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Desirability of breaking fast by eating dates and resuming Iftar after offering the Maghrib Prayer

Q: What are the Islamic etiquettes one should follow when breaking the Fast? Many people take long time in eating until the time of Maghrib (Sunset) Prayer is over. They claim that Salah (Prayer) should be delayed once the food is served. Is this claim true? What should one do when breaking the Fast? Does one have some dates first, then resume the Iftar (breaking the Fast) after offering Salah, or should one finish his Iftar first and then offer Salah?

A: The Sunnah (whatever is reported from the Prophet) is that the fasting person should break their Fast once they are sure that the sun has set. This is based on the Hadith in which the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “The people will continue to be in a blessing so long as they hasten to break the fast.” Another Hadith says: The most beloved of Allah's servants to Him are those who hasten to break their fasts. It is more desirable that the fasting person (Part No. 9; Page No. 33) should break their Fast by eating some dates and resume eating after offering the Maghrib (Sunset) Prayer. In this way they will combine between the Sunnah of hastening to break the Fast and offering the Maghrib Prayer in congregation and at its appointed time. By doing so, one will be following the practice of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). There are many Hadiths narrated to the same effect of the Hadith, which says: No prayer should be (rightly performed) when the food is served, and one should postpone his prayer when he is prompted by the call of nature and the Hadith which reads: When the supper is served and the time for `Isha' (Night) Prayer is due, one should first start by having supper. They mean that when food is already served, one should first eat and then offer Salah. One reason for this is to ensure that one is fully concentrating in their Salah, and not distracted by being busy thinking about food. However, one should not ask for a meal to be served if eating the meal first will make him miss offering Salah in congregation and at its appointed time.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.