Islam has paid a great deal of attention to the care of the infant and mother throughout all stages of development. What the United Nations, human rights organizations and World Health Organization have to say cannot compare to it.

In Islam, care of the infant does not begin at the moment of birth, rather it begins from the time a person thinks of marriage. The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) enjoined us to choose good husbands and wives.

Islam pays a great deal of attention to the soundness of the offspring and the formation of a strong family, not only from a moral point of view, but also taking into account physical as well as psychological aspects.

This care continues during pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and the stages of child raising that follow. One of the early stages of this care is the Tahneek of the newborn.

Al-Bukhaari narrated in his Saheeh from Asma’ bint Abu Bakr (Radia-Allaahu ‘anha), that she got pregnant with ‘Abdullaah ibn Zubair in Makkah. She said: “I set out when I was full term and came to Madinah and stayed in Quba, and gave birth in Quba. Then I brought the baby to the Messenger of Allaah (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), and put him in his lap. Then he (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) called for a date and chewed it, and then he spat in his mouth, and the first thing that entered into his stomach was the saliva of the Messenger of Allaah (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). Then he rubbed the inside of his mouth with the date (i.e. Tahneek), then he (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) prayed for him and blessed him.”

In the Saheehain it is narrated that Abu Musa, (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) said: “A boy was born to me and I brought him to the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), and he called him Ibraaheem and rubbed the inside of his mouth with a date, and prayed for him to be blessed, then he (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) gave him back to me.”

Scientific explanation 

The level of sugar (glucose) in the blood of the newborn is low; the lower the newborn’s weight, the lower the level of blood glucose will be. Hence, glucose levels in premature babies (those who weigh less than 2 kgs) is usually very low, and in many instances it is less than 20 mg per 100 ml of blood.

In newborns whose weight is more than 2 kg, the level of sugar in their blood is usually above 30 mg. This level of blood sugar (20-30 mg) is regarded as very low, and in many cases may lead to:

  • The newborn refusing to nurse
  • Limpness of the muscles
  • Repeated interruptions in breathing, resulting in cyanosis (a bluish or purplish discoloration (as of skin) due to deficient oxygenation of the blood)
  • Seizures, fits or convulsions

That may lead to chronic, serious complications, namely:

  • Delayed growth
  • Mental retardation
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Hearing or Vision impairment or both
  • Epilepsy

In this case is not treated immediately, it may end in death, even though the remedy is very easy and available, which is to administer glucose dissolved in water, either by mouth or intravenously.

When the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) rubbed dates inside the mouths of newborn infants after taking the dates into his mouth, and rubbing the softened date that was mixed with his blessed saliva, there was great wisdom behind that. Dates contain abundant amounts of glucose, especially after they have been diluted with saliva, which contain enzymes that turn disaccharides (sucrose) into monosaccharides (sugar that is not decomposable into simpler sugars). Saliva also helps to dilute these types of sugar, thus enabling the infant to benefit from it.

As most newborns need glucose immediately after birth, giving the newborn softened dates protects the child from the danger of complications caused by lack of sugar that we have referred to above.

Recommending Tahneek or rubbing the inside of the newborn’s mouth with softened dates is a very important protective remedy. It is a medical miracle that mankind did not know of, and they did not know of the dangers of low glucose levels in the blood of the newborn.

The newborn, especially if premature, undoubtedly needs to be given a sugar solution immediately after birth. What obstetric and children’s hospitals usually do is give a glucose solution to the newborn immediately after birth, then after that the infant begins to breastfeed.

These Ahadeeth which speak of Tahneek open up an important new horizon in the protection of children, especially premature infants, against serious diseases that are caused by low glucose levels in their blood. Giving the newborn an easily digested sugary substance is the safest and best solution in such cases.

This also explains a medical miracle that was not known at the time of the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), or in subsequent eras, until that wisdom behind that procedure became clear in the twentieth century.

(Article by Dr. Muhammad ‘Ali al-Barr in Majallat al-‘Ijaz al-Ilmi, issue #4)

Source: Islamic Medicine, The Key to a Better Life, published by Darussalam

Science discovers the Sunnah – The Wisdom behind Tahneek

Experts say a dose of sugar given as a gel rubbed into the inside of the cheek is a cheap and effective way to protect premature babies against brain damage.

