All types of cures and medicines contain either a certain diet or preventive measures. When one falls ill, he will need to rid the body of 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 ones 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 toward ridding the body of the ailment. The most basic element regarding the diet is what
Allah has saved the sick person from using water when there is a chance that it might harm him.
Ibn Majah narrated that Umm AJ-Munthir bint Qays said, “The Messenger of Allah came along with Ali (R.A) who was then recovering from an illness. At that time, we had some hanging clusters of dates. The Messenger of Allah started eating from them and then ‘Ali (R.A) 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 (similar to spinach) and brought them to them. The Prophets said, to Ali, ‘Eat from this food, it is more beneficial for you.” In another narration, the Prophet, “ said, “Eat this food it is more suitable in your condition” [Abu Dawood, Ahmod and AI-Hakim].
In addition, Ibn Majah narrated that Suhayb said,” I came by the Messenger of Allah and found that there were some dates and bread in front of him. The Prophet said, ‘Come closer and eat.’ I picked up some dates and started eating from them. Then the Prophet 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.”[At-Termezey and AI-Hoki’m].
In another Hadith, the Prophet said:
"When Allah loves a slave. He helps him observe a diet from the life of this world, just as one of you puts his patient on a diet of food and drink. Allah puts His believing slaves on a diet from the life of this world.”
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],” is not a Hadith, according to the scholars of Hadith. Rather, it is the words of AI-Harith bin Kaladah, the renowned Arab doctor.
Al-Harith stated that “Diet is the head of medicine.” According 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 well-being. 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.
Knowing that the 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 chard were brought to the Prophet, he ordered Ali to eat from them. Cooked barley and chard represent one of the best types of foods for 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 chard. Zaid bin Aslam once said, “Umar 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, the 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 small 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 medicine that it detests. This is why the Prophet allowed Suhaib to eat a few dates when he was suffering from conjunctivitis since it was just a little and would not harm him.
It was reported that Ali said that he once came by the Prophet, when he, (Ali), was complaining of conjunctivitis and found the Prophet eating dates. The Prophet “ asked him, “O Ali, do you have a taste for dates?” He then threw a date and then another date to Ali, until he threw seven. The Prophet “ then said, “That is enough, O Ali.” [Abu Na’im in his book on Prophetic medicine].
Ibn Majah narrated that Ibn Ab’‘ass said: “Once, the Prophet 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. ” The Prophet * then said: “Whoever has wheat bread, let him send some to his brother. ” He said, “When yours 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 doesn’t have a taste for. If what he has a taste for is not beneficial to 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 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.