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Archive for the tag “dates”

Jeddah is Buzzing in the Lead Up to Ramadan


As Jeddah’s weather has begun to heat up with temperatures hovering around 36C or 97F, so has the atmosphere in Ramadan.  With Arab schools out for the year and most international schools wrapping up this week (Conti still has a week to go), Ramadan is about to go into full swing. Delina Partadiredja from amuslima.com writes today’s guest blog on the current excitement and anticipation of Ramadan, and gives us lots of practical tips on what to do if one is not fasting, what to be aware of especially during Ramadan and how to take advantage of certain goods available only in this festive month.

Ramadan in Jeddah 2015

A wide variety of dates become available during Ramadan.

The Islamic months are based on the Lunar calendar, so the time of year when Ramadan falls changes from year to year, moving back 11 days each year.  This year we are very thankful that although it will be a long and hot day, our children will be able to enjoy Ramadan without the burdens of school and the unbearable heat.

While around the city, several large supermarkets around Jeddah, in anticipation of Ramadan have already started the festivities.  Large signs greet shoppers with Ramadan Kareem and Ramadan Mubarak wishing customers a blessed fast. Colourful ornaments fill the stores and shopping areas.  You should take a moment to enjoy these beautiful decorations!

For those who are new to Jeddah, or are staying in Jeddah for the first time during Ramadan, you may be wondering what is different about this month in comparison to other months on the Islamic calendar. Ramadan (pronounced Ramzan in the Indian subcontinent) is the month where Muslims around the world abstain from food and water from dawn until dusk.  This is the time of abstinence, forgiveness, repentance and patience.  As this is a blessed time, many Muslims from around the world are interested to come for Umrah (the small pilgrimage) to enjoy fasting and praying in Makkah and Madinah.  You may find there is an influx in traffic and visitors from around the world so when venturing out be sure to wear cool clothes, pack water, ice, and wear comfortable shoes.  You may also want to check with the local mosques to find out when prayer starts and ends so that you may avoid traffic.

As a non-Muslim who is not fasting, what should I do?

  • As a mark of respect, please eat and drink indoors and in the confines of your home. Individual muslims usually do not mind if you eat or drink in front of them while they are fasting, but it is considered respectful not to do so.
  • You may want to shift shopping hours to after dhuhur time (around 1pm) mostly until 11 pm where you will find more people and shops open during this time
  • Some of the best dates and sweets are to be found during this time so stock up!
  • This is the time to shop for clothes and other cool things. — You may want to check out deals here
  • For those who are Muslim this is a great time to complete your Umrah.  You may want to check out this travel group.

Heads up!

  • There are many cool items that are for sale only during the time of Ramadan.  These include beautiful lanterns from Egypt.  The cost will vary but averaging around SR 200 + per piece.  Why not join in on the festivities and get one for your own home!
  • As Ramadan is a fasting month, the demand for food actually increases exponentially which in turns drives up the cost of food.  Prices are expected to increase by 30% for typical groceries. For example: SR 5.95/kg is already SR 7.95/kg, lemons were SR 5/kg but now are SR 11/kg, potatoes were SR 3.95/kg and have now become SR 4.95/kg. Meat will see a price hike of about 15%.  You may want to hold off on buying Camel meat as there has been a recent outbreak of MERS affecting camel meat.  The Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) is working hard to put a cap on rising food prices. You can check out prices here

Finally, we at amuslima.com wish you and your family a blessed, safe and relaxed Ramadan.

How to make Date Nabeez


Imagine my surprise when, while browsing the blogosphere this Ramadan, I came across a drink called Date Nabeez. Living in Jeddah for more than a decade, and I had never even heard of nabeez before, so on reading further I discovered that this was not only highly nutritious, but it was one of the favourite drinks of the Prophet Muhammad (saw).

Thanks to the wonderful author of said blog Karimah bint Dawoud, I tried making the juice and fell in love with it. I even passed on the recipe to my Dad who is now blitzing it up regularly. Suffice to say, it is fast becoming a family favourite for Ramadan.

In keeping with the Ramadan theme in this blog post, Karimah explores the history of the date palm in the Saudi region. She brings to light the amazing nutritional benefits of this fruit, and its references in Qur’an and Sunnah. Finally, she discloses her recipe for Date Nabeez. Try it, and tell us what you think.

