is eating shortly before dawn.”
Sahih Muslim (1096)
Imam al-Nawawi commented on the above hadith: “It means, the greatest difference of our fasting and their fasting (the people of the book) is sahur, indeed they do not take sahur and it is sunnah for us to take our sahur.” (See Syarh al-Nawawi 'ala Sahih Muslim, 7/207).
A Muslim should not neglect taking his sahur even if his sahur is just a glass of water, a date or others, but the best of sahur is of dates and water as narrated by Abu Hurairah RA, the Prophet PBUH said:
نِعْمَ سَحُورُ المُؤمِنِ التَّمْرُ
“How good is the believers’ meal of dates shortly before dawn.”
Sunan Abu Dawud (2345)
Syeikh Abd al-Muhsin al-‘Abbad commented the above hadith saying: “The hadith commended a believer who eat date for his sahur, for there is a special nutrient in the date itself. There is a sound hadith explaining: A house of which there are no dates in it, then its inhabitants will go hungry, for dates is a staple food for them. Thus, sahur with dates is a commandment, for it is known the word ni’ma (نِعْمَ) is a word of praise.” (See Syarh Sunan Abi Dawud, by Syeikh Abd al-Muhsin al-'Abbad, 8/255).
The Blessing in Sahur
Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani when commenting the hadith states: “The blessing in sahur is from several aspects; it is us following a sunnah, contradicts the actions of the people of the book, replenishing our energy for us to perform the worship of fasting, abstain ourselves from misdeeds due to our hunger, a reason for us to give charity to the poor and needy, a reason for us to offer supplication and dhikr, a time where supplications are accepted and a time to set the intention for those who forgot to set their intention before they sleep.” (See Lihat Fath al-Bari, 4/140)
Whereas, in the commentaries of Imam al-Nawawi, it is stated: “The above hadith encourages the act of sahur. Scholars agreed that it is sunnah and encouraged not an obligation, and there is a blessing in taking the sahur, for it strengthens our body and motivates us to fast, which will result in an encouragement to increase our worship of fasting for it is easier for those who take their sahur. This is the correct and final opinion regarding to its meaning. And it is stated: Furthermore, if it is followed with the act of waking up, remembering Allah through dhikr, supplication during the honoured and blessed time where supplications are accepted and istighfar.” (See Syarh al-Nawawi 'ala Sahih Muslim, 7/206).
The blessing in sahur stated in the hadith is divided into two:
- Syar’iyyah blessing: is a blessing in following the sunnah of the Prophet PBUH, receiving rewards, a reason for dhikr, supplication, istighfar during the time of sahur, which is the time where supplications are accepted.
- Badaniyah blessing: is a blessing in terms of sahur provide nutrient and energy for the body increasing our motivation to fast, abstaining from misdeeds due to our hunger.
Based on the above evidences, we would like to state that sahur is sunnah and encouraged in Islam where there is a blessing promised by Allah SWT through His Messenger the Prophet PBUH.
Neglecting sahur without valid reasons is unreasonable such as because you are lazy to wake up early, it should be avoided and a great loss for the person fasting himself, because it may weaken his body, demotivate himself and others. We advise all of us to wake up and take our sahur even if it is just a date or a glass of water.
May Allah SWT bless us with guidance in practising His religion. Amin.