About Iftar and Iftar Food Habit Around the World

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Iftar is one of the religious observances of Ramadan and is often done as a community, with Muslim people gathering to break their fast together. The meal is taken just after the call to prayer Maghrib, which is around sunset. Traditionally three dates are eaten to break the fast, in emulation of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, who broke his fast in this manner, but this is not mandatory. Many Muslims believe that feeding someone iftar as a form of charity is very rewarding and that such was practiced by Muhammad.
 
Its Iftar time, the time for which you waited all that long day but with joy because Roza is all about staying away from bad deeds. May Allah accept our fasts. – Iftar Quotes
 
Iftar is one of the religious observances of Ramadan and is often done as a community, with Muslim people gathering to break their fast together. The meal is taken just after the call to prayer Maghrib, which is around sunset. Traditionally three dates are eaten to break the fast, in emulation of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, who broke his fast in this manner, but this is not mandatory. Many Muslims believe that feeding someone iftar as a form of charity is very rewarding and that such was practiced by Muhammad.
 

Iftar

According to a publication of South Africa: Allahuma inni laka sumtu wa’ bika aamantu wa’ aalaika tawakkaltu wa’ ala rizqika aftartu – “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.”
Around the world
Afghanistan
In Afghanistan, iftar usually includes the traditional dates, shorwa (soup), kebabs, du piyaza (meat stewed in an onion-based sauce), manto (seasoned, minced meat wrapped in pasta), kabuli palaw (rice with lentils, raisins, carrots, and lamb), shorm beray, bolani (fried or baked flat bread with a vegetable filling), and rice, as well as other dishes. Afghans also have an extensive range of sweet dishes and desserts.
Bangladesh
In Bangladesh, a wide variety of foods is prepared to break the fast at Maghrib time. Some of the common iftar items from Bangladeshi cuisine include Piyaju (made of lentil paste, chopped onions and green chillies, like falafel), beguni (made of thin slices of eggplant dipped in a thin batter of gram flour), jilapi, chana-muri, haleem, dates, samosas, dal puri (a type of lentil-based savoury pastry), chola (cooked chickpeas), kebab, mughlai porota (stuffed porota with minced meat and spices), pitha, traditional Bengali sweets and different types of fruits such as watermelon. Bengalis open their fast with all their friends and family and eat together in a banquet with their array of food however savoury items are eaten before sweet.
Drinks such as lemon shorbot and yoghurt shorbot (made of yoghurt, water, sugar and rooh afza) as well as borhani are common on iftar tables across the country. People like to have iftar at home with all family members, and iftar parties are also arranged by mosques. People often distribute iftar in mosques for the people praying to eat, believing it is a good deed. After Iftar people pray maghrib and later Isha then many head straight for Taraweeh prayers where 20 rakats are performed to finish one Juz’ of the Quran. and people read Iftar Dua before Iftar.
Brunei
In Brunei Darussalam, iftar is locally referred to as sungkai. Traditionally this is held at a regional or village mosque for those who have or will be performing the evening prayers. At the mosque, a mosque buffet is prepared by the local residents at which all are welcomed to break their fast together. Before the iftar, the beduk (a type of drum) must be heard as a signal to begin the sungkai. In the capital Bandar Seri Begawan, the firing of several cannons at the central business district also marks the sungkai. The sungkai is generally a welcomed time of the day, so Bruneians occasionally break their fast at restaurants along with their extended family. Additionally, only during the month of Ramadan, each district, with the exception of the Brunei and Muara district, hosts an expansive network of tamu or Ramadan stalls where freshly cooked local delicacies are sold more than other times of the year.
India
In India, almost every Muslim stops to rejoice for a few minutes following the iftar sirens and adhan. Muslims break their fasts with family and friends, with most Mosques also arranging free ‘iftar’. Preparations for iftar commence hours before, in homes and at roadside stalls. Iftar begins by eating dates or drinking water, but this is only the opening of a rich meal. The spread of ‘iftar’ can be grand, with both vegetarian to non-vegetarian dishes and a variety of juices and sherbets. Iftar usually is a heavy meal and is followed by a second, lighter dinner eaten before the night (isha) prayers and the taraweeh prayers.
 
