It was narrated that Anas ibn Maalik (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The Prophet (صَلَّى اللَّه عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ) said:
تَسَحَّرُوا فَإِنَّ فِي السَّحُورِ بَرَكَةً
“Eat suhoor, for in suhoor there is blessing.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1923; Muslim, 1095.
This hadeeth indicates that the fasting person is commanded to eat suhoor because there is a great deal of goodness and blessing, both spiritual and worldly, in it.
The Prophet (صَلَّى اللَّه عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ) mentioned the blessing so as to encourage us to eat suhoor.
It was narrated from Jaabir that the Prophet (صَلَّى اللَّه عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ) said:
مَنْ أَرَادَ أَنْ يَصُومَ فَلْيَتَسَحَّرْ بِشَيْءٍ
“Whoever wants to fast, let him eat something for suhoor.” Narrated by Ahmad, 14533; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, 2309.
The command here is in the sense of it being mustahabb, not obligatory, based on the fact that the Prophet (صَلَّى اللَّه عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ) and his companions observed continual fasts, i.e., fasting two or more days without breaking the fast in between, i.e., they fasted night and day.
There is a great deal of blessing in suhoor which includes benefits both in this world and in the Hereafter.
These blessings include the following:
1 – It gives strength for worship and helps one to obey Allaah during the day by praying, reading Qur’aan and remembering Allaah (dhikr).
One who is hungry may become lazy in worship just as he may become lazy in his daily work, this is something that is well known.
2 – Suhoor wards off the bad attitude that may be provoked by hunger, so the one who eats suhoor will be in a good mood and will interact well with others.
3 – The one who eats suhoor will be encouraged to fast more, because fasting is less difficult for the one who eats suhoor, so he will be encouraged to fast and it will not be so difficult for him.
4 – Eating suhoor is following the Sunnah, so if the person who eats suhoor has the intention of obeying the command of the Prophet (صَلَّى اللَّه عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ ) and following his example, then his suhoor is an act of worship, so he will be rewarded for it accordingly.
If he intends thereby to gain physical strength for fasting and praying qiyaam, he will be rewarded according to that.
5 – The person who eats suhoor gets up at the end of the night to remember Allaah, make du’aa’ and pray, for that is when prayers are answered and it is the time when Allaah and angels send blessings upon those who eat suhoor, because of the hadeeth of Abu Sa’eed (may Allaah be pleased with him) which will be quoted below.
6 – By eating suhoor one differs from the people of the Book. The Muslim is required to avoid imitating them.
The Prophet (صَلَّى اللَّه عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ) said:
فصل ما بين صيامنا وصيام أهل اكتاب أكلة السحور
“The difference between our fasting and the fasting of the people of the Book is eating suhoor.”
7 – Another blessing of suhoor is praying Fajr in congregation, at the proper time.
Hence you see that there are more worshippers praying Fajr in Ramadaan than in other months, because they have gotten up for suhoor.
The fasting person should be keen to eat suhoor and he should not miss it because he feels too sleepy or for any other reason.
He should be easy going when he is woken for suhoor and in a good mood, happy to be following the command of the Messenger of Allaah (صَلَّى اللَّه عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ) and keen to attain its goodness and barakah (blessing), because our Prophet (صَلَّى اللَّه عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ) affirmed the importance of suhoor and enjoined it, and explained that it is the symbol of the Muslims’ fasting that differentiates their fasting from that of the people of the Book, and he told us not to omit suhoor.
Suhoor may be done by means of the least amount of food or drink that a person consumes, it does not have to be any specific kind of food.
It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allaah (صَلَّى اللَّه عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ) said:
نعم سحور المؤمن التمر
“The best suhoor for the believer is dates.” Narrated by Abu Dawood, 2345); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood.
It was narrated that Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri said: The Messenger of Allaah (صَلَّى اللَّه عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ) said:
السُّحُورُ أَكْلَةٌ بَرَكَةٌ فَلا تَدَعُوهُ وَلَوْ أَنْ يَجْرَعَ أَحَدُكُمْ جَرْعَةً مِنْ مَاءٍ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ وَمَلائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى الْمُتَسَحِّرِينَ
“Suhoor is a blessed meal, so do not omit it, even if one of you only takes a sip of water, for Allaah and His angels send blessings on those who eat suhoor.” Narrated by Ahmad, 11003; classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 3683.
The best time for suhoor
It was narrated that Zayd ibn Thaabit (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “We ate suhoor with the Prophet (صَلَّى اللَّه عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ) then he went to pray.” I [the narrator] asked, “How long was there between the adhaan and suhoor?” He said, “As long as it takes to recite fifty verses.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1921; Muslim, 1097.
This hadeeth indicates that it is mustahabb to delay suhoor until just before Fajr. Between the time when the Prophet (صَلَّى اللَّه عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ) and Zayd ibn Thaabit (may Allaah be pleased with him) finished their suhoor and started to pray was the amount of time it took to recite fifty verses of the Qur’aan at a moderate pace, neither fast nor slow. This indicates that the time for prayer is close to the time of stopping eating and drinking.
What is meant by the adhaan here is the iqaamah, which is called adhaan because it is an announcement that the prayer is about to begin.
It was narrated in Saheeh al-Bukhaari (576) that it was said to Anas – the narrator of the hadeeth – “How much time was there between their finishing their suhoor and starting to pray?” He said: “As long as it takes for a man to recite fifty verses.”
Hastening to eat suhoor halfway through the night is permissible, but it is contrary to the Sunnah. Suhoor is so called because it happens at the time of sahr, which is the end of the night.
If a person eats suhoor halfway through the night, he may miss out on Fajr prayer because sleep may overwhelm him.
Moreover, delaying suhoor is kinder to the fasting person and gives him more energy, because one of the aims of suhoor us to give physical strength for fasting and to conserve one’s energy, so it is wise to delay it.
The fasting person should follow the Prophet’s example in this matter, and should not eat suhoor early.
Another etiquette of fasting that was stated by the scholars is that the fasting person should not be extravagant in his suhoor and should not fill his stomach with food, rather he should eat a moderate amount, because the son of Adam does not fill any worse vessel than his stomach.
If he eats his fill at the time of suhoor he will not be any use until Zuhr time, because eating a large amount makes a person feel lazy and listless.
The words of the Prophet (صَلَّى اللَّه عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ),
نعم سحور المؤمن التمر
“The best suhoor for the believer is dates” points to this meaning, because dates, in addition to their high nutritional value, are also light on the stomach and easily digested.
If eating one’s fill is also accompanied by staying up late and sleeping during the day, the purpose of fasting is also lost.
And Allaah is the One Whose help we seek.
O Allaah, accept this (worship) from us, for You are the All-Hearing, All-Knowing, and accept our repentance for You are the Acceptor of repentance, the Most Merciful.
See Ahaadeeth al-Siyaam by al-Fawzaan, p. 75-81.