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In the month of Ramadan that last went by, I was at my local mosque for iftar. When it was time to break our fast, we did so but I was encouraged to keep on eating for at least ten minutes before we went to pray. Is it normal to wait so long after the adhan for maghrib to start praying? Normally, when I've prayed in mosques we wait a minimal time between the adhan and the prayer, and at home I pray directly after breaking my fast.

Is it normal to wait so long after breaking ones fast to pray maghrib?

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The part about fried food only is irrelevant. –  Hasan Khan Jul 30 '12 at 7:27
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up vote 6 down vote accepted

As for the time of Iftar,

Narrated Umar bin Al-Khattab: Allah's Apostle said, "When night falls from this side and the day vanishes from this side and the sun sets, then the fasting person should break his fast." Sahih Al-Bukhari Volume 3, Book 31, Hadith 175.

Narrated Ibn Abi Aufa: We were in the company of Allah's Apostle on a journey. He said to a man, "Get down and mix Sawiq (powdered barley) with water for me." The man said, "The sun (has not set yet), O Allah's Apostle." The Prophet again said to him, "Get down and mix Sawiq with water for me." The man again said, "O Allah's Apostle! The sun!" The Prophet said to him (for the third time) "Get down and mix Sawiq with water for me." The man dismounted and mixed Sawiq with water for him. The Prophet drank it and then beckoned with his hand (towards the East) and said, "When you see the night falling from this side, then a fasting person should break his fast." Sahih Al-Bukhari Volume 3, Book 31, Hadith 162.

The first hadith says we must break fast during sunset. The second Hadith asks us not to delay the Iftar till the sun fully sets. In short, it is logical to break the fast just at the beginning of sunset.

As for the timing of Maghrib prayer,

Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah: The Prophet used to pray the Zuhr at mid-day, and the 'Asr at a time when the sun was still bright, the Maghrib after sunset (at its stated time) and the Isha at a variable time. Whenever he saw the people assembled (for Isha' prayer) he would pray earlier and if the people delayed, he would delay the prayer. And they or the Prophet used to offer the Fajr Prayers when it is still dark. Sahih Al-Bukhari Volume 1, Book 10, Hadith 535.

Narrated Salama: We used to pray the Maghrib prayer with the Prophet when the sun disappeared from the horizon. Sahih Al-Bukhari Volume 1, Book 10, Hadith 536.

Narrated Rafi' bin Khadij: We used to offer the Maghrib prayer with the Prophet and after finishing the prayer one of us may go away and could still see as Par as the spots where one's arrow might reach when shot by a bow. Sahih Al-Bukhari Volume 1, Book 10, Hadith 534.

So, the Maghrib prayer is after sunset. Take a look at another Hadith:

Narrated Ibn 'Umar: Allah's Apostle said, "None of you should try to pray at sunrise or sunset." Sahih Al-Bukhari Volume 1, Book 10, Hadith 559.

Narrated Hisham's father: Ibn 'Umar said, "Allah's Apostle said, 'Do not pray at the time of sunrise and at the time of sunset.' " Ibn 'Umar said, "Allah's Apostle said, 'If the edge of the sun appears (above the horizon) delay the prayer till it becomes high, and if the edge of the sun disappears, delay the prayer till it sets (disappears completely).' " Sahih Al-Bukhari Volume 1, Book 10, Hadith 557.

As for the delay in between,

Referring to all the Ahadith above, we may infer that the Iftar timing is just at the (beginning of) sunset and the Maghrib prayer timing is after sunset. Going scientifically, the sunset takes around 3-5 minutes depending on where you live. These 3-5 minutes + a few minutes after sunset (So that there is no ambiguity of timing) decided by the Mosque authorities + some time for the people to gather, come to a gross 7-8 minutes.

So, this delay is in accordance with the Ahadith.


ۚ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ (And Allah is the All-Knower, the Wise)

Jazaakallah...

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About Timing

In a mosque people pray in congregation. You can't go and pray if you're done. There are fixed timings of prayer in mosque. If the timing is 10 minutes late then so it is, it is not for making you eat more fried food.

Did you consider that in your home country you may be taking time to travel to the mosque and now you were sitting inside the mosque and had to wait?

If they immediately start the prayer, people will miss the prayer because they have to come from home. And if they start whenever they are done eating then every day there will be new timing of prayer.

About What to Eat

Breaking fast with fresh dates is sunnah but if they are not available, you can break the fast with water or anything else. Its not a compulsion though.

Anas b. Mâik narrates that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) used to break his fast with fresh dates before going to prayer. When fresh dates were unavailable, he would break his fast with dried dates. When dried dates were unavailable, he would take a few sips of water. [Sunan Abî Dâwûd (2356)]

Further reading: "He used to break his fast with fresh dates before prayer” – Iftâr in Detail

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My answer would be the same +1 –  Ashu Jul 30 '12 at 9:41
    
taking time to travel to the mosque, Good point to be noted. –  Tabrez Ahmed Jul 30 '12 at 12:21
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