And the earth hath He appointed for His creatures
Wherein are fruit and sheathed palm trees,
Husked grain and scented herb.
Which is it of these favors of your Lord
that ye deny? Qur’an 55:10-13
The Prophet Muhammad (sallawllah alay wasalam ) was once reported to have said, “There are two kinds of knowledge: knowledge of religion and knowledge of the body.” The Prophet (sallawllah alay wasalam ) frequently commented upon the nature and value of various foods and spices. These comments were noted by his wives and companions (radiallah anhum) and remain available to us today.
Sayings Of The Prophet (SAW.)
Before proceeding to the listing of foods, it is worthwhile to provide the statements of the Prophet (SAW) relating to manners, hygiene, prevention, and similar topics, bearing on health.
Said the Prophet of Allah (SAW):
Allah did not create any illness without also creating the remedy, except death [old age].
Allah said that he who lives according to the Qur’an will have a long life.
The origin of every disease is cold. So eat when you desire and refrain when you desire.
The stomach is the home of disease and abstinence the head of every remedy. So make this your custom.
In the sight of Allah, the best food is a food shared by many.
To eat the morning meal alone is to eat with satan; to eat with one other person is to eat with a tyrant; to eat with two other persons is to eat with the prophets (peace be upon them all).
Allow your food to cool before eating, for in hot food there is no blessing.
When you eat, take your shoes off, for then indeed your feet have more rest. This is an excellent advice.
There is blessing in the middle of a dish. So commence from the side and not from the middle. The implication here is that one should exhibit a selfless reserve and allow another to obtain the blessing, not hog it for oneself.
There is blessing in three things: in the early morning meal, in bread and in soup.
Brush your teeth with a miswak [a wooden toothpick usually made from a twig of the pelu tree] after a meal and rinse out your mouth. For these two practices are a safeguard for the eyeteeth and the wisdom teeth.
Use miswak, for this practice comes from cleanliness, and cleanliness comes from faith, and faith takes its practitioner to heaven.
The dish pleads for mercy for the one who takes up the last morsel [i.e., do not be wasteful].
Eat together and then disperse, for a blessing resides in groups.
Less food, less sin.
To horde in these things is unlawful: wheat, barley, raisins, millet, fats, honey, cheese, walnuts, and olives.
Let no one drink while standing up, except one who is suffering from sciatica.
Eat your meal at dawn, for there is blessing in a meal at dawn.
When I was taken up into Heaven, I did not pass one angel who did not say to me: “O Muhammad, tell your people to make use of scarification [allowing out a small amount of blood from an incision]. The best treatment that you have is scarification, coriander, and costus [an East Indian herb].
Whoever is sick for seven days, thereby he expiates before Allah the sins of seventy years.
There is no pain like pain in the eye, and no worry like the worry of a debt.
When the Prophet (sallawllah alay wasalam) came before a sick person, he used to say: “Get rid of evil delusions. Strength is with Allah the Almighty. Cure and be cured. There is no healing but Yours.”
Qualities Of Foods (From Traditional Sources)
Aniseed (anisun)–Among its many properties, the seed of anise soothes internal pains, increases menstrual flow, promotes secretion of milk and semen, and dissolves intestinal gas. It may be applied in tea form to the eyes to strengthen eyesight. In nature, snakes coming out of winter hibernation seek out the anise plant and rub their eyes against it, because their vision becomes weak over winter.
Apple (tuffah)–Sour apples are more cooling than sweet ones. It is claimed that apples strengthen the heart.
Asparagus (hiyawn)–Hot and moist, asparagus opens obstructions of the kidneys and eases childbirth. It is said that asparagus will kill dogs that eat it.
Banana (mawz)–Hot in the first degree, banana has little use as a food, except for people with a very cold intemperament, who should eat it with honey.
Barley (sha’ir)–Barley ranks below only wheat as a desirable food. It is the first recommendation for hot intemperament diseases. Barley is soaked in water, which is drunk for coughs and sore throats. The Prophet (s.a.w.s.) always gave a soup made from barley to anyone suffering from the pain of fever. ‘
Basil, Sweet (rayhan)–Smelling basil strengthens the heart. Sleep is promoted by rubbing the head with basil and water.
