Archive for Diet & Nutrition

The Black Seed

History of the Black SeedFor over two thousand years the black seed, a plant from the Ranunculaceae (buttercup) family, has been traditionally used by various cultures throughout the world as a natural remedy for several diseases and ailments and to improve health in general.

The ancient Egyptians knew and used the black seed and described it as a panacea (cure for problems and diseases). Tutankamun even had a bottle of the oil in his tomb!

The Romans also knew this seed and called it Greek Coriander and used it as a dietary supplement.

In the first century, the Greek physician Dioscoredes recorded that the black seed were taken to treat headaches, nasal congestion, toothache and intestinal worms.

The black seed is also mentioned in the Bible in Isiah 28:25-27 as the ‘fitches’. Ibn Senna, known in the West as Avicenna, who wrote the great medical treatise ‘The Canon of Medicine’, referred to the black seed as the seed ‘that stimulates the body’s energy and helps recovery from fatigue’.

What is Nigella Sativa (the black seed)?

Nigella Sativa originates from Western Asia and is a herb that grows about 16-24 inches in height and has white flowers when in bloom. The plant is now cultivated from the Near East to India. The deep black, sharp-cornered rectangular seeds (no longer than 3 mm) are the part of the plant that is used for the preparation of products.

The black seed is cultivated in Russia, Turkey, Egypt, Arabia, Oman, Ethiopia, Middle East, Far East, India, Bangladesh, France, Germany and the Mediterranean Basin. It also grows wild in Egypt, Syria, Asiatic Turkey and the Balkan States.

Nigella Sativa is known commonly in Arabic as Habbat-ul-Baraka (blessed seed) and in English as Love in the Mist.
Research

Since 1959, over 200 studies have been carried out at international universities and articles published in various journals have shown remarkable results supporting its traditional uses.

The Nigella Sativa seed itself contains numerous esters of structurally unusual unsaturated fatty acids and the chemical composition is very rich and diverse. Apart from its active ingredient, crystalline nigellone, it contains 15 amino acids (including eight of the nine essential ones), carbohydrates, fatty acids including linolenic and oleic, volatile oils, alkaloids and dietary fibre, as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, sodium and potassium.

Recent research on the black seed as an anti-biotic, anti-tumour, anti-inflammatory, anti-histaminic, anti-bacterial, anti-bronchial and immune boosting agent has shown great promise.

Traditional uses of the Black Seed from around the world
For centuries, the black seed and its oil has been used by people in Asia, Africa, the Middle and Far East to promote health and fight disease. It has been traditionally used to treat a variety of ailments and conditions related to respiratory health, stomach and intestinal complaints, kidney and liver function, circulatory and immune system support and to improve health in general.

Please find below some traditional Black Seed remedies that are used around the world:

Asthma & Bronchial Problems (Far East, Middle East & Malay Peninsula)
Mix a teaspoon of Black Seed Oil in coffee. Taken twice daily. Also rub chest with Black Seed Oil every night and inhale the vapour of Black Seed Oil in hot water.

Backache & other kinds of rheumatism (Middle East & Malay Peninsula)
Mildly heat a small amount of Black Seed Oil and then stroke the rheumatic area intensely. A teaspoon of the oil should also be drunk three times daily.

Diabetes (India)
Mix a cup of whole Black Seeds, a cup of watercress or mustard seeds, half a cup of pomegranate peel, and half a cup of fumitory. Grind the mixture to powder. Take half a teaspoon of the mixture together with a teaspoon of Black Seed Oil daily before breakfast for one month.

Diarrhoea (India & Middle East)
Mix a teaspoon of Black Seed Oil with a cup of yoghurt. Drinking the mixture twice a day until symptoms disappear.

Dry Cough (Middle East & North Africa)
A teaspoon of Black Seed Oil should be mixed in coffee and taken twice a day. Rub the chest and back with Black Seed Oil.

Flu & Nasal Congestion (General)
Placing three to four drops of Black Seed Oil in each nostril can relieve nasal congestion and head cold distress.

Hair Greying (General)
Massaging the hair with Black Seed Oil regularly may prevent premature hair greying.

