I can remember being interested in health foods as far back as when I was in my early teens. I was simply drawn to those sections of magazines that talked about how to make your own face scrubs or spa days at home with all natural ingredients that hailed from exotic locations where I dreamed of traveling to seek out even more of those ‘secret’ ingredients that made people live well and be strong and healthy and naturally beautiful throughout their lives. It was purely fascinating to me, living in the Midwest, where none of the food seemed exotic to me because I was constantly being exposed to ‘different’ foods through books, magazines and the occasional culinary gems my family members would bring back from Sicily or Puerto Rico.

That said, I grew up having an appreciation for Mediterranean foods like pomegranates, olives and olive oil, dates and figs all because of my Sicilian background. These are common foods grown there and my dad always talked about how healthy they were for us and would jump at the chance to give me a taste if and when he found them. 

Needless to say, I was insatiably curious about foods for that reason. Eventually that morphed into an interest in cooking, but it all stemmed from my original interest in global ingredients and how different foods affects our health mentally, emotionally, and physically

Years later when I stumbled upon Islam as a religion (not knowing anything about it at all well into my twenties), what drew me in the most was the topic of Prophetic Medicine and Sunnah foods, or foods that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to eat and/or recommended us to eat. I was astounded at the overlap in the foods that were considered Mediterranean and the ones I grew up learning about being some of the healthiest for us to eat. It peaked my interest more and more and more…

And then I read this hadith (saying of Prophet Muhammad):

Aisha (may Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى‎  be pleased with her) said that she heard the Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم say,

“This black seed is a cure for every disease except death.” (Bukhari).

Black Seed at the local Pazar in Fethiye, Turkey

[Just to clarify, this topic is elaborated upon among scholars who dig a little deeper into the meaning of “every disease” here, although there must be much more discussion elsewhere among scholars, physicians and medical researchers.] 

But the black seed goes way back in history even before the time of our Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم. In fact, it  was used by the Asians, the Persians, and the Romans for culinary and medicinal purposes. 

Why?

Highland Almonds & Black Seeds in Fethiye, Turkey

Because black seeds contain really amazing things like linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid to the human diet) and palmitic acid (most commonly found in palm oil and butter).

They also contain important things like amino acids, arginine (great for circulation and oxygen to our cells), aspartate, and glutamate. They also have iron, copper, zinc, phosphorus, thiamin, niacin, pyridoxine, folic acid, and calcium. Does your daily multivitamin contain all of these?

It’s so hard to wrap my brain around the fact that these little seeds contain so much.

And also…

Black seed (and the oil) is said to help people with autoimmune disorders, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, hypoglycemia, infertility, inflammation, and metabolic syndrome. They’re even being studied deeper to understand how they can retard cancerous tumors because of a key compound they contain: thymoquinone. You can read more about that in this fascinating article

Fascinating stuff!

So, if one powerhouse superfood wasn’t enough, imagine combining it with another powerhouse superfood: HONEY  

In fact, in addition to the Quran itself, it is mentioned that in honey, there is healing. 

A spoonful of black seed (n.sativa/nigella/black cumin) with honey

And, honey bees are so important there’s even a chapter in the Quran named, An-Nahl الْنَّحْل, or The Honeybees (chapter 16). Our precious honeybees work very, very hard to bring us every pound of honey, so we should appreciate it for all the amazing characteristics it contains to nourish our bodies. 

وَأَوْحَىٰ رَبُّكَ إِلَى النَّحْلِ أَنِ اتَّخِذِي مِنَ الْجِبَالِ بُيُوتًا وَمِنَ الشَّجَرِ وَمِمَّا يَعْرِشُونَ ۝ ثُمَّ كُلِي مِن كُلِّ الثَّمَرَاتِ فَاسْلُكِي سُبُلَ رَبِّكِ ذُلُلًا ۚ يَخْرُجُ مِن بُطُونِهَا شَرَابٌ مُّخْتَلِفٌ أَلْوَانُهُ فِيهِ شِفَاءٌ لِّلنَّاسِ ۗ إِنَّ فِي ذَٰلِكَ لَآيَةً لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

And your Lord inspired to the bee, “Take for yourself among the mountains, houses, and among the trees and [in] that which they construct. ۝ Then eat from all the fruits and follow the ways of your Lord laid down [for you].” There emerges from their bellies a drink, varying in colors, in which there is healing for people. Indeed in that is a sign for a people who give thought.

— Surat An-Nahl 16:68-69

Some of the many important qualities of honey are:

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antioxidant- preventing damage to our cells caused by age and environment
  • Antimicrobial & antibacterial (great for medicinal use in healing wounds)
  • Cleansing the blood
  • Hypoglycemic effect (capacity to lower blood sugar levels)
  • Protective on the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal and respiratory systems

So, why the combination of black seed plus honey? To me it looks as though once these two powerhouse foods are combined, the combination is knocking it out of the park with its superfood qualities.

At home, I take it daily- a small spoon with just a dribble of seeds on top. Maybe I should do more, I’m not really sure, but for the moment it seems like it’s the right thing.

References

 

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