Thursday, August 24, 2006

Overcoming Allah’s Tests: Understanding the Parable of a Beautiful Tree

Here is something I wrote that could possibly be of benefit to you random blog readers...instead of my very very random posts :) Allah, Glory be to Him, says in the Quran: "Do men think that they will be left alone on saying, 'We believe,' and that they will not be tested? We did test those before them, and Allah will certainly know those who are true from those who are false" (Quran, 29: 2-3). By virtue of being created as human beings, we will be tested. We will be thrown into countless trials, into situations that may arise unpleasant and awkward, and into times of difficulty when it seems as though there is little reason to hope. Tests will come at us from every direction; events will test the very core of our character and the strength of our beliefs. And these are the tests we cannot afford to fail. And Allah, Glory be to Him, has not left us empty-handed. Building our knowledge and our characters as Muslims is the only way to overcome the mild to the severe trials we will face every day until we die. He says: "Have you not seen how Allah has given the parable of a beautiful word like a beautiful tree whose roots are firmly established, and whose branches tower in the sky? It gives its fruits at all times by the permission of its Lord, and Allah sets forth parables for mankind in order that they may remember" (Quran, 14: 24-25). A "beautiful word" in this verse refers to the Islamic statement of belief: la illaha ill Allah (there is no being worthy of worship except Allah). And the verse goes on to refer to a beautiful tree, which illustrates the character of a believer. According to this verse, a believer is one whose Iman, or faith, is unwavering and firmly established. He or she cannot be swayed from the straight path by the winds of trials, no matter how fierce the storm. Knowing and believing that there is no being worthy of worship except Allah, Glory be to Him, and following His commandments provides a believer with the stability and confidence he or she needs to succeed. A believer's branches also "tower in the sky" like that of the beautiful tree. By this analogy, a believer's Iman cannot remain hidden. A Muslim cannot claim to have Iman solely in the heart while not having it show in his or her actions. Contrary to that, Iman is something so significant that by its nature, it must be seen by anyone who looks at or interacts with a Muslim. Your Iman raises you up to a higher moral level, just as the braches of the beautiful tree reach upwards towards to the sky. These verses also mention that this tree that is compared with a true believer "gives its fruits at all times by the permission of its Lord." The tree of Iman is ever fruitful, unlike a real tree that only gives fruits at certain times of the year. Your faith and your belief in la illaha ill Allah sustains you night and day, in every season, during times of ease and times of great hardship. This is the parable of the believer whose good deeds never take a vacation – they are continuous throughout the day and the night. The chapter goes on to say "And the parable of an evil word is that of an evil tree uprooted from the surface of earth having no stability" (Quran 14: 26). An "evil word" in this verse refers to disbelief. The verse describes the powerlessness and volatility of disbelief – it has no basis and he or she who disbelieves has little stability in life. The trials and difficulties of life can easily uproot such a person.

May Allah, Glory be to Him, make us be of those who are firmly rooted in their beliefs.
Islamic history is riddled with examples of Muslims who withstood tests that would seem unimaginably difficult today. The Muslims of the past had an abundance of patience and perseverance which are two important traits of this beautiful tree of Iman. Two Muslims who were of the most firmly rooted of believers were Sumayyah and Yasir, may God be pleased with them. After being among the first Muslims and agreeing to accept Islam in a very tumultuous period, Sumayyah and Yasir along with their son Ammar were tortured mercilessly at the hands of Abu Jahl. The family was left unprotected since they had no tribal affiliations in Makkah. Unable to physically help them at the time, the prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, would visit them and say, "be patient, O family of Yasir, because your promised place is Paradise." He would then turn his face to the sky and say: "O Lord! Forgive the family of Yasir." The prophet also prayed for the alleviation of Ammar's suffering by placing Ammar's head in his lap and saying: "O fire! Be cool and harmless for Ammar in the same manner in which you became cool and harmless for Ibrahim." Sumayyah and Yasir were both martyred in the cause of Allah, Glory be to Him, after refusing to leave their faith which was dearer to them than life itself. The family was honoured with the best of honours: the prophet's guarantee of their home in paradise. These are the examples we should take as guides to our own lives. Too often do we compromise what we believe in to accommodate the uneducated assumptions of others. Too often do we forget the immense history of Islam and Muslims. One of the reasons we have the gift of Islam is because we stand on the shoulders of people like Sumayyah and Yasir, may Allah be pleased with them. People who did not waver, did not compromise their Iman to please others or even to save their own lives. Just like in our Islamic history, our strength as a community and as individuals today can only stem from the remembrance of and obedience to Allah, Glory be to Him. These times are difficult and the pain often hits close to home. But by holding fast to our belief in la illaha ill Allah , we will stay firmly rooted, our branches will tower high towards the sky, and our hearts will never lack sustenance, InshaAllah. Sources: Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Volume 5


Faraz said...


JazakAllah-khair for that. I wrote about that ayah (kalimatin tayyibatin... a few months ago. A scholar was mentioning how the root of the tree is the kalima (as you said), which branches out to produce fruits, which are our good actions and Islamic images. He was saying that a tree which doesn't produce visible fruits must have something wrong at the roots. With this, he challenged the frequent statement that, "I've got Islam in my heart, that's what counts. I don't need a beard/hijab/kufi/whatever to prove what's in my heart."

Basically, if your imaan is not producing those fruits of imaan, then there's clearly a deficiency in the imaan.

olde woman said...

Assalamu aleikum,
Jazakillahu khairan for your well-presented, Iman-developing, hope-seeding article. A superb example of spreading the light of knowledge you've learnt, explaining it beautifully and teaching it kindly. InshaAllah we will ground ourselves in the roots of Taqwa, spread the branches of Ihsan, and reap the fruits of Iman.

Al-Hajeji said...

asalamu alaykum wa rahmat Allah...

that was well presented, beautiful!

Squeeky said...

Assalaamu Alaikum :)

la illaha ill Allah

Ameen to your du'a. Asmaa, I want to hug you for such a beautiful entry! Subhana'Allah, we all need to be aware of this.

Y said...

SubhanAllah !

May Allah make us all firm in our Iman...Ameen

JazakAllah Asmaa . . . nice post

Anonymous said...

Jazakallah so much. Beautifully written. Oh how I miss Light of Guidance *heart crack*.

Nusaybah said...

Yes, indeed that was a beautiful post (I didn't read it because it was too long) but I happened to scan enough of it to know that it is a very nice post. MashaAllah.

Squeeky, that is quite nice that you would like to give her a hug for her "beautiful post", but believe me, she would either push you away or not return it to you. Just thought I'd let you know incase you were about to enter any severe danger, such as, maybe if you attempted to hug her on top of a cliff, then...let's not continue that conclusion.

Pakistani84 said...

Jazak Allah... May Allah give you the reward

kimya said...

Assalamu alaikum!

Ma'shallah this piece is so beautifully presented, in concept and its lingering message.. I am a Muslimah with an ardent love for trees and so a friend sent this to me via email, referencing this blog as secondary source. Alhamdulillah, may the fruits of our labours in Imaan, be filled with the sweetness of Allahs Love.

Thanks for sharing/