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Rubbing a softened date on his mouth

The tahneek is another noble practice from Islam with which the newborn is greeted upon entering into the first moments of this life, before any other type of food enters his stomach.

(A) Its Description and What is Used

The tahneek here means softening a date and then rubbing the palate of the new-born with it just after the birth or soon after that. This is done by putting a piece of the date upon a finger and then entering the finger into the baby's mouth and rubbing it right and left.

This is how it is done, with regard to what is used - then it is done with a (dried) date. Ibn Hajr said: "If one is not able to find a (dried) date, then a fresh date should be used, and if that is not available, then anything sweet."1

It is not essential to chew the date before the tahneek, rather it may be softened in any way - since chewing the date before rubbing it in the baby's mouth as occurs in the ahaadeeth was something particular to the Messenger (peace be upon him) i.e. due to the blessing placed in his (peace be upon him) saliva. Therefore, it is sufficient to soften the date without chewing it, and then to rub it upon the child's palate.

This action is to be done by the child's father or mother, or one of the people of knowledge and excellence2 whose supplication, it is hoped would be accepted. So he should perform tahneek and supplicate for blessings for the child - as was the practice of the Companions along with the Messenger (peace be upon him) all of this is allowed."3

(B) Its Wisdom and its being a Prescribed Practice

The tahneek is a recommended Sunnah, an-Nawawee said:

"Scholars are agreed upon the recommendation of performing tahneek upon the baby after its birth".4 The Messenger performed tahneek upon a number of the children of his Companions, as is reported by 'Aa-ishah who said: "New-born children used to be brought to Allah's Messenger and he would supplicate for blessings for them, and rub a chewed date upon their palate".5

And al-Bukhaaree and Muslim report from Aboo Moosaa who said: "A boy was born to me and so I came to the Prophet. (peace be upon him) . He called him Ibraaheem and rubbed his palate with a chewed date and supplicated for blessing for him and handed him to me".6

And al-Bukaaree and Muslim report a hadeeth of Anas concerning his maternal brother - in which Aboo Talhah said to him: "Carry him to the Prophet" and he sent some dates along with him. So the Prophet (peace be upon him) took him and said: "Is there anything with him2". He said: "Yes, some dates." So Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) took and chewed them, then took them from his mouth and then placed them in the baby's mouth, rubbing his palate with them and he named him 'Abdullaah."7 And in another narration: "So the baby began to lick it, so the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "The Ansaar have a love of dates"8

(C) The Wisdom of Tahneek and its Benefits

There are many benefits of the tahneek, both medical and non-medical. Some of these were perceived by the scholars and many were not and there follows some of these points of wisdom:

(1) In performing the tahneek, one is following the Sunnah of the beloved Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) , and a revival of his Sunnah which he used to perform with his Companions - and this is more than sufficient wisdom in itself.

(2) It is, furthermore, a Prophetic miracle and protects the child from a danger which has only recently become apparent to the medical profession. This is that new-born babies may die if their blood-sugar level is too low, and after the birth the baby's nutrition from its mother is cut off, so his body turns to whatever he has stored up whilst he was in his mother's womb - until his mother is able to breast-feed him. It is at this time that the child's organs are most active, so whatever stores it has may quickly be exhausted causing the blood-sugar level to drop and resulting in danger. We, therefore, find that rubbing the child's palate with a crushed date - which contains a large percentage of sugar - provides him with sugar which can pass into his system quickly and will be a protection for him from that deficiency should it occur. So how far above and free from any deficiency is Allah, the Most Wise!9

(3) The tahneek also exercises the muscles of the mouth and helps with the circulation of blood in the mouth - which is brought about by rubbing the date upon the palate, and by the movement of the jaws when he chews and licks - this also helps the baby to be able to suck and take the mother's milk."10

(4) Furthermore, as is well-known, the date has a number of different benefits for health - so performing tahneek as done by the Messenger-will produce a number of such benefits helping the body and health of the child.

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