“Like a Good Tree”
Our life is a journey of change. Nothing we experience in this life is permanent; rather every situation is temporary and simply transforms into another. These consistent experiences are reminders of the temporary nature of this life – that everything in the dunya(world, this life as opposed to the afterlife), by its very nature, is meant to change. Every ease and hardship that we face does not last forever. Allah (swt) says,
“And these days [of varying conditions] We alternate among the people.” (Qur’an 3:140)
If we think back to the deep truth conveyed in this verse, we will find that this is, indeed, a reality that we experience daily. Allah (swt) tells us that, throughout our lives, we will always experience circumstances that will challenge us, change us, and cause us to reflect upon our response to each. With the justice of Allah (swt), these conditions alternate among mankind so that no one person experiences constant happiness while another experiences constant hardship or sadness.
For a believer, it is even more imperative to be aware of these alternating conditions in life and to have a proper attitude towards them so we can derive benefit from every situation and aim to please Allah (swt) through them. So what behaviour should a submitter to Allah (swt) hold through this ever-changing life?
“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? It produces its fruit all the time, by permission of its Lord. And Allah presents examples for the people that perhaps they will be reminded.” (Qur’an 14:24-5)
Allah (swt) presents an example of the ‘good word’, which is the statement of faith [‘There is none worthy of worship except Allah, and Muhammad (saws) is His Messenger’] that it is like a ‘good tree’ which has certain qualities. According to many of the scholars of tafseer (exegesis), the ‘good tree’ with its specific qualities is a reference to the believer who affirms the statement of faith.
Narrated Ibn `Umar that the Prophet ﷺ said, “There is a tree among the trees which is similar to a Muslim (in goodness), and that is the date palm tree.” [Bukhari]
Allah (swt) informs us that this tree is not ordinary; rather it is a strong, firm tree whose roots extend deep into the Earth. Likewise, the believer needs to work to have his ‘roots’ deeply and firmly established by having a strong connection with Allah (swt). Salah (the five daily prayers), recitation and pondering upon the Qur’an, and seeking guidance in the Seerah (story) of the Prophet (saws) are excellent ways to establish and strengthen our roots. The branches of this tree are described as being really high, as if they’re reaching far into the sky. One of the benefits of the branches is that it provides shade to those under it, and to the believer.
In addition, a tree that has the aforementioned qualities has to be mature, having gone through the process of growing up to reach such a height, strength, and firmness of foundation. And such is the believer—he does not have super-strong imaan overnight. He goes through the process of growing his imaan (faith) and, little by little, it eventually strengthens. As the tree requires constant rainfall to grow and mature, the believer requires constant ‘watering’ of his heart to cultivate the growth and strengthening of imaan. As the tree can only grow with pure water, such is the heart of the believer which demands pure substances to penetrate it for proper nourishment.
Lastly, this tree is not dry without any benefit, as Allah (swt) says that it constantly produces fruits and benefits its environment regardless of the weather or season and it does so by the permission of its Lord. Likewise the believer who establishes his roots and matures in his imaan becomes a source of benefit at all times to those around him. The tree gives its fruits consistently – in rain or shine, wind or thunder, summer or winter. It is steadfast and patient through all the different seasons and situations it encounters throughout its life due to the qualities it has acquired and embellished. This is what the believer aims to do as well, to remain connected to Allah (swt) throughout the seasons of life.
Connecting back to how our lives are constantly experiencing changes, we can now answer the initial question: what behaviour should a submitter to Allah (swt) hold through this ever-changing life? He must hold firm in his roots and stand tall, he must constantly seek to water his heart with what is pure in order to strengthen his roots and soul, and he must finally aim to be of constant benefit to his environment and to those around him.
If we aim to instill these qualities within ourselves, the constant changes within our lives will cease to be a source of distress; rather they will transform into sources of strength and will define us and in turn become causes of closeness to Allah (swt).
As the Messenger (saws) said, ‘Strange are the ways of a believer, for there is good in every affair of his and this is not the case with anyone else except in the case of a believer for if he has an occasion to feel delight, he thanks (God), thus there is a good for him in it, and if he gets into trouble and shows resignation (and endures it patiently), there is a good for him in it.’ [Muslim]
Tip of the Month
We all have various brilliant noteworthy ideas, dreams and ambitions we spend a lot of time mulling over, varying from money making/saving schemes, to learning a new surah, to cleaning ones room/house, to maybe even redecorating… but struggle to see the fruits of these because we do not plan.
If you desire something, but have no realistic plan to obtain it, you are wasting valuable time just thinking about it. A lot of us are guilty of doing this.
There is a famous saying I was reminded of recently, ‘those who fail to plan, plan to fail’.
If you want to be successful in life, it should go without saying that it is very important to plan…Plan for everything.