Hair Loss (India & Middle East)
Stroke the scalp thoroughly with lemon and leave for about 15 minutes, shampoo, wash and dry hair thoroughly. Then massage Black Seed Oil into the scalp. Drink a teaspoon of Black Seed Oil mixed in tea/coffee.

Hay Fever (Middle East)
One tablespoon of Black Seed Oil mixed with a glass of lemon should be taken twice daily until symptoms disappear.

Headaches (General)
Rub the forehead and the sides of the face near the ears with Black Seed Oil and bandage the head. Also a teaspoon of Black Seed Oil should be taken before breakfast.

Healthy Being (General)
To maintain good health take a teaspoon of Black Seed Oil mixed with one teaspoon of pure honey, twice daily.

Healthy Complexion (General)
Mix a tablespoon of Black Seed Oil with a tablespoon of olive oil. Rub the face with this mixture and leave it for at least one hour. Wash with soap and water.

Hypertension (India)
Mix any drink with a teaspoon of Black Seed Oil and also take two lobes of garlic every morning with breakfast. Rub all the body with Black Seed Oil and expose your body to sun rays for half an hour once every three days. Repeat for one month.

Laziness and Fatigue (Turkey)
One tablespoon of Black Seed Oil with a glass of pure orange juice every morning for at least 10 days.

Memory Improvement (Middle East)
A teaspoon of Black Seed Oil mixed in 100mg of boiled mint for at least 15 days.

Muscular pains (General)
Massage the area with Black Seed Oil.

Nervous Tension Stress (India)
A teaspoon of Black Seed Oil with a cup of tea/coffee to be taken three times daily.

Sexual Impotency (Europe & Middle East)
Mix 200g of ground Black Seeds with Olive Oil & l00g of ground olibanum & 50g of Black Seed Oil & 50g of olive oil & 200g of pure honey. Mix thoroughly and take a tablespoon after every meal.

Sleeping Disorder (General)
A tablespoon of Black Seed Oil mixed with honey in any hot drink in the evening.

Toothache & Gums (General)
First cook Black Seeds with vinegar. Add Black Seed Oil. Rinse the mouth with this formulation to help the gums and relieve toothache.

Ulcers (Indonesia & India)
Roast powdered Black Seeds over the fire. Mix them with oil of orrisroot, or the oil of henna plant, or the oil of camphire plant making an ointment that is then spread over the festering rural ulcers. After lavation treat with vinegar.

Note

There is a lot of confusion about the names of this spice: It is referred by a multitude of names which, in other sources, might mean something else entirely. In some English sources, it is called black cumin, but I think this is a poor choice, as the name “black cumin” is already reserved for another, somewhat obscure, spice from Central Asia and Northern India. I have also read the name “black caraway” (for its usage, together with caraway, in Jewish rye breads) and “black onion seed” (motivated by the similarity to the seeds of onion); but there is no botanical relation between nigella and any of these plants.

In the USA, nigella is often known as charnushka (deriving from the Russian name chernushka [чернушка] and probably introduced into American English by Armenian emigrants). The Hindi term kalonji is widely used by Indians even when speaking English.

Moreover, nigella is sometimes confused with black sesame seeds; occasonally, it is even named such.

I have decided to stick with the more neutral botanical name Nigella, mainly on the reason that this name cannot so easily be confounded with anything else.

Note, however, that there are several Nigella species besides N. sativa; the second most important species seems to be N. damascena, a common ornamental in Europe. By the use of the genus name for the spice, I do not imply that all members of the genus can be used culinarily. The seeds of N. damascena do have some flavour, but I find them inferior to those of the true spice N. sativa.

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The Eating Habits & Diet Of The Prophet

By Ibn Al-Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah

The Prophet’s guidance with regard to food is perfect guidance.
It was described by Ibn Al-Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah as follows:

1. When he put his hand in the food, he would say, “Bismillaah (in the Name of Allaah), and he told people to say this when eating. He said, “When any one of you eats, let him mention the name of Allaah. If he forgets to mention the name of Allaah at the beginning, let him say Bismillaahi fi awwalihi wa aakhirihi (in the name of Allaah at its beginning and at its end).” Saheeh hadeeth, narrated by al-Tirmidhi (1859) and Aboo Dawood (3767).

