The first time I really enjoyed a date, which didn’t involve going out for a romantic evening was in a smoothie. I’m not much of a date person (if it refers to the fruit, of course) and growing up, I disliked the sticky texture and sometimes too sweet a taste, that eating even one became a chore.
The prophet advised,
“Break your fast with dates, or else with water, for it is pure” (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi).
I hardly did so till circa 5 years ago, when I discovered the date smoothie recipe. It was simple really. 2 scoops of vanilla ice-cream, a cupful of dates sans the seeds and a cup of cold milk. Blend everything together and after a long day of fasting, that tasted like heaven on earth. From then on, I slowly inched further to improve my relationships with the dates, without incurring anymore sticky situations. 😛
There are many qualities of dates and when I was doing my umrah and we visited the date farm, we were educated on the different kinds of dates, their nutritional value, their breed and of course, their economic value. The most sought after type of date, according to the tour guide then, was the ‘Ajwa date’ which was the ‘Prophet’s date’. They look like this
Image taken from here.
I tasted them once at that umrah trip but hardly again after that because it was not easy to get these dates unless as a gift from returning family and friends from the holy land, or if there are available locally, they are expensive. Although we were briefed during the date farm visit that the ajwa dates are exclusive, because they were the prophet’s dates, I never really understood why it had to be expensive. Back in Singapore in Arab street, it was selling for as much as $90 per kg!
This Ramadan, a friend started selling the ajwa dates from her home. Her price was RM 148 per kg. I compared prices. The Arab shop at The Curve is selling about RM 165-Rm 170 per kg. In KLCC, they are selling for RM 180 per kg and in Masjid India in KL, they are selling for RM 160 for bulk purchase of more than 5kgs.
Ok fine. I STILL didn’t get why the dates are so expensive. That’s like RM 2-4 per date. That prompted me to go on a frenzy research on this ajwa dates, beginning with the manual, Medicine of The Prophet. And I came across several hadiths on them, some being :
“The Ajwa dates is from Jannah and in it is a cure from poison.” (Tirmidhi and Ibne Maja)
‘Amir b. Sa’d b. Abu Waqqas reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: He who ate seven ‘ajwa’ dates in the morning, poison and magic will not harm him on that day.
‘A’isha reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The ‘ajwa’ dates of ‘Aliya’ contain healing effects and these are antidote in the early morning.
Achso. Ok so now I know. So to pay for a piece of heaven on earth, that was fair enough.
So I did buy the ajwa dates from my friend after all. I bought two kgs, felt the pinch but reminded myself that I’m ‘buying a piece of heaven’ . 2 kgs would probably last both of us through Ramadan, but not if we want to practice the hadith of eating 7 dates a day. So for iftar, I had Tunisian dates packed for myself to bring to the mosque and the husband just eat whatever dates they give out at the men’s side.
For Sahur, I put out 3 dates each for myself and the husband. We have that first and his sahur will follow with whatever cakes/pizza/pastries/sweet porridge -whatever I have prepared and frozen prior to Ramadan. I would just have that 3 dates, 2 glasses of Ribena and milk coffee.
The ajwa dates are supposed to detoxify and it did that perfectly well on me, base on my early morning compulsory toilet time at about 8-9am every morning since Ramadan started. Perhaps, if I can get it at a lower price later if we order in a bigger bulk, I probably would consider eating 7 ajwa dates daily. But for now, cannot lah… mahal sey…