If you are constantly coming up with bright ideas but have never actually seen them through, you are most definitely lacking in the planning department. Take control. Get yourself a notepad and pen and start writing.
Ask yourself, ‘What do you need to accomplish this?’ ‘What resources do you have already?’ and ‘How long will it take realistically?’
You will only know how important something is to you once you start to plan for it. It doesn’t matter how little or big the idea/dream/ambition is, you are one step closer to accomplishing it in -sha-Allah by starting a plan of action.
If you want something badly (seriously) enough, you need to start with a little planning to make it easier to digest and in-sha-Allah accomplish.
The Messenger of Allah (saws) said: “There is no wisdom equal to good planning.” [Mishkat]
An elderly lady was well-known for her Iman and for her confidence in talking about it. She would stand in front of her house and say Alhamdulilah– ‘Allah be praised’ – no matter who passed by.
Next door to her lived an atheist who would get so angry at her proclamations he would shout, “There ain’t no Lord!!”Soon, hard times came upon the elderly lady, and she prayed for Allah to send her some assistance. She would pray out loud in her night prayer, “Oh Allah! I need food!! I am having a hard time, please Lord, PLEASE LORD, SEND ME SOME GROCERIES!!”
The atheist happened to hear her as she was praying, and decided to play a prank on her.
The next morning the lady went out on her porch and noted a large bag of groceries and shouted, “Alhamdulilah, Allah be praised!”
The neighbour jumped from behind a bush and said, “Aha! I told you there was no Lord. I bought those groceries, God didn’t.”
The lady started jumping up and down and clapping her hands and said, “ALHAMDULILAH WA SHUKRILLAH! He not only sent me groceries, but he made the devil pay for them!”
Stairway to Heaven
By Farah Abduz-Zahir
soothing, inspiring, connecting
to some hidden electron’s
In some inner recess
Listening. Smile plays on lips
chest heaves and inhales
blessed blessed air
made fragrant with the sounds
of this recitation
suspended in sound waves
that permeate every alveolar crevice
suffuses into blood and traverses the body
crossing the blood-brain barrier
entering the mind
in a thousand ways
every sense alive.
But True Life.
What my breath and my being and my inside world was
created to receive
What those doors to the outside
rejoice to let through
The words of the Creator
my Beloved’s speech,
the kindest gentlest words
Envelopes and enlightens the humbled one
Standing through long nights
Blessed night of power.
Oh the stars tremble
and the Universe a tremor
Did you feel it?
That resonation with your heart strings?
– aGalaxial roar!
The Creator’s speech
came down, through seven heavens and beyond
One pure reality.
One perfect perfection.
My soul, one ranged in rank
of rank upon rank upon rank
and rank and file and more and more
all across the globe
This human kind
United to hear
Once more the speech of its Maker
‘We bear witness’!!
Now I remember…. now I recall.
– comes back from the recess of my memory
That was formed before a synapse in my brain
From before I was a drop of despised fluid
I bear witness.
No wonder the earth moved under my feet
for a split second
the time-space continuum breached
I would cry…but I am transfixed
My Lord, I have come
I am coming home.
My Lord, I recall now. I know my way
Life-amnesia has dissipated
some dense fog that gathered ground
since the day I was breathed in to the fetus
it has been settling.
Oh what loss, now I know
for a moment it moves aside
And I glimpse
Light upon Light
The Light of my home
That lamp is burning bright
In a book, on a pedestal
in words in my memorization
in script in decoration
in friends who speak it
in mother who teaches it
in an Ummah who lives it
In the Messenger who brought it – may God illuminate his soul!
A thousand veils of darkness I amassed about me
each moment of every hour I pay no attention
The human created weak and forgetful
I wallow in contrition,
Only strong knowing my weakness before you My Lord
Only honored knowing my humility before you My Lord
So I survive
this arduous journey
that will be gone in a blink of an eye
but never seems to end.
Haqq and Iqra
In the name of your Lord who Created
Home is calling
Home is calling
Listening, these words…calling me home, ah home is calling
peaceful place where I used to be… reminders of it emerge
like some beautiful phantom out of smog
and beckon me back.
Only you know my start and end my Lord
My Lord without start and without end. You are constant peace
Pure True Loving Light
Fount of Original Eternal Compassion
Oh back to You I want to fly
Back to where I belong
The words keep calling,
reminding, reminding, reminding.
- What occurs four times in every week, twice in every month, but only once in a year?
- When did Chicago begin with a ‘C’ and end with an ‘E’?
- Mary has a big one, Jemima, two but small. William has but one behind. Poor John has none at all! What are we talking about?
- I can touch you but you can’t touch me. Although I have no wheels, wings on sails, I can take you on a long journey. And sometimes you can see me best with your eyes closed! What am I?
