As Islam is the Deen (Religion, Way of Life) for those seeking eternal success, it must have both teachings which are Eternal and those which are applicable in our daily lives. Islam’s Truths are capable of providing guidance, nourishment, and stability for all human beings at all times.
Since Islam is the all-encompassing Truth, it may be helpful for us to set up a simple model to help ease its complexities into our grasp. In the Qur’an, Allah has spoken many times of trees; both special trees He has created, and as parables to understand ourselves and His Truth. Allah Most Exalted has told us of trees in Paradise, and of a tree called Zaqqum which is rooted deep in hell and will add punishment to its inhabitants. He showed Rasulullah s.a.w. a special Tree that lies at the farthest barrier on the night of al-Isra wal Mi’raj. And there are many other examples in the Qur’an.
A tree is really a beautiful thing, appreciated by human beings for its colors, its seasonal changes, its movements, its shade, and its fruits. Trees are found everywhere the sun shines, come in many forms and sizes, and have been both subjects and objects in art and literature since people existed. There was a tree present when Adam a.s. made his choice to disobey Allah, and eat the fruit which had been forbidden. Trees have their birth, growth, and death right alongside us. We look at them everyday ! Aren’t there reasons for this ? Does Allah do anything in vain ?
A tree that will be healthy and grow strong will be planted in soil that is rich and open enough to receive life-giving water. It will send-out far-reaching roots to give it stability, and deep roots to seek nourishment. From this underground feeding system, it grows a solid central body that supports its higher adornments, and channels resources from its depths to its heights. The trunk thickens and strengthens with time, showing rugged signs of its past injuries and failed attempts. Beyond the trunk, it begins to branch in seemingly random, but always sun-seeking directions. Its leaves draw more power from above and give shade to those below. The colorful and wholesome fruits provide delight, sustenance, and the seeds of new life.
Many Muslims yearn for the fruits of Deen. Collectively, we want to be adorned in the grandeur of our lost civilization (both Islamic civilization and Western civilization). Individually, we need to be presented by our Judge with the crown of salvation. But those only arrive with maturity, growth, and toil. Our soil must be worked and broken-up. It must be saturated with Iman and Taqwa, Ikhlas and Naseeha. The nutrients are H7ubb, Khushu’, and useful ‘Ilm. The tools provided are Dhikr, Fikr, Shukr, and Sabr H7at il-Qabr. The toil is ‘Ibaada, Da’wa, Tawba, and Zuhud. The growth is through attempt, failure, bruises, and Istiqaama through the storm. [this is translated below] The root of all of Islam, good deeds, good character, and other fruits is Iman, and Iman requires effort.
NOTE FOR RECENT CONVERTS: Upon entering Islam, our primary objective is to acquire, strengthen, and maintain our Iman. This is a lifelong effort, so don’t be all-in one day, and all-out the next ! Faith-strengthening efforts include being in the company of good people, reading the Qur’an, remembrance of Allah, supplications, learning about Allah and the Hereafter, learning about Rasulullah s.a.w. and his Companions, and perfecting our Salah.
[translation: “It [the soil] must be saturated with Faith, Piety, Sincerity to Allah, and Well-wishing for others. The nutrients are Love, Humility, and useful knowledge. The tools provided are Allah’s Remembrance, Reflection, Gratitude to Allah, and Patience until the grave. The toil is Worship, Calling towards Allah, Repentance, and Abstention from worldly matters.”