“Have you not considered how Allah presents an example, [making] a good word like a good tree, whose root is firmly fixed and its branches (high) in the sky? Producing its fruit all the time by the permission of its Lord. And Allah presents examples for the people that perhaps they will be reminded.” (Surah Ibrahim:24-25)
Reviving Iman (Faith):
Within this example we find secrets, knowledge and cognition that conform to the Wisdom and Knowledge of Allah. For example, since a tree must have roots, a trunk, sapwood, branches, leaves and fruit – the tree of man and Islam must have similar elements so that the likened is exactly what it is likened to. The sapwood is knowledge, understanding and certainty, its trunk is sincerity, its branches are deeds; and the fruits are guidance, good manners and a good character. Knowing how firm and well established this goodly tree is in the heart, can be noted through these elements.
When a person’s knowledge is sound and based upon the Qur’an, his belief matched what Allah and His Messengers informed us about Him; his heart is sincere and his actions conform to the Commandments of Allah – his manner and characteristics conform to these fundamentals. It becomes evident that the roots of the tree of man in is heart are firmly fixed with its branches reaching up to the sky. On the other hand, in the case that is opposite to the aforementioned example, one will realise that it is an evil tree that has been planted in the heart. A tree that is without stability, uprooted from the earth, and deprived of water and such trees as we know, cannot survive and will eventually dry up and perish.
This is the clear example of the tree of Islam within the heart of a believer. It must regularly be watered with good and beneficial deeds, and it must be protected and strengthened by accustoming it to the remembrance of Allah, and contemplation upon His Book; otherwise it may become dry and lifeless. In the Musnad of Imam Ahmad, on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, RadhiAllahu Anhu, that the Messenger of Allah, SallAllahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, said, “Iman in the heart is torn as a garment is torn, so revive your man.”
The Good Plant
Generally speaking, when a plant is not being looked after, it will eventually dry up and die, which explains why the salves (of Allah) are in great need of acts of worship that He Commanded them to perform in the day and at night. It is from His Mercy, His Benignity and Grace upon His slaves and He Legislated such acts of worship, which are the water that irrigates the plants of Tawhid that He placed within our hearts. It is also common for alien and harmful plants to mix within the beneficial crop. Thus, when the one in charge of these crops tends to look after them regularly and purifies them of these intruders, they will grow healthy and yield large and beneficial harvest. However, when the person in charge of these crops becomes neglectful, they will be overtaken by weeds and harmful plants and as a result, the crops will be impared, and the fruits will be damaged. Those who lack clear understanding and knowledge of these matters will miss many profitable gains without even realising it. That said, the believer is always pruning and watering this plant so that it is everlasting, and he uproots all other harmful plants and weeds from its surroundings to assure its healthy growth. And in Allah we place our trust.
These are just some of the secrets and wisdom contained within this magnificent example, which may be just a drop in the ocean as we comprehend but a little from the secrets of Allah due to our state of mind, weak hearts, deficient knowledge and deeds that necessitate the seeking of forgiveness. For indeed, if our hearts were purified, our minds were clear, our souls were in order and our deeds were performed with sincerity and devotion, we would have derived many remarkable meanings and wisdom from the Words of Allah; wisdom that overshadows all other intellects. This comparison illustrates for us the elevated and blessed level of knowledge and understanding of the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them all, because the difference between their knowledge and understanding and that of the people who came after them is as vast as the difference between their virtue and that of the people who came after – and Allah knows best, the places to which He allocates His Grace and to whom He favours with His Mercy.