The date palm is the symbol of Saudi Arabia and for good reason. It has been in the land for over 10, 000 years, taken by Alexander the Great to Pakistan, and the Khalifa Abdualrahman Aldakel to Spain, Andalusia. The date palm tree and two swords in saltire underneath, are the emblem of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Dates were  central to the Saudi economy long before oil.  Saudi Arabia, along with its sister country Egypt, are the top date producing countries in the world, and have been for hundreds if not thousands of years. The largest oasis in the world is in Saudi Arabia. It’s located in Al-Hassa , in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. There they grow, process, pack and worldwide-export Saudi Arabian dates of different varieties. There are over 300 varieties of dates in Saudi Arabia alone. The Al-Ahsa region boasts over 10 million palm trees. The Ministry of Agriculture has set up a factory to process its rich output of dates, amounting to five tons daily, mashallah!

date nabeez prep 14 014

Photo credit: Karimah bint Dawoud

The date palm is part of the Phoenix  family of trees. Phoeonix is the Latin name for a classification of trees that grow in various parts of the world. Like the phoenix bird in ancient roman and  Greek mythology, a bird that arises from the fire, these amazing trees often arise out of hot arid land to produce the most exquisite sweet fruits that are like multivitamin and minerals packaged in a convenient carry case. Dates are essential to have in your house during Ramadan. It is said in Islam that a house with dates will not go hungry. You cannot have Islam without dates, they go hand in hand. They are sacred foods mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah.

“It is He Who sends down water (rain) from the sky, and with it We bring forth vegetation of all kinds, and out of it We bring forth green stalks, from which We bring forth thick clustered grain. And out of the date-palm and its spathe come forth clusters of dates hanging low and near, and gardens of grapes, olives and pomegranates, each similar (in kind) yet different (in variety and taste). Look at their fruits when they begin to bear, and the ripeness thereof. Verily! In these things there are signs for people who believe.” – (  سورةالأنعام  , Al-Anaam, Chapter #6, Verse #99) “And shake the trunk of date-palm towards you, it will let fall fresh ripe-dates upon you.” – (  سورةمريم  , Maryam, Chapter #19, Verse #25)

Fasting and Dates

The Messenger of Allah, salah la alaihi wa salem, said: “If one of you is fasting, he should break his fast with dates. If dates are not available, then with water, for water is purifying.” [Ahmad] Salman ibn Amir Dhabi related that the Prophet said: “Break your fast with dates, or else with water, for it is pure.” (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi).

Nutrition in Dates

Narrated Sa’d: The Prophet said, “If somebody takes some ‘Ajwa dates every morning, he will not be effected by poison or magic on that day till night.” (Another narrator said seven dates). (Sahih Bukhari) How do we make this relative to the 21st century and Ramadan? There is wisdom in everything the Prophet Muhammad (salah la alaihi wa salem) did,  and now we have the scientific evidence to back it up. Dates are a super food and here’s why: Dates contain significant amounts of vitamins  A and K. Vitamin A is good for your eyes’ mucous membranes that get de-hydrated during fasting. They even contain chemical that protect the mouth the lungs from cancer, maasha’Allah. Vitamin K is essential for helping to regulate the consistency of the blood and helping it clot. There is something in the fibre of the dates that binds it to cancer forming substances in the intestine. They also contain loads of minerals that each have their own unique healing powers; calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), niacin, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin. For example the potassium in dates is an electrolyte, which helps regulate heart rate and blood pressure that can be affected by dehydration. Potassium is also essential for regulating the body’s water balance and  building proteins and muscle, affected by fasting. Potassium also metabolizes carbohydrates and controls your acid-base balance. The combination of  fibre minerals  and vitamins in dates are an excellent natural way to combat strokes, heart problems, stomach and indigestion as well as giving you a fat-free energy boost.

date nabeez prep 14 032

Photo credit: Karimah bint Dawoud

Nabeez (Nabidh, Nabeeth)

Every morning I soak 7 dates per person in 500ml water after rinsing them and taking out the stones. I leave them until a couple of hours before Maghrib, then blitz them in the blender, adding more water if necessary. A wonderful cream coloured, cloudy, frothy drink appears, then separates after it has been left in the fridge a while. This nutritious drink is known as nabeez, nabeth or nabidh. It is also part of the  Sunnah, the traditional ways of the Prophet Muhammad.

The Prophet Drinks Nabidh

In ‘The Book of Marriage’, in the chapter on ‘The Women Standing And Serving the Men at Wedding Celebrations’, and in ‘The Book of The Dried Fruit and Drinking what does not Intoxicate at Weddings’, al-Bukhari reported: From Abu Hazin from Sahl: “When Abu Usayd al-Sa’idi got married, he invited the Prophet (S.A.W.) and his companions. None prepared the food for them and brought it to them but his wife, Umm Usayd. She soaked some dates in water in a stone pot overnight, and when the Prophet (S.A.W.) had finished his food, she provided him with that drink (of soaked dates)”.

