Fiqh: Sawm or Siyaam (Fasting)
Part 3: Suhoor: Pre – Dawn Meal
by Imran Ayub
1. The Pre – Dawn Meal (Suhoor)
The fast begins with a light meal, known as Suhoor, taken just before the break of Dawn.
1.1 Its Wisdom
“O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious).”
Originally, the time of fasting and its ruling were in accordance with what was prescribed for the People of the Book. It was no permissible to eat, drink or have sexual intercourse after one had slept meaning that if one fell asleep before eating the he could not eat until the next evening, and this was also prescribed for the Muslims as has preceded.
When this was abrogated, Allaahs Messenger (peace be upon him) ordered the taking of Suhoor as a distinction between our fast that of the People of the Book.
Narrated Amr ibn al – Aas (may Allaah be pleased with him): Allaahs Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “The difference between our fasting and that of the people of the Book is eating shortly before dawn.”
Some people are not serious about the Pre – Dawn meal, since either they have an adequate dinner the night before going for deep sleep, of they have a meal during the middle of the night. Either choice is wrong (refer to the above hadeeth).
1.2 Its Excellence
Narrated Anas bin Malik (may Allaah be pleased with him): The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Take Suhoor as there is a blessing in it.”
Narrated Aboo Saeed al – Khudree (may Allaah be pleased with him): The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said,
“Taking the pre – dawn meal in Ramadaan is a blessing, so do not leave it, even by drinking a mouthful of water. For Allaah the Noble and the Mighty, and His angels send blessings over those who have taken the pre – dawn meal.”
Therefore, the Muslims should not allow this great reward from the Merciful Lord pass by him, and the best form of Suhoor is dates.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “What a good Suhoor for the believer is dates.”
1.3 Delaying the Suhoor
Narrated Anas (may Allaah be pleased with him): Zaid bin Thabit (may Allaah be pleased with him) said, “We took the Suhoor with the Prophet. Then he stood for the prayer.” I asked, “What was the interval between the Suhoor and the Adhan?” He replied, “The interval was sufficient to recite fifty verses of the Quran.”
Imam an – Nawawee (may Allaah have mercy on him) said, “Our companions and other scholars are agreed that Suhoor is Sunnah, and that delaying it is preferable. The evidence for all of that is the Saheeh ahadeeth. And because Suhoor and delaying Suhoor helps one to fast, and they involve being different to the Kuffaar. Moreover the time for fasting is the day, so there is no sense in delaying iftaar or refraining from eating Suhoor at the end of the night.”
Abu Bakr al – Jassaas stated, “This hadeeth indicates that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to eat Suhoor this amount of time before the adhaan, not that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) started to fast and stopped eating and drinking this amount of time before Fajr. There is a difference between the time of Suhoor and the time of stopping eating and drinking. This is clear, praise be to Allaah. It is like saying, “I ate Suhoor two hours before Fajr.” This does not mean that you started fasting from that time; rather you are simply stating what time you ate Suhoor.
What may be understood from the hadeeth of Zayd ibn Thaabit (may Allaah be pleased with him) is that it is mustahabb (recommended) to delay Suhoor and it is not mustahabb to stop eating and drinking a while before Fajr. Therefore, it is permissible to have intercourse, eat and drink during the nights of Ramadaan from the beginning of the night until dawn comes, then we are commanded to complete the fast until night comes.
And It is Only Allaah Who grants success. May Allaah Exalt the mention of His slave and Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him), and render him, his household and companion safe from Evil.
– ‘Fasting In Ramadaan’ by Sheikh Saleem al – Hilaalee and ‘Alee ‘Abdul Hameed, al – Hidaayah Publishers, 1999
– ‘Islamic Studies Book 3’, by Dr. Aboo Ameenah Bilal Philips, IIPH publishers, 2005
– ‘Ramadaan: Rules and Related Issues’, by Hafiz Salah – ud – Din Yusuf, Darussalam publishers, 2nd Edition, 2004
 ‘Islamic Studies Book 3’, p. 196
 The Noble Qur’an, Soorah Al-Baqarah 2:183
 Saheeh Muslim, Book 006, Number 2413; ‘Fasting in Ramadaan’, p. 37
 ‘Ramadaan: Rules and Related Issues’, p. 11
 (Agreed Upon); Saheeh Bukhaari, Volume 3, Book 31, Number 146; Saheeh Muslim, Book 006, Number 2412
 Reported by Ahmad, 2/12 and 44; and Ibn Abee Shaybah, 3/8; and its isnaads support each other. As quoted in ‘Fasting in Ramadaan’, p. 39; Classed Saheeh (authentic) by Sheikh al – Albaani in Saheeh al – Jami’ As – Saghir, Number 3683; as quoted in ‘Ramadaan: Rules and Related Issues’, p. 11 – 12
 Sunan Aboo Daawood, 2/303; Ibn Hibban, Number 223; al – Baihaqee, Number 4/237; Its isnaad is Saheeh; as quoted in ‘Fasting in Ramadaan’, p. 39
 (Agreed Upon); Saheeh Bukhaari, Volume 3, Book 31, Number 144; Saheeh Muslim, Book 006, Number 2415
 Ahkaam al-Qur’aan, 1/265; Ibid.,