The Sunnah of Tahneek

The Sunnah of Tahneek

Why we follow the Sunnah=Traditions of the messenger Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him.

Who else has done/seen it done (Tahneek) of newborn baby?

Brief Summary:

Tahneek is an Arabic word which means putting something sweet such as dates, in the infant’s mouth after the birth. Neonatal hypoglycemia is common in the first few days after birth. Up to 15 % of normal newborn babies will have low blood glucose concentrations. 

It has been demonstrated that treatment of neonatal hypoglycemia with oral dextrose gel was more effective than feeding alone in reversing the hypoglycemia and reduced the rate of NICU admission. investigators study is using dates to assess its effect on hypoglycemia in infants at risk.

Detailed Description:

Tahneek is an Arabic word which means putting something sweet such as dates, in the infant’s mouth after the birth. It is a noble practice in Islam, with which the newborn is greeted upon entering life, usually before milk feeds. It is done by rubbing a softened date on the palate of the new-born just after the birth. 

The tahneek also exercises the muscles of the mouth and helps with the circulation of blood in the mouth – this may help the baby to be able to suck and take mother’s milk.

Neonatal hypoglycemia is common in the first few days after birth. Up to 15 % but the incidence in babies with risk factors is much greater up to 50 % in infants of diabetic mothers, large and small babies and 66 % in preterm babies. Neonatal hypoglycemia is associated with brain damage, death, and developmental delay in later life. 

Treatment of neonatal hypoglycemia with oral dextrose gel was more effective than feeding alone in reversing hypoglycemia, and thus reducing the rate of NICU admission for hypoglycemia. investigators study is using dates to assess its effect on hypoglycemia in infants at risk.

Over 1400 years ago, when a child was born, the Prophet (peace be upon him) made it his sunnah to take a small part of a date and place it in his mouth. He would then chew it until it was soft and then rub it onto the palate of the newborn baby. This is called Tahneek.

Today, BBC News has reported that “experts” have said – “A dose of sugar given as a gel rubbed into the inside of the cheek is a cheap and effective way to protect premature babies against brain damage.”

Therefore, Muslims follow the sunnah of the messenger without questioning it. Science is only now discovering a tradition that was introduced 1400 years ago because Islam was and still is the forefront of development.

Health in Islam is a state of dynamic equilibrium between body, mind, and soul (rooh). Imbalance in this equilibrium leads to ill health. The maintenance of this balance is as prescribed in the Qur’an. 

Allah Almighty says:

We send down (stage by stage) of the Qur’an that which is a healing and mercy to those who believe. (17:82)

The words of Prophet Muhammed peace be upon him, prescribing medicine are specific and yet all encompassing. The Sunnah (way of life for example) pertaining to health are numerous and comprehensive, relating to preventative, curative, and restorative aspects of health. There are great lessons in health for us in the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) eating habits, sleeping habits, personal hygiene, fasting and every aspect of life.

The Sunnah of putting something sweet in a newborn’s mouth has special pain-relieving properties which are proven scientifically.

It is a long-established practice among Muslim parents to put a piece of well chewed date (or other available sweet fruit) in the mouth of a newborn baby.

Muslims do this following the practice of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), believing him to be, as the Qur’an says, sent as a healing and as a mercy to mankind. We may infer from the way in which this custom originated that there is a virtue in it. Complimentary to the virtue and pleasure of following the Sunnah (the practice of the Prophet (peace be upon him) placing a ‘sugary substance’ inside the mouth of a newborn baby dramatically reduces pain sensation and heart rate.

An interesting scientific medical study, published in the British Medical Journal (No 6993,10 June 1995), proved beyond any doubt the benefit of giving a newborn child sugar, to reduce the feeling of any painful procedure like heel pricking for a blood sample or before circumcision.

The study, entitled ‘The analgesic effect of Sucrose in full term infants: a randomised controlled trial’, was done by Nora Christopher Wood, Gillian Griffiths, and Malcolm Levene, in the postnatal ward in the Leeds General Infirmary in England. 60 healthy infants of gestational age 37-42 weeks and post-natal age of 1-6 days, were randomised to receive 2ml of one of the four solutions: – 12.5% sucrose, 25% sucrose and sterile water (control).

The first group of thirty babies received Sugar syrup before a routine blood test (heel pricking, which is usually painful) done to detect jaundice.

The other 30 babies were given only sterile water as a control group. Placing 2ml of a 25% or 50% sucrose solution on the tongue before pricking the heel significantly reduced the crying time, compared to babies who got water.

In addition, their heart rate returned to normal more quickly. The stronger sugar solution had the greater effect, crying reduced further with increasing concentration of sucrose. From which we may conclude that sucrose (sugar), placed on the tongue may be a useful and safe form of analgesia for use with newborn infants.

Blass and Hoffmeyer also showed that 12% solution of inter-oral sucrose significantly reduced the duration of crying in newborn babies subjected to new heel pricking, or circumcision. This study was reported in the independent newspaper (Friday, 9 June 1995) as well as in the British Medical Journal article.

The practice of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is recorded in the collections of his sayings and reports about him, of which the most revered are the two Sahih=Authentic collections of Bukhari and Muslim: Abu Buradah reported from Abu Moosa (may Allah be pleased with him), who said:

 ‘I had a newborn baby, I took him to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who called him Ibrahim. The Prophet (peace be upon him) chewed a date then he took it and rubbed the inside of the baby’s mouth with it.’

The date contains an extremely high percentage of sugar (70-80%); it has both fructose, and glucose, which have high calorific values, it is easily and quickly digestible, and helpful to the brain. The date contains 2.2% protein, vitamin A, vitamins B1, B2 Nicotinic acid (against Pellagra); and it has traces of minerals needed for the body such as potassium, sodium, calcium, iron, manganese, and copper.

Potassium, of which percentage is extremely high, has been found to be amazingly effective for cases of hemorrhage, such as the occasions of birth or circumcision.

We may note that the Sunnah also commends dates for the breaking of the fast in Ramadan. Dates should be eaten, if available before the sunset prayer, this is medically and nutritionally the best way and the Sunnah.

The great worth of dates is also indicated in the famous and beautiful passage of the Qur’an, Surah Maryam: ‘And shake towards you the trunk of the palm tree and it will drop on your fresh ripe dates. So, eat, drink, and be comforted.’

This was the prescription of Allah, the Creator, for Maryam (peace be upon him) at the time of the birth of Eesa (peace be upon him), The blessed Prophet of Allah. It was a prescription to make a delivery easy and comfortable.

As in the example we have briefly recorded, we believe further research will confirm for those who still doubt the full worth and truth, the wisdom of the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah.

“We shall show them our signs on the furthest, horizons and within themselves until it becomes clear to them that it is the truth. Is it not sufficient that your Lord is witness over all things?’ (41:53)

Allah knows Best.


Almighty Allah is the highest and most knowledgeable, and the attribution of knowledge to him is the safest.

Right from Almighty Allah and wrong from me and Satan

Prepared by Mohamad Mostafa Nassar- Australia. 

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Arrogance is not only a sign of insecurity, but also a sign of immaturity. Mature and fully realised persons can get their points across, even emphatically without demeaning or intimidating others.