Furthermore Muslim narrated:

وثبت فى “صحيح مسلم” أنه صلى الله عليه وسلم كان يُنْبَذُ له أوَّل الليل، ويشربُه إذا أصبح يومَه ذلك، والليلةَ التى تجىءُ، والغَد، واللَّيلةَ الأُخرى،

“The Messenger of Allah (Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam) liked Nabeez (some dates soaked in water) to be made in the beginning of the night and would drink it in the morning of the next day, the next night and the next day, and another night, and the next day until ASR. If any of it remained, he would then order that it should be thrown away”.

date nabeez melon juice

Photo credit: Karimah bint Dawoud

Muslim narrated this report under “The Book of Drinks”, in the chapter on “The Permissibility of [drinking] Nabidh which has not Fermented nor become an Intoxicant”. From here, the drinking of nabidh began and the rulers allowed the drinking of wine, claiming it was permissible as long as it did not intoxicate. It is not a wine in the European sense of wine because it is not drunk when it has been fermented to the point of fermentation where alcohol is present. Islamically, this is not allowed nor necessary for optimum nutrition.

The Hadith says in  the  Translation of Sahih Muslim, Book 23: The Book of Drinks (Kitab Al-Ashriba) “Book 023, Number 4954: Ibn Buraida, on the authority of his father, reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: “I had forbidden you from the drinking (and preparation of) Nabidh in the vessels made out of leather, but (now) you may drink in all vessels, but you do not drink an intoxicant.” It is best on all levels, mind, body and  soul, to drink fresh nabeez.

It has been reported in Tibb Nabawi circles, by Indian workers on the Saudi Arabian oil rigs, that this drink is one of the best things to get a person though the day while fasting. Mixed with blended water melon at iftar time it provides the most natural best drink for revitalizing the kidneys and refreshing all the body’s organs and cells. Drunk  freshly blended, it is reminiscent of caramelized toffee in a drink form, It is lovely and this is one drink I will not put down insha’Allah.

Make a Date with Talah Al Jood, the Ultimate Date Store in Jeddah


Few fruits can boast the historical significance, cultural heritage and nutritional benefit of the Dactylifera – more commonly known as the date! The sweet crop of the Phoenix is thought to have originated in the lands of Iraq, and known to be cultivated in Eastern Arabia circa 6000 BCE. Truly a magnificent plant, the Phoenix Dactylifera – for evidence shows it has been around for at least 50 million years. Dates are one of the most popular food items in the Makkah region, but also in the whole of Saudi Arabia and the Arab World. They are available in most markets, with many names and in various forms. From sweet and gooey Sukkary dates to larger fruity Anbary dates, simpler varieties to the most expensive Ajwah dates from Madinah there are endless choices to discover and sample.  You will find pastries filled with dates, date bars, even McDonald’s offers a date pie as an alternative to its apple pie! Explore, if you wish, the rich varieties and flavours of this special fruit. They can be found in many vendors’ shops and supermarkets, yet as a personal recommendation; I suggest a trip to Talah Al Jood. By far, Talah has dates of the most delicious flavour and superior quality in the whole of Jeddah. In addition, their customer service is truly unparalleled. Upon entering the store, customers are greeted and served piquant dates – completely free of charge – to dip into a rich chocolate fountain. Also, a cup of the finest Arabic coffee to accompany your chocolate date – poured fresh from the Dallah. Inside, a vast variety of dates awaits, ranging from as low a price as SR35 per kilo, upwards. Staff are friendly and extremely generous with their samples, and offer whatever the customer may ask to try. If you feel at all adventurous and are keen to excite your taste buds beyond just the fruit, try their caramel dates, dates with coffee beans (a coffee explosion in your mouth), cappuccino dates, pistachio dates, dates packed with hazelnuts, rolled in sesame seeds, filled with chocolate, covered in chocolate and many, many more. They even sell confectionery (I spied a round ‘chocolate panda’) and tiny bite-sized crunchy deserts. Date cakes are also on display. My personal favourites are the delectable caramel kind and the distinctively delightful coffee dates. For relatively small orders, dates can be packed in gift boxes or gift plates, however for larger orders; parties or corporate buyers: Talah has a variety of elaborate arrangements. There are many branches of this irresistable store, but the one I visit most frequently is the branch on Sari Street (from Prince Sultan Street, head past Jarir, and it’s on the right-hand side). It’s a definite must-visit for anyone living in Jeddah. If you’re an expat, try taking some home with you. There will surely be dates to satisfy every palate. What’s your favourite date? Be sure to tell us in the comments, happy date-shopping!

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