Social Dimensions Of Iftar

Dr. Bashir A Dabla

During the month of Ramadan an important social function gets organized by the Muslims in all parts of world which is named as Iftar.  Essentially, it represents the joint function of Muslims in a family or a group where they break the daylong fast.  In addition to religious importance of this pre-arranged function, it has tremendous sociological significance at the local, regional and global levels.

These sociological dimensions, based on empirical observation in different countries/parts of the world, can be explained in its Islamic-oriented structural and functional features.

The structural-theoretical feature of this social function reflects through the Islamic conception of ’patterned life’ which represents ideal relationship between man, God and universe.

If the obligations of this relationship and behavior pattern is either deviated or consciouslyviolated, man will invite the consequential displeasure of God and also the wrath of nature.  This ‘patterned-behaviour’ has been conveyed in the most sacred scripture – Quran and reflects in most of the Islamic social functions, particularly the Iftar.

Thus the patterned actions and interactions between participants contribute to ideal Islamic global social milieu. The functional feature related to Iftar reflects in the existing situation of Muslim cultures and civilization in non-material and material form respectively.  While different cultural  traits and practices are maintained at the lower level, but in changed form and with changed orientation, the mass  of participants face penetrating process of interaction.  

In all possibilities, it necessarily leads to egalitarianism and classless social collectivity. The focus of all major and minor actors in this social gathering is individual’s actions and achievements and not on heredity and lineage.  This principle of Islamic social justice seems inherent in all functions and activities of this special function.

More importantly, this social function throws away the existing differences based on economy, culture, race, ethnicity, language, education, politics, social structure, plurality and diversity in to the background and establishes the efficacy , legitimacy  and primacy of the dominance of Islamic universality, fellow-humanitarianism and brotherhood.  

Thus, the patterned social behavior, particularlysocial interaction, of the participants at Ifta  generates positive,productive and sacred ideas about Islam, its social ideology andsocial cultural environment.  It emphasizes ‘Islamic entirety and humanity’ and de-emphasizes ethnicity.  It unites ratherdivides the followers.

The rituals relatedto distribution and interaction areas make the functional dominance of Islamic spirituality over materialistic orientation an existing  andworking reality.

Finally, the prayers, namaz,  stands as the climax of this socialgathering which, in addition to establishing the Islamicegalitarianism and system of equality and dominating the spiritual milieu, it leads to serious implications for all Muslims at individualand collective levels.


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