Monday, 13 July 2009

The Benefits of Breastfeeding.

It is important to note that the very best of Allah’s human creations, His blessed Messengers (alayhisalaam) were breastfed. Allah inspired the mother of Musa (alayhisalaam) to put her baby in a basket in the river to save him from Pharaoh’s killing decree, Pharaoh’s family found him and wanted to keep him and looked everywhere for a wet-nurse to breastfeed him and Allah caused baby Musa (alayhisalaam) to refuse to be breastfed by any woman except his own mother.

Our beloved Holy Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) in his childhood, suckled from his mother Lady Aminah (radhi Allahu anha), Thuwaybah – a slave girl of his uncle Abu Lahab, Umm Ayman and Halimah as-Sa’diyyah (radhi Allahu anha). And Allah Azzawajal knows best.

The children of the Holy Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) were also breastfed. His son Ibrahim had a wet-nurse during his short life and when he passed away he was only a year and 10 months old, so there were two months of suckling left for him. Because of this, the Prophet (sallAllahu alayhi wasallam) said, as narrated by Al-Bara ibn Azib in Al Bukhari, "There is a wet-nurse for him in Jannah."

It is only in modern times that the wide use of artificial forms of baby-feeding, cow’s and goat’s milk formulas, have been used and sadly our sisters have left their homes in pursuit of careers which make them leave the superior role that Allah Azzawajjal has given them and pulled them away from the home to serve others and leave their own families. Unfortunately, some Muslim mothers feel breastfeeding will adversely affect their bodies, or be a hindrance to losing post-pregnancy weight, or they may think it is uncomfortable and painful.

Allah The Supreme tells us the recommended time of suckling a child in the Qur’an:

“And the mothers are to suckle their infants for two years, for those who wish to complete the suckling” 
(Surah Baqarah 2:233)

And also;

“We have enjoined upon the human being to treat his parents kindly. His mother bore him with strain upon strain, and his weaning is in two years.” 
(Surah Luqman 31:14)

The importance and blessing of breast-feeding has been mentioned by Allah the Sublime Himself, in not one, but a number of places in the Holy Qur’an, as the preserved Criterion for all eternity. Such is the status of this blessed act that it elevates a woman in rank and provides the complete nutrition our newborn babies need.

Fourteen hundred years after this verse was revealed, international organisations such as the World Health Organisation have issued many statements calling on mothers all over the World to breastfeed their children, whereas Islam enjoined that fourteen centuries ago.

The benefits of breastfeeding for the child include the following:

1. The mother’s milk is sterile, containing no germs.

2. The mothers milk contains all the complex amino acids and proteins required to help the newborn fight off childhood diseases and allergies. Breastfed children grow up healthier and stronger than their bottle-fed counterparts.

3. The mother’s milk cannot be imitated by any milk prepared from the milk of cows, goats or camels. It is composed in such a way as to meet the child’s needs day after day, from birth until weaning.

4. The mother’s milk contains sufficient amounts of protein and sugar that suit the infant completely, whereas the proteins in cow’s, goat’s and buffalo’s milk are difficult for the child’s stomach to digest, because they are suited to the offspring of those animals.

5. The development of children who are breastfed is faster and more complete than that of children who are bottle-fed.

6. The psychological and emotional bond between the mother and her child is strengthened to a great degree. Children grow up remaining close to their mother and respectful of her wishes insha’Allah.

7. The mother’s milk contains various elements that are essential to the child’s nourishment, in the right amounts and formats needed by his body, and in a form that is suited to his ability to digest and absorb. The nourishing content of the milk is not fixed; it changes day by day according to the child’s needs.

8. The mother’s milk is kept at a suitable temperature that meets the child’s needs, and can be given to him or her at any time.

9. Breastfeeding can be a natural means of contraception for some mothers, and is free of the complications that may accompany use of birth control pills, the coil (IUD) or injections.

10. The good character of the Muslim mother (patience, affection, wisdom and intelligence) is passed from her to the child during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

11. Because of the closeness and affection displayed at the time of breastfeeding, the newborns grow up with better manners and their mothers Du’as to Allah for them are always listened to.

The child feels ultimate comfort and security through being so close to his or her mother and their special bond is strengthened, so much so that in Islam if a non-related woman breastfeeds a child she becomes a foster mother to him or her and her children are foster sisters and brothers to him or her who he/she cannot marry! As the Holy Prophet (pbuh) said as is related in a number of Hadith, “Indeed, Allah has prohibited [marriage] among suckling relatives, as He has prohibited it among birth [or blood] relatives.”[Recorded by Sahih Al-Bukhari, Muslim]

There really is no contest between breastfeeding and bottle-feeding.

