A goal for all Muslims in Ramadan is to make it different from all other months. It’s a break from routine and a chance to form good habits, that can hopefully continue on the rest of the year too.
Before dawn: Suhoor meal
The fasters day starts with Suhoor (also called Sehri, Sahari and Sahur in other languages). This is the meal consumed early in the morning, even before Fajr so it is still dark at this time. It is not Fard (obligatory) to wake up for Suhoor, but it is highly encouraged since this is the last time to eat before the fast. Anything can be eaten from something light as a few dates to a full breakfast. Drinking lots of water is beneficial to stay hydrated.
The Prophet ﷺ said “The distinction between our fasting and the fasting of the people of the book [Jews and Christians] is the taking of Suhoor”.
Amr Ibn Al Abbas [Muslim]
Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Indeed Allah placed blessing in the Suhoor and in the weighing [of grain]”.
[Shirazi and al-Khateeb/ al-Jami`us-Sagheer; Hasan]
Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Eat Suhoor, for there are blessings in it.”
[al-Bukhari and Muslim]
Salman also reported that the Prophet ﷺ said: “Blessing is in three : The Jama`a [the congregation of the Muslims], The Thareed [a broth of (crumbled) bread and meat] and the Suhoor”.
[Tabarani and Abu Nu`aim; Hasan]
A companion said: “I entered upon the Prophet (S) and he was taking the Suhoor and he said: “It is a blessing which Allah has given to you, so do not leave it”.
[Ahmad and an-Nasa’i; Sahih]
Abud-Dardaa’ reported that the Prophet (S) said: “Come to the blessed morning meal (meaning the Suhoor)”.
[Ahmad, an-Nasa`i and Abu Dawood]
Dua for Suhoor
After eating Suhoor, the niyyah (intention) dua is made:
وَبِصَوْمِ غَدٍ نَّوَيْتَ مِنْ شَهْرِ رَمَضَانَ
Wa bisawmi ghadinn nawaiytu min shahri ramadan
(I intend to keep the fast today in the month of Ramadan)
There is about a 10 minute gap from the end of Suhoor and time for Fajr. This time is spent in quiet meditation and duas. Then Fajr is prayed.
During the day
Things not allowed
- Sexual intercourse
- Losing temper
Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet ﷺ said: “Fasting is not [abstaining] from eating and drinking only, but also from vain speech and foul language. If one of you is being cursed or annoyed, he should say: “I am fasting, I am fasting.”
[Ibn Khuzaimah, Ibn Hibban, and al-Hakim; Sahih].
Abu Hurairah also reported that the Prophet ﷺ said: “Allah does not need the fast of one who does not abandon false speech or acting according to his false speech
[Bukhari and others]
He also reported the Prophet ﷺ as saying: “Whoever does not abandon falsehood in word and action, then Allah Mighty and Majestic has no need [i.e. will not accept] that he should leave his food and drink”.
Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet said: “Perhaps a fasting person will get nothing from his fast save hunger, and perhaps the one who stands to pray at night will get nothing from his standing except sleeplessness.”
[an-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah and al-Hakim / Sahih al-Jami`]
In another Narration “It may be that a fasting person attains nothing but hunger and thirst from his fasting”.
[Ibn Majah, Darimi, Ahmad and al-Baihaqee; Sahih]
- Dua and Dhikr (remembering Allah)
- Extra Nafl prayers
- Reading Quran
- Giving money/feeding the poor
The Prophet ﷺ said “Whoever reads a letter from the Book of Allah will receive a hasanah (good deed) from it (i.e. his recitation), and the hasanah is multiplied by ten. I do not say that Alif-Laam-Meem is (considered as) a letter, rather Alif is a letter, Laam is a letter, and Meem is a letter.”
The Prophet ﷺ said “Whoever draws near to Allah during it (Ramadan) with a single characteristic from the characteristics of (voluntary) goodness, he is like whoever performs an obligatory act in other times. And whoever performs an obligatory act during it, he is like whoever performed seventy obligatory acts in other times.”
(Sahih Ibn Khuzaymah, no. 1887)
Evening: Opening the fast with the Iftar meal
Just before Maghreb prayer (at Sunset), Muslims gather to open their fasts together. Iftar can be opened anywhere: at home, at the mosque or even in your car if you’re running late for the Iftari you are attending!
Dua for opening fast
اللَّهُمَّ اِنِّى لَكَ صُمْتُ وَبِكَ امنْتُ [وَعَلَيْكَ تَوَكَّلْتُ] وَعَلَى رِزْقِكَ اَفْطَرْتُ
O Allah! I fasted for You and I believe in You [and I put my trust in You] and I break my fast with Your sustenance.[“wa ‘alayka tawakkaltu” is quoted in some books of knowledge – but not all, hence it is in brackets] [Abu Dawud]
Allahumma Inni laka sumtu wa bika amantu [wa alayka tawakkalto] wa ‘ala rizqika aftartu
It is Sunnah (Prophetic tradition) to open the fast with dates and water. This is followed by a quick light meal and then time for Maghreb prayers. After Maghreb, people continue eating the rest of their meal.
Night: Extra Nafl prayers and Quran recitation
Praying at night always has a high amount of blessings and reward, but in Ramadan it is more so since every good deed is rewarded extra.
The Prophet ﷺ said “Whoever stands (in the voluntary night prayer of) Ramadan out of faith and in hope of reward, his previous sins will be forgiven.”
(Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Narrated Abu Salama bin ‘Abdur Rahman that he asked ‘Aisha “How was the prayer of Allah’s Apostle in Ramadan?”
She replied, “He did not pray more than eleven Rakat in Ramadan or in any other month. He used to pray four Rakat —- let alone their beauty and length—-
and then he would pray four —-let alone their beauty and length —-and then he would pray three Rakat (Witr).”
She added, “I asked, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! Do you sleep before praying the Witr?’ He replied, ‘O ‘Aisha! My eyes sleep but my heart does not sleep.”
Volume 3, Book 32, Number 230
These prayers were established at the caliph Umar’s time, and were a way for the community to come together for their night prayers and gain extra reward. Find out more about Taraweeh prayers here.
Night prayers at home and Tahajjud
Nafl prayers can be performed at home as well, as many and as often as a person wishes. Tahajjud prayers are encouraged. Find out more about Tahajjud prayers here.
Ramadan is the perfect time to get closer to the Quran, by making it a point to read the Quran as often as possible, especially at night.
Muslim Matters: A great article on the importance of the Quran in our lives, and getting closer to it in Ramadan. Click here.