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Here's why dates begin Iftar meals during Ramadhan

One of the biggest misconceptions about iftar is that it is only for Muslims but, anyone is welcome to participate in iftar meals!

A man having supper [Image Credit: Michael Burrows]

Ramadhan is upon us, and with it comes a shift in mealtimes for Muslims observing the holy month.

While the day is dedicated to fasting, evenings come alive with the vibrant tradition of iftar, the meal that breaks the fast. But what exactly goes down at an iftar?

The word "iftar" itself comes from the Arabic verb "afṭara," which translates to "to break the fast" or "to have breakfast." This directly reflects the meal's purpose as the end of the daily Ramadhan fast.

The concept of iftar is intrinsically linked to the very beginning of Ramadhan. Islamic tradition tells us that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) received the first verses of the Quran during this holy month. He is believed to have broken his fast with dates and water, setting the precedent for future generations.


Iftar is more than just a meal; it's a time for spiritual reflection and gratitude. Muslims often offer prayers after breaking their fast, expressing thanks to Allah (SWT) for the strength and guidance during the day.

In the early days of Islam, iftar gatherings were often small and intimate family affairs. Over time, the tradition evolved to include larger community meals, especially in mosques.


The iftar meal is eaten every day at sunset during the holy month of Ramadhan. This is because Muslims break their fast after the Maghrib prayer, which is the evening prayer called to right after sunset.

Iftar is more than just a meal; it's a celebration of resilience and community. Unlike crash diets, Ramadhan fasting is all about healthy, sustainable practices. So, what can you expect to find on the table?

Dates: A classic way to break the fast, dates are a natural source of sugar and electrolytes, offering a gentle reintroduction to food.

Balance is key: Think nutritious and delicious! A typical iftar spread will feature an array of dishes – think fresh fruits and vegetables, rice or bread for complex carbs, and lean protein sources like fish or chicken.


Iftar is a beautiful display of togetherness. Families come together, mosques open their doors for community meals, and friends gather to share this special moment. It's a time to reflect on the day's fast, express gratitude, and strengthen social bonds.

The significance of iftar goes beyond the culinary delights. It's a time for spiritual reflection, with many Muslims offering prayers after breaking their fast.

It's also a period for increased charity, with many giving food and assistance to those less fortunate.


Myth 1: It's a massive feast: While iftar can be a celebratory meal, it's not about overindulging. Moderation and healthy choices are key.

Myth 2: It's only for Muslims: Anyone is welcome to participate in iftar meals! It's a great opportunity to learn about Ramadhan and experience the spirit of community.

The core requirement for food during Ramadhan is that it must be halal. This means the ingredients and the way the food is prepared comply with Islamic dietary guidelines.


Ready to try your hand at an iftar meal? Here are some easily adaptable recipe ideas with step-by-step instructions:

1. Spicy lentil soup


  1. 1 tbsp olive oil
  2. 1 onion, chopped
  3. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1 tsp ground cumin
  5. 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  6. 1/4 tsp chili flakes (adjust to taste)
  7. 1 cup red lentils, rinsed
  8. 4 cups vegetable broth
  9. Diced tomatoes
  10. 1 cup chopped spinach
  11. Salt and pepper to taste
  12. Lemon wedges for serving (optional)


  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, cumin, coriander, and chili flakes. Cook for an additional minute, allowing the spices to release their aroma.
  2. Add lentils, vegetable broth, and diced tomatoes (with their juices). Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until lentils are tender.
  3. Stir in chopped spinach and cook for an additional minute, or until wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve hot with a squeeze of lemon juice, if desired.

2. Coconut curry with vegetables


  1. 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  2. 1 onion, chopped
  3. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 1 tbsp grated ginger
  5. 1 tsp curry powder
  6. 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  7. Coconut milk
  8. 1 cup vegetable broth
  9. 1 cup chopped mixed vegetables (broccoli, carrots, bell peppers)
  10. Chickpeas, drained and rinsed (optional)
  11. 1 cup cooked chicken breast, shredded (optional)
  12. Cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)
  13. Cooked rice or Naan bread for serving


  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and ginger, cook for an additional minute.
  2. Add curry powder and turmeric, cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly to release the flavors.
  3. Pour in coconut milk and vegetable broth. Bring to a simmer.
  4. Add chopped vegetables and chickpeas (if using). Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender-crisp.
  5. If using chicken, stir it in during the last few minutes of cooking.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves (optional).
  7. Serve hot over cooked rice or with Naan bread for dipping.

3. Sweet potato mash



  1. 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  2. 1/2 cup water
  3. 1/4 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
  4. 1 tbsp butter (or olive
  5. 1/4 tsp salt
  6. Pinch of ground black pepper
  7. Fresh chopped parsley or chives for garnish (optional)


  1. In a medium saucepan, combine chopped sweet potatoes and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are fork-tender. Drain any excess water.
  2. While potatoes are cooking, heat milk and butter (or olive oil) in a small saucepan over medium heat until butter melts. Remove from heat.
  3. In a large bowl, mash the cooked sweet potatoes using a potato masher or an electric mixer. Gradually add the warm milk mixture, beating until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley or chives (optional) before serving.

This content was generated by an AI model and verified by the author.


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