It is permissible with the parent’s joint agreement to have a child breastfed by another woman and that wet-nurse is entitled to a wage.

However, it is better if no one breastfeeds the child but his/her mother; because that is more beneficial, and that may be obligatory for her if the child will not accept the breast of anyone else or any other milk.

In Islam, unless there is a legitimate excuse, the mother is required to breastfeed her baby. It is an obligation upon both parents – the mother provides the milk and the father provides the material support for the mother even if they are divorced. If a parent thinks there is a need to wean the baby before the end of two years it is permissible after consultation and joint agreement.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

The Benefits of Dates.

Fresh ripe dates were the food Allah The Exalted provided for our Mother Maryam (on whom be peace) after she gave birth to 'Isaa (alayhisalaam) under the palm tree, as Allah says in the Qur'an;

"And shake toward you the trunk of the palm tree; it will drop upon you ripe, fresh dates."

Dates are considered one of the essential foods from the Sunnah and are prized in Middle Eastern culture for their sweetness and wholesomeness. They have the ability to metabolize quickly in the body, providing an essential energy boost for those who have been fasting all day.

It is recorded in the works of Imaam Al Bukhari (rahimullah) that Dates and Water where the only two foods available in the house of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) on most days;

Our Mother A'ishah (radhi Allahu anha) said to Urwa (radhi Allahu anhu), "O, the son of my sister! We used to see three crescents in two months, and no fire used to be made in the houses of Allah's Apostle (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) [i.e. nothing used to be cooked]." 'Urwa said, "What used to sustain you?" A'ishah said, "The two black things i.e. dates and water, except that Allah's Apostle had neighbors from the Ansaar who had some milch she-camels, and they used to give the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) some milk from their house, and he used to make us drink it."
Sahih Al Bukhari Volume 8, Book 76, Number 466

Foods which accompanied Dates in the meals of the Holy Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).

There are a number of authentic Hadith which report that the Holy Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) sometimes ate dates with other foods. These foods are considered to be the best accompaniments for dates in terms of balancing their temperament and nutrients.

Fresh Ripe dates with [Snake] Cucumber.

Abdullah ibn Ja'far (radhi Allahu anhu) narrated that, "I saw the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) eating fresh dates with snake cucumbers."
Sahih Al Bukhari Volume 7, Book 65, Number 358

Dates with [Musk] Melon.

It is recorded that our Mother A'ishah (radhi Allahu anha) narrated, "The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) used to eat melon with fresh dates, and he used to say: "The heat of the one is broken by the coolness of the other, and the coolness of the one by the heat of the other.""
Classed as Hasan by Al Albani - Sunan Abi Dawood Book 27, Hadith 3827

Musk melon can be grown organically in the UK in a heated greenhouse or outside in the garden in a tunnel -

A drink of dates soaked overnight in water - Nabeez.

Nabeez is a drink made by soaking either dates or raisins overnight in water and it was provided for our Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) during his lifetime as reported in the authentic narrations. It's easy to make and nutritious and makes a great breakfast drink. More info can be found here -

Dates with Sawwiq [wholegrain barley flour].

It was narrated by Abu Burda (radhi Allahu anhu) that, "When I came to Medinah, I met Abdullah bin Salam (radhi Allahu anhu) and he said, "Will you come to me so that I may serve you with Sawiq (i.e. powdered barley) and dates, and let you enter a (blessed) house that in which the Prophet (sallallahu alahyi wasallam) entered?"...
Sahih Al Bukhari Volume 5, Book 58, Number 159

Occasions from Qur'an and Hadith relating to when dates were eaten.

As we can see from the above where Allah Azzawajal mentioned how Maryam (as) was provided with dates after having given birth, dates are a highly beneficial energy booster for new mothers.

Occasions from Hadith;

Before proceeding out for the Eid ul Fit'r Prayer [as a breakfast] - 
It was narrated by Anas bin Malik (radhi Allahu anhu) that, "Allah's Apostle (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) never proceeded (for the prayer) on the Day of 'Id-ul-Fitr unless he had eaten some dates. Anas also narrated: The Prophet used to eat odd number of dates.
Sahih Al Bukhari Volume 2, Book 15, Number 73

and also reported as Sahih in Jami` at-Tirmidhi Vol. 1, Book 5, Hadith 543

Dates should be shared with companions in a gathering, particularly if they are hungry - 
It was narrated by Jabala that "We were in Medinah with some of the Iraqi people, and we were struck with famine and Ibn Az-Zubair used to give us dates. Ibn 'Umar used to pass by and say, "The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) forbade us to eat two dates at a time, unless one takes the permission of one's companions." 
Sahih Al Bukhari Volume 3, Book 43, Number 635

For example, it would be a great blessing therefore to offer dates in the Mosque during Ramadhan at Iftaar for those who have prayed.

