In Tirmidhi, Zaid ibn Khalid Juhni reported that the Prophet SAW said “He who provides for the breaking of the fast of another person earns the same merit as the one who was observing the fast, diminishing in any way the reward of the latter. In the Muwatta of Imam Malik it is narrated that he heard that a beggar asked Aisha RA, the wife of the Prophet SAW, for something while she was fasting and there was only a loaf of bread in her house. She said to her servant, “Give it to him.” The servant protested, “You will not have anything to break your fast with.” Aisha RA repeated, “Give it to him,” so she did so.
While I was in San Diego attending UCSD I remember that at school and at the Islamic Center of San Diego there would be nightly iftar dinners. The idea was to provide a oppurtunity to those who were able to pay for the food to have the ability to feed those who needed food, to provide a communal atmosphere in the masjid and to serve as a place to unite the community and strengthen people’s bonds with one another. I find that those were some of the most exciting memories from my UCSD experience during Ramadan while I was a student.
I was new to the community and these dinners during Ramadan gave me a chance to meet the local community, to establish ties with the members there, to find ways to help and also become part of the community so I could not only get the benefit of the meal but also find ways to apply my skills and talents to benefit the San Diego community. Being a bachelor in Orange County and having worked for CAIR Los Angeles, I spent many of my iftars going to various events and often times hoping for just two nights of solitary iftars that were silent and simple, without suit and tie, with a couch and TV.
Now that I am leaving CAIR I find myself wondering what will happen for the rest of Ramadan. I look around and see that mosques can not afford to pay for regular nightly iftar dinners. To host one iftar at a masjid like the Islamic Institute of Orange County costs $3,000. During the current economic instability it must be difficult to stomach such costs when the community is giving less generously. But the heart of our religion is to give, and while I feel that I am a bit biased when it comes to this request as I am the one who would most likely benefit from these community iftars, they are really important during this economic hardship, more than they were when we lived in a time of plenty.
There are more people who are jobless, there are more people who cannot put a full dinner on their table and there are people who fast not out of religious obligation, but rather because they are incapable of obtaining food. I urge you to support your community by investing in this basic ideal. We should be able to provide that loaf of bread even if it is all we have, like Aisha RA instructed. We will not be any less without it, in fact, that act will be as if we have benefited from the fast of that person as well as our own fast, along with the benefit of providing for someone during this blessed month of Ramadan.