The correct view is that it is obligatory to mention the name of Allaah (say Bismillaah) when eating. The ahaadeeth which state this are saheeh and are clear, with no contradictions in them.

2. When he raised the food to his mouth, he would say, “Al-hamdu Lillaahi hamdan katheeran tayyiban mubaarakan fihi ghayri makfiyyin wa laa muwadda’ wa laa mustaghni ‘anhu Rabbanaa ‘azza wa jall (Allaah be praised with an abundant, beautiful, blessed praise. He is the One Who is Sufficient, Who feeds and is never fed, The One Who is longed for, along with that which is with Him, and the One Who is needed. He is Our Lord, may He be glorified). Narrated by al-Bukhaari (5142).

3. He never criticized food at all. If he liked it, he would eat it, and if he did not like it, he would leave it and not say anything. Narrated by al-Bukhaari (3370) and Muslim (2064).

Or he would say, “I do not feel like eating this.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (5076) and Muslim (1946).

4. Sometimes he would praise the food, as when he asked his family for food, and they said, “We have nothing but vinegar.” He asked for it and started to eat it, saying, “What a good food is vinegar.” Narrated by Muslim (2052)

5. He used to talk whilst he was eating, as is seen from the report quoted above about vinegar.

And he said to his step-son ‘Umar ibn Abi Salamah when he was eating with him: “Say Bismillaah and eat from that which is in front of you in the dish*.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (5061) and Muslim (2022). [*At the time of the Prophet sall Allaahu`alayhi wa sallam people used to eat together from one dish, and children would sometimes forget the correct etiquette. – Translator]

6. He would repeatedly urge his guests to eat, as generous hosts do, and as is seen in the hadeeth of Aboo Hurayrah, narrated by al-Bukhaari, about the story of drinking milk, where he repeatedly said to him, “Drink!” and he kept telling him to drink until he (the guest) said, “By the One Who sent you with the truth, I have no more room for it!” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (6087).

7. When he ate with others, he would not leave until he had made du’aa’ for them. He made du’aa in the house of ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Bisr, and said: “O Allaah, bless for them that which You have provided for them, forgive them and have mercy on them.” Narrated by Muslim (2042).

8. He commanded people to eat with their right hands and forbade them to eat with their left hands. He said, “The Shaytaan eats with his left hand and drinks with his left hand.” Narrated by Muslim (2020). This implies that eating with the left hand is haraam, and this is the correct view, because the one who eats with his left hand is either a shaytaan (a devil), or he is imitating the Shaytaan.

It was also reported in a saheeh hadeeth that he told a man who was eating with his left hand in his presence, “Eat with your right hand!” The man said, “I cannot.” He said, “May you never be able to!” – and the man never lifted his right hand to his mouth after that. Narrated by Muslim (2021). If it was permissible (to eat with the left hand), he would not have prayed against him for doing so. It was the man’s stubborn arrogance that made him refuse to obey the command, and this is the utmost disobedience which deserved this prayer against him.

9. He commanded those who complained that they never felt full to eat together and not separately, and to mention the name of Allaah (say Bismillaah) over the food so that He might bless it for them.” Narrated by Aboo Dawood (3764) and Ibn Maajah (3286).

See Zaad al-Ma’aad, 2/397-406

10. It was also reported that he said, “I do not eat reclining.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5083.

11. He used to eat using the first three fingers (of his right hand), which is the best way of eating.

See Zaad al-Ma’aad, 220-222.

The Prophet’s guidance regarding diet:

1. The Prophet sall Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used to know what he was eating.

2. He used to eat what was good for him.

3. He used to eat enough to keep him going, but no so much as to make him fat. Ibn ‘Umar narrated that the Prophet sall Allaahu`alayhi wa sallam said: “The believer eats in one stomach whilst the kaafir eats in seven.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (5081) and Muslim (2060).

4. He taught his Ummah something to protect them from diseases caused by eating and drinking. He said: “The son of Adam does not fill any vessel worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for the son of Adam to eat a few mouthfuls, to keep him going. If he must do that (fill his stomach), then let him fill one third with food, one third with drink and one third with air.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (1381), Ibn Maajah (3349); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah (2265).

Islam Q&A
Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid

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