HOW often have we seen it? A beautiful table laid with all the exotic foods you can think of. Dates of a thousand kind, drinks that have been concocted from fruits you’ve never heard of. Well, this is all too common when people are invited to open their fast in the holy month of Ramadan.

I clearly remember attending one such occasion and was amazed by the plethora of foods visible on the table. I thought to myself “how many people have they invited?” The dates alone would have been enough to feed an army. As I sat and observed the people, I just couldn’t understand how this food would be finished. As the call to prayer was announced, we opened our fast. The concentration was intense – ‘Try this one’, ‘what about that one’, were the reoccurring words as plates were placed in front of me. As we ate I looked up at the clock and thought we should go to the mosque, but the food kept on coming. We were like overstuffed balloons on the verge of bursting when we went for prayer after opening the fast. Upon returning, it was really amazing that I was even expected to eat dinner.

It’s these kind of situations that we need to take care of because fasting is all about abstaining from food and not indulging in it. Some people eat so much food at dawn they are not at all hungry during the day. This defeats the whole objective of fasting, as we should experience the hunger felt by so many around the world and be thankful to Allah for what we have.

Feeding people is a virtuous act that leads to reward, but how many times have we invited the poor to come and eat with us? They too fast and we should spare a thought for the poor and needy as they are rarely invited to open their fasts with people. They shouldn’t be forgotten in this great month. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever gives iftaar to one who is fasting will have a reward like the fasting person, without detracting from the fasting person’s reward in the slightest.” – Tirmidhi and Ibn Maajah – classed as saheeh by Al-Albani

If we look at the life of our noble Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) we see that he would break his fast with fresh dates. If none were available, he would have old dates. If no dates were available then he would just drink some mouthfuls of water. We should keep this in mind and try our level best to follow the example of the Prophet (peace be upon him).