Dates are one of the important factors of the healthy diet. They have multi-fold benefits for the human body. It’s a wholesome organic food which can be a part of most of the diet plans. Being one of the important superfood, dates are consumed in many cultures and regions. In this blog, we will be going through the history of dates.
Dates arrived in India because of the ancient trade relations between Oman and India. According to the 10th century Arab traveller – Abu Al Masudi, the sailors from Oman had a good knowledge of the sea-travel and they were experts in finding the paths through astronomy. Because of this quality, they were hired by merchants who wanted to travel to China and other Asian countries. The sea voyage from Oman to Southern coast of India used to be of around 35 days. And during their visit, they used to barter high quality dates for spices and silk from India.
Before we get into the much older history of dates, let’s take a look at this story that is very important in Islamic world.
Once upon a time, there lived an old lady names Tuaja. She went on a pilgrimage to Medina. While she was there, she went to the courtyard of the house of Aisha – the prophet’s wife. There was a date palm growing there. There, she found some date seeds thrown away. She was delighted to find the seeds which were from the dates eaten by the Prophet himself. She picked up the seeds and made a string of them as prayer beads. When she returned to her hometown, she wanted to study The Holy Qur’an and the traditions of Islam. However, the learned men of the city mocked her decision saying she was just a poor old woman. However, she continued her prayers, with the date beads in her hand. After a few years, she died. When she was carried to the burial ground, the bead strings broke and the date seeds were scattered all around. Nobody bothered to pick them up considering them unworthy of anything. But next year, the seeds sprouted and in seven years, the palm trees had the most delicious dates ever eaten in that region. People said that it was because they had first come from al-Madinah’ al-Munawwarah, “The Radiant City.”
Now let us dive into the interesting history of dates.
Just like olives and olive plants have a special significance in Mediterranean civilisations, or the way there’s an importance of coconut in many Indian cultures, dates hold an utmost respect and importance in Islam. For e.g. In the Royal emblem of Saudi Arabia, there’s a palm tree in the centre above crossed swords. Date palms are as much of the importance like the crescent and star in the Arabian civilizations.
So much so, that the Prophet’s Mosque, built at Medina in around A.D. 630, was made almost entirely of date palms. The trunks of the palms were used to make the columns and the beams whereas the thatched roof was made of the leaves. The leaves were also used to make the prayer mats in the mosque. The oldest tale says that Medina was the land which was primarily cultivated by the descendants of Noah after the famed flood. And that is where the first date palms were planted.
However, we cannot reduce the dates just to a palm. This simple yet primitive tree is divided into more that 100 varieties. The date palm is the main variety that is grown in the Arabian land. The dates were originated from the middle east. The Muslim traders and the travellers who went to the different corners of the world carried dates wherever they went. Today, dates are grown in many countries with a dry climate that is suitable for the growth of these fruits.
Human beings are eating dates for 7,000 – 8,000 years.
The remains of these fruits are found on many Neolithic sites in Egypt and Syria. In the third millennium B.C., the dates cultivation and the fruits have been honoured in the Gilgamesh Epic which is famous from Lebanon to Bahrain. The seals of those ages also had date palms along with animals, gods, and men. In Greece, date palm was a sacred tree.
There’s a lot more about dates which we will be sharing with you in the days to come. Stay tuned. You can connect to us on Instagram, Facebook, Google+, and Twitter and visit our website www.khajur.in.