- Gastronomic Remedy for Grief/Distress
Al-Bukhaari (may Allaah have mercy on him) reports that ‘Aa’ishah used to order talbeen for people who were sick or had been stricken by tragedy, and she would say: “I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: ‘Talbeen warms the heart of the sick person and alleviates some of a person’s grief.’”
Al-Bukhaari also narrated from ‘Aa’ishah, the wife of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) that whenever a member of her family died, and the women gathered together then dispersed, except for her family and close friends, she would ask for a pot of talbeen, then she would cook it, make thareed [a dish of sopped bread, meat and broth] and pour the talbeen over it, then tell the women: “Eat from it, for I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say that talbeen is the cure for the heart of the sick person and alleviates some of a person’s grief.”
Talbeen is a soup or broth made from flour or bran to which honey is added. It is called talbeen because it resembles milk (laban). It is cooked from ground barley.
Saying that it is a cure for the heat of the sick person means that it relaxes him, gives him energy and alleviates his grief and distress.
Ahmad (may Allaah have mercy on him) reported that ‘Aa’ishah said: “Whenever the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) heard that someone was sick or in pain, and not eating, he would say: ‘You should make talbeen and let him sip it. By the One in Whose hand is my soul, it will cleanse the stomach of any one of you just as you wash the dirt from your faces with water.’”
Al-Tirmidhi reported that ‘Aa’ishah said: “Whenever any member of his family fell ill, he would order that soup or broth be made for them, then he would tell them to sip it. He used to say, ‘It makes the grieving heart strong and cleanses the heart of the sick person, just as any of you cleanses the dirt from her face with water.’”
Even though some people might find this strange, this is a true matter, as it has been proven to be part of the Revelation conveyed by the infallible Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). Allaah has created all kinds of food, and He knows best their characteristics, so the soup of barley mentioned in the hadeeth is one of the types of food that make people feel better. And Allaah knows best.
With regard to the method of cooking this food for the person who is physically sick or whose heart is stricken with grief, Ibn Hijr (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “What suits the sick person is the water from barley that has been cooked whole, and what suits the grieving person is the water from ground barley that has been cooked. And Allaah knows best.”