Imagine my surprise when, while browsing the blogosphere this Ramadan, I came across a drink called Date Nabeez. Living in Jeddah for more than a decade, and I had never even heard of nabeez before, so on reading further I discovered that this was not only highly nutritious, but it was a favourite drink of the Prophet Muhammad (saw).
Thanks to the wonderful author of said blog Karimah bint Dawoud, I tried making the juice and fell in love with it. I even passed on the recipe to my Dad who is now blitzing it up regularly. Suffice to say, it is fast becoming a family favourite for Ramadan.
In keeping with the Ramadan theme in this blog post, Karimah explores the history of the date palm in the Saudi region. She brings to light the amazing nutritional benefits of this fruit, and its references in Qur’an and Sunnah. Finally, she discloses her recipe for Date Nabeez. Try it, and tell us what you think.
The date palm is the symbol of Saudi Arabia and for good reason. It has been in the land for over 10, 000 years, taken by Alexander the Great to Pakistan, and the Khalifa Abdualrahman Aldakel to Spain, Andalusia. The date palm tree and two swords in saltire underneath, are the emblem of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Dates were central to the Saudi economy long before oil. Saudi Arabia, along with its sister country Egypt, are the top date producing countries in the world, and have been for hundreds if not thousands of years. The largest oasis in the world is in Saudi Arabia. It’s located in Al-Hassa , in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. There they grow, process, pack and worldwide-export Saudi Arabian dates of different varieties. There are over 300 varieties of dates in Saudi Arabia alone. The Al-Ahsa region boasts over 10 million palm trees. The Ministry of Agriculture has set up a factory to process its rich output of dates, amounting to five tons daily, mashallah!
Photo credit: Karimah bint Dawoud
The date palm is part of the Phoenix family of trees. Phoeonix is the Latin name for a classification of trees that grow in various parts of the world. Like the phoenix bird in ancient roman and Greek mythology, a bird that arises from the fire, these amazing trees often arise out of hot arid land to produce the most exquisite sweet fruits that are like multivitamin and minerals packaged in a convenient carry case. Dates are essential to have in your house during Ramadan. It is said in Islam that a house with dates will not go hungry. You cannot have Islam without dates, they go hand in hand. They are sacred foods mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah.
“It is He Who sends down water (rain) from the sky, and with it We bring forth vegetation of all kinds, and out of it We bring forth green stalks, from which We bring forth thick clustered grain. And out of the date-palm and its spathe come forth clusters of dates hanging low and near, and gardens of grapes, olives and pomegranates, each similar (in kind) yet different (in variety and taste). Look at their fruits when they begin to bear, and the ripeness thereof. Verily! In these things there are signs for people who believe.” – ( سورةالأنعام , Al-Anaam, Chapter #6, Verse #99) “And shake the trunk of date-palm towards you, it will let fall fresh ripe-dates upon you.” – ( سورةمريم , Maryam, Chapter #19, Verse #25)
Fasting and Dates
The Messenger of Allah, salah la alaihi wa salem, said: “If one of you is fasting, he should break his fast with dates. If dates are not available, then with water, for water is purifying.” [Ahmad] Salman ibn Amir Dhabi related that the Prophet said: “Break your fast with dates, or else with water, for it is pure.” (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi).
Nutrition in Dates
Narrated Sa’d: The Prophet said, “If somebody takes some ‘Ajwa dates every morning, he will not be effected by poison or magic on that day till night.” (Another narrator said seven dates). (Sahih Bukhari) How do we make this relative to the 21st century and Ramadan? There is wisdom in everything the Prophet Muhammad (salah la alaihi wa salem) did, and now we have the scientific evidence to back it up. Dates are a super food and here’s why: Dates contain significant amounts of vitamins A and K. Vitamin A is good for your eyes’ mucous membranes that get de-hydrated during fasting. They even contain chemical that protect the mouth the lungs from cancer, maasha’Allah. Vitamin K is essential for helping to regulate the consistency of the blood and helping it clot. There is something in the fibre of the dates that binds it to cancer forming substances in the intestine. They also contain loads of minerals that each have their own unique healing powers; calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), niacin, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin. For example the potassium in dates is an electrolyte, which helps regulate heart rate and blood pressure that can be affected by dehydration. Potassium is also essential for regulating the body’s water balance and building proteins and muscle, affected by fasting. Potassium also metabolizes carbohydrates and controls your acid-base balance. The combination of fibre minerals and vitamins in dates are an excellent natural way to combat strokes, heart problems, stomach and indigestion as well as giving you a fat-free energy boost.
Photo credit: Karimah bint Dawoud
Nabeez (Nabidh, Nabeeth)
Every morning I soak 7 dates per person in 500ml water after rinsing them and taking out the stones. I leave them until a couple of hours before Maghrib, then blitz them in the blender, adding more water if necessary. A wonderful cream coloured, cloudy, frothy drink appears, then separates after it has been left in the fridge a while. This nutritious drink is known as nabeez, nabeth or nabidh. It is also part of the Sunnah, the traditional ways of the Prophet Muhammad.
The Prophet Drinks Nabidh
In ‘The Book of Marriage’, in the chapter on ‘The Women Standing And Serving the Men at Wedding Celebrations’, and in ‘The Book of The Dried Fruit and Drinking what does not Intoxicate at Weddings’, al-Bukhari reported: From Abu Hazin from Sahl: “When Abu Usayd al-Sa’idi got married, he invited the Prophet (S.A.W.) and his companions. None prepared the food for them and brought it to them but his wife, Umm Usayd. She soaked some dates in water in a stone pot overnight, and when the Prophet (S.A.W.) had finished his food, she provided him with that drink (of soaked dates)”.
Furthermore Muslim narrated:
وثبت فى “صحيح مسلم” أنه صلى الله عليه وسلم كان يُنْبَذُ له أوَّل الليل، ويشربُه إذا أصبح يومَه ذلك، والليلةَ التى تجىءُ، والغَد، واللَّيلةَ الأُخرى،
“The Messenger of Allah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam) liked Nabeez (some dates soaked in water) to be made in the beginning of the night and would drink it in the morning of the next day, the next night and the next day, and another night, and the next day until ASR. If any of it remained, he would then order that it should be thrown away”.
Photo credit: Karimah bint Dawoud
Muslim narrated this report under “The Book of Drinks”, in the chapter on “The Permissibility of [drinking] Nabidh which has not Fermented nor become an Intoxicant”. From here, the drinking of nabidh began and the rulers allowed the drinking of wine, claiming it was permissible as long as it did not intoxicate. It is not a wine in the European sense of wine because it is not drunk when it has been fermented to the point of fermentation where alcohol is present. Islamically, this is not allowed nor necessary for optimum nutrition.
The Hadith says in the Translation of Sahih Muslim, Book 23: The Book of Drinks (Kitab Al-Ashriba) “Book 023, Number 4954: Ibn Buraida, on the authority of his father, reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: “I had forbidden you from the drinking (and preparation of) Nabidh in the vessels made out of leather, but (now) you may drink in all vessels, but you do not drink an intoxicant.” It is best on all levels, mind, body and soul, to drink fresh nabeez.
It has been reported in Tibb Nabawi circles, by Indian workers on the Saudi Arabian oil rigs, that this drink is one of the best things to get a person though the day while fasting. Mixed with blended water melon at iftar time it provides the most natural best drink for revitalizing the kidneys and refreshing all the body’s organs and cells. Drunk freshly blended, it is reminiscent of caramelized toffee in a drink form, It is lovely and this is one drink I will not put down insha’Allah.