The Virtue of Giving Iftar
Question: What is the reward for giving iftar meal?
Giving iftar (fast-breaking) meal is very rewarding (thawab). If a person, while walking on the road, gives only a date or an olive to a fasting person, the reward for giving iftar meal is attained. When our master the Prophet declared, "If a person gives iftar to a fasting person in this month, his sins will be forgiven. And he will be given as many rewards as has that fasting person," some of the Blessed Companions said that they were not so rich as to give iftar meal to a fasting person. He declared as a reply, "The rewards will be given even to a person who gives a date as the iftar or who provides water to break the fast or who offers a little milk" [Bayhaqi].
It is declared in another hadith-i sharif:
(Crossing the Sirat Bridge will be easier for a person who provides a guest with food to break his fast.) [Wasilat-un Najat]
It is very rewarding to feed people. Feeding a fasting person in particular is much more rewarding. Such a person receives as many rewards as the fasting person receives, without any reduction in the reward of the fasting person.
Likewise, when our master the Prophet stated, "He who gives water as iftar to a fasting person in Ramadan becomes as sinless as the day his mother bore him," the Blessed Companions asked him, "Is it so when water is scarce and precious?" He said to them in response, "The case is the same even if he gives it by a river" (Wasilat-un-Najat).
We should deem it a blessing to offer food to people. It is declared in hadith-i sharifs:
(The most virtuous of deeds is to cover the fault of a Believer, to feed him, and to make him happy by meeting a need of his.) [Isfahani]
(Allahu ta'ala boasts to His angels about a generous person who feeds others.) [Imam-i Ghazali]
(Angels pray for the host as long as the guest is at the dining table.) [Tabarani]
(There are such beautiful mansions in Paradise that they will be given to those who talk sweetly, who offer food, and who perform namaz when everybody sleeps.) [Tirmidhi]
(The sins of a person who offers his friend the food his friend likes are forgiven.) [Bazzar]
Eating a meal with friends
Offering foods to one's companions and friends is more meritorious than giving alms. Hadrat Ali stated:
"A meal I offer to my friends is more valuable than five loaves of bread I give to the poor. A meal that is eaten with friends is better than freeing a slave."
We should not say, "He does not invite me. Why will I invite him?" Our sole objective should be to seek the pleasure of Allah when we invite someone for a meal or when we accept someone's invitation for a meal.
One must not partake in an invitation if sins are committed where the meal is offered. It is conceit to refuse a poor person's invitation and to accept a rich one's. To visit those who are lower in rank than you is a sign of humility.
For a person invited, it is sunnat to attend a wedding banquet, and it is mustahab to attend other banquets. Some Islamic scholars stated, "It is wajib to go to a wedding banquet, and it is sunnat to go to other banquets."
One of the five rights of a Muslim over another Muslim is to accept his/her invitation, that is, to accept and attend it. It is declared in a hadith-i sharif, "Accept an invitation" (Muslim).
It is not necessary to attend the invitation of a person who inconveniences himself/herself with great expenses for preparing a meal. Also, we should not partake in the invitation of a miser person. Our master the Prophet says on this issue, "The meal of a generous person is curative while that of a miser person causes a disease" (Dara Qutni).
We should partake in an invitation to which we are invited sincerely. It is declared in hadith-i sharifs:
(If you are invited by two people at the same time, accept the invitation of him whose door is closer to you because the rights of the one whose door is closer to you come first.) [Bukhari]
(He who does not accept an invitation he received has rebelled against Allah and His Messenger.) [Bukhari] (He has not obeyed the commandment of our religion about this matter.)
Question: Can we give iftar meal with money obtained by prohibited (haram) means?
If a person gives iftar only with money obtained by prohibited means and expects thawab for it, he/she becomes a disbeliever. If it is given without expecting any thawab, it does not cause disbelief. If one's earnings are a mix of prohibited (haram) and permitted (halal) sources, the iftar that is given is neither unlawful nor disbelief.
Question: Such rumors circulate in Germany:
"All people here are well-off; they buy and eat everything they want, so it is not necessary to invite anyone. A poor person must be invited in order to receive thawab (reward). Since there is no poor person here, there is no need to invite anyone." Is it true?
It is wrong. The mind is not the standard to be used when we discuss matters of the religion. The standard is what Islamic books say. Some people in the same way claim, "When there is a needy person in the neighborhood, you should not go on the pilgrimage to Mecca. Making a needy person happy is more important than going on the pilgrimage." However, our religion does not say so. The one who is a Muslim must believe in what our religion communicates. Even if you feed all poor people in the world and make them wealthy, it cannot substitute for the pilgrimage.
The reward for feeding the poor and the reward for offering food for iftar is different. When our master the Prophet stated, "He who gives water as iftar to a fasting person in Ramadan will become as sinless as the day his mother bore him," the Blessed Companions asked him, "Is it so when water is scarce and precious?" He said to them in response, "No, he attains the same reward even if he is by a river, takes a glass of water from it, and offers it."
As it is seen, taking water from a river is free of charge. What is important here is providing it for a fasting person. It can be with water or with a date or with an olive. If one offers a meal, one earns much more thawab.
Question: Is it permissible to invite a non-fasting person to iftar meal?
Yes, it is permissible, but one should prefer fasting people when inviting for iftar meals. If a person does not fast because of an excuse, such as traveling, illness, and menstruation, he/she can be invited as well.
Giving money for iftar meal
Question: Is giving someone money for iftar meal as rewarding as giving iftar?