رَبَّنَا آتِنَا مِن لَّدُنكَ رَحْمَةً وَهَيِّئْ لَنَا مِنْ أَمْرِنَا رَشَدًا
Prophet’s Guidance on observing diet as part of the cure
All types of cures and medicines contain either a certain diet or preventive measures, when one feels ill, he will need to rid the body from harmful substances and bodily wastes. These three elements are what medicine is all about.
There are two types of diet, a diet from what might bring an illness and a diet from what might intensify the illness. The first type of diet is for the healthy and the second type is for those with an illness. When the patient observes a certain diet, the illness will not progress and thus the powers contained in the body will cooperate and collaborate towards ridding the body of the ailment.
The most basic element regarding the diet is what Allah said:
وَإن كُنْتُم مَّرْضَى أَوْ عَلَى سَفَرٍ أَوْ جَاءَ أَحَدٌ مِّنكُم مِّنَ الْغَائِطِ أَوْ لاَمَسْتُمُ النِّسَاءَ فَلَمْ تَجِدُوا مَاءً فَتَيَمَّمُواْ صَعِيداً طَيِّباً
And if you are ill or on a journey, or one of you comes after answering the call of nature, or you have been in contact with women (by sexual relations) and you find no water, perform Tayammum with clean earth (soil) ~ (Mai’dah : 43)
Allah Has Saved the sick person from using water; when there is a chance that it might harm him.
Ibn Majah narrated that Umm Al-Munthir bint Qays said,
وفى سنن ابن ماجه وغيره، عن أُمِّ المنذِر بنت قيس الأنصارية، قالت: دَخَلَ علىَّ رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ومعه علىّ، وعلىٌ ناقِهٌ من مرض، ولنا دوالى مُعلَّقة، فقام رسولُ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يأكل منها، وقام علىٌّ يأكل منها، فطفِقَ رسولُ الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول لعلىٍّ: إنك ناقِةٌ حَتَّى كفَّ. قالت: وصنعت شعيراً وسِلْقاً، فجئت به، فقال النبىُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم لعلىٍّ: مِنْ هذا أَصِبْ، فإنه أنفعُ لَكَ، وفى لفظ فقال: مِنْ هذا فَأصِبْ، فإنه أوفَقُ لَكَ.
The Messenger of Allah came along with Ali Bin Abi Talib Radi Allaho Anh, who was then recovering from an illness. At that time, we had some hanging clusters of dates. The Messenger of Allah Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam started eating from them and then Ali Radi Allaho Anh joined him. The Messenger of Allah kept saying to Ali; “you are still recovering”, until Ali stopped eating. I then made some barley and chard (beetroot) and brought it to them. Prophet Muhammad Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam said to Ali, “Eat from this food, it is more beneficial for you”.
In another narration, our beloved Prophet said, ‘Eat from this food for it is more suitable in your condition. [Abu Dawood, Ahmad and Al-Hakim].
وفى سنن ابن ماجه أيضاً عن صُهَيْبٍ، قال: قدمِتُ على النبىِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم وبين يديه خبزٌ وتمرٌ، فقال: ادْنُ فَكُلْ، فأخذتُ تمراً فأكلتُ، فقال: أتأكُلُ تمراً وبِكَ رَمَدٌ ؟ فقلت: يا رسول الله؛ أمضُغُ مِنَ الناحية الأخرى، فتبسَّم رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم.
lbn Majah narrated that Suhayb Radi Allaho Anh said, “I came by the Messenger of Allah and found that there were some dates and bread in front of him. Prophet Muhammad Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam said, “Come closer and eat. I picked up some dates and started eating from them. Then Prophet Muhammad Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam said, “Do you eat dates while you are suffering from conjunctivitis (an inflammation of the covering membrane of the eye)”? I said, O Messenger of Allah, I am chewing on the other side.’ The Messenger of Allah then smiled.” [Tirmzi and Al-Hakim].
إنَّ اللهَ إذا أحبَّ عبداً، حماه مِنَ الدُّنيا، كما يَحْمِى أحَدُكُم مريضَه عَنِ الطَّعَامِ والشَّرابِ
In another Hadith, Prophet Muhammad Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam said:
“When Allah loves a slave, He Saves him from (the lust & love) of this Dunya, just as one of you restricts his patient on a special diet from food and drink”.
