Benefits of Dates
Muslims generally break their fast by eating dates. Prophet Muhammad (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.
Ramadan Provides ‘Ideal Break’ to Quit Smoking
Sarah Abdullah, Arab News
JEDDAH, 17 September 2007 — With Muslim smokers already refraining from the habit during daylight hours this month, a number of health experts and officials say that Ramadan is the perfect opportunity to kick the habit for good.
According to Dr. Abdullah Al-Baddah, director of the Tobacco Control Department at the Ministry of Health, Saudi Arabia ranks 23 worldwide in terms of smokers in population per capita. Each year Saudis consume as many as 15 billion cigarettes and inhale 40,000 tons of tobacco smoke.
“We in the Tobacco Control Department make use of the occasion ... to urge smokers around the Kingdom to utilize the chance Ramadan offers to give up smoking,” Al-Baddah told Arab News. He added that the Ministry of Health is currently running a number of television and outdoor media ads in Saudi Arabia and other GCC states emphasizing the need to utilize Ramadan for promoting a healthy lifestyle.
The health official also commented that the feedback received from the community has been overwhelming with a number of people getting to celebrate two Eids this year — the Eid Al-Fitr and the Eid of freedom from smoking.
Still there are some smokers who think it is too difficult to refrain from smoking after sunset. “I feel that stopping cold turkey is something that I really can’t do on my own,” said Ayman, a Saudi who has been smoking for the past 22 years. “Getting a cigarette is the first thing on my mind as soon as it’s time to break fast,” he added.
According to Dr. Haza Akram, a therapist at the Smoking Cessation Clinic set up by the Charity Organization for Raising Awareness on the Harms of Smoking in Makkah, there are techniques that can help.
“Some of the methods we use to help patients include a machine that removes nicotine from the body. Once the nicotine is out of the patient’s system, the habit can be eradicated for good,” he added.
Another method proving useful is anti-smoking toothpaste for use after meals when smokers have the urge to smoke. Therapy sessions can be taken at a minimum of six or maximum of 12 visits costing approximately SR20 each. The clinic, which is currently only open to male patients, is open in Ramadan from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and in the evening from 10 p.m. to midnight. There are plans to open the female section of the clinic in another two or three months.
Islamic groups around the world are encouraging Muslims to take advantage of the holy month to quit smoking. “One of the important benefits of the Ramadan fast is the sense of discipline that it instills in an individual,” said Tahra Goraya of the Washington-based Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).
Managing Your Weight Through the Sunnah
Dr Wail Abu Hendi
Translated By El Sahafi
Our relationship with food can at times be a grievous one. Counting calories and weighing ourselves constantly can make the eating process a burden rather than something to enjoy. Taking time to become more aware of what we eat does not necessarily mean restricting our diet to a certain type of food intake. It’s more about giving attention to how we eat. This concentrates more on the process rather than the food itself.
Dr. Wail Abu Hendi is a psychologist with interests in dieting, obesity, and slimness, as well as eating disorders. Abu Hendi believes that modifying eating behavior is more effective to accomplish weight loss than traditional dieting methods. Abu Hendi developed a therapeutic behavioral program for patients in Egypt suffering from obesity and extreme slimness. This therapeutic behavioral program was designed in accordance with the Sunnah of the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him).
Eating can be looked upon as not only something pleasurable, but also as an act of worship. Thus, our Prophet (peace be upon him) emphasized the concept of food as an act of worship by performing ablution prior to eating just like for prayers, as well as having the intention—niyyah—of seeking Allah’s favor.
Like other acts of worship, this form of worship shouldn’t take up too much time. Dr. Abu Hendi says that we begin to feel full (satiated) after twenty minutes of eating, regardless of the amount of food we have consumed, so dedicating approximately 30 minutes to each meal would be better than wolfing it down. Also, eating should not be made a secondary activity while watching television or listening to music in order not to avert your attention from the food unnecessarily.
Duties, Sunnah, and Manners
The first duty in Islam concerning eating is ensuring that the food is both permissible (halal) and comes from a permissible source. You should also feel satisfied with what Allah has provided you and believe that these provisions are a blessing from Allah. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) once told `Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him), "O Ali! There are twelve rules a Muslim must learn to adhere to before the table (of food), four of which are duties, four of which are Sunnah, and four of which are manners. Knowing what you eat and its source, mentioning Allah’s name prior to eating, being grateful for provisions, and being content with them are duties. Sitting on the left foot, eating with three fingers, eating from the food closer to you, and licking the fingers (used while eating) are Sunnah. Restricting the size of each mouthful of food, chewing very well, refraining from looking people in the face, and washing the hands (afterwards) are of manners."
Good or Bad?
It is best to eat three times a day (or twice if fasting), and try to eat a variety of foods; do not shun bread, rice, fruit, or other foods in their natural form. Classifying foods as good or bad according to the calories they contain can lead to depriving the body of essential needs, which may drive the body to react adversely. Severely depriving the body of calories may result in cases of binge eating (excessive overeating), or nocturnal eating where a person gets up at night half asleep, heads to the kitchen, and begins eating large amounts of foods that were originally avoided during the day.