Bread (khubz)–The best bread is made of the finest whole grain flours and is baked in a circular stone oven. Bread should be allowed to cool somewhat before being eaten, or it will make one excessively thirsty. Stale bread clogs the bowels. Bread containing substantial bran is digested quickly, but is very nourishing. The softer the bread, the easier the digestion and the greater the nourishment. Bread crumbs produce gas. Breads made from barley and pea flours are slow to be digested and must have salt added to them. Said the Prophet (s.a.w.s.): “Do not cut bread with a knife, but give it due honor by breaking it with the hands, for Allah has honored it.”
Butter (zubdah)–Butter is mildly hot and moist. Useful to alleviate constipation, butter is also mixed with honey and dates to make a food that removes the food cravings of pregnant women.
Cauliflower (qunnabit)–This vegetable is hard to digest, and it is said to harm the vision.
Chamomile (babunaj)–Hot in the first degree, chamomile is mild. Its main use is to promote urination and menstrual flow.
Carrot (jazar)–Sexual urges arise from eating carrot, which is hot in the second degree. It also is used to increase menstrual flow and urination.
Coconut (narjil darja’i)—The best type is very white, which is hot and moist. The nature of coconut is that it increases sexual powers and relieves pain in the back.
Coffee Bean (qahwah)–Coffee is a corrective for dysentery, relieves thirst, and is said to produce wisdom. It should be used sparingly.
Coriander Seed (habb al-suda)–The most respected books of traditions state that the Prophet (s.a.w.s.) said, “Make yours the seeds of coriander, for it is a cure of all diseases except swelling [cancer], and that is a fatal disease.” It is also reported that Allah informed the Prophet, “She has been given every-thing.” And then Allah revealed that “she” is coriander. Coriander alleviates flatulence and resolves fevers. It is effective in the treatment of leukoderma, and it opens the subtlest networks of the veins. Excess moisture in the body is dried up by coriander, and it increases milk flow, urine, and menses. It is particularly useful when a person has a cold. The oil of coriander is a treatment for baldness and scalp problems, and prevents gray hair. The smoke of the burning seeds is an insect repellent.
Chicken (dajaj)–Light on the stomach and easy to digest, chicken is the best of fowl meats. It corrects and balances all the essences, is a food that is good for the brain, and improves the complexion. However, overconsumption of chicken leads to gout. The best chicken is a hen that has never laid an egg.
Cinnamon (darchini)–Cinnamon is hot in the third degree. Its volatile oil is a great medicine for indigestion. It forms an ingredient in spice blends used as the basis of cooking in almost three-fourths of the world.
Citron (utrujj)–The Prophet (sallawllah alay wasalam.) is reported to have said, “The citron is like a true believer: good to taste and good to smell.” Citron strengthens the heart, dispels sadness, removes freckles, satisfies hunger, and slows the flow of bile. The wife of the Prophet (sallawllah a;ay wasalam)used to treat blind persons with citron dipped in honey. Citron is best taken about ten minutes after the conclusion of meals.
Cucumber (qitta’)–Ripe cucumbers dispel heat and are diuretic. Eating dates with green cucumber is said to cause weight gain.
Cumin (kammun)–Cumin is very hot. It is reported to be the only spice or herb that travels through the stomach unaffected by digestion, until it reaches the liver. Cumin soaked in water, which is then drunk, is excellent for colic.
Dates, Dried (tamr)–The Prophet (sallawllah alay wasalam) is reported to have said, “A house without dates has no food.” Prophet Muhammad (sallawllah alay wasalam) used to plant date trees himself. Dates should be eaten with almonds to annul any adverse effects. Fresh dates were the food eaten by Mary (radiallah anhi), at the time of her delivery of the infant Jesus (a.s.). Said the Prophet (sallawllah alay wasalam), “He who finds a date, let him break his fast on that. If he finds no date, let him break it on water. For verily that is purity.”
Eggplant (badhinjan)–The dark variety of eggplant causes production of bile. Small amounts of it help piles. Eggplant’s tendency to produce bile is corrected by eating it with meat dishes.
Eggs (baydah)–The best eggs are those of chickens, eaten soft, not hard-boiled. Egg white relieves pain of sunburn, aids healing of burns, and prevents scarring. Eggs are aphrodisiac.
Endive (hindiba’)–The effects of endive change according to the season. Endive at the earliest time is best, and at the end of the growing season, virtually useless. The Hadith states: “Eat endives and do not belch, for verily there is not one day that drops of the water of Paradise do not fall upon them [endives].”