Dangerously low blood sugar affects about one in 10 babies born too early. Untreated, it can cause permanent harm.

Researchers from New Zealand tested the gel therapy in 242 babies under their care and, based on the results, say it should now be a first-line treatment.

Their work is published in “The Lancet”.

Sugar dose

Dextrose gel treatment costs just over £1 per baby and is simpler to administer than glucose via a drip, say Prof Jane Harding and her team at the University of Auckland.

This is a cost effective treatment and could reduce admissions to intensive care services which are already working at high capacity levels.

Current treatment typically involves extra feeding and repeated blood tests to measure blood sugar levels.

But many babies are admitted to intensive care and given intravenous glucose because their blood sugar remains low – a condition doctors call hypoglycemia.

The study assessed whether treatment with dextrose gel was more effective than feeding alone at reversing hypoglycemia.

Neil Marlow, from the Institute for Women’s Health at University College London, said that although dextrose gel had fallen into disuse, these findings suggested it should be resurrected as a treatment.

We now had high-quality evidence that it was of value, he said.

Andy Cole, chief executive of premature baby charity Bliss, said: “This is a very interesting piece of new research and we always welcome anything that has the potential to improve outcomes for babies born premature or sick.

This is a cost-effective treatment and could reduce admissions to intensive care services, which are already working at high capacity levels.

While the early results of this research show benefits to babies born with low blood sugars, it is clear there is more research to be done to implement this treatment.”

Shaikh Ibn ‘Uthaimeen (Rahimahullaah) said: “Tahneek is done immediately after the birth of the baby, so that the first thing that the baby is fed with is that which he was given by Tahneek.” Some scholars say Tahneek is particular to the Messenger (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam); seeking the Barakah (blessing) of the Prophet’s (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) saliva mixed with date was to be the first thing that reached the stomach of the baby, and that this was not prescribed to other than him. However the majority of the scholars said that it is prescribed even for other than the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). This is because the purpose behind Tahneek is to make date the first thing that the baby is fed with. Therefore whoever does Tahneek to a new born baby should not be denied, there is no harm on him and whoever does not do it will be saved.” [Fatawa Noor ‘alad Darb 6/228]

The point of view of those who said Tahneek is not particular to the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) is of the majority of scholars. Many Athaar from the Salaf have been quoted. Tahneek was known to the Sahaabah and was practiced by them. Ahmad reported in his Musnad that when the mother of Anas, Umm Sulaim (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhuma) gave birth to ‘Abdullaah at night, she hated to make Tahneek for him until after the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) had done Tahneek for him. Anas (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu) said: “I took him in the morning to the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and I found him pasturing the camels. The Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) took the child and asked if there was something with him. I said: “Yes, a few dates (ajwa dates).” The Prophet took some of them, chewed it and took some of it out of his mouth and put it into the child’s mouth [and did Tahneek for him with that, and named him ‘Abdullaah as reported by Muslim.] [This Hadeeth is also reported by Bukhaari and Muslim.] This Hadeeth indicates that Tahneek was known by the Ansaar (Arabs) because Umm Sulaim (Radia-Allaahu ‘anha) did not like to make Tahneek for her baby before the Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) did that.

Also Ibn Katheer said: “When al-Hasan al-Basri was born during the Caliphate of ‘Umar (Radia-Allaahu ‘anhu), he was brought to him. So he (‘Umar) invoked for him and made Tahneek for him.” [Al-Biyadah wan Nihayah]

With what Tahneek is done 

The scholars recommend Tamr (date) for Tahneek or Rutab (ripe dates). In case you don’t find ripe dates or anything sweet, bee honey is better than others [Ibn Hajar in Fat-h al-Bari]

An-Nawawi said: “The scholars are in consensus that Tahneek with dates is recommended for a new born baby. In the case of the inability of date, something close to the date or similar in sweetness.

The person chews the date till it becomes fluid (liquid), such that can easily be swallowed. Then the child’s mouth is opened and put some of it into his mouth to reach his stomach.” [End quote- Explanation of an-Nawawi for Saheeh Muslim]



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