Fruits of the Qur’an (Part-2)
It is mentioned thrice in the Qur’an – in Surah VI: 99, Surah VI: 141 and in Surah LV: 68.
The pomegranate which is a deciduous shrub or small tree –Punicagranatum– is native to South West Asia, but is cultivated widely in tropical and subtropical areas. The round leathery, reddish yellow fruit contains numerous seeds that can be eaten fresh or made into wine.
One of the oldest semitic representation of life and abundance was the multi-seeded fruit of pomegranates. King Solomon had an orchard of the fruit and the pillars of his temple were decorated with carvings of pomegranates. In Babylon, it was served at wedding feasts and it played a similar role as a symbol of love and fertility in the FarEast. The fat ripe fruits were thrown on the floor of the bridal chamber so that the seeds burst from their smooth skins. Centuries later, Prophet Muhammad (saws) claimed another virtue for the pomegranate. He said that eating the fruit would banish envy and hatred.
There is only one reference of fig under the name of teen but this lone mention has great significance. Throughout history, the fig has played an important role in mythological tales. Adam and Eva covered their nakedness with fig leaves and it is thought that the Tree of Enlightenment that grew in Buddha’s garden may have been the bo or sacred fig. In Latin myth, the fig was held sacred to Bacchus, god of wine, and was used in many religious ceremonies. It was also regarded by the Romans as a badge of prosperity because it grew over the wolf’s cave where Romulus and Remus, Romes legendary founders were found.
It is one of the earliest trees cultivated by man. It formed the simple diet of the Greeks. In Southern Asia, the leaves, bark and the fruit are sacred religious objects.
The fig, Ficuscarica, is perhaps native of Syria, Palestine and Egypt where it is seen wild as well as under cultivation. Its average height is about 30 feet and produces fruit twice a year. These are produced only on such trees where the insect – the fig-wasp – is present. In the absence of these wasps, fertilization is not possible and, hence, no fruits. In any new area where fig plantation is started, these fig-wasps are transported.
Fig fruits are members of the genus Ficus of the family Moraceal (mulberry family). This large genus contains some 800 species of widely varied tropical vines (some of which are epiphytic); shrubs and trees, including the banyan, the peepul (or bo-tree), and the Indian – rubber tree. It differs from other genera in that the hundreds of tiny female flowers are borne on the inside of a syconium, a fleshy fruit-like receptacle with a small opening at the apex. It has been bred and cultivated from early times for its commercially valuable fruit and has been naturalized in other parts of the world that have a mild, semi-arid climate. Edible varieties (Smyrna being the best) is pollinated by the fig-wasp (Blastophaga) which passes its larval stage inside the edible fruit of wild variety called the caprifig. In order to produce mature fruit, the cultivated, variety is subjected to a process called caprification; flowering branches of caprifig are hung in the tree so that the emerging wasps will transfer caprifig pollen to the edible fig. After entering the receptacle and laying its eggs, the wasp dies and its body and eggs are absorbed by the developing fruit; only the eggs lead inside the caprifig fruit survive. The ripe fruit contains masses of tiny seeds is soft and pear-shaped; it may be greenish, yellow to orange, or purple in colour.
It is a highly nutritious fruit. Since it does not contain any fibre persons recovering from illness are specially advised to take it. Apart from about sixty percent of sugar, it contains appreciable amount of citric acid, molic acid and several inorganic salts. An important enzyme, ficin is also present in it. It is a wholesome fruit and is easily digested. Medicinally it is very effective in removing the gravel in the kidney or the bladder and also helps in the removal of the obstruction of the liver and spleen in sub-acute cases. The fruit is also given as a cure for piles and gout. It is also beneficial in infantile liver. In one of the Hadeeth, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) advised patients suffering piles to eatfig regularly. Eaten fresh or dried it has laxative properties.
Abdullah Yusuf Ali cites: “Under cultivation, it can be the finest, most delicious and most wholesome fruit in existence in its wild state; it is nothing but tiny seeds and is insipid and often full of worms and maggots. So a man at his best has a noble destiny, at his worst, he is the ‘lowest of the low.’ Christ is said to have cursed a fig tree for having only leaves, and not producing fruit (Matt. ΧΧI: 18-20), enforcing the same lesson. There is also a parable of the fig tree in Matt. ΧΧI: 32-35, as well as in Jeremiah ΧΧIV: 1-10.”
VI. Plantain or Banana: Talh
Mentioned only once in Surah al-Waqiah(v. 29), there seems to be a suggestion of “the banana tree of which the fruit is in bunches, one tier above another; but the banana tree does not grow in Arabia and its ordinary name is mauz. It is better to understand a special kind of Acacia tree which flowers profusely the flowers appear in tiers one above another.” (Abdullah Yusuf Ali)
VII Lote Tree: Sidrah
The name ‘Sidrah’ occurring in Qur’anic Aayat 34: 16, 53: 14, 33: 16 and 56:28 is, generally, identified as the Lote tree. In Aayah 34: 16, the name ‘Sidrah’ is used in its literal meaning. In Aayah 56: 28 its use is allegorical which is suggestive of security and comfort of heaven. In this Aayah also literal meaning is relevant.
