SAHOOR literally means pre-dawn meal. Religiously, it is an Islamic term referring to the meal consumed early in the morning by Muslims before fasting, especially during the month of Ramadan. The meal is eaten before fajr (pre-dawn prayer).
The difference between the fast of Muslims and that of Jews and Christians is in taking sahoor and hastening to breakfast immediately after sunset. This is what Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “The difference between our Fast and that of the people of the Book (Jews and Christians) is taking sahoor.”
Allah’s Messenger, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has therefore shown that it’s desirable to take sahoor just before dawn. This was clearly indicated in the hadith (his sayings) narrated by Anas from Zaid ibn Thabit, who said:
We took sahoor together with Allah’s Messenger and then went to pray. I (Anas) then asked him (Zaid) how long it was between the sahoor and the iqamah (first call to prayer), he replied: As long as it will take to recite 590 verses of the Qur’an.”
This hadith indicates that sahoor is important and should be taken before dawn. For readers to better understand the best time to take sahoor based on our geographical location, it falls between 4 and 5am, before solatul Fajr which is around 5: 17 am (for Lagos State).
Suppose while a person is taking sahoor, he hears the adhan (the second call to prayer signifying the break of dawn) should he continue or stop eating?
Most of the scholars of hadith said he should finish his meal. This is based on the saying of the Prophet. “If one of you hears the adhan with a bowl of food in his hand, he should not put it down until he is satisfied.” It’s considered as an authentic hadith by scholars of hadith. But care must be taken not to make this an everyday occurrence.
There is certainly a great reward for taking sahoor. Prophet Muhammad said, “Take sahoor, there is a barakah (blessing) in it.”
Whenever Allah’s messenger mentioned that there is a blessing in doing something, then it’s highly commendable for anyone who loves Allah’s Messenger to pay special attention to it, because that is what will save him in this world and the hereafter.
In another authentic hadith, it was mentioned that Allah and His angels invoke blessings upon those taking sahoor. He said, “All of Sahoor is a blessing. Do not leave it even if one of you will only take a mouthful of water. Verily, Allah and His angels bless those taking sahoor.”
HOW TO OBSERVE TARAWIH, OTHER NAWAFIL
Nawafil (Nafilah, singular) are voluntary prayers but are essential for every fasting Muslim. The foremost, during Ramadan is Tarawih and it starts on the very night in which the moon was sighted, because that night is also among the nights of Ramadan. Other superogatory prayers expected include solatul duha (prayer during sunrise), solatul Hajjah (prayer of need), among others. It is also important to note that any voluntary prayer after Ishai prayer during Ramadan is called Tarawih; but in months other than Ramadan it is called tahajjud or qiyamul lail because they are all observed in the night. The tarawih prayer is 11 raka’ats long according to the practice of Allah’s Messenger. It can be observed once or divided into two parts of the night and should be observed with the recitation of long verses, chapters of the Qur’an. For those who can’t recite fluently, it is advisable to join the congregational prayer in their locality, where it will be observed with solemnity and full submissiveness.
Attending sermons, especially tafsir-il-Qur’an (explanation of the Qur’an) is also another act a fasting Muslim should engage himself. In doing this, he’ll not only be rewarded by Allah, he will also be enlightened about his religious injunctions.
WHAT TO SAY WHEN BREAKING A FAST
Dhahabaz zamau wabtallatil urooqu, wa thabatal ajru inshaa Allahu (Thirst is gone, tongue is moistened and reward is certain, if Allah wills). Then, make requests and surely Allah will grant them.