(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) is reported to have said: "if anyone
of you is fasting, let him break his fast with dates. In case he
does not have 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. Modern science has proved that
dates are part of a healthy diet. They contain sugar, fat and
proteins, as well as important vitamins. Hence the great importance
attached to them by the Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam).
Dates are also rich in natural fibres. Modern medicine has shown
that they are effective in preventing abdominal cancer. They also
surpass other fruits in the sheer variety of their constituents.
They contain oil, calcium, sulphur, iron, potassium, phosphorous,
manganese, copper and magnesium. In other words, one date is a
minimum of a balanced and healthy diet. Arabs usually combine dates
with milk and yogurt or bread, butter and fish. This combination
indeed makes a self-sufficient and tasty diet for both mind and
body. Dates and date palms have been mentioned in the Holy 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."
Sayyidah Mariam(alaiyhas salaam) mother of Isa(alaiyhis salaam) had
dates as her food when she felt labour pains and during confinement.
They are definitely the "crown of sweets," and ideal food which is
easy to digest, and within half an hour of taking it, the tired body
regains a renewed vigour. The reason for this is that a shortage of
sugar in the blood is the main factor that makes people feel hungry
and not an empty stomach as is often assumed. When the body absorbs
the nutritional essence of a few dates, the feeling of hunger
becomes appeased. When one breaking the fast with dates takes some
other food afterwards, he cannot eat much. It would seem that
breaking the fast with dates then helps one avoid excessive eating.
Experiments have also shown that dates contain some stimulants that
strengthen the muscles of the uterus in the last months of
pregnancy. This helps the dilation of the uterus at the time of
delivery on one hand and reduces the bleeding after delivery on the
other. Dieticians consider dates as the best food for women in
confinement and those who are breast-feeding. This is because dates
contain elements that assist in alleviating depression in mothers
and enriching the breast-milk with all the elements needed to make
the child healthy and resistant to disease. The Prophet (sallallahu
alaiyhi wassallam) has emphasized the importance of dates and their
effectiveness in the growth of the fetus. He has also recommended
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 medicine for heart troubles, according to
some reports. Modern science has also proved the effectiveness of
date, in preventing diseases of the respiratory system.
Sayyidah Ayisha, (R.A.) wife of Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi
wassallam), used to prescribe dates for those suffering from
giddiness. It is now well known that a fall in the level of the
sugar in the blood and low blood pressure are among the causes of
giddiness. She was also reported to have used dates combined with
cucumber to treat her over-slim condition! She said, "they've tried
to fatten me giving me everything. But I did not become fat. Then
they fattened me with cucumber and ripe dates and I gained!" Ayisha
was quite correct, as we now know that one kilogram of dates
contains nearly 3,000 calories which alone are sufficient to supply
the minimum daily requirements of an active man for one full day.
Dates are rich in several vitamins and minerals. When the level of
trace elements falls in the body, the health of the blood vessels is
affected leading to an increased heart-rate and a consequent
inability to perform its function with normal efficiency. As dates
are also rich in calcium, they help strengthen the bones. When the
calcium content in the body decreases, children are affected with
rickets and the bones of adults become brittle and weak.
Dates are also important in keeping up the health of eyes. It is
quite effective in guarding against night-blindness. In the early
years of Islam, 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 bread sometimes. At other times he mixed ripe dates with
cucumber, or dates combined with ghee. He used to take all varieties
of dates, but he preferred the variety called Ajwah.