"O you who believe, give of the good things which you have (honorably) earned, and of the fruits of the earth which We have produced for you..."
(Al-Qur`an, 2: 267)
This time of year (writing in December 2003) this site usually honours the gratifying celebration of faith our country chooses, en masse, to share. There are votive foods, herbs, woods and so on to signify as medicinal as well as jolly or kosher. Of course I am referring to the most well - known celebrations of Christianity (Christmas), Judaism (Chanukkah) and a more recent interest, Wicca (Yuletide) the holidays for which are most usually coincidental with dates in December. This year the holiday of Ramadan starts in early December. Ramadan, or the Fast of Ramadan, is an Islamic Festival .Its auspice continues December 1 through mid-month.
Bodhi Day, a Buddhist holiday,is December 8. Chanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights is December 9. Christmas, the traditional Christian holiday, is December 25. Kwanzaa, an African-American tradition, starts December 26. New Years Eve is celebrated by most of the world as a geophysical or planetary revolution which marks another year according to the Christian calendar. That is celebrated on December 31st, and upon January 1st. In January the year will be recorded as 2003 A.D. ,the Latin "Anno Domini" meaning "in the year of our Lord" two thousand and three years after the birth of Christ Saviour, Jesus of Nazareth, the founder of a type of Reform Judaism called Christianity, which emerged during a period named "The Golden Age of the Rabbinate".
This year I toured the net to discover Islam. We are all familiar,largely due to commercialism in the West, with the traditional foods, plants and wrappings of more well-known festivals. There are reminders of the season everywhere. Racks of exquisite poinsettias, garlands of stars, millions of lights, shelves groaning with marzipan fruitcake, nuts and eggnog abound on every corner. But those of us who have grown up with this culture don't see much of quiet Islam and its traditions.
This link below is a reference for dates and other events.
During Ramadan, Islamic worshippers are encouraged to fast from sundown until sunset, so they miss lunch for nearly two weeks. There are very sound social reasons for this practice: in an article which offers real religious concepts to the Islamic populace and to yourself via the Internet, the Imams,or religious leaders of Islam ,tell you that the devotion of fasting is urged in order to stimulate compassion amongst the rich and middle class, so that people do not forget the suffering of those who are deeply poor in the world. Traditionally, in a well- socialized effort, a dana of food is given to poor people, and also money is given in by the body of faith for specific development to protect poor people (like an orphans fund).
Here, below, is a quotation from articles denoting the thoroughness of the effort, as well as what the devotional is called.
Imam Ibn Hazim said that every Muslim young or old sane or insane needs to cleanse his or her wealth with Zakaat because of generality of the evidence. Anas bin Malik reported that the Messenger of Allah (saas) said: "Trade with the money of the orphan, lest it is eaten up by Zakaat." (At-Tabraani) In another Hadith `Amru bin Shuaib related from his grandfather that the Messenger of Allah said:
"Whoever is entrusted with money of an orphan should trade with it and should not leave it sitting to be used up by charity." (Tirmidhi)
The point of reference in these reports is that the Messenger (saas) urged the trustee on the estate of people who due to age or other reasons cannot manage their own financial affairs, to invest it in a business that will yield a return and make it grow until they are in a position to do so themselves. For, if proper investment is not made with an ophan's inheritance, it will be depleted by charity, thus leaving the orphan with little or nothing.
The Lawgiver, Allah has prescribed the minimum amount that is obligatory for Zakaat in different ranges of properties, and that minimum amount is known as nisaab. The reason for nisaab is to ensure that no one is forced to give Zakaat out of what he or she does not have, and that no wealth goes without Zakaat. Nisaab is also an insurance against the tyranny of the state to tax the poor and or the neediest as is the case in many countries. Nisaab is a reference point for the average Muslim who is not sure whether he possesses the minimum wealth on which Zakaat is obligatory. The wealthy need not worry about the Nisaab. Zakaat is obligatory on their entire wealth and must be paid out at the end of financial year that they set for their Zakaat.
The Nisaab will not be valid unless it fulfills two conditions:
1) The amount that has reached Nisaab must be the excess or surplus known as "faadil" from one's essential needs such as food, clothing, housing, vehicles, tools and machinery that is used in business. The essentials for living are exempted from Zakaat.
