3 Interesting Ways Muslims Break Fast
There are 1.8 billion Muslims all over the world who are celebrating Ramadan this month. Most of them fast from sunrise to sunset every day of the month. They will abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and having sex each day to please God (Allah) and seek forgiveness for past sins. If you ask Indonesians why they fast during Ramadan, they will say they do it because they have to in their religion. Usually Indonesian Muslims will wake up at 3:30 am to share a meal together (sahur). The women will wake up around 2 am to cook the meal! They will then break fast at sunset. Breaking fast is a social event and the favorite part of the day for a Muslim during Ramadan. We will look at 3 interesting ways Muslims break fast in Indonesia.
Sweet Treats First!
As it gets closer to the time to break fast (usually around 6pm at sunset), Indonesians will begin to prepare their “breaking fast” food. Some will go out to buy the food and bring it home. Many businesses give out free snacks and water on the side of the road (takjil).
Muslims have to break fast with a sweet treat and water. Some will eat a few dates like Muhammad did, but most will have a sweet snack or sweet drink. A popular snack is “Kolak” which is coconut milk mixed with a variety of fruit. They also enjoy sugary ice drinks with fruit (Indonesians love their sweets!) These snacks allow their stomachs to get used to food again after fasting for 12 hours.
In the cities, younger Indonesians will meet up with their friends at a café or restaurant to break fast. Around this time cafes are packed! They have to make a reservation beforehand to ensure they have a place to break fast. The cafes will prepare the tables with dates and water and then they can also order snacks.
In the villages (desa), Indonesians will break fast with their families at home. There are no cafes or restaurants in villages but some will hang out at a “warung” (a side of the road shop that provides food and drinks). Men will go here at night to smoke with friends.
Time to Pray
After breaking fast with something sweet, Indonesians will then head to a mosque to pray. They can also pray in a mushola (area to pray in a public place) or in their house. This is the 4th prayer time of the day (Maghrib). Everyone will hear the mosque loud speakers blaring as the imam or mosque leader says the prayers.
When Muslims pray, they first have to wash their face, hands and feet. They do this to cleanse themselves from dirt and impurities. Mosques and musholas will provide an area where they can take off their shoes and wash themselves. They can then enter the mosque, roll out a prayer mat, and start praying on their knees. Muslims have a set prayer that they have to recite at each prayer time of the day. Women and men are separated and women have to cover their heads to pray. Every time they pray, they have to face Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam.
Finally the Feast!
When Muslims finish praying, they can then get ready to eat their big meal of the day. Their stomachs are all grumbling at this point and they are excited to eat with friends and family. Most people will eat with their families in their homes for the evening meal. Others will stay at the café or go to a restaurant with friends and family. They will also plan dinners with neighbors and make it a big event to break fast together.
However they break fast, they want to enjoy it with people they love and thank God together for all that He has provided for them. They prepare an extravagant spread of food each day. Usually they cook meat, rice, vegetables, tofu, fried snacks, and desserts. It is a wonderful time to gather and to enjoy good food after fasting all day!
Ramadan is the biggest holiday for Muslims. One of the pillars of Islam is to fast during Ramadan. They fast to please God and ask forgiveness for their sins. They celebrate as they break fast by eating a sweet snack, praying and enjoying a meal with family. This month is a crucial time to pray for Muslims to find a relationship with God. Join us in praying for Indonesian Muslims this Ramadan!