Arabish: A cure for every aliment but tedium

Abu Huraira reported that he heard Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Nigella seed is a remedy for every disease except death. This hadith has been narrated through another chain of transmitters but with a slight variation of wording.
–From the hadiths of Sahih Muslim, Book 26, Number 5489


A few weeks ago I decided to stop drinking black seed tea and go straight for the (more potent?) oil, taken on a spoon with a little honey poured over it to mask the strong flavor.  The black seed (nigella sativa) is a well known Arab cure-all recommended by The Prophet (see this post).

I can’t find the Arabic text for Sahih Muslim’s hadith about black seed anywhere, but apparently this Egyptian firm is working from it directly.  The English portion says it is “a cure for every aliment” (من كل داء ) .

As if dealing with the slippery ways of English wasn’t enough, the firm’s website seems to have suffered even further from the labyrinthine ways of the western internet. The website listed on the box has been taken over by squatters demanding ransom, and not giving in to blackmail, the site’s guardians have moved it a different location, where we find the startling claim that the oil of the Blessed Seed is good for everything except “tedium”.

I beg to differ. With package inserts like this to puzzle over, I’m not going to be bored to death anytime soon.

How is it going for me so far with the black seed oil? Although I’m taking this to see if it will improve my breathing (I’m an ex-smoker), I seem to be losing weight, plus I find I’m not taking quite so much stomach medication.  As with many dietary supplements (like glucosamine, which nobody is quite sure works, but when they stop taking it, they seem to feel worse) the results are hard to judge.


For anyone who wants to try to follow the Koranic scholarship, here is a website in Arabic (via Google translate) that I found by googling من كل داء, the phrase on the box. Discussions of hadith in Arabic usually give the chain of transmission as well, which is how “strong” and “weak” hadiths are determined.  This website cites seven different sources for the hadith about the black seed.

Abu Hurayrah [narrated by Imam Muslim from Abu Hurayrah in a book of peace door medication pill black number (2215) (but they’ve got the hadith number wrong, that one’s in Book 5)-Nij] may Allah be pleased with him that he heard the Messenger of Allah peace be upon him says: «in black bean cure for every disease but poison». Ibn Shihab said: The toxic death, and black bean Alhuniz.

The  Arabic:

عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه أنه سمع رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يقول: «في الحَبَّةِ السوْدَاءِ شِفَاءٌ من كل دَاءٍ إلاَّ السَّام». قال ابن شهاب: والسام الموت، والحبة السوداء الشونيز.

What  Al-huniz الشونيز (shouldn’t it be al-shunez?) might be I can’t guess, but it must be related to both death and boredom.

4 Responses to “Arabish: A cure for every aliment but tedium”

  1. canehan Says:

    Nij: What is the black seed ? Seed of what plant ? Is it revealed ?

  2. Nijma Says:


    Nigella sativa, without a doubt.

    There is no disagreement about the identification, either on the internet or on the Arab street. It seems intuitive to me too, that if the Prophet said this cures everything but death, they would have been very careful to note exactly what plant that was and transmit the information carefully.

    Nigella may also be the grain meant by the Hebrew word ketsah in the Bible (Isaiah 28: 25, 27) where it is compared to the harvesting of wheat, but there is less agreement about this.

    Revealed? (?) Not in the Koran, but it is a hadith, a saying of the Prophet.

  3. canehan Says:

    Thanks: My local health food shop probably has some in paletable form – the discription of its being bitter does not attract me, and I don’t eat Indian food in which it is apparently used (I don’t eat hot spices of nay kind, including pepper – we never used it at home and I have never got used to it).

    Fun aside: One of the UK’s cooking gurus is called Nigella (Lawson, daugher of a former Chancellor – Sec of the Treasury in US terms).

  4. Nijma Says:

    I wouldn’t call it bitter (like lemon?) …more like strong (like coffee?). The Arab cheese with the black seeds doesn’t have the characteristic flavor at all, so maybe only the oil is strong.

    There is an American firm in Atlanta that makes the oil from Egyptian and Turkish seeds. They have the oil in capsules:
    But the price! Their 4 ounce bottle is $17, while the one from Egypt with the fractured English is $5. I imagine you would pay less in the Arab neighborhoods.

    You could probably find it with ayurvedic products as well, but the India neighborhood is a good two hours away from me.

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