Although what constitutes nisaab may change from one country to another, the amount that is needed for the basic needs of living in different countries is very similar, because the market place determines the prices, whether it is an official market or a non-official market. In the poorest countries people do without or live below the poverty standard, and that is why many go hungry or without basic essentials.
However, we must realize that Zakaat is an act of worship (ebadah) like Salaat. The element of intention (niyyah) is necessary, and we should not overly rely on state agencies to determine for us the requirements of our religious duty. The so called the "consumption basket" (that is poverty level as determined the social security administration which are updated every fiscal year) may not be the same as what Islam considers minimum Nisaab.
1. Farm produce of seeds and fruits, such as wheat, barley, rice, dates, raisins, cocoa, pistachios, coffee, cashews. Allah (SWT) stated: "O you who believe, give of the good things which you have (honorably) earned, and of the fruits of the earth which We have produced for you..." (Al-Qur`an, 2: 267) Also: "... But render the dues that are proper on the day that the harvest is gathered..." (Al-Qur`an, 6: 141) Thus, these two verses and many others indicate that Zakaat is due on farm products that reached the minimum amount (nisaab). No farm product is liable for Zakaat unless it is a product that is considered as food and can be stocked or saved naturally without refrigeration. If the produce is perishable fruit, such as grapes, there is no Zakaat. But if one sells them they will pay their Zakaat on the profit earned when it matures. "
There is a most comprehensive guide to many aspects of Islamic religious practice in the link below:
"Farm produce of seeds and fruits, such as wheat, barley, rice, dates, raisins, cocoa, pistachios, coffee, cashews."
At this time of year, most of us enjoy these foods, especially (my guy would say) cocoa, cashews and pistachios. In looking for votive foods and their potentially healthy dividends, I chose to research coffee, an original Middle Eastern herb commonly known as Coffea arabica.To paraphrase Ecclesiastes of the Old Testament, 'There is a reason and a season for everything( and so it is in heaven)'*.
JUDAO/CHRISTIAN: *ECCLESIASTES 3:1 - 14.
1. "FOR EVERYTHING THERE IS AN APPOINTED TIME, EVEN A TIME FOR EVERY AFFAIR UNDER THE HEAVENS.
2. A TIME FOR BIRTH AND A TIME TO DIE,
A TIME TO PLANT AND A TIME TO UPROOT WHICH IS PLANTED;
3. A TIME TO KILL AND A TIME TO HEAL,
4. A TIME TO BREAK DOWN AND A TIME TO BUILD,
5. A TIME TO WEEP AND A TIME TO LAUGH;
6. A TIME TO WAIL AND A TIME TO SKIP ABOUT;
7. A TIME TO THROW STONES AWAY AND A TIME TO BRING STONES TOGETHER;
8. A TIME TO EMBRACE AND A TIME TO KEEP AWAY FROM EMBRACING;
9. A TIME TO SEEK AND A TIME TO GIVE UP AS LOST;
10. A TIME TO KEEP AND A TIME TO THROW AWAY;
11. A TIME TO RIP APART AND A TIME TO SEW TOGETHER;
12. A TIME TO KEEP QUIET AND A TIME TO SPEAK;
13. A TIME TO LOVE AND A TIME TO HATE;
14. A TIME FOR WAR AND A TIME FOR PEACE."
Most of you are dreaming of a chocolate Christmas (as usual) as 'munch'kins young and old stuff their sensuous mouths in their sweet fantasies with the exquisitely "sinful" indulgence. But a festival is not complete without the coffee or tea prepared for the elders of the family, after that monstrously satisfying meal.
After the Fast of Ramadan,banquets consisting of hundred of dishes are prepared for the Feast to follow. Everyone comes to the Festive meals, and you have not seen eating until you have checked the list of beautiful dishes prepared for Ramadan in celebration!
'In the books of Bukhari and Muslim, the Messenger of Allah (saas) said: "The people will always remain in a good state of mind and body (during fast) so far as they hurry in the breaking of the fast and delay the sahur."'
