What is iftar and suhoor?

During the month of Ramadan, the words “Iftar” and “Suhoor” are thrown around quite a bit. So you’re probably wondering, what exactly do they mean? 

Fasting is one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith, and during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast every day from sunrise to sunset. “Iftar” and “Suhoor” are Ramadan 101 terms and below, we explain what they mean.

What is Iftar?

The meal you enjoy after a long day of fasting, right when the adhan calls for Maghrib prayer, is called Iftar. It is the meal eaten after sunset to break your fast. 

For Iftar, the fast is usually broken with dates, water, fruits or something small. Muslims quickly commence Maghrib prayer before returning back to enjoy other food. 

What is Suhoor?

Suhoor is the pre-fasting meal you eat right before sunrise. 

As it’s important to equip your body with the right nutrients and healthy food that will keep it energized for a full day of fasting, suhoor is a vital part of a fasting Muslim’s day. 

It may be tempting to sleep through suhoor, especially if you have to wake up early for work. However, waking up early and having a suhoor will help you feel more energized rather than sleeping more. 

Iftar and Suhoor times

Iftar begins at Maghrib (sunset) each day. In many parts of the world, including Canada, the time of Iftar varies as the month progresses due to changes in day length. 

Suhoor is eaten early in the morning, before the break of dawn. The time of Suhoor varies depending on the time of year in which Ramadan takes place and also varies within the month itself as day length changes. 

As the Islamic calendar is based around the lunar cycle, the Holy month of Ramadan rotates by approximately ten days each year. This year, Ramadan is expected to begin on March 11, 2024, depending on the sighting of the moon.

You can find information about Iftar and Suhoor times in Canada for Ramadan 2024 here

What time does Suhoor end?

Most scholars agree that suhoor can be eaten until the beginning of the ‘first light’ of dawn, which is up until the point that sunlight first becomes visible. Suhoor is eaten before Fajr time. 

The Quran states that fasting begins when the white thread of dawn appears to you distinct from its black thread.” (2:187)

Ideas for Iftar

It can be a struggle to think about what to cook for Iftar each day in Ramadan, so here are a few things to consider when choosing your meal. 

The food we eat can help us maintain a good immune system and stay healthy. During Ramadan, make an effort to maintain a balanced diet consisting of carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, fibre and essential vitamins and minerals.

Be mindful of how much salt you use while cooking during Ramadan, as too much sodium can lead to bloating, leaving you feeling uncomfortable and heavy in the evenings while you pray.

It is important to drink plenty of water and eat foods that have a high water content, such as watermelon.

Best things to eat for Suhoor

Here is a list of nutritious foods to enjoy at Suhoor which will help keep you energized throughout your fast: 

  • Eggs: They are full of protein and will help you feel full. Some ideas are to make an omelette or to try poached eggs on toast. 

  • Slow-release carbohydrates such as oats, wholegrain rice and wholemeal bread. To keep up your strength whilst fasting, these foods will help to keep you full and energized throughout the day.

  • Incorporate fruits and vegetables: These are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber, and will keep you hydrated and energized. Don’t forget to implement the Sunnah of eating dates at Suhoor. 

  • Nuts: Adding a handful of nuts to your porridge or spreading a nut butter on your toast will give you a healthy source of fats, and help keep you fuller for longer. 

A great suhoor that includes all of these is Overnight Oats!

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