Fenugreek (hulbah)–It is reported the Prophet (sallawllah alay wasalam) once said: “If my people knew what there is in fenugreek, they would have bought and paid its weight in gold.” Fenugreek is hot and dry. As a tea it aids menstrual flow and is useful in colic and as a cleansing enema. Fenugreek strengthens the heart.
Fig (tin)–Fresh figs are preferred to dried. Although quite nourishing, they are very hot. The Prophet (sallawllah alay wasalam.) is reported to have said, “If you say that any fruit has come from Paradise, then you must mention the fig, for indeed it is the fruit of Paradise. So eat of it, for it is a cure for piles and helps gout.”
Fish (samak)–Fresh-water fish are best, and those which feed on plant life, not mud and effluvia. Uncooked fish is hard to digest and produces imbalance of phlegm.
Garlic (thawm)–Garlic is hot in the third degree. It is used to dispel gas, promote menses, and expel afterbirth. It is excellent to correct cold in-temperament, for dissolving phlegm, and the oil is used to treat insect bites. The eating of raw garlic and then visiting the mosque has been forbidden by the Prophet Muhammad (sallawllah alay wasalam.).
Ghee (clarified butter) (samn)–Ghee is the most fatty of all condiments. It is to be considered a medicinal additive to foods. Mixed with honey, ghee is said to be an antidote to poisons.
Ginger (zanjabil)–Ginger is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an (76:17). It is hot in the third degree, and is best for softening phlegm. It also aids digestion and strengthens sexual activity.
Henna (hinna)–One Hadith reports that nothing is dearer to Allah than henna. The Holy Prophet (sallawllah alay wasalam) recommended it for many conditions: bruises, pain in the legs, infection of nails, burns, and to beautify the hair. Henna is noted for its great heat and its ability to excite the passions of love. The perfume made from henna flowers is considered to be one of the finest in the world. The dyeing of hands, nails, and feet is a common practice in the East, especially for weddings and feasts.
Honey (‘asal)–Allah has said: “There comes forth, from within [the bee], a beverage of many colors in which there is a healing for you.” Mixed with hot water, and taken in several small doses, honey is considered the best remedy for diarrhea.
The Prophet (SAW) once said, “By Him in whose hand is my soul, eat honey. For there is no house in which honey is kept for which the angels will not ask for mercy. If a person eats honey, a thousand remedies enter his stomach and a million diseases will come out. If a man dies and honey is found within him, fire will not touch his body [i.e., he will be immune from the burning of hell].” The Prophet (SAW) himself used to drink a glass of honey and water each morning on an empty stomach.
Honey is considered the food of foods, the drink of drinks, and the drug of drugs. It is used for creating appetite, strengthening the stomach, and eliminating phlegm; as a meat preservative, hair conditioner, eye salve, and mouthwash. The best honey is that produced in the spring; the second best is that of summer, and the least quality is produced in winter.
Lentils (‘adas)–All lentils produce dryness. Small amounts should be eaten, as a side dish, for in quantity they are generally bad for the stomach. Hadith say that the eating of lentils produces a sympathetic heart, tears in the eyes, and removes pride.
Lettuce (khass)–Although cold, lettuce is considered the best nourishment of all vegetables. It softens a hard constitution and helps those who suffer delirium. It contradicts the sexual energy and dries up semen. Excess consumption of lettuce weakens the eyesight.
Marjoram, Sweet (marzanjush)–The Prophet (sallawllah alay wasalam.) is reported to have said that sweet marjoram is most excellent for anyone who has lost the sense of smell.
Meat (lahm)–Allah has said in the Qur’an (52:22): “And we will aid them with fruit and meat, such as they desire.” The Prophet (sallawllah alay wasalam.) reportedly said that one who does not eat meat for forty consecutive days will waste away, whereas to eat meat for forty consecutive days will harden the heart. In other words, one should moderate the intake of meat.
The most desirable of all meats is mutton, which is hot and moist in temperament. The best mutton is that of a male yearling; the best cut is a shoulder roast. Mutton should be cooked in some liquid, or it tends to dry out.
Beef fat mixed with pepper and cinnamon acts as a tonic medicine. The meat of pigs is forbidden to eat. The consumption of horse flesh as a food is disputed. Avicenna said the flesh of camels, horses, and asses are the worst of all meats. Also prohibited for human consumption are beasts of prey, animals that possess canine teeth, and birds with hooked talons.
Said the Prophet (sallawllah alay wasalam): “Do not cut up meat with a knife upon the dish, for that is the way of non-Muslims. But grasp it in your fingers and so it will taste better.” And, he said: “One sheep is a blessing; two sheep are two blessings; three sheep are wealth.”
