Other day a person, seemingly a Christian polemicist left me an email, challenging me on something which he thought was really a big deal. He quoted the following Hadith:
Narrated Sa’d: The Prophet said, "If somebody takes some 'Ajwa dates every morning, he will not be effected by poison or magic on that day till night." (Another narrator said seven dates). (Sahih Bukhari)
And then hurled the challenge;
are you today ready to take this simple challenge and eat 7 Ajwa dates and then drink poison and survive ?
The unfortunate fact is that most people in our time think that just reading any translation of Hadith texts, they can lay hands upon, is quite enough to have a full grasp of it and they find themselves worthy enough to comment. The practice might have had some justification if Hadith -or for that matter any classical Islamic text- was in some dead language hardly known to even the followers of the religion as it happened with Judaism and Christianity.
A basic principle in studying any historical narration is to understand the environment and context in which it originated. While it may not be possible to find details as to when and why was some particular words were uttered, another reasonable way is to see the complementing narrations before looking to reach a conclusion.
Sa’d told of hearing Allah’s Messenger say, “He who has a morning meal of seven ‘ajwa dates will not suffer harm that day through toxins or magic.” (Bukhari, Hadith 5327 and Muslim, Hadith 3814)‘Aisha