Barley – Sunnah Food

By Dr M. Laiq Ali Khan

Barley crops are cultivated throughout the country during the season of rabi crops and utilized in various forms including the Barley flour. The plants of Barley are very similar to wheat and the seeds are elongated in shape in comparison  to wheat with a covering of light yellow colour. Nabi (Sallalaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) liked it very much and used it in various forms such as barley bread, gruel and dough.

During the period of the Prophet (Sallalaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) the people either used to eat the Barley bread or to mix the wheat flour with Barley flour to prepare the bread gererally. One lad used to sell the preparation from Beetroots and barley at the gate of Masjid-e-Nabwi on every Friday and it is said that holy companions liked this preparation as much as they used to wait for Friday eagerly.

Hazrat Ummul Manzar states that the Prophet (Sallalaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) along with Hazrat Ali (Radiallahu Anhu) came to our house, we had dates and those were presented to them. Both of them ate from those dates. When Hazrat Ali (Radiallahu Anhu) consumed a little of those, the Prophet (Sallalaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said, “You recently recovered from illness, hence you are weak, hence don’t eat more.” Therefore the lady prepared a dish from barley and beetroot. Then, the Prophet (Sallalaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) told Hazrat Ali “eat from it, it is better for you”. (Ibn-e-Maja, Sanad-e-Ahmed, Tirmizi)

This proves that after illness, the preparations made from barley and beet roots is very good tonic for weak persons.

Hazrat Anas Bin Malik (Radiallahu Anhu) states that a tailor invited the Prophet (Sallalaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) to meals. He prepared the Barley bread and meat with Pumpkin. The Prophet (Sallalaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) very affectionately ate the pumpkin pieces from the curry. (Bukhari, Muslim)

Yousuf Bin Abdullah Bin Salam states that I saw the Prophet (Sallalaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) taking a piece of barley bread and put a date on it and stated that was bread’s vegetable (salan). (Abu Dawood)


Whenever a person of the family of Rasool Allah (Sallalaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) fell sick then it was ordered that the barley gruel should be prepared for him. Then he used to state “it removes the grief of the patients heart, removes its weakness as any of you removes the dirt from your face after washing it.” (Ibn Maja)


Hazrat Aisha (Radiallahu Anha) used to order preparation of Talbina for sick persons and used to tell “though the patient dislike it, but it is highly beneficial for him.” (Bukhari)

Another narration is found on record from Hazrat Aisha Siddiqua (Radiallahu Anhu). Whenever anyone complained of loss of appetite to the Prophet (Sallalaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam). He ordered to use Talbina and stated “By Allah who hold my life, this removes the dirts of your abdomen as one of you removes the dirt of your face by washing it.”

Powdered barley (sattoo) was very much liked by the Prophet (Sallalaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam). At the time of victory of Khaibar, the Prophet (Sallalaahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) agreed to marry Hazrat Safia, the very next day he directed to Hazrat Anas Bin Malik to invite the people to attend the Dawat-e-Walima of Hazrat Safia.

According to the narrations of Tirmizi and Ibn Majah the walima comprised of dates and sattoo, but according to Bukhari a confection was prepared from dates, barley and sattoo and served before the guests.

In Nisai, Abu Dawood, Bukhari, Ibn-e-Majah, Tirmizi and Ahmed Bin Hambal, there are 21 hadiths recommending the consumption of Sattoo. Besides this the description of Sattoo is also available in other hadiths.


According to the scholars of hadith barley is very nutritious and provides energy for the body, besides this is also beneficial in pharyngitis and cough. It resolves the inflammation of the stomach (Gastritus), expels the toxins from the body and a good diuretic. It quenches thirst. Barley water is a good remedy in kidney problem, to quench the thirst and provide the best nutrition for indisposed and weak persons. Preparation of Barley water is described by Ibn Al-Qayyim. According to him, barley with five times water should be boiled, till the contents become ¾ and the colour of the mixture becomes milky.

Scientists have found the following items during the chemical synthesis of Barley-albuminoids, starch, fat, fibre, ash and water. Chemical composition shows that it contains the fat in the form of Leucosine Gluten Albumen, the compound of Nitrogen as palmatic acid, Salisylic Acid, Phosphoric Acid. Besides, it contains Hypoxanthens. British Phamacopeia recommends Malt extract for internal use. It contains 4 percent Proteins, the enzymes for digestion of carbohydrates and vitamins. Some scientists also indicate the presence of Arsenic in the Barley grain.

The ancient physicians explained various experiences regarding the use of barley. Ibn Sina  says that the blood produced by consuming barley is neutral, pure and of low consistency. According to Firdous Al-Hikmat the suspension prepared from one part of barley and fifteen parts of water until after boiling this volume becomes 2/3rds of its basic solution, is beneficial for at least hundred diseases of the body.