Q. Is the du`a for breaking the fast (Allahumma laka sumto wa bika amanto...!) recited before breaking the fast or after breaking the fast. In a book written by Dr. Muhammad Abdul Rauf, the author stated that after breaking the fast, the du`a is recited. All my life I have been doing the opposite. Your comments and advice would be appreciated.

Also, Zakat-ul-Fitr (or Sadaqat-ul-Fitr) is paid by all Muslims (if they can afford it) during the month of Ramadan, even as late as before the Eid prayer, for every member of the household. Generally, most Muslim communities come up with an estimated dollar amount per person, such as, $5.00, or $7.00, or $7.50. This sum is supposed to pay for one meal for an indigent person. According to Dr. Rauf, the cost should be for "feeding a poor person for one day." Obviously, the dollar amounts noted above cannot feed a poor person for one day; they may cover one meal, but not three meals. What is the operative rule for the zakat-ul-fitr stipulation? One meal for a poor person, or food for one day for a poor person?

A. Regarding the du`a, grammatically and in terms of what we assume to be the psychology of the weakest of the fasting persons, the du`a is after. You see, the fasting person who is presumably hungry, seeks the aspect of God that makes him/her most at ease. In a situation to be judged, certain criteria dictate the answer: automatically assume the position to be most severe, and the Muslim the weakest. This is the minimum of effort to offset the severest possibility. A person is hungry, and to tax him with a ritual du`a is outside of the context of: "Verily Allah wants that which is easy for you...," and so he/she is allowed to break the fast. The du`a is an appreciation and the use of the past tense.


sumto: I have fasted

aamanto: I have believed

tawkalto: I have trusted

aftarto: I have broken my fast.

This would indicate a done deed. Yet we are getting into the mire of legalese here. A person who loves Allah may state that to eat and then worship is not indicative of true taqwa, and so the du`a may be then said almost immediately before, for the past tense in Arabic is not also indicative of an actual past. Another matter complicating the issue is that this is all from the Fuqaha, and it is unlikely that the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.a.w) would have voiced the du`a, unless for teaching. He would have kept it in his mind, making the aspect of eating and supplicating two acts possible at the same time.

Your second question is more difficult. The rule in fiqh is that the least of what is a deed is considered to be sufficient. Now there is difference regarding the material ordered. This hadith shows it: Abu Said stated: We used to as zakat al fitr, a sa of food, or a sa of barley, or of dates, or from cheese, or from raisins (Bukhari and Muslim). Now the focus in on the first item: a sa of food. That is enough for one meal only. The others are arguably enough for a day. This probably is why the jurists insist in some cases that cash is not to be given. But it is one meal, not for the full day. This obviously is keeping to the minimum fiqh requirement.

Posted January 7, 1999