HADITH NO. 7 Ibn Umar (Radhi Allaho anho)
relates: Rasulullah (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) said: ‘Verily Allah and His
Malaa’ikah send Mercy upon those who eat ‘Sehri’ (sower-Suhoor).”
COMMENTARY How great is Allah’s favour upon us that even the partaking of food
before dawn for fasting is so greatly rewarded. There are many Ahaadith in which
the virtues of “Sehri” are expounded and the rewards mentioned. Allaamah Ain –
Commentator on Bukhari – has quoted the virtues of “Sehri” from seventeen
different ‘Sahaabah’ and all the “Ulama” are agreed on its being “Mustahab”
(desirable). Many people are deprived of this great reward because of their own
laziness. Some even go so far as to finish ‘Taraweeh’, eat (what they suppose to
be “Sehri’!) and go to bed. What great blessings do they lose! “Sehri” actually
means partaking of food shortly before dawn. Some authorities say that the time
for “Sehri” commences after half the night has passed (Mirquat). The author of
Kash-shaff (Zamakhshari) divided the night into six portions, stating that the
last one of these is the time of “Sehri”; so that, when the night (from sunset
till dawn) extends over twelve hours, the last two hours would be the correct
time for “Sehri”. Then it must also be remembered that to eat at the latest
possible time is better and greater in reward than eating earlier, subject to
the condition that no doubt remains as to whether “Sehri” had been eaten before
the time of dawn. The Ahaadith are full of virtues of “Sehri”.
Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihe wasallam) said: ‘The difference between our
fasting and that of the Ahlul-Kitaab (Jews and Christians) lies in our partaking
of food at “Sehri” which they do not.” The Prophet has said, “Eat Sehri, because
in it lie great blessings; and again. “In three things, are the great blessings:
in “Jama’ah” (company), in eating “Thareed” and in “Sehri”. In this Hadith, the
use of the word “Jama’ah” is general, wherefrom we deduce that it includes
“Salaat” with “Jamaa’ah” and all those righteous deeds done in company, as thus
Allah’s help comes to them. “Thareed” is a tasty preparation, in which baked
bread is cooked with meat. The third thing mentioned in this Hadith is “Sehri”.
When Rasulullah (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) used to invite any of the
companions to eat “Sehri” with him, he used to say: “Come and partake of blessed
food with me.” One Hadith says: “Eat ‘Sehri’ and strengthen yourself for the
fast. 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 Haarith (Radhiallahu
Anhu) reports that one of the Sahaaba said: “I once visited Rasulullah (Sallallaho
alaihi wasallam) at a time when he was busy in partaking of ‘Sehri’. Rasulullah
then said: “This is a thing full of blessings, which Allah has granted you. Do
not give it up.” Rasulullah (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) in urging us repeatedly
for ‘Sehri’ has said: “Even though there be no food, then one date should be
eaten or a drink of water taken.” Thus, when there are definitely great
advantages and reward in ‘Sehri’, Muslims should endeavour to observe this
practice as much as possible. However, in all things moderation is important,
and going beyond the bounds 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 it causes discomfort. Repeatedly, we have been prohibited
from filling the stomach excessively.
In his commentary on “Sahih Bukhari”, Ibne Hajar has mentioned various reasons
for the blessedness of “Sehri”:
- Because in it, the ‘Sunnah’ is followed.
- Through “Sehri”, we differentiate ourselves from ways of
Ahlul-Kitaab, which we are at all times called upon to do.
- It provides strength for “Ibaadah”
- It promotes greater sincerity in “Ibaadah”
- It aids in elimination of bad temper, which normally comes
as result of hunger.
- ‘Sehri’ is the time when prayers are accepted.
- At the time of ‘Sehri’, one gets the opportunity to
remember Allah, makes Dhikr and lifts up the hand to Him in prayer.
These are a few of the major reasons;
there are many others as well. Some ‘Sufis’ are in doubt as to whether the
eating of ‘Sehri’ conflicts with the object of fasting or not. They maintain
that the object of fasting is to stay away from food, drink and sexual desires,
therefore ‘Sehri’ is against the object of fasting. In my opinion the amount to
be eaten varies according to different persons and their activities. Foe
example, for those students who are busy seeking knowledge of ‘Deen’, too little
food at ‘Sehri’ as well as ‘Iftaar’ will be harmful; for them it is better not
to have too little, because they seek ‘Deeni’ knowledge, which is very important
(for the preservation and spread of Islam). similar is the case of those who are
busy with ‘Dhikr’ and other ‘Deeni’ activities. Other people who have no such
hard work to do should eat little at ‘Sehri’.
Once Rasulullah (Sallallaahu �layhi Wasallam) announced to those proceeding for
‘Jihaad’: ‘There is no virtue in fasting while travelling.’ That was in the
month of Ramadaan, when some Sahaaba were fasting. Allamah Sha’raani 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 Ramadaan.’ It is better
that one should eat less in the nights of Ramadaan than on other nights. After
all, what is the utility of fasting after having filled oneself at ‘Sehri’ and ‘Iftaar’?
the religious divines have said, ‘Whoever remains hungry in Ramadaan shall
remain safe from the evil of ‘Shaytaan’ throughout the year, until the next
Sharah Ihya Ulumuddin mentions the experiences of some saints, such as Sahl bin
Abdullah Tastari, who used to eat only once every fifteen days, while in
Ramadaan he ate only one morsel; but in order to follow the Sunnah, he used to
have a drink of water daily for ‘Sehri’ and ‘Iftaar’. Shaykh Junayd always used
to fast throughout the year. However, when his noble friends would 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 that of
Similarly, we can mention the experiences of numerous saints who through eating
less used to discipline their inner-selves, but let us bear in mind that it
should not be carried to such extremes that the religious activities and
responsibilities are neglected, as a result of weakness of the body.