Futuur (futoor) is the Arabic word for “first meal of the day” and is the meal taken at sunset of the Muslim’s fasting day during the holy month of Ramadhan (the ninth month in the Islamic lunar calendar and the month of fasting during the daylight hours). The sound of a firing cannon in some Islamic countries and the adhaan (call to prayer) from the mosque at maghrib (sunset) in others, signals the start of the meal. It is customary to break the fast with family and friends, either at home or in the mosque.
Before the fast is broken, one makes his intention (either silently or verbally) that his futuur is an act of worship to Allah (God). It is sunnah (a tradition of the Prophet Muhammad) to break the fast by first eating dates and sippingwater. Attending the maghrib prayer at the mosque right after this gives time for the empty stomach to absorb the nutrients from the dates and prepare it for the coming meal.
Each Islamic country has its own traditional foods served for futuur. Some of the more commonly-shared foods include barley soup,
sambousek (meat pastries), a vegetable stew or salad, and usually a milk-based dessert. Just about any type of food can be served; however, it is customary to provide a variety of food that combines all the vitamins, nutrients, fiber, etc. that was lost during the long day of fasting. It is sunnah to eat these in moderation as the stomach would not be accustomed to such a bombardment of potential heavy, rich, or greasy food after 12 or more hours of fasting. Overeating may result in the feeling of sluggishness and other stomach upsets which could prevent him from performing other acts of required worship such as praying or reading the Qur’an.
Beverages served during futuur
include juices of all kinds, especially apricot, orange, and apple. These are served to replenish the vitamins lost during the day. Each country has its own special beverage made only during Ramadhan; for example, in Saudi Arabia, both a “red” and “white” soubia is sold. Soubia is made from bread, yeast, water, and sugar. Another popular beverage is qamrideen – a drink made of dried apricots boiled in water with sugar. Licorice root and tamarind are other popular drinks, especially in Egypt and Syria.
Ramadhan, in whatever country one may observe it, evokes new and special memories year after year. The best memories are the ones where family and friends sit down together at futuur to break their fast but, most importantly, to know that this is a very important act of devotion to Allah.