In Hyderabad and nearby areas, people often break their fast with Haleem because it has a rich taste and is quite filling. In other southern states (Tamil Nadu and Kerala), Muslims break their fast with nonbu kanji, a rich, filling rice dish of porridge consistency, cooked for hours with meat and vegetables. This is often served with bonda, bajji, and vadai. Vegetarians break their fast with a dish called surkumba, which is prepared from milk, and this is particularly popular in certain parts of Karnataka. In northern states like Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal, the fast is typically ended with fresh dates, cut fresh fruits (sometimes served as chaat) and fruit juice along with fried dishes like samosas, pakodas etc.
Indonesia
In Indonesia iftar is called “buka puasa”, which means “to open the fast”. Markets sell various foods for iftar, including the date, which is popular, as well as unique Indonesian sweet food and drink such as kolak, es kelapa muda, es buah, es campur, cendol or dawet, etc. Most of them are only found easily in Ramadan. Iftar is usually begun by eating these sweets, as inspired by the Prophet’s Sunnah of eating dates.
Maghrib time is traditionally marked by the Bedug, a traditional big Indonesian drum. After Asr prayers, traditional markets will begin to open. The food stalls generally sell many kinds of items that are specifically for “iftar”. Traffic jams often occur leading up to Maghrib time. Sometimes people invite groups of orphans to eat with them. After Iftar and maghrib prayer which is usually done at the homes, people go to the mosque for Isha’a and Tarawih prayer, which in Indonesia, is often accompanied by a short sermon known as “ceramah” before the Tarawih prayer commence.
Iran
In Iran, neighborhood iftar feasts are not customary; the (larger and more festive) meal is usually shared among family.A small selection of foods is prepared to break the fast and is summarily followed by a proper Persian meal. The most common iftar items are Chai (tea) with zulbia and bamiyeh and other sweets, dates, halva, Fereni, Ash Reshteh, Halim, Shami Lapeh, Noon (bread usually lavash or barbari) and paneer with greens and fresh herbs. One of the biggest iftar meals in the world takes place in Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad city every year, with some 12 thousand people attending every night.
Malaysia
In Malaysia, iftar is known as “berbuka puasa”, which literally means “to open the fast”. As usual, the Muslims break the fast with either dried or fresh dates. Various foodstuffs from the Malaysian cuisine tend to be readily available from Bazaar Ramadhans, which are street food markets that are open during Ramadan; local favourites include bandung drink, sugarcane juice, soybean milk mixed with grass jelly, nasi lemak, laksa, ayam percik, chicken rice, satay and popiah among others. Many high-end restaurants and hotels also provide special iftar and dinner packages for those who want to break the fast outside with families and friends. Furthermore, most mosques also provide free bubur lambok (a special type of rice congee) after Asar prayers.
Most Muslims will usually have a special supper after performing their tarawih prayers called moreh (pronounced [moˈreh]). The light meal, taking place in mosque and prayer hall grounds, consists of local traditional snacks and hot tea.
In shopping malls and public venues in Malaysia, the time of iftar is indicated by radios announcing the call to Maghrib prayers.
Pakistan
In Pakistan, almost everybody stops to rejoice for a few minutes following the iftar sirens and adhan (call to prayer). Preparations for iftar commence about three hours beforehand, in homes and at roadside stalls. The fast can be ended by eating dates, or simply by drinking water, if dates are not available. Many restaurants offer iftar deals, especially in the big cities like Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad. Iftar as a meal in Pakistan[9] is usually heavy, consisting mainly of sweet and savoury treats such as jalebi (pretzel-shaped, deep-fried batter, soaked in sugar syrup), samosas (minced meat and/or vegetables, wrapped in dough and deep-fried or baked), pakora (sliced vegetables, dipped in batter and deep-fried) with ketchup or chatni, and namak para (seasoned cracker), besides the staple dates and water.
Other items such as chicken rolls, spring rolls, Shami Kebabs, fruit salads, papad (sheets of batter that are then sun-dried, deep-fried or roasted until they have the texture of potato chips or crisps), chana chaat (chickpea salad), and dahi balay (or “dahi baray”—fried lentil dumplings served with yoghurt) are also very common. Amongst the Punjabi, Sindhi and Mohajir households, iftar is often followed up by a regular dinner later during the night. Those in the north and west, including Pashtuns, Balochis, and Tajiks, on the other hand combine dinner and iftar. Laghman soup (noodle soup), locally called Kalli, is an iftar staple in Chitral and parts of Gilgit.
After iftar, Muslims rush to the mosques to offer Tarawih (an 8 or 20 rakat Muslim prayer during the month of Ramadan). Various television channels also stop their normal telecast and broadcast special Ramadan transmissions, especially at the time of Sehar and Iftar. The whole month of Ramadan is marked in Pakistan as a festive season when people make donations to the poor and give charity. Some organizations and companies also offer free iftar meals to the common people.
Turkey
In Turkey and Northern Cyprus, the month of Ramadan is celebrated with great joy, and iftar dinners play a big part in this. In larger cities like Istanbul all of the restaurants offer special deals and set menus for iftar. Most of the set menus start with a soup or an appetiser platter called iftariye. It consists of dates, olives, cheese, pastırma, sujuk, Ramazan pidesi (a special bread only baked during Ramadan), and various pastries called börek. The main course consists of various Turkish foods, especially the Ottoman Palace Traditional Foods. A dessert called güllaç is served in most places. Most of the fine-dining restaurants offer live musical performances of Ottoman classical music, Turkish music and Sufi music.
Most of the Ramadan celebration practices in Turkey have their roots in the traditions of the former Ottoman Empire. At the minarets of mosques, lights called kandil are switched on from sunset to dawn. As soon as the sun sets, a traditional “Ramadan Cannon” is fired from the highest hill in every city as a signal to start eating the iftar.
In Istanbul, one of the more notable places to celebrate the iftar dinner is the Sultanahmet Square. Located near the Sultan Ahmed Mosque (Blue Mosque) the Sultanahmet Square hosts many activities, including mini restaurants opened during the month of Ramadan, special shows, and traditional Ottoman theatrical shows. At Topkapi Palace the Ottoman sultan-caliphs would break their fast under the gilded bower.
The Tarawih prayer is mostly practised in Turkish mosques as 20 rekahs, broken into 5 groups of 4 rekahs. Between each set of 4 rekahs, a hymn composed by the Turkish musician Buhurizade Itri is sung by all people attending the prayer. The hymn is a prayer to praise the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
As Ramadan is also the month of almsgiving, many people organise iftar dinners for the poor, students, guests, and foreigners. People can find Turkish food available in most mosques.
During Ramadan, Turkish NGOs like the Journalists and Writers Foundation have recently started to organise Interfaith Dialogue Dinners to promote dialogue between those of different religious and cultural backgrounds. These high-profile events have started a whole new era of organising large dinner parties by the NGOs in Turkey for people from different cultures and understandings even if they are not Muslims. In recent years Turkish NGOs, such as the Peace Islands Institute (former Interfaith Dialog Center), all over the world have organised iftar dinners for inter-cultural and interfaith dialogue, which helps promote the true understanding of the month of Ramadan.
From 1996, the United States Department of State held an annual iftar dinner for local and national community leaders and faith groups as well as foreign policy officials. This practice ceased in 2017 when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declined to host an iftar. The Pentagon continues its tradition of holding iftar for Muslim members of the U.S. armed forces and special guests from other nations; the first such iftar under the Trump administration was held on 15 June 2017. and savoury treats such as jalebi (pretzel-shaped, deep-fried batter, soaked in sugar syrup), samosas (minced meat and/or vegetables, wrapped in dough and deep-fried or baked), pakora (sliced vegetables, dipped in batter and deep-fried) with ketchup or chatni, and namak para (seasoned cracker), besides the staple dates and water.
Iftar meals in the United States and Canada are often held at mosques, households, and Islamic community centres.
 