The famous statement that “Diet is the top medicine” and the stomach is the home of disease; give each person what he is used to [of food and medicine]; this is not a Hadith, according to the scholars of Hadith. Rather, it is the words of Al-Harith bin Kaladah, the renowned Arab doctor. But there is another (weak) Hadith which states :
أنَّ المَعِدَةَ حوضُ البدن، والعُروق إليها واردةٌ، فإذا صحَّت المَعِدَةُ صدرت العروقُ بالصحة، وإذا سَقِمَتِ المَعِدَةُ، صدرت العروقُ بالسقم
“Stomach is the Haudh (tank) of human’s body, with which all the arteries & veins are attached, when the stomach is healthy, the veins & arteries transfer the health to the entire body, and if the stomach is sick, the veins & arteries spread disease in the body.”
Al-Harith stated that, “Diet is the head of medicine. To doctors, observing a diet by healthy people is as harmful as unhealthy eating habits for patients. Consequently, the best type of diet is that observed by those recovering from an illness, because until then, their body organs would not have regained their normal strength and wellbeing. In this condition, the digestion process would not be at its normal efficiency while the various organs of the body would still be prone to sickness. At this time, unhealthy eating habits might cause the disease to come back stronger than it was before.
You should understand now that Prophet’s disallowing Ali from eating the hanging clusters of dates while still recuperating from an illness is one of the best preventive measures. Fruits are not beneficial for sick or recovering patients as they get digested quickly at a time when the body is still fighting the ailment and is not strong enough to deal with an excess amount of food. Ripe dates in particular are heavy on the stomach at a time when the body is still resisting the ailment and removing its effects. Whatever part of the ailment that remains would either dissipate or re-intensify, depending on the condition of the body.
Therefore, when cooked barley and beetroot were brought to Prophet Muhammad Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam, he ordered Ali Radi Allaho Anh to eat from it. Cooked barley and beetroot represent one of the best types of foods for the recovering patients and those with weak stomachs. It does not produce any harmful substances or bodily wastes. The water of cooked barley is cool and nourishing, along with its other qualities of soothing, relaxing the bowels and strengthening the body in general, especially when it is cooked with beetroot.
وقال زيدُ بن أسلم: حَمَى عُمَرُ رضى الله عنه مريضاً له، حتى إنه من شدة ما حماه كان يَمَصُّ النَّوَى
Zaid bin Aslam once said, “Umar Radi Allaho Anh once made a patient observe such a strict diet that he used to suck on date stones”. In short, diet is one of the most beneficial / preventive measures before and after the disease strikes, in which case diet will prevent the disease from spreading or progressing.
We should know that when healthy, recovering or sick people have a taste for a type of food or drink, it would not harm if one consumes little amounts of it. Rather, the food might even help and benefit the body, as the stomach will accept and easily digest the food, more so than when one takes a medicine that it detests. This is why Prophet Muhammad Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam allowed Suhaib Radi Allaho Anh to eat few dates when he was suffering from conjunctivitis, since it was just a little and would not harm him.
It was reported that Ali Radi Allaho said that he once came to Prophet Muhammad Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam, when he (Ali) was complaining from conjunctivitis, and he found the beloved Prophet eating dates. Prophet Muhammad Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam asked him, “O Ali, do you have a taste for dates”? He then threw a date and then another date to Ali Radi Allaho Anh, until he threw seven. Prophet Muhammad Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam then said, “That is enough, O Ali”. [Narrated by Abu Naim in his book on Prophetic medicine].
In addition, Ibn Majah narrated that Ibn Abbas Radi Allaho Anh said:
ومن هذا ما رواه ابن ماجه فى سننهِ من حديث عِكْرِمَةَ، عن ابن عباس، أنَّ النبىَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم عادَ رَجُلاً، فقال له: ما تَشتَهِى ؟ فقال: أشتَهِى خُبْزَ بُرٍّ وفى لفظٍ: أشتَهِى كَعْكَاً فقال النبىُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم: مَن كانَ عندَهُ خُبزُ بُرٍّ، فَليبعَثْ إلى أخيه، ثم قال: إذا اشتَهَى مريضُ أحدِكَم شيئاً، فَلْيُطْعِمْهُ
“Once, Prophet Muhammad Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam visited a sick person and asked him, “What do you have a taste for?” The man said, I have a taste for wheat bread, or I have a taste for a cake.” Prophet Muhammad Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam then said: “Whoever has wheat bread, let him send some to his brother.” He in addition said, “When your sick have a taste for something, give them some of it.”
The last Hadith contains a secret, because when the sick person eats what he has a taste for while hungry, it will be less harmful than what he does not have a taste for. If what he has a taste for is not beneficial in his condition, then his preference for it will prevent its harm. In addition, eating what one does not like will cause harm to the patient even if the substance is beneficial itself In general, the type of food that is tasty and that the person likes will be accepted by the body and will be digested in the best way, especially when the appetite for it is strong.