The word ‘Sidrat-ul-Muntaha’ mentioned in Aayah 53: 14 and the shrouded Sidrah mentioned in Aayah 53: 16 have been discussed separately
As to the identification of the ‘Sidrah tree’, in these two Aayat 34: 16 and 56: 28, the commentators are almost unanimous that it is the Lote tree. A little reflection, however, will show that identification is not appropriate and, perhaps, not correct. In Surah Saba,’ there is mention of the inundation of Maarib dam as a punishment for the back-sliding of the inhabitants of Yemen. Maarib dam of Yemen was built a few centuries after Prophet Sulaiman and queen Saba. The country was amply irrigated and was the most fertile part of Arabia. The first breach of dam, most probably occurred in the second century of the Christian era. The kingdom of Saba was largely devastated. The great dam completely collapsed in the sixth century of the Christian era, a few decades before the advent of Islam. As a result of these great catastrophes, the flourishing ‘Garden of Arabia’ was converted into a waste. Wild trees producing bitter fruits, replaced luscious fruit trees. Says the Qur’an,
“And we sent against them the floods (released) from the dam and We converted their two gardens into garden producing ‘Khamat’, ‘Asl ’ and ‘SidrinQalee’l.” (Qur’an 34: 16)
The Qur’an has mentioned three species of trees which, having long strong trunks, escaped the devastation caused, and survived (survived the floods as well as endured the aridity as the consequences of the floods). These were:
Tooth brush trees, [Shajr-ul-Miawak i.e. (SalvadoraPersica),]
Sidrah cannot be identified as Lote tree of the genus Ziziphus, (or jujube) for the simple reason that it has no resilience to withstand and survive the floods. Moreover, Ziziphus plants are found on tropical region and not in hilly regions, whereas the occurrence of Sidrah in the cool climate of the hilly areas of Yemen 4000 feet above sea level is mentioned.
Taking into account the characteristic of Ziziphus or any of its species, Sidrah can easily be identified as cedar (CadrusLibaniLovd) which is a cone-bearing tree of the Middle East. CedrusLibani is a very tall tree reaching a height up to one hundred and fifty feet with a trunk up to eight feet in diameter. Sidrah, because of its strength, withstood the floods and, because of its deep roots, survived it. According to the Qur’an the flourishing garden of Arabia, after the flood was converted into a waste, the fruit bearing tree were replaced by plants like ‘Khamt’, ‘Asl’ and ‘SidrinQaleel’ (few stunted cedar trees).
Cedaris a cone-bearing, and not a fruit-bearing, tree. In the reference to the name ‘Sidrah’ in the Qur’an, there is no identification of the existence of its fruit. Furthermore, in none of theAayat of the Qur’an, one finds the mention of ‘Sidrah’ along with other fruit-bearing tress namely date, olive, fig, grape and pomegranate. All these fruits and fruit bearing trees have been mentioned together several times in many Aayat, but in none has ‘Sidrah’ been clubbed with them. Thus, it is evidently clear that by mentioning ‘Sidrah’, Allah (swt) has actually emphasized the beauty, strength and grandeur of only the tree and not the fruit.
“It is interesting to note that Cedar is known in Arabic as Sahjr-ul-Allah or Shajr-ul-Rab and the allied species, CedrusDeodra found in the Himalayas, is known in Sanskrit and Hindi as ‘deodar’ which means the wood or tree of God.. The Qur’anic ‘Sidrah’ is most likely the Cedar of Lebanon and to relate it with the Lote tree seems to be a historical misunderstanding which has perpetuated to this date in the prevalent local names of the plants.” (Abdullah Yusuf Ali).
In 56: 28, ‘SidrinMakzud’ is, generally, rendered as thorn-less Lote trees. According to Mujahid and Zuhak, however, the word Makzud applies to a tree which is so laden with its produce that it is bent down. MaulanaAbd-ul-Majid Daryabadi has also offered this meaning. The grandeur of Cedar tree laden with its cones (like water pots) is more appropriate as a symbol of bliss and of high heaven than the ‘thorn-less Lote tree.’
Refer Surah Saba’:Verse 16.
“…The Lote tree belongs to the family Rhamnaceae,Ziziphus Spina Chirist, of which (it is supposed) Christ’s crown was made, allied to theZyziphusJujuba, or Ber tree of India. Wild, it was shrubby, thorny and useless. In cultivation it bears good fruit, and some shade, and can be thornless…”[‘Ali, Abdullah Yusuf, The Holy Qur’an – English translation and the meanings and Commentary, KSA, pp. 1279 – 80, n. 3814]
“… The wild Lote is thorny; under cultivation it yields good fruit and shade, and is symbolic of heavenly bliss…”[‘Ali, Abdullah Yusuf, The Holy Qur’an – English translation and the meanings and Commentary, KSA, p. 1638, n. 5093]
“… The Companions of the Right hand! (They will be) among Lote-trees without thrones…” [Surah al-Waqi’ah, vv., 27-28]
Fruit of the Hell-Fire
“…The tree of Zaqqum? For we have truly made it (as) a trial for the wrong doers. For it is a tree that springs out of the bottom of Hell-fire: the shoots of its fruit-stalks are like the heads of devils: truly they will eat thereof bellies therewith.” [Surah al-Saffat, vv. 62-65]
…as also Cursed Tree (mentioned) in the Qur’an… [Surah Isra’il, V. 60]
“The tree Zaqqum, a bitter and pungent tree described as growing at the bottom of Hell, a type of all that is disagreeable…The application of the name of a tree of the Myrobalan kind in the region of Jericho is, I think, of post-Qur’anic date. It is trial for wrong-doers…”[‘Ali, Abdullah Yusuf, The Holy Qur’an – English translation and the meanings and Commentary, KSA, pp. 795-6, n. 2250]
“Verily the tree of Zaqqum, will be the food of the sinful, – like molten brass, it will boil in their insides, like the boiling of scalding water.” [Surah al-Dukhan, vv. 43-46]
“The opposite of ‘delicious fruit’ is the terrible tree of Zaqqum…”[‘Ali, Abdullah Yusuf, The Holy Qur’an – English translation and the meanings and Commentary, KSA, p. 1527, n. 4722]
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