Asslamo Allaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh,
All praise be to Allah (SWT) who sent down the final revelation to us through our beloved Nabi (Sallaho Alaihe Wassallam) to cure our spiritual and physical ailments and illnesses.
All praise be to Allah (SWT) The Most Merciful of those who show Mercy who taught us what is good and beneficial for us in this world and the next.
Honey, is one of those precious gifts which have been bestowed to us by Allah (SWT).
A cursory glance at any medical system of the world (Ayurvedic, Chinese, Homeopathic to modern medicine etc) will reveal that Honey occupies a lofty status amongst them all, used over millennia by humans to cure a variety of illnesses and for preservation and cosmetic purposes. However, in our times rampant commercialisation has also affected honey production and most of the cheap super-market honey just carries the name in the title but in effect its just sugar water on which bees are fed on and then honey harvested for profit!
Here are a few things to look for in Honey:
1) Water & Moisture: Good quality honey has a very low water content and any honey which has over 19%-20% honey content is not very good quality. In addition, honey is hygroscopic which means it absorbs moisture from air which means that it has to be very carefully stores in a sealed jar.
Honey naturally has wild yeast in it but due to low quality water it will stay dormant so if the water content rises yeast will become active and start fermentation process.
So pick Honey with the lowest water content in it and then store it very carefully.
2) Pasteurised vs unpasteurised Honey: To increase the shelf life of honey commercially it is pasteurised and most cheap supermarket honey is pasteurised (read the label), many practitioners of complementary medicine state that pasteurising honey gets rid of some of its nutritional substances in addition to harmful microorganisms. Unpasteurised (raw) honey is however perfectly safe when purchased from a known source but care should be taken when giving to babies.
3) Raw (wild) vs Farmed Honey: Honey is a highly profitable commodity so honey farming means that bees are constantly fed on sugar water (or juices) and their honey extracted while as Allah (SWT) has stated that it is the nature of the bee to make homes at various places and then go from flower to flower to extract its natural nectar so where possible purchase wild honey (read the label).
Two specific types of Honey:
Although honey in general is wonderful medicine, two specific types of honey have been scientifically proven to be effective in killing bacteria:
1) Sid'r Honey: Mentioned in Islamic traditions as well as the bible. Comes from the Sid'r tree in Hadhramaut (Yemen) Plenty of fakes being sold across Islamic stores so be careful when buying and plenty of wild and exaggerated claims on Islamic forums across the net!
2) Manuka Honey: Comes from New Zealand and easily available in UK in various UMF ratings (5+,10+,15+,20+). Commercially it is claimed that the higher the rating the more potent the honey but in reality 10+ is fine!
->The oldest trick in the book <-
In most Asian and Islamic shops you will find honey with no information on origin, source but a piece of honeycomb immersed in the bottle and a verse of Quraan or Hadeeth on the label about Honey, dont fall for it!
->What to buy?<-
Always search and try to buy RAW HONEY and insist on knowing its source, water content and processing details to make sure that you are not just drinking sugar water!