We’re back for another episode of Super Sunnah Foods, and our focus this week is milk.
Personally, I am currently mostly vegan; I eat a plant-based diet due to concerns for the treatment of animals, as well as the environment. But part of the way I became a vegetarian was drinking a lot of milk. I still drink milk as a medicine when I am stressed, as the fat in milk soothes my nerves. Milk is a family food for me. I have generations of dairy farmers in my family. In fact, one of my grandfather’s favorite sayings was “There’s nothing prettier than a black and white cow on a green field.”
With that said, milk is an interesting and sometimes problematic food. Lactose intolerance, for one thing, is very widespread, and many people cannot tolerate milk at all. There are debates about the importance of milk as a food globally for this reason, with many saying that large parts of the human species don’t naturally consume milk.
Another issue about milk is that milk from different types of livestock had different qualities. Goat milk — my favorite type of milk — is much lower in lactose than cow milk. It is also possible to buy sheep’s milk, as well as camel milk. Most milk that is conventionally farmed is arguably not halal or tayyib. One reason is that cows are often fed animal products such as pork bones, or chicken parts as part of their feed in conventional farms, so it is important to make sure that the milk you are drinking is from cows that if not grass-fed, at least are on a vegetarian diet. This usually means that it needs to be organic.
Milk in the Quran
Milk is no doubt a sunnah food, and is found in the Quran in numerous places.
Quran 16:66 And in cattle there is a lesson for you, We give you drink, from their bellies digested food and blood, pure liquid milk for those who drink.
This actually is one of the miracles of the Quran, as cited here because how did our Prophet (SAW) know that milk came from blood with the limited scientific knowledge 1400 years ago?
Milk is also a drink of paradise in the Quran.
Quran 47:15 (Here is) a Parable of the Garden which the righteous are promised: in it are rivers of water incorruptible; rivers of milk of which the taste never changes; rivers of wine, a joy to those who drink; and rivers of honey pure and clear. In it there are for them all kinds of fruits; and Grace from their Lord. (Can those in such Bliss) be compared to such as shall dwell forever in the Fire, and be given, to drink, boiling water, so that it cuts up their bowels (to pieces)?
Milk in the Hadith
Milk is a clearly documented food of the Prophet (ﷺ) and there are numerous hadith about milk.
One Hadith reports:
The Prophet(ﷺ) said, “Verily, Allah Almighty did not place an ailment but that he also placed its cure. You should drink the milk of cows, for they are given health by all kinds of plants.”
Then the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) was brought milk, and he drank (it). The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) then said: When one of you eats food, he should say: O Allah, bless us in it, and give us food (or nourishment) better than it. When he is given milk to drink he should say: O Allah! bless us in it and give us more of it, for no food or drink satisfies like milk.
Health Properties of Milk
Milk is no doubt very healthy. Dairy products contain high amounts of Vitamin B2 and B12, as well as easily digestible calcium, phosphorous, and vitamins A and D, especially when fortified. Milk is also high in protein, including casein and whey protein. Whey protein is often used by body builders as part of a muscle building regimen.
Milk has been documented to decrease osteoporosis, and contributes to decreased high blood pressure. On the flip side, milk has been shown to cause acne and some forms of cancer, although that connection is still somewhat tenuously documented.
Milk Recipes: Ice Cream in a Bag
Well, beyond a glass of milk with dates, which is super delicious (or figs or almonds), here’s a fun activity to do with children. It’s an easy way to make ice cream that you can do on a sunny afternoon.
- 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup salt
- Ziploc bags: one small, one large. (You need to use high quality bags; it will make a difference.)
- 1 cup half and half
- 1 tbsp sugar
- Pour half and half, vanilla and sugar into small ziplock baggie.
- Squeeze the air out.
- Fill the bottom half of a large ziplock bag with ice.
- Add the salt.
- Add the small ziplock bag.
- Fill the rest of the way with ice over the small ziplock bag.
- Shake this vigorously with gloves for 10 minutes.
- Open and enjoy!
Images courtesy of Pinterest.
Sarah is a social worker in the San Francisco Bay Area with at-risk and homeless youth. She likes to paint, drum, sing, and spend quality time with her family and God in her free time. She is currently working on a book on Sufism, mindfulness and recovery from co-occurring disorders and on an album with her band EYETestify.