Alhamdulillah was-salatu was-salaamu 'ala rasoolillah. All thanks and praise is to ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, and we ask that HIS blessings and peace be upon HIS Messenger, Muhammad, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam.
MAKE A DATE WITH DATES
Dates are ancient fruit enjoyed by people for thousands of years. The date palm and dates are mentioned in the Quran a number of times. Perhaps the most notable is the mention in connection with Maryam (the Virgin Mary), alaihas salaam (peace be upon her). When her labor pains began and she was about to deliver 'Issa (Jesus), alaihis salaam, she felt bad and wished she had never been born. She rested at a date palm tree and ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, informs us of what happened in Surat Maryam:
And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree: she cried (in her anguish) "Ah! Would that I had died before this! Would that I had been a thing forgotten and out of sight!" But (a voice) cried to her from beneath the (palm tree): "Grieve not! For thy Lord has provided a rivulet beneath you; And shake towards you the trunk of the palm tree; it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon you. So eat and drink and cool (your) eye. And if you see any man, say, 'I have vowed a fast to (ALLAH) Most Gracious, and this day will I enter into no talk with any human being'". (Maryam: 23-26)
This gives a glimpse into the benefits of the date palm. It gave a resting place to Maryam, alaihas salaam, a woman experiencing the pain of childbirth and in anguish over delivering a baby out of wedlock. It also provided her food for nourishment and sustenance during childbirth. ALLAH, Subhanahu wa ta'ala, could have provided her with any choice of food and yet, HE chose the date as the proper food for a woman in labor.
Even the Pharaohs recognized the value of dates and they etched drawings of dates on the walls of their temples.
There are over 4000 varieties of dates in the world. Dates require a warm, moist climate to grow and the hotter, the better. They grow in many regions of the world, from Malaysia to India, to the Middle East and North Africa and the warm regions of North America.
There are male and female date palms and fertilization must occur for dates to be formed. Female flowers produce the fruit and male flowers produce the pollen. A healthy male palm tree can pollinate fifty female palm trees.
Whenever a date seed is being planted, a new kind of date is originated. For the same variety of dates, an offshoot must be planted. The offshoots develop produces near the base of the palm. It usually takes 5 to 10 years for an offshoot to develop a root system. When it takes root, it is safe to remove it and plant it elsewhere. After relocation, it takes another 10 or so to mature and fully bear fruits.
Each variety of dates has a distinctive taste and texture. Some dates are soft and contain lots of moisture while others are dry with little moisture. Most contain a large amount of sugar, which is 100% soluble. Dates also contain fiber, vitamins, hormones, minerals and enzymes. Dates are a complete food and one can sustain themselves on dates alone. In fact, many civilizations have done just that. We know that the main staple of the Muslims in the early days was a diet of dates. To this day, there are farmers and other Arabs whose main source of nutrition and sustenance are dates.
Modern science has confirmed a number of facts about dates:
They are rich in nutrients, they are easy to digest, and are good for childbearing women and for the fetuses they bear.
They contain hormones that help strengthen the uterus to prepare for childbirth and to return the uterus to the pre-pregnancy state after childbirth.
They contain hormones that help produce milk in for nursing mothers.
They contain a hormone that reduces bleeding. This is especially useful during childbirth.
They contain a high concentration of easy to digest sugars, which give quick energy. This is good for everyone, and especially for women in labor and those breaking their fast at the end of the day.
They contain fiber, which is useful in digestion and helps reduce cholesterol and a small amount of protein and amino acids, the essential building blocks of man.
They also contain lipids, vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, a number of B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, B-6), pantothenic acid and phosphorus.
Dates are believed to increase virility, to help people suffering from bronchitis and respiratory ailments, and to protect from infectious diseases such as malaria. And they are cholesterol free.
Dates can be eaten raw, used in cooking, or in various products, including confectionery, bakery, cereals, and sauces. While alcohol can be produced from dates, this is against Islamic guidance and most medical advice.