Melon (battikh)–Said the Prophet (sallawllah alay wasalam.): “Whenever you eat fruit, eat melon, because it is the fruit of Paradise and contains a thousand blessings and a thousand mercies. The eating of it cures every disease.” Generally, the sweeter a melon, the greater its heat. Green varieties tend to be cold; the yellow, hot. The Prophet took melons with fresh dates. Melon purifies the bladder and the stomach, and improves the spinal fluid and eyesight. Melons should not be eaten first in a meal. Said the Prophet (sallawllah alay wasalam “None of your women who are pregnant and eat of watermelon will fail to produce offspring who are good in countenance and good in character.”
Milk (laban)–Allah has mentioned milk to us, saying, “Rivers of milk the taste whereof does not change” (Qur’an 47:15). And again He said, “Pure milk, easy and agreeable to swallow for those who drink” (Qur’an 16:66). The Prophet Muhammad (sallawllah alay wasalam ) is said to have remarked that milk is irreplaceable and that he himself loved milk.
Milk is composed of fat and water and milk solids (cheese). Together, these components are well suited to the constitution of humans. However, we should not take the milk of animals whose pregnancy lasts longer than that of humans. The milk of cows is best, for they feed off grasses.
Said the Prophet (sallawllah alay wasalam): “Drink milk, for it wipes away heat from the heart as the finger wipes away sweat from the brow. Furthermore, it strengthens the back, increases the brain, augments the intelligence, renews vision, and drives away forgetfulness.”
A milk diet is the best treatment there is for dropsy; however, anyone with fever must avoid milk.
Mint (nana)–The most subtle and refined of pot herbs, mint is heating and drying. Mint strengthens the stomach, cures hiccups, and encourages sexual activity. Placed in milk, mint will prevent it from turning to cheese.
Myrtle (as)–Cold in the second degree, myrtle is most used to stem diarrhea. Smelling the oil will cure headache caused by overheating. Myrtle tea with quince added is used for coughs.
Narcissus (narjis)–One Hadith says, “Smell a narcissus, even if only once a day or once a week or once a month or once a year or once a lifetime. For verily in the heart of man there is the seed of insanity, leprosy, and leukoderma. And the scent of narcissus drives them away.”
Olives and Olive Oil (zayt and zaytun)–The older olive oil is, the hotter it becomes. Olive oil is an excellent treatment for the skin and hair, and it delays old age.
Allah has said of the olive tree: “And a tree that grows out of Mount Sinai which produces oil and a condiment for those who eat. For olive oil is the supreme seasoning.” Allah has also called it the Blessed Tree (Qur’an 24:35).
Green olives are the most nourishing, and counteract autointoxication. Black olives cause the spleen to overproduce bile and are hard on the stomach. Olive leaves can be chewed as treatment for inflammation of the stomach, skin ulcerations, and eruptions of herpes and hives.
Onion (basal)–Quite hot, the onion is a good corrective for all excess wetness. Onion improves the flavor of foods and eliminates phlegm. Raw onions cause forgetfulness. An excess of cooked onions causes headache and forgetfulness.
Parsley (karafs)–A Hadith states that eating parsley just before sleep will cause one to awaken with sweet breath and will eliminate or prevent toothache. Parsley stimulates sexual activity.
Peach (khu’kh)–Peaches generate cold, relax the stomach, and soften the bowels. A good laxative, peaches should be eaten before, rather than after, a meal.
Pistachio (fustaq)–It is said that to eat the heart of a pistachio nut with egg yolk will make the heart grow strong. The reddish skin stems diarrhea and vomiting.
Pomegranate (rumman)–Sweet pomegranates are preferred over the sour. The juice stems coughs. All kinds of pomegranates settle palpitations of the heart. Hazrat Ali (radiallah anhu.) said that the light of Allah is in the heart of whoever eats pomegranates. It is also reported that one who eats three pomegranates in the course of a year will be inoculated against ophthalmia for that year.
Said the Prophet (sallawllah alay wasalam): Pomegranate “cleanses you of Satan and from evil aspirations for forty days.”