On 9 December 1805, President Thomas Jefferson postponed dinner at the White House until sunset to accommodate an envoy from Tunis, an event considered by many to be the first White House iftar.
 
The first official iftar was held at the White House in 1996, hosted by First Lady Hillary Clinton, and iftar meals were subsequently held annually at the White House and hosted by the U.S. President and the First Lady until 2016.President Donald Trump did not host an iftar dinner at the White House in 2017, his first year in office, but resumed the tradition on June 6, 2018, hosting friends and diplomatic staff from many Muslim-majority nations.
From 1996, the United States Department of State held an annual iftar dinner for local and national community leaders and faith groups as well as foreign policy officials. This practice ceased in 2017 when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declined to host an iftar. The Pentagon continues its tradition of holding iftar for Muslim members of the U.S. armed forces and special guests from other nations; the first such iftar under the Trump administration was held on 15 June 2017.
From 1996, the United States Department of State held an annual iftar dinner for local and national community leaders and faith groups as well as foreign policy officials. This practice ceased in 2017, when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declined to host an iftar. The Pentagon continues its tradition of holding iftar for Muslim members of the U.S. armed forces and special guests from other nations; the first such iftar under the Trump administration was held on 15 June 2017.
From 1996, the United States Department of State held an annual iftar dinner for local and national community leaders and faith groups as well as foreign policy officials. This practice ceased in 2017 when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declined to host an iftar. The Pentagon continues its tradition of holding iftar for Muslim members of the U.S. armed forces and special guests from other nations; the first such iftar under the Trump administration was held on 15 June 2017.

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