It is preferred for the fasting person to hasten in breaking the fast when the sun has set. Sahl ibn Sad reported that the Prophet said: “The people will always be with the good as long as they hasten in breaking the fast.” This is related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.
The fast should be broken with an odd number of dates or, if that is not available, with some water. Anas reported: “The Messenger of Allah would break his fast with ripe dates before he would pray. If those were not available, he would eat dried dates. If those were not available, he would drink some water.” This hadith is related by Abu Dawud and by al-Hakim, who called it sahih, and by at-Tirmizhi, who called it hassan.
Sulaiman ibn ‘Amr reported that the Prophet said: “If one of you is fasting, he should break his fast with dates. If dates are not available, then with water, for water is purifying.” This is related by Ahmad and by at-Tirmizhi, who called it hassan sahih.
The preceding hadith also shows that it is preferred to break the fast in the above manner before praying. After the prayer, the person may continue to eat, but if the evening meal is ready, one may begin with that. Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah said: “If the food is already presented, eat before the sunset prayer and do not eat your meals in haste.” This is related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.