THE BENEFITS OF DATES
Muslims generally break their fast by eating dates. Prophet Muhammad(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) is reported to have said: "if anyone ofyou is fasting, let him break his fast with dates. In case he does nothave them, then with water. Verily water is a purifier."
The Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) used to break his fast by eating some dates before offering Maghrib prayer, and if ripe dates were not available, he used to substitute them with some dried grapes. When they too were not available, he used to have a few sips of water, according to some reports.
Modernscience has proved that dates are part of a healthy diet. They containsugar, fat and proteins, as well as important vitamins. Hence, the great importance attached to them by the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam).
Datesare also rich in natural fibres. Modern medicine has shown that theyare effective in preventing abdominal cancer. They also surpass otherfruits in the sheer variety of their constituents. They contain oil,calcium, sulphur, iron, potassium, phosphorous, manganese, copper andmagnesium. In other words, one date is a minimum of a balanced andhealthy diet. The Arabs usually combine dates with milk and yogurt orbread, butter and fish. This combination indeed makes a self-sufficientand tasty diet for both mind and body. Dates and date palms have beenmentioned in the Noble Qur'an 20 times, thus showing their importance. The Prophet likened a good Muslim to the date palm, saying, "Among trees, there is a tree like a Muslim. Its leaves do not fall."
SayyidahMariam (alaiyhas salaam) mother of Isa (alaiyhis salaam) had dates asher food when she felt labour pains and during confinement. They aredefinitely the "crown of sweets," and ideal food which is easy todigest, and within half an hour of taking it, the tired body regains arenewed vigour. The reason for this is that a shortage of sugar in theblood is the main factor that makes people feel hungry and not an emptystomach as is often assumed. When the body absorbs the nutritionalessence of a few dates, the feeling of hunger becomes appeased. Whenone breaking the fast with dates takes some other food afterwards, hecannot eat much. It would seem that breaking the fast with dates thenhelps one avoid excessive eating.
Experimentshave also shown that dates contain some stimulants that strengthen themuscles of the uterus in the last months of pregnancy. This helps thedilation of the uterus at the time of delivery on one hand and reducesthe bleeding after delivery on the other. Dieticians consider dates asthe best food for women in confinement and those who are breast-feeding.
Thisis because dates contain elements that assist in alleviating depressionin mothers and enriching the breast-milk with all the elements neededto make the child healthy and resistant to disease. The Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) has emphasized the importance of datesand their effectiveness in the growth of the fetus. He has alsorecommended they be given to women.
Modern dietary institute now recommend dates to be given to children suffering from a nervous nature or hyperactivity. The Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) has also recommended dates as a medicinefor heart troubles, according to some reports. Modern science has alsoproved the effectiveness of date, in preventing diseases of therespiratory system.
Sayyidah Ayisha, (RA) wife of Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam), used to prescribe dates for thosesuffering from giddiness. It is now well known that a fall in the levelof the sugar in the blood and low blood pressure are among the causesof giddiness. She was also reported to have used dates combined withcucumber to treat her over-slim condition! She said, "they've tried tofatten me giving me everything. But I did not become fat. Then theyfattened me with cucumber and ripe dates and I gained!"
Ayishawas quite correct, as we now know that one kilogram of dates containsnearly 3,000 calories which alone are sufficient to supply the minimumdaily requirements of an active man for one full day. Dates are rich inseveral vitamins and minerals. When the level of trace elements fallsin the body, the health of the blood vessels is affected leading to anincreased heart-rate and a consequent inability to perform its functionwith normal efficiency. As dates are also rich in calcium, they helpstrengthen the bones. When the calcium content in the body decreases,children are affected with rickets and the bones of adults becomebrittle and weak.
Datesare also important in keeping up the health of eyes. It is quiteeffective in guarding against night-blindness. In the early years ofIslam, dates served as food for Muslim warriors. They used to carry them in special bags hung at their sides. They are the best stimulant for muscles and so the best food for a warrior about to engage in battle.
The Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) used to combine dates with breadsometimes. At other times he mixed ripe dates with cucumber, or datescombined with ghee. He used to take all varieties of dates, but hepreferred the variety called Ajwah.