Muslims generally break their fast by eating dates, as this is the sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam).
Together with this, it is an ideal food which is easy to digest and within half an hour of consumption, the tired body regains a renewed vigour. The reason is that a shortage of sugar in the blood is the main factor. When the body absorbs the nutritional essence of a few dates, the feeling of hunger is appeased. When taking other foods after breaking the fast with dates, much cannot be eaten. It would seem that dates then help and prevent one from excessive eating.
Modern science has proved that dates are part of a healthy diet. They contain sugar, fat and proteins, as well as important vitamins. They are also rich in natural fibres. Medical research has proven that they are effective in preventing abdominal cancer. They also surpass other fruits in the sheer variety of their constituents. They contain oil, calcium, sulphur, iron, potassium, phosphorous, manganese, copper and magnesium.
Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) has emphasized the importance of dates and their effectiveness in the growth of the foetus. He recommended they be given to women during pregnancy.
Sayyidah Maryam (‘alaihas salaam) was provided with dates as her food during her confinement and labour. Experiments have shown that dates contain stimulants which strengthen the muscles of the uterus in the last months of pregnancy. This helps the dilation of the uterus at the time of delivery on one hand and reduces the bleeding after delivery on the other. Dates enrich the breast milk with all the elements needed to make the child healthy and resistant to disease.
Dates are rich in vitamins and minerals. When the level of trace elements falls in the body, the health of the blood vessels are affected leading to an increased heart rate and consequent inability to perform its function with normal inefficiency. As dates are also rich in calcium, they help strengthen the bones. A decrease in the calcium content of the body causes rickets in children and makes the bones of adults weak and brittle. Dates are also important in maintaining good eyesight. It is quite effective in guarding against night blindness.