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Thursday, 9 September, 1999, 18:37 GMT 19:37 UK
Message from Allah 'in tomato'

Two messages appeared when the tomato was cut open
Hundreds of Muslims are flocking to a small terraced house in West Yorkshire to see a tomato which they believe carries a divine message from Allah.

Housewife Shabana Hussain, 27, found the Islamic scripture while she was preparing a meal for her family.

She chopped a tomato in half, and bismillah, or Allah, was written in Arabic in the veins. The other half of the vegetable said la illaha illala, or There is no God but Allah.

"I was shocked and surprised," she said. "Now word has got out about the tomato and hundreds of people have called in to see it."

Muslims in a Bradford mosque were shown the scriptures in the tomato
Mrs Hussain and her husband Imdad, who have four young children, are now expecting more visitors to their home in the Girlington district.

"It's very clear," said Mrs Hussain. "Everyone has been able to make the message out."

Mr Hussain told BBC News Online he was "delighted" with the find.

He said the Imam (cleric) from his local mosque confirmed the scriptures were written in the tomato, and that word of it had spread very quickly.

"We have been inundated with people," he said. "We made the discovery on Tuesday, and still had people coming to see it on Thursday at midnight."

'No harm in eating it'

Explaining its religious importance, Mr Hussain said: "As Muslims we believe that God, or Allah, created everything, and we know that God can do anything.

"This is a sign of his strength and guidance."

When asked if he would consider eating the tomato, he said: "Of course not. Although there would be no harm in eating it.

"It has been suggested that it would be good for someone who was ill, to eat something that had been blessed by God. That would be a good thing to do with it."

Preservation query

He said he wanted to be able to keep the tomato for as long as possible, but had ruled out putting it in the freezer because that would "turn it to water".

"At the moment, we are keeping it in the fridge, and I have rung Leeds University food sciences department to see if there is any way of preserving it," he said.

This is not the first time that objects of religious significance has been found in humble pieces of food. In 1997, a "nunbun" in Nashville, Tennessee was found in a coffee shop.

The cinnamon bun bore a striking resemblance to Mother Teresa, and hundreds of people queued to see it, before it made an appearance on a American chat show.

Away from the kitchen, a Virgin Mary statue in southern Italy was found to weep tears that looked like vegetable oil in 1997.

And two years earlier, pilgrims flocked to the town of Civitavecchia, near Rome, where there were claims of another Madonna weeping blood.

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