Try to change your usual sitting position while eating. So, following in the footsteps of the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) try sitting either on both knees or on your left leg while keeping the right one upright. It’s best not to change the position you choose before you finish eating. If this position does not suit you, particularly at the beginning, then you may take the position you prefer most, but try not to lean on anything. The Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would seat himself attentively before food.
First and foremost say "bismillah" (in the name of Allah) before your first mouthful. It would be preferable to begin your meal with some fruit. If you wish to use the first three fingers on your right hand (starting with the thumb), try as much as possible not to involve the last two fingers while eating to buffer yourself against overeating. Incorporating the fingers into the eating process has several merits, including increased awareness of the food you eat and pleasure from enjoying the food’s texture.
Avoid using your left hand while eating unless you are left-handed, though you may use it to peel fruits or separate meat from bones. In any case make sure that your left hand does not carry any food up to your mouth (due to explicit and strict cautioning against this in the Sunnah).
A merit of using just one hand while eating is to decrease the amount of food a person consumes, in addition to increase awareness of the food one is eating. Each time you notice your left hand involved in the eating process you should pull it back and attempt to complete eating with just one hand. This will help prevent slipping into excessive eating. Training yourself to adhere to this procedure may not be easy at first, but repetition and ongoing trials along with your persistence to follow the Sunnah will gradually facilitate the matter.
After bringing something to your mouth with your right hand, do not extend your hand once again to the plate before properly chewing and swallowing your food. This may be very difficult at the beginning, but this is the fashion by which the Prophet (peace be upon him) ate. Gulping down food without proper chewing, or eating in a hurry is not healthy. This is an important reason behind obesity and overeating. Since the feeling of satiety comes after twenty minutes of eating, we must train ourselves to chew food properly and not to reach out for more food before finishing what’s already in our mouths.
After finishing your meal, it is sunnah to lick the three fingers you used while eating. Do not be disgusted to lick your fingers, if you used them, after you finish eating, since these fingers carried the food to your mouth.
After you finish your meal, thank Allah and express your gratitude to Him, for this is an imperative duty.
After a meal, the sunnah is to wash your hands and mouth, and it is preferable to renew your ablution.
The above steps are guidelines for those who wish to keep in shape and maintain their ideal weight. These steps do not involve resorting to the pains of modern dieting, and rely completely on the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him). This diet has no negative side effects since it preaches responding to our bodies’ signals, by eating when we feel hungry and only when we feel hungry.
Dr Wail Abu Hendi is a psychologist with an MD from the University of ZagaZig’s Faculty of Medicine. He is the author of several books discussing issues of religion and psychology. He is also a prime contributor of the Arabic web site Maganin.com.
Smoking - Let us clear the air
By M S Sa'eed
Cigarette smoking is the single largest preventable cause of death and disease.
The cigarette represents a uniquely dangerous drug. Just like other drugs it is unsafe at any level. Smoking is also addictive and causes harm to everyone; smokers and non smokers - passive smoking.
What’s in a cigarette?
Tobacco smoke contains thousands of poisonous chemicals.
An addictive drug found in tobacco smoke. Nicotine increases blood pressure, which makes the heart work harder. Nicotine also affects the brain and nerves. Most smokers are dependent on nicotine. That is why they feel uncomfortable and get cravings when they go without smoking for a while.
Carbon Monoxide (car exhaust fumes)
Makes the heart beat faster and takes the place of oxygen in the blood.
Coats the lungs like soot in a chimney making it harder to breathe. Tar contains chemicals that causes cancer.
Some Other Poisons:
Arsenic (white ant poison), ammonia (floor cleaner), phenol (paints), naphthalene (mothballs), cadmium (car batteries), acetone (paint stripper), ddt (insecticide), butane (lighter fuel), carbon monoxide (car exhaust), nitrogen oxides and hydrogen cyanide.
Tobacco smoke continues to be an important contributor to toxic air. Exposure to contaminated toxic air in homes, public places, workplaces, parks, children playgrounds and Musjid car parks also affects non-smokers. It irritates the eyes, nose and throat. It can also contribute to or worsen non-smokers breathing and health problems. Tobacco smoke is very dangerous for children and babies.
Tobacco smoke also affects the environment, your worship and angels.
Every cigarette is doing you damage.
Smoking just one cigarette can have immediate health effects on the body. These include:
1) Temporary increase in blood pressure and heart rate.
2) Slows down blood flow around the body.
3) Reduces the amount of oxygen delivered to the tissues.
Some long term effects of smoking
Heart and blood vessel disease.
Smoking adds to the artery clogging process. This can lead to heart attack and stroke.
Peripheral vascular disease:
Narrowing of the leg arteries leading to blockage.
Chronic bronchitis asthma and emphysema:
Results from the breakdown of the cilia (hair like cells for cleaning) in the lungs. The cilia becomes paralysed with cigarette smoke (carbon monoxide) and this reduces their ability to protect the lungs against infection.
Cigarette smoking causes lung cancer, also a major cause of cancer of the mouth, oesophagus, larynx and is also linked to cancer of the stomach, pancreas, bladder , kidneys ,etc.
Your blood gets so sticy it can block arteries, which can lead to gangarene and eventually, amputation.
Cigarette smoking also causes: bad breath, stained teeth, stomach and duodenal ulcers, etc.
!! Warning !!
Smoking cigarette causes damage !!!!!!
By M S Sa'eed
Pietermairtzburg, South Africa
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