THE DATE AND ITS USES AS DESCRIBED IN THE QUR'AN
a number of Qur'anic verses, the humble date is honoured as one
of the blessings of Paradise. (Qur'an, 55:68) When this fruit is
examined, it can be seen to have a great many important features.
One of the oldest known species of plant, the date is today a food
of preference not only for its delicious taste but also for its
nutritious properties. New benefits imparted by the date are being
discovered every day and has come to be used as a medicine as well
as a food. These features of the date are noted in Surah Maryam:
The pains of labour drove her to the trunk
of a date-palm. She [Maryam] said, "Oh if only I had died
before this time and was something discarded and forgotten!" A
voice called out to her from under her, "Do not grieve! Your Lord
has placed a small stream at your feet. Shake the trunk of
the palm towards you and fresh, ripe dates will drop down onto
you. Eat and drink and delight your eyes
" (Qur'an, 19:23-26)
There is considerable wisdom in the way that Allah recommends Maryam
to eat this fruit. The date is an excellent choice of food for the
pregnant women and for those who have just given birth. This is
a widely accepted scientific fact. Maryam was inspired to understand
this point, in order to make her own labour easier. The date has
one of the highest sugar levels, 60-65%, of all fruits. Doctors
recommend that pregnant women be given foods containing fruit sugar
on the day they give birth. The aim behind this is to energise and
revitalise the mother's weakened body and at the same time to stimulate
the milk hormones and increase the levels of mother's milk essential
to the new-born baby.
In addition, loss of blood during birth leads to a fall in body
sugar levels. Dates are important from the point of view of enabling
sugar to enter the body and prevent blood pressure from dropping.
Their high calorific value strengthens people weakened by illness
or suffering from extreme fatigue.
These facts reveal the wisdom
in the way that Allah recommended Maryam to eat dates, designed
to energise and invigorate the woman and ensure the emergence of
milk, the only food for a baby. For example, the date contains more
than ten elements of vital importance if the body is to remain healthy
and energetic. Modern-day scientists state that human beings can
actually live for years on nothing more than dates and water.110
V. H. W. Dowson, a recognised expert in this field, says that one
grain of date and a glass of milk are enough to meet all of a person's
daily nutritional requirements.111
The substance oxytocin, which is present in the
date, is used in modern medicine to facilitate birth. In fact, oxytocin
means "rapid birth." It is also known to increase levels of mother's
milk after birth.112
Oxytocin is actually a hormone released by the pituitary gland
which stimulates contractions of the womb during childbirth. All
the pre-birth preparations in the body take place thanks to this
hormone. The effects of the hormone can be seen in the muscles that
form the mother's womb and in cells in the muscular structure that
enables the secretion of mother's milk. The effective contraction
of the womb is essential if birth is to take place. Oxytocin enables
the muscles that comprise the womb to contract in a very powerful
manner. Moreover, oxytocin also initiates the secretion of mother's
milk. This feature of the date alone-the way it contains oxytocin-is
important evidence that the Qur'an is the revelation of Allah. The
medical identification of the benefits of the date only became possible
in recent times. Yet it was set out fourteen centuries ago in the
Qur'an that Allah revealed to Maryam that she should eat dates.
also contain a form of sugar that gives the body high levels of
mobility and heat energy and which can be easily broken down in
the body. Furthermore, this sugar is not glucose, which rapidly
raises the level of blood sugar but the fruit sugar fructose. A
rapid rise in blood sugar levels in diabetics in particular has
a damaging effect on a great many organs and systems, especially
the eyes, kidneys, heart and circulatory system and nervous system.
High blood sugar is one of the main causes of disorders as serious
as loss of sight, heart attacks and kidney insufficiency.
