3 Common Misconceptions About Eating in Ramadan
Abdul Qowi Bastian
Many Muslims experience Ramadan without truly understanding it. Here are some common misconceptions related to eating during Ramadan that most of us tend to overlook or are unaware of.
Tajil Is Not on the Menu
Most Indonesians associate the term ‘tajil’ with small food to break the fast. A number of restaurants and cafes in Jakarta noticeably offer interesting promotions in Ramadan. Many of them, to make up for lost customers during the day, offer “free tajil” to enjoy the fast-breaking dinner.
Even prominent news anchor Desi Anwar in her weekly Jakarta Globe column wrote, “Come sundown, my sweet tooth becomes a vampiric fang and I hunt for tajil, the dessert consumed to break the fast as a sugar kick.”
According to fellow writer, Andi Gunawan, tajil is a verb, not a noun, as people often use it in conversations. The word “tajil” comes from the Arab language, which means “hasten.”
To haste the fast-breaking is one of the recommended things to do during Ramadan, as narrated by al-Bukhaari and Muslim, “The people will not cease to prosper as long as they hasten to break the fast.”
Are You Allowed to Eat After Imsak?
Hypothetically you wake up kind of late for sahur – the predawn meal – and you still manage to drink shortly after the imsak time – about 10 minutes before the morning prayer call. And you wonder, is your fast valid? Should you have done that? Are you allowed to eat until only imsak?
Remember, during Ramadan, Muslims are required to refrain from eating and drinking from dawn until dusk. In some circumstances – such as emergency described in a hypothetical situation above – apparently you’re allowed to eat until fajr, marked by the dawn prayer call. But it’s recommended to stop eating and drinking at imsak, just to be on the safe side.
The word ‘recommended’ is emphasized here, because the actual moment of the rising sun is not 100 percent certain. You’re lucky to live in Indonesia since the Islamic calendars here clearly state the imsak time. In many countries, where Muslims are in the minority group, the exact imsak time usually varies between 5 to 20 minutes.
Is it Allowed to Taste Food While Fasting?
A mother cooks daily, even in Ramadan. She often has to taste the food to make sure it’s alright. The question is, does tasting food while fasting invalidate the fast?
Ibn ‘Abbaas, as narrated by al-Bukhaari, said: “There is nothing wrong with tasting what is being cooked or whatever.”
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen further explained, “The fast is not invalidated by tasting food so long as one does not swallow it, but you should not do that unless there is a need for it.”
That being said, a mother has a need and responsibility to ensure her meals taste alright for the whole family to enjoy. The same thing applies to chefs and food workers who have the need to see how salty or sweet the food is and so on.
People often complicate things when it comes to rules and regulations, but they tend to forget how simple Islam is. Such people presumably have a limited understanding of Islam and do not realize how easy the rules are to follow.
Have more misconceptions to share? Tell us in the comment section.