Q. With the month of Ramadhaan approaching the haleem madness has commenced, especially in the greater Durban area. I find that haleem is associated with Ramadhaan to almost the level of Sunnat. Ridiculous quantities are prepared. For example, a small town where there is a Muslim population of between 750 – 1000 families prepares 10 to 15 degs (huge pots); in a suburb another 5 to 10 degs. On Sundays in one small town about 15 degs. A bigger town nearby prepares 50 degs every weekend. Various other venues in this same 50 deg town also prepare several degs each. These families are not poor and destitute.
Is there any Deeni significance of haleem during Ramadhaan, especially for iftaar? The other issue is that the haleem madness has become commercialized. The cost of a deg of haleem is about R500 to R750 depending on whether its chicken or mutton. People who collect money for preparing haleem distribution are soliciting R1500 to R2000 per deg. What happens to the extra money collected?
Many people contribute Sadqah towards the haleem project. The haleem is consumed by not only the poor. This has become a lucrative business. Cooks can earn as much as R15,000 in a weekend. The other important issue is that almost all the chicken haleem is prepared from haraam carrion chickens. This haraam haleem is given free for people to make iftaar with. Please comment on this issue. (Haleem is a kind of a soup)
A. There is absolutely no Deeni/Sunnah relationship between Ramadhaan and haleem. It has become a racket as is clear from the wasteful quantity prepared, and from the inflated prices quoted by the collectors who pocket the money. Furthermore, crooks are cashing in. In fact, this bid’ah of haleem has displaced the actual Sunnah method of Iftaar. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: “Whoever finds dates, should make iftaar with it, and whoever has no dates, should make iftaar with water.” It was Rasulullah’s and the Sahaabas’ practice to break the Fast with dates. When they had no dates, iftaar was with water or with “something not prepared by fire”, i.e. something uncooked.
It appears that the custom of haleem (a kind of soup) was introduced to provide for the Fuqara (the poor and destitute). However, it has now become, as you say, a ‘madness’. The carrion chickens render the haleem haraam. The Fasts of the people are ruined with the haraam haleem. The dishonesty perpetrated by unscrupulous haleem vendors is another reason for the need to discontinue this bid’ah.
Furthermore, there are many poor people who benefit from the haleem, hence they even scramble dishonourably for a share. If in a locality there are genuine Fuqara, then a proper arrangement should be made to distribute haleem and other foodstuff, not for the purpose of Iftaar. The haleem should not be distributed at the time of Iftaar nor served to the Saaimeen (the fasting people) for Iftaar or at the time of Iftaar. This corrupt practice prevails at almost all Musjids in Natal. The rich and the not so rich and a handful of poor, congregate at the Musjid and indulge in wasteful feasting at the time of Iftaar. Considerable waste occurs on these anti-Sunnah occasions. The Maghrib Salaat too is inordinately delayed to accommodate the bid’ah custom. Iftaar is not the time for feasting.
A survey of the poor and needy in an area should be made by the responsible people of the locality. If it is decided to give them haleem, only sufficient should be prepared to cater for their needs, and the haleem should be given to them during the course of the day, not at Iftaar time. The poor may collect the haleem with their own utensils and consume it at home after Maghrib Salaat. The wasteful, bid’ah feasting which takes place at the Musaajid should be terminated.