Dates contain a great many vitamins and minerals. They are very
rich in fibre, fat and proteins. They also contain sodium, potassium,
calcium, magnesium, iron, sulphur, phosphorus and chlorine, as well
as vitamins A, beta-carotene, B1, B2, B3 and B6. Some of the benefits
of the vitamins and minerals in dates to the normal human body and
especially during pregnancy can be summarised as follows:
- The nutritional value of dates stems from the appropriate mineral
balance within them. The date also contains folic acid, a B vitamin
of great importance to pregnant women. Folic acid (B9)
is a vitamin which serves important functions in the construction
of new blood cells and of amino acids, the body's building blocks,
and in cell renewal. The need for folic acid thus rises significantly
during pregnancy and the daily requirement doubles. When folic
acid levels are insufficient, red blood cells that are larger
than normal but with lower functionality emerge, along with the
symptoms of anaemia, appear. Folic acid plays a particularly important
role in cell division and in the formation of the genetic structure
of the cell and is the only substance daily requirements of which
double during pregnancy. The date is exceedingly rich in folic
- On the other hand, the long-term nausea and
physical reactions that appear during pregnancy do so because
of a lack of potassium. Levels therefore need
to be reinforced. In the same way that the large quantities of
potassium in dates are of great importance in this regard, they
are also important in regulating the water balance in the body.
Moreover, by helping oxygen to reach the brain potassium enables
one to think clearly. In addition, it provides the appropriate
alkaloidal features for body fluids and stimulates the kidneys
to expel toxic bodily wastes. It helps bring down high blood pressure
and the formation of healthy skin.113
- The iron contained in dates controls the synthesis
of haemoglobin in the red blood cells and ensures an appropriate
level of red cells in the blood. This is of vital importance in
preventing anaemia during pregnancy and the development of the
baby. Red blood cells play a role in keeping cells alive by carrying
oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. Due to dates' high iron
levels, a human being can meet his or her iron requirements by
eating just 15 dates a day and will thus be protected from disorders
arising from iron deficiency.
- The calcium and phosphate
in dates are important elements for skeletal growth and balancing
the body's bone structure. The high levels of phosphorus
and calcium in dates protect the body against
bone weakness and help reduce such disorders.
- Scientists also emphasise the way in which
dates reduce stress and tension. Research by Berkeley University
experts has revealed that dates contain high levels of vitamin
B6, which strengthens the nerves, and magnesium,
which is very important for the kidneys. A person can meet his
magnesium requirement by eating just 2-3 grains of date a day.114
- The vitamin B1 in dates facilitates the health
of the nervous system, assists the transformation of the carbohydrates
in the body into energy and the use of protein and fats to meet
the body's needs. Vitamin B2 assists in the burning
of protein, carbohydrates and fats for the provision of bodily
energy and cell renewal.
- The body's vitamin A requirement
rises during pregnancy. Thanks to the vitamin A it contains, the
date improves vision and bodily resistance and strengthens the
teeth and bones. Dates are also especially rich in beta-carotene.115
Beta-carotene helps prevent cancer by controlling molecules that
attack the cells.
In addition, unlike dates, other fruits are generally
lacking in protein.116
Thanks to this feature, dates enable the body to protect itself
against illness and infection, to renew cells and ensure fluid balance.
Meat is also a useful foodstuff but maybe not as much as the date,
which is a fresh fruit, especially at such a time. Indeed, excessive
consumption of meat during pregnancy can actually lead to toxicity
in the body. It is much better for pregnant women to choose fruit
and vegetables, which are light and easily digested.
All these facts about dates reveal Allah's infinite knowledge and
compassion for human beings. As we have seen, the benefits of the
date, especially during pregnancy and only recently established
by modern medical science, were indicated in the Qur'an many years
111. “Date and Health,” www.sgp-dates.com/date.htm.
www.people.virginia.edu/~rjh9u/oxytocin.html; and http://eilat.sci.brooklyn.cuny.edu/newnyc/DRUGS/OXYTOCIN.HTM#supplied.
113. The Independent Newspaper, 9 June 1995.
114. “Date and Health,” www.sgp-dates.com/date.htm.