The fast is broken at sunset, and it is termed in Arabic iftar. It is a time of happiness and refreshment after experiencing the pangs of hunger and thirst. It is usually broken with dates and in many cultures a light soup with bread or small side dishes. Breaking the fast is followed immediately by the evening obligatory prayer. In many parts of the world, including the US, breaking fast is observed in congregation in mosques and homes.
The Prophetic etiquette of breaking fast: three rutabs (moist dates), or else tamr (dry dates), or else water, mentioning Allah, using the right hand, stating the du`a that fasting was for Allah and breakfast with his rizq (provision), and asking Allah aid in fasting, night-prayer, lowering the eyes, and guarding the tongue in Ramadan. The invocation (du`a) upon breaking fast is answered.
The following two du`as should be recited after breaking the fast:
Allahumma laka sumtu wa `alaa rizqika aftartu
O Allah! For You have I fasted and upon Your sustenance have I broken my fast. [Abu Dawud]
Dhahab az zamaa’u wab tallatil urooqu wa thabat al-ajru Insha-Allah
The thirst has vanished, the veins have been wetted and the reward is established - Insha-Allah. [Abu Dawud]
The Prophet (s) said: "Whosoever fasts experiences two joys. He is joyful when he breaks his fast, and is joyful because of his fasting when he meets his Lord." [Sahih Muslim]
"When evening approaches from this side (east) and the day retreats from this side (west) and the sun has set, the one who is fasting breaks his fast." [Bukhari and Muslim]
"Break your fast with a date, or with water because it is pure."
[Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi]
The Messenger of Allah, praise and peace be upon him, said: "My nation will remain in goodness as long as they break the fast as soon as it is due." [Muslim]
It is offensive and unhealthy to stuff the stomach with food after fasting. The Prophet (s) said: “Enough for a human being to have luqaymat (=from 3 to 9 mouthfuls) that prop up his spine and, if he must have more [in his stomach], then one third of food, one third of water, and one third of air.”
Out of respect for the mosques and those who attend them among people, jinn, and angels foods that cause bad breath (such as garlic and onions), belching and gas should not be consumed.
1. Call a family meeting
At the meeting, you can set a time where everyone is present to have a meal together. This can be lunch or dinner. The meeting is also a time to decide who does what for the meal.
Fancy decorations are great, but they lose their appeal if the surrounding area and the table are not clean. The kitchen and dining room are two areas that should be extra clean and virtually spotless for Eid, along with the rest of the house.This should be the first priority.
Get the whole family to decide on a menu. There needs to be a main dish, side dishes and dessert. Appetizers can be fit in as well if everyone wants them.
The aim should be to make foods which are not normally eaten during the family's regular meals. There should also be a variety and dishes should be balanced between what different family members like, so that everyone can have at least one of their favorite ones on the table.
Try to have some dishes which are not necessarily from your specific cultural background. For instance, if your family is of an Indo-Pakistani background, why not try making Hummus with Tahina as a side dish? Or if your family of an Arabic background why not make Gulab Jamin for dessert.
4. Get a nice tablecloth
It's amazing what a nice tablecloth can do for your bland, brown kitchen/dinner table. You can buy one, but better yet, get the family member who knows how to sew best to make a fancy tablecloth.
And if they really want to be creative, they can make special place mats for each family member. These can then be taken out for every Eid family dinner.
5. Get out the best utensils
Put out the utensils you would if a special guest(s) were coming over-that means the best plates, serving dishes, etc. After all, if you've got a fancy tablecloth on the table, it's got to be matched by fancy utensils! You wouldn't wear a tie with a pair of pajamas would you?
6. Use cloth not paper napkins
Why not use cloth napkins instead of paper? These add to the formal appeal of the meal and all they'll require afterwards is a quick washing in the machine. You can store them for the next Eid as well. Make them your family's special napkins.
Match or contrast the color of the napkins to that of the tablecloth so it looks appealing.
7. Set the table according to need and presentation
You don't have to memorize all the complicated etiquette rules for eating common in formal American dinners (i.e. soup spoon here, dinner fork there, etc.) to decide where utensils and dishes should go. Balance the setting of the table between need and style.
For instance, as Muslims, the Sunnah is that we should eat with our right hand, so spoons should be on the right hand, not the left.
8. Leave enough space
Don't crowd the table with all of the dishes that are to be served. Bring them in according to the meal's sequence. For instance, when the main meal is being served, only that and accompanying side dishes should be served. There needs to be enough space for everyone to be able to sit and eat comfortably.
If you need more space for side dishes, for instance, put them on a smaller table ideally at the same level as the dinner table. This way everyone can see everything available for them to eat while having enough space.
9. Seat family members according to need
You may want to have mom on one end of the table and dad on the other. Seat everyone in the family according to need and comfort, not some specific guideline set by Miss Manners.
The Moon of Eid Documentary on Ramadan is a part of series of Holy Kitchens. Releasing 2012
Directed by Mohamed Ahmed Hamed
Written and Narrated Andrew Blackmore-Dobbyn
Moon of EID
Basmati Rice Risotto
Ramadan's Lentil Dumplings
Vermicelli and Cardamom Pudding