In no way is the fasting enforced (at least if people act in accordance, sensibly,with the concepts as provided) if a person is ailing, disabled or in some way made weak by lack of food or cold. Islamic laws urge people to consider their responsibility to others to stay healthy and alive, for the benefit of all, and in fact say: " Make haste to break fast". The break of fast at the end of a fast day or in between as health allows, is usually made at first by eating dates and drinking water, both purifying.If dates are not available, any fruit is suggested. Having fruit during a fast is a good rule of thumb. Most people over the age of thirty are urged by Doctors to fast on fruit and vegetable juices rather than to go without foods entirely.
Reading avidly about my favourite beverage, coffee, I discovered that coffee was indeed a provider of medecine. Its principal ingredient, caffeine, is used, for instance, in the prevention of wasting syndrome during chemotherapy for cancer.Beside preventing nausea leading to starvation during this type of therapy, coffee is recommended before meals to prevent overeating, so it is also a dietary aid.
Reading two excellent articles on coffee and its products, I learned that actual coffee leaves could be harvested and made into a beverage leaf tea which tastes lke a combination of coffee and tea. It is considered most refreshing and enjoyed by, for instance, the people of Sumatra, who do not use the coffee bean at all! The dried leaves of the coffee are roasted and then used in infusion. They contain more caffeine than actual coffee bean beverage, but it is caffeic acid.
A more detailed version of this may be enjoyed through the link below:
''Caffeic acid (Hlasiwetz), forms pale-yellow crystals, yielding, as a rule, salts of the same color. When submitted to a roasting temperature the characteristic aroma of roasted coffee is evolved. Caffeo-tannic acid is an amorphous body, somewhat gum-like, soluble in water, and both this compound and caffeic acid yield protocatechuic acid (C7H6O4), when melted with caustic potash. It yields a green color with ferric chloride, but is not precipitated by gelatin.
The caffeic acid isolated by Stenhouse from coffee leaves, in 1854, is probably identical with the kinic acid obtained later by Zwenger and Siebert (in 1861), from Java coffee. The latter, by oxidation with sulphuric acid and dioxide of manganese, yielded kinone (quinone). The viridenic acid of Rochleder (1848), is thought to be a mixture of several acids."
"Action, Medical Uses, and Dosage.—An infusion of roasted coffee is an agreeable stimulant, anti-soporific, and anti-emetic. It produces a mild, stimulating influence upon the organs of digestion, facilitating digestion, augmenting the biliary flow, and increasing peristalsis, thus favoring a free action from the bowels. It slightly accelerates the circulation; taken too freely, it impairs the nervous and digestive systems...Black coffee removes that drowsiness which is a apt to follow a heavy dinner. A cup of strong coffee will cause a degree of wakefulness for several hours, and will frequently overcome the soporific or intoxicating effects of opium, morphine, or alcohol. In delirium tremens strong black coffee acts as a good and valuable hyposthenisant...When partially carbonized it may be used like charcoal, as a dressing for gangrenous and other foul ulcers."
The above, being part of a quite complex view of coffee in medecine, is quoted, with apologies to the authors,in brief from:
Caffeine and exercise can team up to
prevent skin cancer. Read all about the latest research into your health and caffeine!
Coffee may be burned indoors to stimulate the senses with that tantalizing aroma. What poeple may not know is that it imparts a mildly antibacterial effect to the air, so that in burning the bean, one is literally cleaning the air. In an Ethiopian restaurant in TOronto, I was treated to the rare delight of the restaurant owner proudly bearing smoking, dark coffee beans in a small grass basket, directly to the table, along with our sumptuous dinner, served upon a huge round flatbread used as a plate.
The quotation about medicinal use of coffee above is from the website as listed below.A really very extensive study of coffee and medicinal use also contraindications, can be found in Kings Medica, a link to which is below.
Whatever your faith, give generously to those less privileged than yourself, and don't forget, even a friendly cup of coffee shared away from Winters cold and damp can change a persons outlook for the better, and potentially save a life.
Whatever you and your family celebrate this December, may I extend my wishes for a joyous and plentiful family occasion.
copyright Sue Risk Northdays Image 2003 - 2015