- What sits in the corner and travels all over the world?
- In China, what are bird’s nests mostly used for?
Answers (Please Put in inverted position on a different page)
- The letter ‘E’
- CHICAGO has always begun with a ‘C’ and END has always begun with an ‘E’!
- The letter ‘M’.
- A Story.
- A postage stamp.
- Birds mostly use them
The Joker and the Blind Boy
As Narrated by Shaikh Khalid Rashid
This is a true story about a man named Rashed. He tells his story as follows…
I was not more than 30 years old when my wife gave birth to our first child. I still remember that night, I stayed out all night long with my friends, as was my habit. It was a night filled with useless talk. I remember I made them laugh a lot on that particular night. I had an amazing ability to imitate others, as I could change the sound of my voice until I sounded exactly like the person I was mocking. No one was safe from my biting mockery, even my friends; some people started avoiding me just to be safe from my tongue!
I remember on that night, I had made fun of a blind man who I had seen begging into the market. What was worse, I had put my foot out in front of him, he tripped and fell and turned his head around not knowing what to say, I went back to my house late as usual, and I found my wife waiting for me.
She was in a terrible state, and she said in a quivering voice, ‘Rashed…where were you?’
‘Where would I be, on Mars?’ I said sarcastically, ‘With my friends of course!’
She was visibly exhausted and holding back tears, she said:
‘Rashed, I am so tired. It seems the baby is going to come soon.’ A silent tear fell on her cheek. I felt that I had neglected my wife. I should have taken care of her and not stayed out all those nights especially since she was in her ninth month.
I quickly took her to the hospital; she went into the delivery room, and suffered through long hours of pain. I waited patiently for her to give birth but her delivery was difficult, and I waited a long time until I got tired. So I went home and left my phone number with the hospital so they could call with good news.
So they called to congratulate me on the birth of Salem as soon as they saw me, they asked me to go see the doctor who had overlooked my wife’s delivery.
“What doctor?” I cried out, “I just want to see my son, Salem!”
“First, go see the doctor,” they said.
I went to the doctor and she started talking to me with sadness. I was shocked to know that my son had a serious deformity in his eyes, and it seemed that he had no vision. I remembered that blind man begging into the market who I tripped and made the others laugh at. SubhanAllah, you get what you give! My wife wasn’t sad; she believed in the decree of Allah, she was content. How often she had advised me to stop mocking others!
No, she did not call it mocking but backbiting, and she had all the right. In reality, I didn’t pay much attention to Salem. I pretended that he wasn’t in a home with us, when he started crying loudly, I’d leave to the living room to sleep there. My wife took good care of him and loved him dearly, as for myself, I didn’t hate him but I couldn’t love him either.
My wife celebrated when he started to crawl. When he was almost two years old, he started trying to walk and we discovered that he was (also) crippled, The more I’d stay away from him, the more my wife would love and care for him, even after the birth of Umar and Khalid
The year passed…
With a group of friends I had, I was like a toy at their disposal (entertaining them whenever they wanted) in reality, I thought the other way around, My wife never gave up on my reform. She always made dua’ for guidance. She never got angry with my reckless behaviour… but would become really sad if she saw me when I was neglecting Salem and paying attention to his brothers!
Salem grew. I didn’t mind when my wife asked to enroll him to a special school for the handicapped. I didn’t feel the passing of the years. My days were all the same. Working, sleeping, eating and hanging out with my friends…
Until that day…
Friday, I woke up at 11am. This was early for me; I was invited to a gathering, so I got dressed and perfumed and was about to go out. As I passed by, I was startled by the sight of Salem while he was sobbing! This was the first time I had noticed Salem crying since he was a baby.
Should I go out or should I see what is bothering him?
I said, No! how can I leave him in this position?
‘Salem, why are you crying?’ I asked.
When he heard my voice, he stopped crying, he started feeling around him, what was wrong with him I thought, I discovered that he was trying to move away from me!
It was as if he was saying, ‘Now, you’ve decided to Notice me? Where were you for the past 10 years?’ I followed him… He had gone into his room.
At first, he refused to tell me why he had been crying. I tried to be gentle with him as I knew what was wrong. His brother Umar, the one who used to take him to the Masjid was late and because it was Jumuah prayer, Salem was afraid he wouldn’t find a place in the first row. He called out to his mother, but nobody answered so I put my hand over his mouth as if I was saying “Is this why you were crying, Salem!”
Then I cried “O Salem…
I don’t know what made me say this, “O Salem, don’t be sad… Do you know who’s going to take you to the Masjid today?”
‘Umar, of course,’ he said, ‘I wish I knew where he went’
“No, Salem” I said, “I’m going to take you.”
