The Sunnah of Tahneek
Source: Riyadhul Jannah (UK)

Health in Islam is a state of dynamic equilibrium between body, mind and soul (rooh). Imbalance in this equilibrium leads to ill health. The maintenance of this balance is as prescribed in the Qur'an. Allah Ta'ala says:

We send down (stage by stage) of the Qur'an that which is a healing and mercy to those who believe. (17:82)

The words of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) prescribing medicine are specific and yet all encompassing. The Sunnah (way of life or example) pertaining to health are numerous and comprehensive, relating to preventative, curative and restorative aspects of health. There are great lessons in health for us in the Prophet's (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) eating habits, sleeping habits, personal hygiene, fasting and every aspect of life.

The Sunnah of putting something sweet in a newborn's mouth has special pain relieving properties which are proven scientifically.

It is a long established practice among Muslim parents to put a piece of well chewed date (or other available sweet fruit) in the mouth of a new born baby. Muslims do this following the practice of the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), believing him to be, as the Qur'an says, sent as a healing and as a mercy to mankind. We may infer from the way which this custom originated that there is a virtue in it. Complimentary to the virtue and pleasure of following the Sunnah (the practice of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) placing a 'sugary substance' inside the mouth of a new born baby dramatically reduces pain sensation and heart rate. An interesting scientific medical study, published in the British Medical Journal (No 6993,10 June 1995), proved beyond any doubt the benefit of giving a newborn child sugar, in order to reduce the feeling of any painful procedure like heel pricking for a blood sample or before circumcision.

The study, entitled 'The analgesic effect of Sucrose in full term infants: a randomise controlled trial', was done by Nora Christopher Wood, Gillian Griffiths and Malcolm Levene, in the post-natal ward in the Leeds General Infirmary in England. 60 healthy infants of gestational age 37-42 weeks and post-natal age of 1-6 days, were randomised to receive 2ml of one of the four solutions: - 12.5% sucrose, 25% sucrose and sterile water (control).

The first group of thirty babies received Sugar syrup before a routine blood test (heel pricking, which is usually painful) done to detect jaundice.

The other 30 babies were given only sterile water as a control group. Placing 2ml of a 25% or 50% sucrose solution on the tongue before pricking the heel significantly reduced the crying time, compared to babies who got water.

In addition, their heart rate returned to normal more quickly. The stronger sugar solution had the greater effect, crying reduced further with increasing concentration of sucrose. From which we may conclude that sucrose (sugar), placed on the tongue may be useful and safe form of analgesia for use with newborn infants.

Blass and Hoffmeyer also showed that 12% solution of inter-oral sucrose significantly reduced the duration of crying in newborn babies subjected in new heel pricking, or circumcision. This study was reported in the Independent newspaper (Friday, 9 June 1995) as well as in the British Medical Journal article.

The practice of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) is recorded in the collections of his sayings and reports about him, of which the most revered are the two Saheeh collections of Bukhari and Muslim: Abu Buradah reported from Abu Moosa (radhiallahu anhu), who said: 'I had a newborn baby, I took him to the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) who called him Ibraheem. The Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) chewed a date then he took it and rubbed the inside of the baby's mouth with it.'

The date contains the very high percentage of sugar (70-80%); it has both fructose, and glucose, which have high calorific values, it is easily and quickly digestible, and very helpful to the brain. The date contains 2.2% protein, vitamin A, vitamins B1, B2 Anicotruic acid (against Pellagra); and it has traces of minerals needed for the body such as potassium, sodium, calcium, iron, manganese and copper.

Potassium, of which percentage is very high, has been found to be very effective for cases of haemorrhage, such as the occasions of birth or circumcision.

We may note that the Sunnah also commends dates for the breaking of the fast in Ramadhaan. Dates should be eaten, if available before the sunset prayer, this is medically and nutritionally the best way and the Sunnah.

The great worth of dates is also indicated in the famous and beautiful passage of the Qur'aan, Surah Maryam: 'And shake towards you the trunk of the palm tree and it will drop on you fresh ripe dates. So eat, drink, and be comforted.'

This was the prescription of Allah, the Creator, for Maryam (alayhas salaam) at the time of the birth of Eesa (alayhis salaam), The blessed Prophet of Allah. It was a prescription to make a delivery easy and comfortable.

As in the example we have briefly recorded, we believe further research will confirm for those who still doubt the full worth and truth, the wisdom of the teachings of the Qur'aan and Sunnah.

'We shall show them our signs on the furthest, horizons and within themselves until it becomes clear to them that it is the truth. Is it not sufficient that your Lord is witness over all things?' (41:53)