His Drinks (Honey)

God’s Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم often liked to drink cold water sweetened with honey. Natural honey is the best of all nutritive sweeteners. Honey contains detergent and tonic properties, and it opens obstructions in the liver, kidney and bladder. Taking a spoonful of honey in the morning helps dissolve phlegm, gently warms up the stomach, strengthens it, washes away stomach viscidity and eliminates its sluggishness, helps evacuation, expels dampness, and increases one’s appetite. Honey is the best of sweeteners for the stomach. Its only harm is that it affects the bile, and vinegar can eliminate such harm, balance it, and bring out honey’s full benefits.

Drinking an infusion of honey in the morning is healthier than most drinks that are sweetened with sugar, and is certainly better than artificially sweetened drinks. Sugar-sweetened drinks yield more harm than benefit. A cold drink of honey strengthens the body, preserves its youth, as well as refreshes the spirit, stimulates the liver, and finally, honey stimulates the heart, and provides it with much needed energy and balance. When the heart is healthy, the vessels pump the blood easily, and the arteries carry the blood that is rich in nutrients to all parts of the body. As for the health benefits of drinking cold water, it cools the body, helps maintain its natural level of moisture, regulates body temperature, helps dissolve substances and is critical in the process of digestion. Water also provides the body with needed oxygen and minerals, reduces possible stone formation, and plays a major role in virtually every function of the body. God Almighty says: { We made water essential for every life. } (Qur’an 21:30) Hence, since water is the cardinal element of life, God’s Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم sometimes liked drinking it cold, and sometimes he liked his drink sweetened with honey, dates, or raisins which are some of the best nutrients that enter the human body. On the other hand, tepid or lukewarm water is hard to swallow, can cause abdominal bloating, and bring about the opposite of what fresh cool water does.

We also learn from the prophetic traditions that water stored overnight to cool in a waterskin is even more wholesome than even freshly drawn water from a well. This was learned when God’s Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم visited the date-plantation of Abi’l Haytham bin Tayhãn, and asked him: “Do you have some water stored overnight in a waterskin? Otherwise, we will drink from the regular drinking trough.” Abi’l Haytham obliged (Reported in sahïh Bukhãri). The difference between water stored overnight and freshly drawn water is like that between leavened dough and unleavened one. Moreover, storing water allows for the sedimentation of unwanted deposits. ‘Aisha, God be pleased with her, noted that God’s Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم also liked to drink overflowing water from an underground waterwell rather than stagnant water. On the other hand, water kept in a waterskin (Arb. shinna*) and particularly in untanned ones ** is more pleasant tasting than water which is kept in an earthenware pot, a ceramic jar, or a glass pitcher among others. Still, water kept overnight in an untanned waterskin is also gentler to the stomach because of its filtration and transudation through the open pores. This is also true regarding water which is kept in natural earthenware pots which also act as a cooler versus those glazed after being baked.

May God’s peace and blessings eternally shower upon him, for he is the most perfect of human beings, the bearer of the purest of souls, and the most guided whose breath is most noble, for each one of his actions carries the best of guidance for the believers, and brings forth the most rewarding benefits for their hearts, health, and advantages in this world and in the hereafter. ‘Aisha, God be pleased with her, also said that God’s Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم liked sweetened cold drinks. Besides the abovementioned drinks sweetened with honey, dates, or raisins, the also could mean natural spring water as well as fresh soft water from waterfalls.

In another prophetic tradition, God’s Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم enjoined upon his companions not to drink water by lapping it with the tongue from a pond while laying on their stomach, or to drink with one’s hand, or to drink water from an unknown container in the dark unless first examined. Also, he mostly drank while sitting rather than standing up except when he was offered to drink from the well of Zamzam at the sacred Mosque in Mecca. Drinking while standing up does not give full satisfaction, and drinking hurriedly or greedily can cause breathing difficulties as well as affect the digestive process.

Anas Ibn Mãlik narrated that God’s Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم used to drink in three stages, breathe in between them, and he used to say: “This is more thirst-quenching, more palatable, and healthier” (Reported in sahïh Muslim). Breathing between each sip is done outside the drinking cup of course. Drinking in three stages also helps to gradually abate stomach temperature and is healthier than quickly cooling it in one swallow. Gulping a cold drink in hot weather also can cause one to choke and affect respiration by the contraction of the windpipe and the sudden change of its temperature from normal to cold. Moreover, drinking hurriedly also can affect the regular functions of the heart and the liver. ‘Abdullãh bin al-Mubãrak narrated that God’s Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم said: “Drink your water by sipping it and not by gulping it, for gulping it will affect the liver.” He also said: “Do not gulp your water in one swallow like cattle, rather drink it in two or three stages. Invoke God’s Name** before you drink, and thank Him when you finish drinking***.” Imam Ahmad, God bless his soul, used to say: “The perfect meal must have four elements: It should commence in God’s Name, finish with gratitude to Him, have as many hands as possible to share it, and be offered in a large serving pot.”

God’s Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم also liked drinking wholesome plain milk, and sometimes drank it fermented as yogurt diluted in water. Both drinks cool the body, satiate the liver, and provide essential health benefits for one’s body. Milk is also most healthy when the herd feeds on common lavender, Achillea, musk milfoil*****, or some varieties of wormwood plants among others. It is reported in the collection of correct prophetic traditions (Jãmi’) of Imam al-Tirmithi that God’s Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم said: “When you finish eating, say: ‘Lord, bless our drink and increase our share of it,’ for there is no food or drink that is healthier or more wholesome than milk.”

God’s Messenger صلى الله عليه و سلم sometimes covered a yogurt drink and kept it overnight (Arb. nabatha) for the whey to separate before he drank some of it in the morning, and this aids its fermentation and helps modify intestinal bacteria. He would drink of it three times a day for a couple of days and share the leftover with his companions, otherwise he could ask someone to discard it before it turns. Sometimes he also ate a couple of fresh dates with this drink to sweeten it.

*Arb. Asqiyatul adam.
**i.e., Invoke God’s Name by saying: “Bismillãh” (In the Name of God)
***i.e., Thank Him by saying: “Al-Hamdu Lillãh” (All praises be to God)
****Cf. Swiss genepi.
*****Arb. vt. Nabatha > discarded; or left for a while; or kept to ferment; n. nabïth > left to sour; alcoholized.

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