Dates for breaking the Fast - 
It was narrated by Anas ibn Malik (radhi Allahu anhu) that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) used to break his fast before praying with some fresh dates; but if there were no fresh dates, he had a few dry dates, and if there were no dry dates, he took some mouthfuls of water.
Classed as Hasan Sahih by Al Albani - Sunan Abi Dawood Book 13, Hadith 2349

The Sunnah is to consume an odd number [reported as 3 in Riyad As Saliheen, At Tirimithi] and in sha Allaah this is extremely beneficial for our health and should be practiced regularly because it helps not over-eating food at Iftaar time. The body processes the nutritional value of dates very quickly, preventing us from feeling the subsequent need to eat a lot.

Ibn Al Qayyim's commentary on dates.

Ibn Al Qayyim (rahimullah) said that eating fresh dates is particularly beneficial for people who have a cold temperament. They help to rectify a cold, stagnant stomach. But for those who have never eaten fresh dates before or are not used to it, it would cause more harm to start eating them frequently. Dates are beneficial in treating and preventing a number of different illnesses, including constipation, intestinal disorders, weight gain, heart problems, sexual weakness, diarrhoea and abdominal cancers.

In the Middle East, dates are consumed in a number of different ways; like mixing the paste of crushed dates with milk, nuts, yoghurt, or consuming it with bread and clarified butter.

The best dates are grown in the city of Madinah. They are generally sweeter and have a higher fibre content, which helps to provide an important energy boost at breakfast and normalise digestion. 

Dates are said to have the highest fibre content of all dried fruits and a daily serving of 20-35 grams of fibre in dates is recommended by the American Cancer Society. Dates are one of natures most highest sources of potassium; a mineral which is vital to the regular and healthy contractions of the heart muscle. Potassium is also required by the human body to balance the digestive system and nervous system.

It is also said that eating just one date each day guards against weakening eyesight for a lifetime.

The profound blessings of Ajwa' Dates.

Ajwa' dates are smaller and darker in colour and slightly less sweet than other varieties. Ma sha Allaah it is for this reason that I have personally found them more to my liking [easier to eat] than varieties which are larger and sweeter.

There is no doubt that the sand of Madinah where the Ajwa' date palm plantations stand even to this day is blessed and full of Shifa due to the sacred status of this city, and Saad bin Abi Waqaas narrated that God’s Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said, “Whoever eats seven Medinah dates [Ajwa'] for his breakfast will suffer from neither poison nor witchcraft for that day.” (Bukhari and Muslim).

King Saud University researchers find Awja Date's cancer prevention properties -

Purchase Ajwa' dates in the UK -

Friday, 3 July 2009

Hair care.

Maintaining the health and condition of the hair is an important aspect of the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). In Sahih al Bukhari, it is narrated that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said, “Whoever has hair, let him look after it properly.”

General Hair-care Recommendations;

Wash the hair regularly.

As recorded in Al Bukhari, the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) used to pour water three times on his head, and then rub the hair gently but thoroughly to ensure the whole scalp and roots of the hair had been wetted. The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) first perfumed his head with any beautiful scent which was available; taking it in his hands first he rubbed the right side of the head, then the left side, and finally the middle with the scent. That scent remained on him even after he had finished bathing.

Studies have shown that the best frequency for washing the hair is after every couple of days. The use of a mild medicated shampoo is recommended and it is advised not to shampoo the hair more than once at each washing unless it is very soiled otherwise it may result in brittleness and split ends. A separate rinse with a hair conditioner is also beneficial as it adds softness and helps with combing.

Women who have very long hair which is always plaited must undo the plaits and wash the hair thoroughly after completing the menses. It is not permissible just to make the hair wet or just to wet the tips of the hair.

Starting from the right hand side when combing the hair.

Our Mother A'ishah (radhi Allahu anha) narrated that "The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) used to like starting from the right in performing ablution, combing his hair and putting on his shoes."
Sahih al Bukhari Volume 7, Book 72, Number 745

Care when combing wet hair.

Using a fine-toothed comb on wet hair can cause immense stress on the hair shaft when it is wet, which leads to breakage and hair loss. Use a wide-toothed detangling comb and apply a little olive oil if required. Never pull at the hair when combing it.

Allow wet hair to dry naturally.

Using heated blow dryers can strip the hair of its natural moisture, causing split ends, wiriness and breakage. The hair is also more likely to become dry, frizzy and difficult to style.

Massage the scalp regularly with hair oil.