Quince (safarjal)–It is said that to eat quince on an empty stomach is good for the soul. Cold and dry, quince is astringent to the stomach, and it checks excessive menstrual flow. A few seeds placed in water will, after a few minutes, form amucilage which is an excellent remedy for cough and sore throat, especially in the young. Quince is also excellent for pregnant women, gladdening their hearts. The Holy Prophet (sallawllah alay wasalam )said: “Eat quince, for it sweetens the heart. For Allah has sent no prophet as His messenger without feeding him on the quince of Paradise. For quince increases the strength up to that of forty men.”
Rhubarb (rawand)–Rhubarb is hot and dry, and best when picked fresh. It opens blockages of the liver and resolves chronic fever.
Rice (aruzz)–Next to wheat, rice is the most nourishing of whole grain foods. It is said eating rice increases pleasant dreams and the production of semen. Eating rice cooked in fat from sheep’s liver is better and more effective than a major purging.
Saffron (zafaran)–Hot and dry, saffron is excellent for the blood and strengthening to the soul. It eases pains in the joints, but can cause great increase in the sex drive of young men.
Salt (milh)–Hot and dry in the third degree, salt, when taken moderately, is beautifying to the skin, giving it a soft glow. Salt causes vomiting when purging, and stimulates the appetite. Excessive use causes the skin to itch.
The Prophet (sallawllah alay wasalam) recommended beginning and ending each meal with a pinch of salt. He said: “From the one who begins a meal with salt, Allah wards off three hundred and thirty kinds of diseases, the least of which are lunacy, leprosy, bowel troubles, and toothache. The rest is pre-scribed in the supreme knowledge of Allah.”
Senna (sana)–The best species of henna is that from the blessed city of Medina, where it grows plentifully. The chief property of senna is that it strengthens the heart without harshness. Its nobility has caused it to be referred to by the hakims as the Glory of Drugs. Its uses are many–in purgative infusions, pills, enemas, and powders. Senna causes the bile to flow, and reaches to the very depths of the joints to balance the essences therein. The most effective use is as a tea, which can be made even more efficacious by adding violet blossoms and crushed red raisins. The Prophet (SAW) recommended senna most highly, making a statement similar to the one about coriander: that it cures every disease except death itself.
Spinach (asfanakh)–Spinach is cold and moist, causing irritation to the chest and throat. Still, it softens the bowels.
Sugar (sukkar)–Sugar is cold and moist. It is most often used in combination with other medicinal herbs, which carry the effects to the furthest point of an organ. Eating too much sugar creates disease of moisture.
Thyme (sa’tar)–In the time of the Prophet (sallawllah alay wasalam), it was customary to fumigate houses by burning frankincense and thyme. Thyme is cold and dry in the third degree. An excellent digestive aid to heavy foods, thyme beautifies the complexion, annuls intestinal gas, and benefits coldness of the stomach and liver. When drunk as an infusion, it is said to kill tapeworms.
Vermicelli (itriyyah)–This food is hot and excessively moist, thus hard to digest. For those with very strong constitution, it provides excellent nourishment.
Vinegar (khall)–The Prophet Muhammad (sallawllah alay wasalam.) was reported to have once remarked that vinegar was the seasoning of all the prophets who came before him. Vinegar is both cold and hot, nearly balanced between the two. Mixed with rose water, it is an excellent remedy for toothache and headache. Vinegar dissolves phlegm. Another Hadith states that a house containing vinegar will never suffer from poverty.
Walnut (jawz)–Walnut is the hottest of nuts. Although hard to digest, when eaten with raisins it is the best remedy for winter cough. Avicenna said that walnuts cure the effects of poisons.
Water (ma’)–The Prophet (sallawllah alay wasalam) reportedly said: “The best drink in this world and the next is water.” Water is moist and, because of this, slightly cooling. It extinguishes thirst and preserves the innate moisture of the body. It assists digestion of foods and absorption of nutrients. Said the Prophet (sallawllah alay wasalam.): “When you have a thirst, drink [water] by sips and do not gulp it down. Gulping water produces sickness of the liver.”
Wheat (hintah)–Wheat is somewhat hot, and balanced between dryness and moisture. The eating of raw wheat produces intestinal worms and gas. Wheat flour should be ground during the daytime.
So praise be upon this Prophet who produced for us this marvelous knowledge which makes us see and understand and dazzles the wisest minds. Herein are proofs of Allah’s kindness and benevolence upon His creatures, for He is the most kind and all-loving. May we serve Him with true vision.
Al-hamdu li-Lahi Rabb il-Alamin! So all praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds! Amin
Muahmmad sajad Ali – 0753 5654 125 -UK-
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