Is there a Sunnah food for depression?

Quran

Hadith

Islamic Text

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In the Name of Allah Most Merciful Most Kind

Short Answer

Yes, Talbina is a Sunnah food for depression or sadness. There is some discussion and difference over exactly what it is. Most scholars seem to agree that it contains flour and milk. Some mentioned honey too. Others mentioned fat. However, some said it is wheat water.

Explanation
عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، زَوْجِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: أَنَّهَا كَانَتْ إِذَا مَاتَ المَيِّتُ مِنْ أَهْلِهَا، فَاجْتَمَعَ لِذَلِكَ النِّسَاءُ، ثُمَّ تَفَرَّقْنَ إِلَّا أَهْلَهَا وَخَاصَّتَهَا، أَمَرَتْ بِبُرْمَةٍ مِنْ تَلْبِينَةٍ فَطُبِخَتْ، ثُمَّ صُنِعَ ثَرِيدٌ فَصُبَّتِ التَّلْبِينَةُ عَلَيْهَا، ثُمَّ قَالَتْ: كُلْنَ مِنْهَا، فَإِنِّي سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَقُولُ: التَّلْبِينَةُ مُجِمَّةٌ لِفُؤَادِ المَرِيضِ، تَذْهَبُ بِبَعْضِ الحُزْنِ

(Sayidah) Aishah, the wife of the Prophet ﷺ, narrated that whenever one of her relatives died, the women assembled and then dispersed except the relatives and close friends. Thereafter, she would instruct that a pot of Talbina be cooked. Then Tharid would be made and the Talbina would be poured on it. She would say: Eat of it, for I heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ saying, ‘Talbina soothes the heart of the sick, and removes some of the sorrow.’ (Sahih al- Bukhari 5417).

The Hadith narration above makes it clear that Talbina is a Sunnah food for depression and sorrow. Meaning, someone who is sad or grief-stricken should eat it, and it will help. In the Hadith above it is consumed along with Tharid. This is best. However, other narrations mention Talbina alone. So, it should be beneficial in either case.

 

What is Talbina
التلبينة: حسو رقيق يتخذ من الدقيق واللبن, وقيل: من الدقيق أو النخالة, يقال له بالفارسية: (سبو ساب) , وقد يجعل فيه العسل, سميت بذلك تشبيها باللبن لرقتها. وقيل: هو ماء الشعير. (تحفة الأبرار شرح مصابيح السنة).

Talbina is a thin soup made from flour and milk. It has been said, from flour or bran. In Persian it is called, Saboo Saab. Sometimes honey is added to it. It was called that (Talbina) due to its similarity to milk, in terms of thinness. It was also said that it is barley water. (Imam Nasir al-Deen al-Baydawi 685H, Tuhfatu al-Abrar).

 

التَّلْبِينَةُ: حساء من دقيق ونخالة، ويقال التلبين أيضًا؛ لأنه يشبه اللبن في بياضه، فإن كانت ثخينة فهي الحريرة، وقد يجعل اللبن والعسل. (التوضيح لشرح الجامع الصحيح)

Al-Talbina is a soup made from flour and bran. It is also called al-Talbin. Since it resembles milk in its whiteness. If it is thick then it is al-Harirah. Sometimes it is made with milk and honey. (Imam Ibn al-Mulaqin 804H, al-Towdeeh).  

 

In the Nusoos (texts) above, it is clarified that Talbina is soup like. It is made of flour and milk. Sometimes honey is added. Bran is also a possible ingredient. Although the flour is not clarified, it may be referring to barley flour. Since it has been said that Talbina is barley water.

 

Although there is no dispute that Talbina is a Sunnah food for depression, there does seem to be some difference over exactly what it is. Most tend to explain it as a milk-based dish. However, it has been described as barley water too. Even when it is considered to be a milk-based dish, the ingredients are differed upon.

 

قَالَ الْأَصْمَعِيُّ هِيَ حَسَاءٌ يُعْمَلُ مِنْ دَقِيقٍ أَوْ نُخَالَةٍ وَيُجْعَلُ فِيهِ عَسَلٌ قَالَ غَيْرُهُ أَوْ لَبَنٌ سُمِّيَتْ تَلْبِينَةً تَشْبِيهًا لَهَا بِاللَّبَنِ فِي بياضها ورقتها وَقَالَ بن قُتَيْبَةَ وَعَلَى قَوْلِ مَنْ قَالَ يُخْلَطُ فِيهَا لَبَنٌ سُمِّيَتْ بِذَلِكَ لِمُخَالَطَةِ اللَّبَنِ لَهَا وَقَالَ أَبُو نُعَيْمٍ فِي الطِّبِّ هِيَ دَقِيقٌ بَحْتٌ وَقَالَ قَوْمٌ فِيهِ شَحْمٌ. (فتح الباري شرح صحيح البخاري)

Al-Asma’i said it is a soup made from flour or bran. Honey is added to it. Another said, or milk. It is called Talbina because it resembles milk in its whiteness and thinness. Ibn Qutaybah said, according to those who said it is mixed with milk, it was called it (Talbina) due to the milk mixing with it. Abu Nu`aym said, in al-Tibb, that it is pure flour. Some said that it contains fat. (Imam Ibn Hajr al-Asqalani 852H, Fath al-Bari).

Why does it help

Some commentators explained that Talbina helps with sorrow and depression because it removes hunger, which will inevitably make one feel better. Others mention that since Talbina is light and nutritious, it will be easy to consume and maximize benefit. It is possible that there is something specific about the ingredients too.

الْجُوع يزِيد الْحزن وَأَن التلبينة تذْهب الْجُوع. (عمدة القاري شرح صحيح البخاري)

Hunger increases sorrow, and Talbina eradicates hunger. (Imam Badr al-Deen al-Ayni 855H, Umdatu al-Qari).

Conclusion

Undoubtedly Talbina is a Sunnah food for depression and sorrow. It is recommended to give it to those suffering from grief or sadness. However, there is some discussion regarding its nature and ingredients. Some said it is barley water. Whereas most scholars seem to agree that it is a milk-based dish.

Thereafter there is a discussion regarding the ingredients of the milk-based dish. All seemed to agree that it contains flour and milk. Some mentioned honey too and others mentioned fat.

The Hadith also mentioned eating Talbina with Tharid. Although this is not necessary for the benefit, it certainly is preferable. Tharid is bread in meat stew. It is also a Sunnah food.

And Allah Most High Knows Best.

Answered by Shaykh Noorud-deen Rashid (10.07.24)