Virtues of having Sah’ri (Pre-Dawn Meal)

[By Maulana Zakariyyah Kandhlawi (rahimahullah) (from Fadha’il Ramadan)]

Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) relates Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, “Verily Allah and His Malaa’ikah send mercy upon those who eat sah’ri.
_Reported by Tabraani

COMMENTARY

How is Allah’s favour upon us that even the partaking of sah’ri is a virtuous act which is enormously rewarded. There are so many Ahaadith in which the virtues of sah’ri are expounded and rewards mentioned. Allaama ‘Ayni (rahimahullah) commentator on Bukhaari gathered Ahaadith from seventeen Sahaabah on the excellence of sah’ri. All ‘Ulama are agreed it is mustahab. Many are deprived of this great reward because of laziness. Some even finish Taraweeh and then eat, (which they regard as sah’ri) and get into bed. What great blessings do they loose! Sah’ri actually means partaking of food shortly before Fajr (ref: Qamoos). Some authorities say that the time for sah’ri commences after half of the night has passed (Mirqaat). The author of , Kash-shaaf (Zamakhshari) divided the night into six portions stating that the last one of them, is the time for sah’ri When the night (from sunset till dawn) lasts for twelve hours then the last two hours would be the correct time for sah’ri. It must also be remembered that to eat at the latest time is better and greater in reward than eating earlier, on condition that no doubt remains as to sah’ri had been eaten before or after the time of Fajr. The Ahaadith are full of the virtues of sah’ri. Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said, “The difference in our fasting with that of Ahlul-Kitaab (Jews and Christians) lies in partaking of food at sah’ri time, they do not take“.

It is mentioned in the Hadith, “Eat sah’ri because in it lies great blessings“. It also mentioned, “In three things there are great blessings, in Jamaah (company), in eating thareed arid in sah’ri. In this Hadith the use of the word jamaah is general, whereupon we deduce it to refer to salaah with jamaah and all those righteous deeds done together and Allah’s help comes to them.”(Thareed is a delicious type of food, in which dry baked bread is mixed with gravy containing meat). The third thing mentioned in the Hadith is sah’ri when Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) used to invite any of the companions to eat sah’ri‘ with him, he used to say, “Come and partake of blessed food with me“. One Hadith says, “Eat sah’ri and strengthen yourself for fasting. And sleep in the afternoon (siesta) so as to gain assistance in waking up in the latter portion of the night (for ‘ibaadah)“. Abdullah bin Harith reported that one of the Sahaabah said, “I once visited Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) at such a time while he was busy partaking of sah’ri. Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam( then said, “This is a thing full of blessings which Allah has granted you. Never leave it“.

Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) has encouraged sah’ri in numerous Ahaadith, “Even though there be no food, then too one date should be eaten or a drink of water taken“. Thus, when there definitely lies great blessings and reward in sah’ri muslims should endeavour to gain as such as possible. However, in all things moderation is important, while going beyond the bonds of moderation is harmful. Neither should so little be eaten that one feels weak throughout the period of fasting, nor should so much be eaten that discomfort is felt in the digestive organs. Many a time we have been prohibited in the Hadith from filling the stomach excessively.

In his commentary on Saheeh Bukhaari, Ibn Hajar has mentioned various reasons for the blessedness of sah’ri.

(a) Because in it the sunnah is followed.

(b) Through sah’ri we oppose the ways of the Ahlul Kitaab; which we are at all times called upon to do: They do not have sah’ri when fasting.

(c) It provides strength for lbaadah.

(d) It promotes more sincerity in ibaadah.

(e) It aids in eliminating bad temper which normally comes about as aresult of hunger.

(f). It provides an opportunity to assist the needy at that early hour, especially a poor neighbour.

(g) Sah’ri is at a time when du’a’s are accepted.

(h) At the time of sah’ri one gets the opportunity to remember Allah’s, Thikr and lift up the hands to Him in du’a.

These are a few of major reasons. There are others as well.

Ibn Daqeequl ‘Eed says that some ‘Sufis are doubtful’ whether the eating of sah’ri is against the object of fasting or not. They maintain that the object of fasting is to stay away from food, drink and sexual desires, therefore sah’ri is against the object of fasting. In many opinion the amount to be eaten should be less at both sah’ri and if’taar, however this varies according to different persons and their activities. For example, for those students who are busy seeking knowledge of Deen, little food at sah’ri as well as if’taar, will be harmful. For them it is better not to have very little. because they seek Deeni knowledge which is very important (for the preservation and spread of Islaam). Similar is the case of those who are busy with thikr and other Deeni activities. Once Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) announced to those proceeding to jihaad, “There is no virtue in fasting while travelling“. That was in the month of Ramadan when some Sahaabah were busy with fardh fasting. This was because of jihaad. However if eating less does not cause laziness and weakness in doing important Deeni work, then there is no harm in eating less. Allaama Sharaani (rahimahullah) mentions in Sharh Iqna, “A covenant was made with us that we shall not fill our stomachs completely when eating especially in the nights of Ramadan“. lt is better that one should eat less in the nights of Ramadan than on other nights. After all, what type of fast is it after having filled oneself at sah’ri and i’ftaar? The Mashaa’ikh of Tariqah have said, “Whoever remains hungry in Ramadan, shall remain safe from the evil of shay’taan through the year until the next Ramadan“. Numerous other Mashaa’ikh have also emphasized this point.

In the commentary of Ihyaa Awaarif quotes that, Sahl bin Abdullah Tastari used to eat only once in every fifteen days, while in Ramadan. he ate only-one morsel. In order to follow the sunnah he used to have a drink of water for sah’ri and i’ftaar. Shaikh Junaid (rahimahullah) was a man who always used to fast throughout the year. However, when noble friends used to visit him occasionally, he used to break his fast and eat with them saying, “The virtue of breaking fast and eating with (such noble) friends is not less than fasting (nafl).”

Similarly we can mention the experiences of numerous saints, who through little food used to train their inner selves, but once again bear in mind, that it should not be carried out to such an extent that the religious activities and responsiblities are neglected as a result of weakness in the body.

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