Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 35, Tuesday September 9, 2008



Iftar Party

Friends, food and family

Ramadan sometimes has a way of uniting a family held apart by disparate schedules and television (or the Internet). When the sweet sound of the Maghrib adhan finally announces the end of a long day's fast, everyone gathers around the table to enjoy the day's first meal together. It makes sense, then, to sometimes want to extend this sense of camaraderie towards friends or extended family, by throwing an iftar party.

Planning an iftar party is a little different from planning any regular party, because there is a religious aspect to it. However, the principle is the same; to make sure your guests are comfortable and having a good time. We've short-listed a few things for you to keep in mind when getting ready for the occasion.

At a regular lunch or dinner affair, whether you have a buffet table up or a sitting set up, the guests can afford to dawdle on their way to a meal. Since with iftar, the onus is on breaking the fast as soon as possible, make sure you have plenty of glasses of water or sherbet prepared separately, and waiting at hand so that everyone can grab a quick drink without having to wait in queue. This is particularly helpful for those guests who have had to brave the crazy traffic and come in at the nth minute. If possible, circulate the drinks amongst the guests beforehand so that everyone has a glass when the muezzin's call is heard.

Spirit of inclusion
There may be guests who will be bringing their chauffeurs, so make sure iftar meals for the service staff are ready in their designated dining area beforehand, so they can also join in without having to wait. An option is to have packed iftar boxes and bottles of water sent downstairs and distributed amongst the guest drivers, so you don't have to worry about calling them up to the kitchen, because in many cases they get delayed while arriving, and some even get overlooked.

Place for prayer
Another unique feature of the iftar is that once the fast is broken, the faithful must turn to prayer, so make sure you have created a space for people to pray in. It could be in the guest room, or even in the family room, but it's best to choose an area with easy access to the washroom, so that people can perform their ablutions first. Make sure the washroom is stocked with fresh towels, toilet paper and hand soap.

The designated prayer space could have a fresh sheet laid out on the floor to accommodate several worshippers at once; alternatively, you could stock the space with extra prayer mats and tazvihs. It also helps to have a few chairs or high seating in one area for senior guests who may have trouble kneeling.

Little details
Depending entirely on your own preference and your guest list, while everyone is gathered together and awaiting the adhan, you could arrange for a little dua to be said together. Passing out little cotton balls dipped in attar can serve the same way that they do at milads; create a refreshed, spiritual feeling. Lighting a few incense sticks is another option, but the smell bothers some people.

At the end of the event, if everyone is feeling relaxed and content, you know you've scored. Good food, good conversation, and a little consideration to details is all it takes to make an iftar party a real hit.

By Sabrina F Ahmad
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Special thanks to Hotel Sarina for arranging the iftar photo shoot.


Iftar at the Mosque

I slammed on the brakes and brought my car to a halt. There was no way I was going to make it to home by iftar, not even if I was Lewis Hamilton. So what options did I have? I tried out the few fast food shops and restaurants on my way but they were already overcrowded. I did not even have water with me and I didn't know anyone in that area where I could drop by to have iftar.

I noticed the local mosque. With only a few minutes left, people came pouring through the gate. I was one of them. As I stepped in, I had the impression that I actually entered a refugee camp, or an orphanage. Hundreds of people sat patiently with a plate full of iftar and a glass of water in front of them while the volunteers were busy serving the food- thanks to the innumerable households who send iftar for charity- in huge bowls. I checked my plate: muri, chola, piyaju, dates and some other common iftar items were waiting for me; or I was waiting for them, while I looked around …

They were mostly the needy. Beggars, street kids; the homeless. “I love Ramadan. This is the only time I'm assured of a hefty and delicious meal”, said a street kid when asked what he thought of having iftar in the mosque. A beggar agreed with him. “Given the inflationary pressure, it is impossible for the poor to have a decent meal”, he told me. “This month is an exception, as long as the mosque is there to host us”. Which will be forever, I hope.

Then my eyes caught a group of students rushing inside with the same impatience and thrill that you see surgeons rushing towards the operation theatre in times of emergency. “Allah Ta'ala said, 'The most beloved of my servants in my sight are those who hasten when breaking fast',” I recalled the hadith. They hastily threw their shoes and bags at one corner to settle down as the final minutes were left the siren to go off.

“We're coming from private tuitions and were too late to go home to catch iftar”, one of them said, in answer to my questioning look, informing me that I was not the only one here with this kind of situation. As the Imam continued reciting dua and hadith, my eyes browsed over all the people. I turned to a gentleman in a flattering panjabi and asked him his story behind being there, and he said, “I donate and eat iftar in a mosque at least once every Ramadan. It makes me feel good to watch people of all strata eat peacefully. And I love sitting here with the less fortunate, having Iftar with them and thanking Allah for giving me so much”. I turned back to my food after thanking him for his treat.

The moment arrived. There was dead silence. Even the mischievous street kids were calm. Everyone was busy. After all the hardship of the entire day the first sip of water feels like heaven. Nothing can beat that.

By M H Haider


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