I took a break last month to focus on Ramadan, and of course one the staples of this sacred month is the date. Any type of date: from the sweet Medjool ones to the drier Deglet Tunisian ones, Muslims often break their fasts with a date, and finish it with more dates just before Fajr prayers. This is a sunnah of our beloved Prophet: “if you have a date, break your fast with it, if you don’t break it with water as it is purifying” (Abu Dawood).
Dates contain natural, easy to digest sugars that go straight into the blood and provide energy instantly. They are also rich in fibers, iron, potassium and a variety of minerals, thus giving us all the nutritients we need after a long day of fasting. The palm tree is mentionned several times in the Qur’an, in particular in Surah Mariam (Mary): after giving birth to Jesus, she is told to shake a palm tree and collect its ripe fruits, to help her recover from labour.
Dates are also assumed to protect us from harm: “Whoever eats seven dates from Madinah in the morning will not be hurt by poison or sorcery on that day.” (Bukhari)
In addition, dates are also given to newborn babies: the tahneek is a tradition of the Prophet (swas), where he would soften a dried date and rub it on the palate of newborns presented to him, to welcome them to this life.
Dates are thus one of the most important fruits in Muslim tradition, in addition to being an excellent nutritient, used by athletes to restore their sugar levels. Palm tree oil is also used in cooking and cosmetics. In my next post I will give recipes for beauty products using different types of natural oils, so stay tuned!