By Ruhaifa Adil
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
Seeking knowledge is an important part of every Muslim’s life. The Prophet (sa) urged everyone, young or old to seek beneficial knowledge, promising countless blessings for the knowledge seekers. Immense reward has been promised by Allah for those who choose to embark on the journey of hifz –committing all the chapters of the Qur’an to memory.
Gaining knowledge and teaching it is a task that requires a lot of effort – physical and mental. The best way to achieve this goal is to supplement ourselves with the correct nutrients, and to inculcate habits based on the wisdom and commands of Allah and the Sunnah of the Prophet (sa).
Food for the Brain!
There are many foods that boast of memory-enhancing properties. Here is a list of foods that are not only packed full of the needed nutrients, but are also mentioned in the Qur’an or Sunnah, thus increasing their benefit many times over!
“There comes forth from their bellies, a drink of varying colour wherein is healing for men. Verily, in this is indeed a sign for people who think.” (16:69)
Researchers from around the world are discovering the hidden benefits in honey that our religion taught us thousands of years ago. Many scholars of Islam attribute honey with having memory boosting properties. Imam az-Zuhri said: “You should eat honey because it is good for the memory.” (Reference: Sheikh Muhammad Salih Al-Munajjid)
Replace refined sugar in your diet with raw honey. This will not only add sweetness, but will also bring with it many antiseptic, antioxidant, and immunity-boosting properties for your body and health, thus impacting learning indirectly.
Dates, Grapes, and Raisins
“And from the fruits of date palm and grapes, you get wholesome drink and nutrition: Behold in this is a sign for those who are wise.” (16:67)
Dates, grapes, or their dried version raisins are a great addition to one’s diet. These fruits are low in calories, high in vitamins, minerals and fibre, and have been mentioned in the Qur’an as well as Ahadeeth!
Imam az-Zuhri also said: “Whoever wants to memorize Ahadeeth should eat raisins.” (Al-Jami‘ by al-Khateeb, 2/394). In his book titled The Prophet’s Medicine, renowned scholar Imam Ibn al-Qayyim mentions raisins as being good for boosting memory. A nutritional evaluation of raisins shows that they contain high amounts of boron which is an essential mineral for a well-functioning brain. Boron improves concentration and hand-eye co-ordination, and enhances memory.
The Qur’an has mentioned the olive with Allah taking an oath by this special fruit: “By the fig and the olive.” (95:1) Abdullah bin Umar (ra) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (sa) said:“Cook your food in olive oil, and use its oil (on the body) for it is from a blessed tree.” (Sunan Ibn Majah: Sahih)
A study conducted in France has revealed that olive oil improves visual memory and verbal fluency. Try to use olive in your cooking more often to give your brain a much-needed boost.
Allah says in the Qur’an, “Wherein are fruit and palm trees and pomegranates. So which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?”(55:68-69)
A study on the effect of pomegranates on Alzheimer’s disease revealed that when given pomegranate juice, mice bred to develop Alzheimer’s disease performed mental tasks better. The pomegranate is indeed a favour from Allah for us; one that we must add to our diets to reap from its benefits.
Figs are one of the five plants mentioned in the Qur’an. Research on figs has revealed that they contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 and omega-6 cannot be manufactured in the body and need to be taken with our food. These fatty acids are indispensable to the proper functioning of the heart, brain, and nervous system.
Black Seed (kalonji)
It is narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “Use the black seed because it relieves from all diseases except for death.” (Sunan Ibn Majah: Sahih) Forgetfulness is akin to a disease, and the black seed is a great addition to the diet for the seeker of knowledge.
Try to add these beneficial foods to your diet to help boost your memory. Do not forget to pray to Allah and supplicate that He allows these foods to help you in your learning endeavours for nothing is possible in this world without His permission.
Ruhaifa Adil is a mother of four, a practising Muslimah, an avid reader, and a passionate writer. She works primarily as a trainer for mothers and teachers, advocating a multi sensorial, learner-centred approach, which she has learnt through her work as a remedial specialist for children with dyslexia. She is also an author of English textbooks, based on the teachings of the Qur’an (currently under editing), and creative director of a Tafseer app for kids (soon to be launched Insha’Allah).
© IIPH 2015