The use of hair oil is directly mentioned in the Sunnah;

Our Mother A'ishah (radhi Allahu anha) also narrated that "The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) used to (put) bend his head (out) to me while he was in Itikaf in the Mosque during my monthly periods and I would comb and oil his hair."
Sahih al Bukhari Volume 3, Book 33, Number 245

Massaging gently and regularly (once a week or so) using the fingertips, with any one of the following oils is recommended for increasing circulation and blood-flow to the scalp, thus strengthening the hair roots and conditioning the hair shaft. The best type of olive to use is Olive oil;

It was narrated from ‘Umar (radhi Allahu anhu) that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said; "Season (your food) with olive oil and anoint yourselves with it, for it comes from a blessed tree.”
Sunan Ibn Majah  Book 29, Hadith 3444. Classed as Sahih by Darusalaam.

The hair oil can be left on the hair for between 2-4 hours in sha Allah.

Using Henna.

Chemical-based hair colourants and highlights cause great damage to the hair and leak harmful toxins into the blood stream through the pores in the scalp. Henna is a natural dark red dye made from the dried and crushed leaves of the Henna plant. 100% pure Henna is safe to use even by pregnant women. It has hair-strengthening properties and also helps cool down the scalp, reduce headache and migraine, slow down the greying of hair, heal flakiness/itchiness, remove dandruff and kill lice. The use of Henna was the Sunnah of the Companions of our beloved Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), namely Abu Bakr As Siddique (radhi Allahu anhu) who applied it to his blessed hair and beard.

You can find out more about Henna by clicking here.

Henna should be mixed with an acidic liquid like lemon juice until the mixture forms a thick paste. This should then be covered and left to sit for 24 hours before more lemon juice can be added to make the consistency easier to apply. Henna can be left on the hair for between 2 and 8 hours.

The stain of pure Henna is always dark red/orange in colour. So called ‘Black Henna’ or ‘Brown Henna’ should never be used as it is most certainly a composition of toxic chemicals which could cause a very serious allergic reaction.

Sleeping properly.

Good quality sleep relieves stress which has been linked to hair loss. At the same time it is important to note that over-sleeping does not benefit the body at all and is not recommended. It was the practice of Rasool'Allah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and the Companions to sleep for a portion of the night then wake up in the last third of the night for Qiyyam ul Layl.

Improving dietary habits.

The old cliché of eating well really does have a significant impact on the condition of the hair. Eating a balanced diet, low in saturated fat and high in protein, vegetables, fresh fish, vitamins and minerals encourages strong, shiny, bouncy hair. Hair loss can be lessened by avoiding anything which leads to crash dieting, hormonal imbalances, poor blood circulation and anaemia. Regularly drinking a little whole milk, eating almonds, sesame seeds and dried fruit all help the condition of the scalp and hair.

Treating head lice according to Sunnah.

The cure for head lice according to the Sunnah of the beloved Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) is to shave the hair of the head, where Ka'b bin 'Umra (radhi Allahu anhu) narrated that, "Allah's Apostle (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) stood beside me at Al-Hudaibiya and the lice were falling from my head in great number. He asked me, "Have your lice troubled you?" I replied in the affirmative. He ordered me to get my head shaved. Ka'b added, "This Holy Verse:--'And if any of you is ill, or has ailment in his scalp (2.196), etc. was revealed regarding me. "The Prophet then ordered me either to fast three days, or to feed six poor persons with one Faraq (three Sas) (of dates), or to slaughter a sheep, etc (sacrifice) whatever was available.
Sahih Al Bukhari Volume 3, Book 28, Number 42

The reason for shaving the head is to allow the pores on the surface of the scalp to open and for excess moisture on the scalp to evaporate. This drying process aids the effectiveness of the next step. After shaving the head, one should apply a mixture of cayenne pepper and vinegar to the head, which helps to detach the lice and their eggs from the roots of the hair follicles. After this, they can be washed away. Female children and women need not shave their heads but should apply the mixture of vinegar and cayenne by separating their hair into sections to make the scalp easier to reach.

References -

"And complete the Hajj and 'umrah for Allah . But if you are prevented, then [offer] what can be obtained with ease of sacrificial animals. And do not shave your heads until the sacrificial animal has reached its place of slaughter. And whoever among you is ill or has an ailment of the head [making shaving necessary must offer] a ransom of fasting [three days] or charity or sacrifice. And when you are secure, then whoever performs 'umrah [during the Hajj months] followed by Hajj [offers] what can be obtained with ease of sacrificial animals. And whoever cannot find [or afford such an animal] - then a fast of three days during Hajj and of seven when you have returned [home]. Those are ten complete [days]. This is for those whose family is not in the area of al-Masjid al-Haram. And fear Allah and know that Allah is severe in penalty."

The Qur'an [2:196]


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