Yvonne Maffei, founder of the popular My Halal Kitchen blog, breaks down what you should know when attending your first iftar (the breaking of the Ramadan fast).
1. Want to attend an Iftar? Ask a Muslim
If you really want to attend an Iftar, simply ask a Muslim. Often times we’re not sure if you’d be interested and don’t want you to feel obligated to accept. If you’re really interested, just say the word. You will probably get many more than just one invitation that way, as we love to entertain and host people and believe that guests are a blessing and an honor.
2. Don’t feel the need to bring anything
Don’t worry about bringing anything, particularly something edible, as that will all be taken care of by the host. If you really feel uncomfortable arriving empty-handed, fresh flowers are always a welcome gesture.
3. Dress in modest attire
4. Don’t worry about fasting beforehand
You don’t have to have fasted all day to feel welcomed or in any way accept an invitation to an Iftar.
5. Make sure to show up on time
6. Leave your shoes at the door
If you’re attending Iftar in a private home.
7. Know what happens after you break fast
Following the breaking of the fast with a date or two, you will most likely be served water or something else to drink and then some sort of savory or crunchy item like a samosa or something similar.
8. Don’t worry about participating in prayer
After the appetizers are served, most people will begin to leave the dining area and go to pray the sunset prayer. Do not feel obligated to leave your seat or to attend the prayer in any way. The prayer will usually take under 10 minutes and you will see people piling back in to continue eating the main meal.
9. Expect a full meal
The main foods served at an Iftar depend on the culture or the menu the host decides upon. It’s served much like any dinner with a main dish, sides, salads, non-alcoholic drinks, desserts, and coffee or tea at the end.
10. You don’t need to participate in taraweeh
There is something called taraweeh, or the night prayers, during Ramadan. These are usually held at mosques during the night. Most people don’t want to miss those prayers and so they are in a bit of a time crunch to pray, eat, maybe go home to take some rest, and change or whatever they need to do before those prayers begin. These prayers can last up to two hours per night. There is such a huge emphasis on prayer and reading the Qur’an in this month that lingering around after the Iftar meal isn’t the biggest priority.