Dates, a fruit of the tropical and desert climates, has significant importance in Middle Eastern and North African cultures. Most significantly, dates have long known to be the main Ramadan food.
Both dates fruit and date palms have been considered as a symbol of power, triumph, abundance, and faith. A person with good deeds was known to resemble a date palm; as per the Old Testament’s Book of Psalms.
Jesus Christ was welcomed in Jerusalem with men holding date palm branches in their hands. While those who bring dates from Jerusalem are known as “palmers” in Europe.
The importance of dates fruit in Islam is even more substantial. The Quran has mentioned dates 23 times. The Islamic history holds a special place for dates fruit, where it’s known for abundance and wealth. Indeed, dates and date palms are considered as a Sacred fruit by Muslims and a sacred fruit of Ramadan food.
In Arabic, the word for date palm is “nahle” and its fruit is called “tamr.” However, in Turkish, the word for date is “hurma,” because it means “respect” in Arabic. Dates have a very special place in Turkish culture as it is easy to understand the importance of dates fruit from the name.
The Sultan of Iftar – Essential Ramadan Food
Dates are essential of Ramadan food and a staple on iftar tables. The humble table of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) always had dates fruit. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) broke his fast with fresh or dried dates and a sip of water. Dates were preferably the first choice, and in case if dates were not available, he used water – as fire is believed to be the sign of wrath, raw food that was not touched by fire was his choice to break the fast.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said a faithful Muslim resembled a date palm and ate dates with bread as a meal by itself. He used to eat odd numbers of dates and took out their seeds with his index and middle fingers. He advised eating fresh and dried dates together because he believed that the devil feels discomfort when an individual lived long enough to be able to consume both the fresh and dried versions of a fruit.
Prophet Muhammad once advised his friend Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas to mash dates and consume it after mixing it with milk and oil. This is called “fariqa,” and women who had just given birth drank it. Dates are not just a fruit, there are many meals and desserts made with dates in Arabic cuisine as well as many others. The importance of dates is not peculiar to the holy month of Ramadan. The most precious gifts brought by pilgrims from Mecca are “zam-zam” water and dates.
Prophet Muhammad planted a date tree and recited an abundance of prayers. He said that those who eat seven dates on an empty stomach in the morning will be protected from any poison and ill-wishes. Where there’s great importance of dua in Islam, knowing which ‘dua’ to make at which occasions is also vital. The spirituality section in Salam Planet covers the Islamic data, including dua’s you need at every step.
A Respective Staple – Importance of Dates Fruit
The importance of dates fruit can be seen from Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) saying:
“Respect date palms, which are your relatives [aunt]. Because the first date tree was created with the same mud from which Adam was created.”
Ahmad Sirhindi (a.k.a Imam Rabbani), who was the most well-known Sufi in India in the 16th century, referred to Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) words in his 162nd letter:
“Community and justice are at the core of the creation of the date palm. This is the same for human beings’ creation. When dates are eaten, they become a part of a person and [its benefits] are transferred to that person. The date’s supremacy can also be found in the person who consumes it.”
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said dates have abundant features because they have everything [beneficial] inside. Those who eat dates as it was praised by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) benefit from it both earthily and spiritually.
The importance of dates fruit is as vital as camels for the people of dessert. Since dates do not spoil and are resistant to bugs, they keep well. This Ramadan food is a substantial fruit and can be eaten fresh or dried or it can be pressed for its juice. Date seeds usually serve as animal feed, but it is also possible to make prayer beads from them. Wooden barrels made from date palms makes fermentation easy, hence Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) forbade storing grape juice in these barrels.
A Cure-All Fruit – Health Benefits of Dates
Dates benefits are numerous for humans. As per the modern medicine, dates have 10 element which are crucial for humans to stay healthy and fit:
- Dates have fructose as opposed to glucose, which does not add to the obesity.
- Dates fruit is abundant in Vitamin B6 that soothes the nerves.
- Dates contain magnesium that strengthens the muscles and is good for pregnant women and to prevent cancer.
- Dates nutrition is very high. 100 grams of dates has 1.5 grams of protein, 50 grams of carbohydrates and 225 calories. This is why they are beneficial for work that requires physical or mental effort or suffer from exhaustion or weakness due to illness.
- Dates are also good for anaemia, tuberculosis and bone problems thanks to their levels of phosphorus, calcium and iron.
Today, there are around 50 types of different dates available. The cheapest ones are produced in Iran – they are very soft and have a muddy color. Tunisian dates, which are light and bright and have thin skin, are quite valuable. In terms of price and quality, Median dates are between Iranian and Tunisian dates, but they are the most consumed in Turkey. It is because people in Turkey consider dates as a sacred fruit of Ramadan food and in general.
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