Halal Consumer - Issue 28 - page 19

Just a Fad?
If you have ever watched Rachael Ray, the popular TV chef
on Food Network, you are, in all likelihood, already familiar
with EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), a term she has suc-
cessfully turned into a fad. But it is not just she and other
chefs who are raving about olive oil; for decades, scientists,
researchers, and nutritionists have been, too. In fact, the
history of olive oil is so ancient that the English word “oil”
has roots in the Latin word “oleum” (oil/olive oil) and the
Greek “elaoin” (olive tree).
Which begs the question: are olives and olive oil more than
just a fad?
Praised in the Quran and Hadith
According to Islamic scholars, one of the reasons God swears
by one of His creations in the Quran is because that creation
has a special significance.
It is thus interesting to note that God begins
Surah
(Chapter)
Tin
(The Fig) by taking an oath in the name of
the fig, the olive, and by Mount Sinai, where the olive tree
grows (95:1-3).
The olive is also mentioned in the
ayah
(verse) of Noor
(24:35), where God calls the olive tree “blessed,” and also
by name in several other places in the Quran as one of His
Signs (16:11 and 6:99).
In
Surah Muminoon
(The Believers), God says,
“And [We
brought forth] a tree issuing from Mount Sinai which produces
oil and food for those who eat”
(Quran 23:20).
Ibn Umar narrates that the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be
Upon Him, [PBUH]) said, “Eat olive oil and anoint yourself
with it, for it comes from a blessed tree” (Tirmidhi 4221).
In As-Suyuti’s
Medicine of the Prophet
, we know that the
Prophet (PBUH) also used to say that olive oil is the medi-
cine of the poor.
So the Quran and Hadith point to at least three different
uses of olives/olive oil: as food, as lotion, and as medicine.
Scientific Evidence
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, when nutrition research
pioneer, Ancel Keys, carried out the Seven Countries Study,
he noticed that people in Crete, Greece, and southern
Italy lived longer than others in the study. These people
also had lower rates of heart disease and even some can-
cers, like those of the breast, colon, and skin. Keys firmly
believed that the diet of these Mediterranean people
explained, in large part, the low disease rates.
Since then, interest in the Mediterranean diet and olive
oil in particular, has deepened, especially since more and
more studies yield data supporting the oil’s role in main-
taining health and preventing disease.
Fad or Fab?
Olives & Olive Oil
By Humaira Khan
Spring 2014
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