When is the proper time for iftar, right after sunset, or a few minutes later?

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by Askimam.org

A difference of opinion exists in our town regarding the exact time of Iftaar. Some are of the opinion that it is necessary to open fast immediately after sunset based on the Hadith of Bukhari that ?people will continue in prosperity so long as they make Ta?jeel (be quick) in breaking the fast.? Others are of the opinion that as a matter of precaution, the fast should be opened a few minutes after actual sunset, as the time in the Muazzin?s clock or the perpetual timetable, may not be absolutely correct. Kindly comment.

Answer

The Fuqahaa have stated that it is Waajib to exercise precaution in breaking fast. (Tahtaawi; Karachi pg.370). Ibn Nujaym states, ?Ta?jeel (to be quick) which is desired in breaking fast is before the stars appear.? (Bahrur Raaiq vol.4 pg.292) In view of the above, it is not necessary to break fast immediately after sunset in order to achieve the virtue mentioned in the Hadith. The virtue will still be achieved even though there is a slight delay.

The Hadith of Bukhari referred to in your questionnaire is explained by Ibn Hajr (Rahmatullaahi Alayhi) in Fathul Baari (vol.4 pg.191) as follows: ?The Christians and Jews used to delay their fast until the stars were apparent, hence, we should contradict them, i.e. we should not delay to that extent.?

Furthermore, we have queried the matter with the relevant experts, they too are of the opinion that the timetables are not accurate and there is a variation of at least two (2) minutes. Therefore, our advise is to exercise precaution by waiting at least five (5) minutes after the given time in our perpetual timetable.

And Allah Ta’ala Knows Best.

Mufti Ebrahim Desai
(Al-Mahmood 12)

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