Foods of Paradise
Among His limitless mercy upon all of mankind, God has blessed those who obey him with the ultimate reward of heaven. While no ordinary human being can accurately comprehend the multi-faceted nature of Paradise, special mention of its magnificence has been noted in both the Quran and the practices of the Prophet Muhammad, the Sunnah.
Heaven is described in great detail within the Quran and Hadith (sayings of Prophet Muhammad). Of particular significance are the mentions of the foods of the Eternal Garden. Heaven will have wine that does not intoxicate, fruit in endless abundance, and meat from myriad birds. Heaven will also contain rivers of flowing milk and honey. Many of these fruits and meats are already considered sweet and satisfying but, when particular mention is made by God and Prophet Muhammad, their status is elevated even higher in the eyes of pious Muslims. Therefore, some scholars are of the opinion that we should try to incorporate these foods in to our daily diet, as they potentially provide both nutritional value and spiritual blessings.
According to the Holy Quran:
And any fruit they specify and any bird-meat they desire… (Quran: 20-21)
The food in Heaven will not only be plentiful but will be immensely satisfying as well. The residents of paradise will have a vague recognition of this food because of what they consumed in their prior life. However, the food of the Garden will be more flavorful, appetizing, and lavish on an entirely different dimension. The inhabitants will be consuming a variety of fruits including figs, watermelons, and bananas. The Prophet Muhammad said this about figs: “If I had to mention a fruit that descended from the Garden, I would say this is it…” (Hadith: Mukhtasar Tadhkirah al Qurtubi, p.313). From a nutritional perspective figs have one of the highest mineral and fiber contents amongst all fruits and they are a good source of energy. Figs are noted with such high regard in Islam that God swears by them in the Holy Quran. Some of the health benefits of figs include cleansing the liver and prostate from toxins and relieving the throat and chest from congestion.
Watermelons are also mentioned as being the food for the residents of the Eternal Garden. Prophet Muhammad said: “Benefit from the watermelon and respect it, because its juice is from the Garden and its taste is from the Garden…the watermelon is [one of the fruits] of the Garden.” (Hadith: Mukhtasar Tadhkirah al-Qurtubi, p.313). In terms of nutrients, watermelons are a good source of vitamin C which helps build immunity. They contain lycopene, which studies have shown reduces the risk of several types of cancers. Watermelons are best during the summer as a cool flavorful low-calorie treat. Finally, bananas are also indicated as being plentiful in heaven. Nutritionally, bananas, in this world, are a natural diuretic and aid in maintaining blood pressure. In the afterlife, God refers to bananas as such:
“Amid thornless lote-trees and banana-trees [with fruits], one above another and extended shade and water flowing constantly and abundant fruit, neither intercepted nor forbidden.” (Quran 28:33)
For those who seek the pleasure of God, they will also reap the benefits of choosing from any quail meat they please. Prophet Muhammad states, “…The most delicious of the food accompanying the bread of the People of the Garden is meat. Praise be to God, Lord of all the worlds.” (Hadith: Mukhtasar Tadhkirah al-Qurtubi p.363/654) As most Halal Consumers know, meat is a key source of protein for many individuals. Protein is an essential macronutrient the human body uses to perform many vital functions. Some of these functions include building and maintaining muscle, growth and development for children, and sustaining a positive nitrogen balance for expecting and lactating mothers.
It is often said that people first eat with their eyes. This will definitely be the case when the pious enter the Garden. The food would not only be the best of offerings, but would be presented on gold and silver platters. God tells us:
“To them will be passed round, dishes and goblets of gold: there will be there all that the souls could desire, all that the eyes could delight in: and you shall abide therein (for aye).” (Quran 43:71)
God, in the Quran, also mentions the different types of liquids to be found in heaven. This includes milk, honey, and non-intoxicating wine.
“Therein are rivers of water unpolluted, and rivers of milk whereof the flavor changes not, and rivers of fermented liquids delicious to the drinkers, and rivers of clear-run honey; therein for them is every kind of fruits,…” (Quran 47:15)
Prophet Muhammad used to recite the following prayer as one of the many ways of attaining heaven:
“O God, You are my Lord, none has the right to be worshipped except You, You created me and I am Your servant and I abide to Your covenant and promise as best I can, I take refuge in You from the evil of which I committed. I acknowledge Your favor upon me and I acknowledge my sin, so forgive me, for verily none can forgive sin except You.”
According to a Hadith transmitted by Bukhari, “If somebody recites this invocation during the day, and if he should die then, he will be from the people of heaven. And if he recites it in the night, and if he should die on the same day, he will be from the people of heaven.”
Having read the beautiful descriptions of the Garden, any individual should aspire to good deeds in order to attain heaven. Besides food, heaven will have many other countless blessings. As servants of our Creator, we should seek His pleasure in all of our worldly actions so that we may one day partake of the foods of the Garden, God willing.
*Editor’s Note: After every mention of Prophet Muhammad, the words ‘Peace be Upon him’ are recited.