Ask Ali: Islam’s holy fruits and its respect for older people

Putting parents or grandparents in a nursing home is seen as disgraceful in Islamic culture, because it demonstrates a lack of appreciation for what they did for you.

Dear Ali: I don’t see many senior citizens out and about in the city. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen a senior citizens’ home during my time in the Gulf. What is the culture in this part of the world when it comes to older people? BH, Al Ain

Dear BH: Putting parents or grandparents in a nursing home is seen as disgraceful in Islamic culture, because it demonstrates a lack of appreciation for what they did for you. Most Gulf governments launched campaigns to remind people not to treat their parents this way.

We have such homes in our country, but locals do not view them favourably. We believe that honouring the elderly shows respect to God, who blessed us with our parents and older people in our societies.

Having said that, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have senior citizens’ homes and centres that welcome people in specific situations, should they face such circumstances during their lives. All of this is taken care of by the government’s health ministries.

Dear Ali: I know from my experience of past Ramadans that Muslims break their fasts with dates. Are there any other fruits that are considered holy in Islam? CB, Philippines

Dear CB: You are right, the first food that we are supposed to eat after the sun sets is a date. We actually eat the date then do our maghrib “sunset” prayer of the day, before tucking into our iftar spread.

We eat the date because it was recommended by the Prophet Mohammed. The fruit also contains many natural sugars and vitamins that stabilise our blood-sugar levels after a long day of fasting.

In Islam, the date is known as a cure for illnesses and a pain reliever.

The fruit also seems to be popular with expats. I have a colleague from Canada who eats his weight in dates every day. He’s the easiest guy in the world to buy a birthday present for: a gift basket of dates every year.

Other fruits mentioned by the Prophet Mohammed are pomegranates, olives, figs, grapes and bananas. All are believed to have a great benefits when eaten and a blessing as well when considered in your diet.

Ali Al Saloom is a cultural adviser and public speaker from the UAE. Follow @AskAli on Twitter, and visit www.ask-ali.com to ask him a question and to find his guidebooks to the UAE, priced at Dh50.

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Published: May 1, 2014 04:00 AM

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