In the Sahihain it is narrated that Ayesha said that when a relative of hers would die the women would gather on that occasion and then would depart except for her family members and close associates. She would then order that milk soup be prepared. Then, Tharid (Tharid is a traditional Arab dish made from pieces of bread in a vegetable or meat broth) would be made and she would pour the milk soup on it. Ayesha would then ask them to eat saying, “I heard the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى ٱللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ وَسَلَّمَ saying:
Milk soup means the kind of soup that is similar to milk in consistency. This is a beneficial food suitable for the sick, especially when well cooked until acquiring a soft consistency. The milk-like soups are as beneficial as barley soup, even better. Barley soup is made of whole barley grains, while the milk-like soup is made of ground barley flour with its bran. The people in Al-Medina were accustomed to eating barley soup ground not whole, thus making it more nutritious and beneficial for them. The doctors in cities recommend the use of whole barley grains because the soup in this case is lighter and easier for the ailing person to digest. The people who live in cities are used to comfort and easy life and that is why ground barley grain is heavy on their stomachs.
Whole grain barley soup digests quickly, provide good nutrition, and cleanses the stomach, especially when taken while it is still hot. In this case, its cleansing and digestive qualities are stronger and the soup will develop its instinctive heat quicker and will soften the outer layers of the stomach.
The Prophet’s صَلَّى ٱللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ وَسَلَّمَ statement that the Milk like soup takes away some of the sadness refers to the effect of sadness on the mood and in weakening the instinctive well-being, which in turn affects the soul and the heart. Milk like soup brings strength to one’s inner energy and thus the body will be able to get rid itself of the sadness and grief that took it over.
Some foods bring relief to the heart, such as the type of soup mentioned above, because they possess a special quality that affects people’s mood and brings them relief and comfort. Allah knows best. The sick person’s strength becomes weaker because of his grief and sadness that will translate to dryness in the body and the stomach due to the scarcity of food. The milk-like soup brings wetness and strength to the stomach, which will additionally bring relief to the heart. The sick person may complain of an accumulation of harmful substances or phlegm in his stomach. The milk-like soup will dissolve these harmful substances or dilute them, so that the pain and harm they cause are diminished, especially for those accustomed to eating barley bread, such as the people of Al-Medina. During that time, barley bread was the staple diet for the people of Al-Medina as wheat was scarce at that time.