In fact, there are at least three stages when dates can be eaten. The first stage is when they are still yellow and somewhat raw. At that stage they are form a perhaps a little tart. The next stage is when they begin to ripen and become softer with dark spots. This is the stage when Maryam, alaihas salaam, ate the dates during childbirth. The final stage is when they have ripened and are their final color. They have dried out some and become shriveled up. This is the most familiar stage of dates.
There are a may Ahadith about dates. To quote a few:
Ibn Umar, radiya ALLAHu anhuma, (may ALLAH be pleased with them) narrates that the Prophet, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam, asked: There is a tree whose leaves do not shed and it is similar to a Muslim, so tell me about it. We were silent and I thought it was the date palm but I was to shy too speak, so we said, Tell us what it is. He, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam, said: It is the date palm. (Reported by Al-Bukhari)
Sa'd, radiya ALLAHu anhu, narrates that the Prophet, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam, said: Whoever awakens to eat 7 dates of the 'Ajwa variety, will not be harmed by poison or black magic. (Reported by Al-Bukhari)
'Aisha, radiya ALLAHu anha, narrated that the Prophet, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam, said: A household with dates will never go hungry. (Reported by Ad-Darimi)
In other Ahadith we learn that the Prophet, salla ALLAHu alaihi wa sallam, recommended those who are fasting to break their fast, at sunset, by eating an uneven number of dates. If they have none, they should drink water and in some narrations milk.
It seems you cannot go wrong with dates, so start your day with 1, 3, 5 or 7 pieces of dates and see what a difference it will make.
A study by the US Center For Disease Control has raised some concerns about the use of dibutyl phthalate (DBP) in cosmetics. Apparently, use on lab animals has shown that DBP can harm the male reproductive system. Researchers are concerned use of DBP by reproductive-age women can lead to severe birth defects. DBP is found in nail polish and other cosmetics. Alhamdulillah for Islam. It has liberated Muslims from these dangers. (Reported in Arab News.)
A study published in the Journal of Dietetic Association suggests that children whose food habits are restricted are more likely to overeat when left on their own. Once again, moderation, as prescribed by Islam, is the best choice. (Reported in www.foodingredientsonline, Januray 23, 2001.)
Harmony, a new cereal from General Mills, has been introduced as a cereal developed to meet the nutritional needs of women. (Reported in www.foodingredientsonline.)
Nestle has purchased Ralston Purina Company for $10 billion. Ralston Purina is a pet food company.
Certified organic bananas will be coming to your market soon, courtesy of Dole Foods. The bananas will be grown in Central America on farms that have been certified not to use commercial chemicals or fertilizers. (Reported in www.foodingredientsonline)
Baskin Robbins has formed an alliance with Dean Foods whereby Deans will produce the ice cream sold in Baskin Robbins stores. (Reported in www.foodingredientsonline, January 16, 2001.)
Pepsico, Inc. is expanding its presence in the snack food area in the Middle East with a new joint venture in Egypt and an acquisition of the assets of a Saudi snack foods company. This is another step in Pepsico's effort to build a global snack business. (Reported in www.foodingredientsonline, Januray 9, 2001.)
Tyson Foods has agreed to purchase IBP Inc., the large beef and pork producer, for $3.2 billion. The acquisition will make Tyson the leading poultry, beef and pork producer in the nation. (Reported in Arab News.)
The American Heart Association is advising doctors not to tell patients to drink red wine to prevent or minimize the risk of heart attacks. They conclude that the benefits of wine in reducing the risk of heart attacks is not proven and the potential hazards are well known. On the other hand, there are other proven methods to minimize the risk of heart attacks, including lowering cholesterol, controlling weight, exercise and a healthy diet. The British Heart Association concurs with this viewpoint.
Japanese ingredient manufacturer, Ajinomoto, has withdrawn their MSG products from markets in the Pacific Rim and Africa after Muslim agencies discovered they had used pork fat during the production cycle. Muslims were outraged that these products were sold to Muslim consumers. (Reported by Panafrican news Agency & Salaam News, January 6-7, 2001.)