Suhoor or Suhur
Suhūr or Suhoor (سحور, “of the dawn”, “pre-dawn meal”; is an Islamic term referring to the meal consumed early in the morning by Muslims before fasting, sawm, before dawn during or outside the Islamic month of Ramadan. It is usually done around 4:00 AM. The meal is eaten before fajr prayer. Also, Fajr Prayer can be prayed after Suhoor. Suhur is matched to iftar as the evening meal, during Ramadan, replacing the traditional three meals a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner), although in some places dinner is also consumed after Iftar later during the night. Being the last meal eaten by Muslims before fasting from dawn to sunset during the month of Ramadan, sahur is regarded by Islamic traditions as a benefit of the blessings in that it allows the person fasting to avoid the crankiness or the weakness caused by the fast.
Suhoor, known as the pre-dawn meal in English is a significant element for Muslims during Ramadan. It is the last meal before the sun rises and the day of fasting begins. This meal is very important as fasters need to make sure they eat enough to ensure that they have sustained energy for the day ahead, especially for those who are still working during Ramadan.
Muslims are advised to make sure they wake up for Suhoor to prevent them from feeling weak or dehydrated during the day. Usually, the meal should contain all the nutrients needed by the body including proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals with easily digestible foods so that it doesn’t cause any stomach discomfort. Complex carbs are often the main component of the meal to extend energy levels. This time is also an opportunity to drink a lot of water to decrease levels of thirst during the day ahead.
Culturally it is more than just a meal and usually on the weekends, family and friends make an event out of it. They meet to socialise, enjoy the last meal together and wait for prayer time before the fast starts. Friends and family will gather and spend a few hours of quality time together relaxing, eating, playing games and smoking shisha. Even if you are not fasting, anyone is welcome to come along and experience Suhoor and Iftar. In fact, it’s a wonderful way to get into the spirit of the holy month for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Read: How is Fasting in Islam?
According to a hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari, Anas ibn Malik narrated,
“The Prophet said, ‘take suhoor as there is a blessing in it.'”
Dua for Suhur
When beginning the fast – Suhur (sehri)
وَبِصَوْمِ غَدٍ نَّوَيْتَ مِنْ شَهْرِ رَمَضَانَ
I intend to keep the fast for tomorrow in the month of Ramadan
Wa bi-sawmi ghadin nawaytu min shahri ramadan
The mesaharati is a public waker for sahur and dawn prayer during Ramadan. According to the history books, Bilal Ibn Rabah was the first mesaharati in Islamic history, as he used to roam the streets and roads throughout the night to wake people up.
The occupation is summed up by Abu Rabah, a mesaharati in his neighbourhood in the old city of Damascus:
“My duty during the holy month of Ramadhan is to wake people up in the old city of Damascus for prayers and Sahur meal.” According to Abbas Qatish, who is considered Sidon’s best mesaharati, the attributes every mesaharati should possess are physical fitness and good health, “because he is required to walk long distances every day. He should also have a loud voice and good lungs, as well as an ability to read poems. A mesaharati should supplicate God throughout the night to wake the sleepers.”
The tradition is practiced in countries such as Egypt, Syria, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and Palestine. However, there has been a gradual disappearance of the mesaharati due to several factors, including: Muslims staying up later; using technology such as alarms clocks to awake for sahur; and louder and larger homes and cities that make the voice of the mesaharati harder to hear.