Dried dates have a special status in Islam and one has always wondered why they receive all this attention? However, upon studying this issue carefully, discovered that dried dates deserve all this appreciation and praise, because they are one of the countless great Divine blessings upon us.
Allaah The Almighty Says (what means):
And He gave you from all you asked of Him. And if you should count the favor of Allaah, you could not enumerate them. Indeed, humankind is [generally] most unjust and ungrateful.[Quran 14:34]
He causes to grow for you thereby the crops, olives, palm trees, grapevines, and from all the fruits. Indeed in that is a sign for a people who give thought.[Quran 16:11]
Several scientific studies have confirmed the great importance of dried dates, but many people know very little about them.
Amidst this flood of information and modern scientific advancement, I was really impressed with the Prophet’s deep understanding of the value of dried dates, when he said:
“Whoever can find dates should break his fast with them-and whoever cannot find dates should break his fast with water, for truly it is pure.” [At-Tirmithi]
This is a prophetic miracle that has been proved by modern studies and researches, because after the absorption process – near the end of the fast – the level of blood glucose and insulin decrease in the hepatic portal vein, affecting penetration of glucose into the hepatic cells and the peripheral tissues (such as the muscular and neurological cells).
At this time, all the stored hepatic glycogen would have been depleted and the tissues would depend on the oxidation of fatty acids as well as the oxidation of the glucose manufactured in the liver from the amino acids and glycerol to obtain energy.
Hence, quickly providing the body with glucose at this time is very beneficial, because it increases its concentration in the hepatic portal vein quickly immediately after its absorption.
It enters the hepatic cells first and then goes to the brain cells, blood, muscular and neurological system as well as the other body tissues that were prepared by Allaah The Almighty to depend on sugars as their ideal nourishment to generate energy.
This would stop the oxidation of the amino acids, block the way before the formation of the harmful ketone bodies, and end the symptoms of general weakness and simple disorders in the neurological system, if any, that happen due to the oxidation of large amounts of fats.
Having glucose stops the production of glucose in the liver, halting the destruction of amino acids and preserving body proteins.
Why dried dates?
Dried dates are one of the finest foods that are rich in glucose and therefore it is ideal nourishment for the body because it contains a high percentage of sugars (from 75% to 87%) out of which glucose represents 55% and 45% fructose.
Dried dates also include some proteins, fats, and vitamins (A, B2 and B12) in addition to some important minerals (including calcium, phosphor, potassium, sulfur, sodium, magnesium, cobalt, zinc, florin, copper, manganese) and a percentage of cellulose.
Fructose transforms into glucose very fast and then the digestive system absorbs it to quench the body’s thirst for energy, especially for some tissues that directly depend on it such as brain cells, neurological cells, red blood cells and bone marrow cells.
Fructose and cellulose activate the vermiform movement of the intestines. Phosphorus is also important in nourishing the brain chambers and it enters in the structure of phosphate compounds that transport energy and control its use in all body cells.
Moreover, all the vitamins of the dried dates play a vital role in assimilation (A, B1 and B2), as well as biotin, riboflavin and others. They also serve as tranquilizers, while minerals play a key role in forming some enzymes that are necessary for some vital body processes. They also play a very important role in the contraction and extension of the muscles as well as the acid-base neutrality. This removes any muscular or nervous tension, and causes the body to relax. Research also shows that phosphate resists aging.
On the other hand, if one breaks his fast on fatty substances or those rich in protein, that will require a long period to be digested and then absorbed, this will not satisfy the body’s urgent need for energy in addition to allowing the amino acids to increase in the body as a result of having food that does not contain sugars which causes a decrease in blood sugar.
In addition to vitamins and minerals, dried dates contain fibers, which play a very important role in activating movement of the intestines, i.e. it serves as a natural laxative that protects one from constipation, indigestion and related problems.
Moreover, ripe dates contain a percentage of oxytocin hormone which helps in the contractions of the blood vessels in the uterus and prevents vaginal bleeding.
The Quran refers to this fact in the verse in which Allaah The Exalted Says (what means):
And shake toward you the trunk of the palm tree; it will drop upon you ripe, fresh dates. So eat and drink and be contented. And if you see from among humanity anyone, say, ‘Indeed, I have vowed to The Most Merciful abstention, so I will not speak today to [any] man.’” [Quran 19:25-26]
All these benefits show us the rationale behind the command of the Prophet, sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ), to break our fast on dates. The guidance of the Prophet, sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ), is for one to:
“Break his fasting before performing the Maghrib Prayer with three fresh date-fruits; if there were no fresh date-fruits, let him eat three dry dates; and if there were no dry date-fruits; let him take three sips of water.”[At-Tirmithi: Hasan]
It is very good to eat dates because they serve as food and cure for you, but it is better to eat them with the intention of following the guidance and Sunnah of the Prophet, sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ), to receive rewards in addition to nourishment and health by the permission of Allaah.
Finally, one should not forget to thank Allaah The Almighty for this wonderful blessing.