Should a person who fasts eat iftar (dinner) first or perform the evening prayer?

Details of the Question
Is it more appropriate to drink water first and to perform the evening prayer and after that to eat dinner?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

When the time for the evening prayer starts and when the dinner is ready, it is mustahab to eat dinner and to perform the evening prayer after that.

For, peace of the heart is necessary for the prayer. The dinner at the table might arouse the soul and eliminate the peace of the heart in the prayer. As a matter of fact, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) stated the following regarding the issue:

"When dinner is ready and the table is laid, eat it before performing the evening prayer."

The following is stated in a similar narration:

"When the table is laid for dinner, start eating it before performing the evening prayer." [Bukhari - Muslim: from Anas b. Malik (ra) İslam Fıkhı, Celal Yıldırım]

- Should a person who fasts eat iftar (dinner) first or perform the evening prayer?

If it is definitely known that the time for the evening prayer started, it is better to break the fast by eating dates or drinking water first; then, the evening prayer is performed. It is also appropriate to eat the dinner quickly and then perform the evening prayer. However, when there are several kinds of food at the dinner (iftar) table, the evening prayer will have to be performed late.

To perform fard prayers when the time for a fard period starts is the best. Therefore, it is more appropriate to perform the evening prayer immediately after breaking the fast.

However, there is also the view that it is makruh to eat when a meal is ready. As we have mentioned above, what is meant by this view is the fact that a person cannot perform a prayer properly if his mind is busy with the food. It is appropriate to do so if the dinner does not delay the evening prayer very much. However, as we have mentioned above, the best way is to break the fast (with some dates and/or water) and to perform the evening prayer after it so as not to delay the evening prayer very much and to eat dinner after the prayer. Thus, one breaks his fast early in accordance with the Prophet (pbuh) and performs the evening prayer on time.

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