Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Benefits Blog: What did the Prophet eat for Iftar?

Looking at the surfeit of food on our Sufras, the sumptuous Suhoor banquets at five-star hotels, the mouth-watering Iftar meals advertised by restaurants, the supermarket trolleys piled high with goodies and the frequent fisticuffs that break out outside Fool-Tamees shops during Ramadan rush hour, it would be understandable if a stray observer concluded that Ramadan is about indulgence, not denial.

It never ceases to appall me how much time, energy, expense and effort is spent in preparing, consuming, serving and clearing up elaborate meals in the name of “maintaining Ramadan traditions.”

It’s no secret that harried housewives and working women have resorted to outsourcing traditional Ramadan fare, and rather than going through the elaborate ordeal of conjuring a multi-course homemade meal every single day, they simply pay someone to supply it. After all, Ramadan “traditions” must be maintained, never mind the cost.

It makes me wonder: Who taught us the tradition of the over-laden table and the distended stomach?

It was certainly not our Prophet (peace be upon him) whose Sunnah we are obligated to follow. Doesn’t it strike us as hugely ironic, that even as we make Ramadan resolutions to improve our acts of worship, and strive to develop Ittiba’ (practice/following) in other areas of our lives, we tend to conveniently overlook this aspect of the Prophet’s life – his moderation to the extent of abstinence in indulging his appetite?

Are we the Ummah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) who said: “The offspring of Adam fills no vessel worse than his stomach. Sufficient for the child of Adam are a few morsels to keep his back straight. If he must eat more, then a third should be for his food, a third for his drink, and a third left for air?” (Musnad Ahmad)

Going by the statistics, which state that cases of acute indigestion and a host of other digestive disorders increase by almost 48 percent all over the world at the beginning of Ramadan, it certainly doesn’t seem so.

For curiosity’s sake, let’s take a look at some of the things the Prophet (peace be upon him) is reported to have broken his fasts with:

1) The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) used to prefer breaking the fast with dates, and if he did not find any, he would then break it with water. For more read here.