Salem was shocked, he couldn’t believe it. He thought I was mocking him. His tears came and he started crying. I wiped his tears with my hand then took hold of his hand. I wanted to take him to the Masjid by car. He refused and said,
‘Father, the Masjid is near. I want to walk there for every step I take is accounted.’
I couldn’t remember the last time I had entered the Masjid and the last time I made Sujud, It had been the first time that I ever felt fear and regret! Regret for what I had neglected during the long year that had passed. The Masjid was filled with worshippers, but I still found a place for the Salem in the first row. We listened to the Jumuah Khutbah together, and I prayed next to him. After the prayer, Salem asked me for a Qur’an. I was surprised. How was he going to read when he was blind?
I almost ignored his request, but I decided to humor him out of fear hurting his feelings. He asked me to open the Qur’an to Surah al-Kahaf, I did what he wanted, he took the Qur’an from me, put it in front of him and started reading the Surah…
Ya Allah! He had memorized the whole Surah.
I was ashamed of myself. I picked up a Qur’an
I felt my limbs tremble…I read and I read.
I asked Allah to forgive me and guide me. This time I was the one who cried.
I cried out of sadness and regret for what I had wasted.
The only thing I felt was a small hand reaching out to my face and wiping the tears away. It was Salem wiping away my tear! We went back home. My wife was extremely worried about Salem, but her worry turned into tears [of joy] when she found out I had prayed Jumuah with Salem. From that day on, I never missed the congregational prayer in the Masjid. I left my bad friends and I made righteous friends among people I met at the Masjid.
I tasted the sweetness of Iman with them. I learned things from them that distracted me from this world. I never missed out on gatherings [halaqas] of remembrance, or on the witr prayer I would recite the entire Qur’an several times in one month. And I was the same person that left it for years …
I moistened my tongue with the remembrance of Allah, that He might forgive my backbiting and mocking of people, I felt closer to my family. The looks of fear and pity that had occupied my wife’s eyes disappeared. A smile now never parted from the face of my son Salem, anyone who saw him would have felt that he owned the world and everything in it.
I praised and thanked Allah a lot of His blessings.
One day, my righteous friends decided to travel far for Dawah, I hesitated about going. I prayed istakharah and consulted with my wife. I thought she would refuse, but the opposite happened! She was extremely happy and even encouraged me. I went to Salem, and told him I would be traveling. He wrapped me up in his small arms and if he could’ve he would’ve kissed my head. After that, I put my trust in Allah; began with the process and Alhamdulilah everything went well.
I was away from my home for three and half months. In that period, whenever I got a chance I would call my wife and speak to my kids.
I missed them so much, and oh how I missed Salem!
I wanted to hear his voice, he was the only one who hadn’t talked to me since I left. He was either at school or at the Masjid whenever I called them. Whenever I called my wife, I would tell her to kiss him and give him my Salam. She would laugh happily, joyfully, except for the last time I called her.
I didn’t hear her expected laugh. Her voice changed. I said to her, “Give my Salam to Salem,” and she said,‘InshaAllah.’
At last. I went back home. I knocked on the door. I hoped that it was Salem who would open up for me but was surprised to find my son Khalid, who was not more than 4 years old. I picked him up in my arms while he squealed, ‘Baba! Baba!’
I don’t know why my heart tensed when I entered home. I sought refuge in Allah from the accursed Satan. I approached my wife, there was something that had changed, I inspected her closely then noticed it was the look of sadness she had on years ago, it was back on her face.
“What is bothering you?” I said,
‘Nothing’ she replied,
Suddenly, I remembered Salem. “Where’s Salem?” I asked.
She lowered her head. She didn’t answer. At that moment, I only heard the sound my Son Khalid made… (a sound) that still rings in my ears till this day.
He said: ‘Baba, Salem went to paradise with Allah’
My wife couldn’t take it. She broke down crying and left the room. Later, I found out that Salem had contracted a fever two weeks before I returned. The fever became more and more severe and didn’t leave him until his soul left his body…
I felt like what happened were trials and a test from Allah, the Glorified and Exalted. I still feel his hand wiping my tears. And his arms wrapped around me… How sad did I become for Salem, the blind crippled One…
He was not blind!
But I was blind! When I befriended a company of poor friends…
And Salem was not crippled for he stood on the right path!
I still remembered what he used to say… “Verily Allah possesses infinite Mercy”
Salem… the one whose love I was once abstained from now I discovered I loved him even more than his brothers…
I cried a lot…
… and still I am sad (till this day)!
How can I not be sad?
For my guidance was upon his hands!
[Allah guided Rashed through Salem]
“O Allah accept from Salem through your Mercy!”
Narrated by Shaikh Khalid Rashid