Quran Journey Series – Reflections on Quranic verses – II

Jul 18th, 2013 | By | Category: Quran Journey Series, Religion

datepalmIn the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

“See you not how Allah sets forth a parable? – A goodly word as a goodly tree, whose root is firmly fixed, and its branches (reach) to the sky (i.e. very high).

Giving its fruit at all times, by the Leave of its Lord and Allah sets forth parables for mankind in order that they may remember.” (14: 24-25)

One of the most powerful and profound metaphors in the Quran: the upstanding tree firmly rooted in faith. I have always imagined the goodly tree to be a date-palm, perhaps because of this Hadith narrated by Umar (R.A): The Prophet (sallAllahu alayhi wasallam) said,

“Amongst the trees, there is a tree, the leaves of which do not fall and it is like a Muslim. Tell me the name of that tree.” Everybody started thinking about the trees of the desert areas. And I thought of the date-palm tree but felt too shy to answer. The others then asked, “What is that tree, O Allah’s Apostle?” He replied, “It is the date-palm tree.”

Sahih Bukhari, Book of Knowledge, Hadith #58

The date palm reaches out to the sky, standing tall and erect with its single branch-less trunk that goes straight up- somewhat like the spiritual pursuit of the Muslim seeking the Majestic Face of his Lord. The trunk is wedged, as if to aid the feet of the climber, the seeker of the sweetness higher up. Climbing up the date-palm is like walking the Steep Path which Allah mentions in Surah Balad, verses 11-14.

“But he has made no effort to pass on the path that is steep. And what will make you know the path that is steep? (It is) Freeing a neck (slave, etc.) Or giving food in a day of hunger (famine)…” (90:11-14)

The ascent is laborious and arduous, but the end is the sweetness of Eeman.

As the Hadith as well as the original verse mention, the date-palm is evergreen: bearing fruit in all seasons. Like the Muslim (submitted one) who remains steadfast in faith and is a consistent doer of good whether the going is tough or whether the circumstances are in one’s favour: creating for himself a win-win situation out of everything. As the Prophet (SAW) said,

“How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for his affairs are all good, and this applies to no one but the believer. If something good happens to him, he is thankful for it and that is good for him. If something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience and that is good for him.” (Narrated by Muslim, 2999).

Faith enables us to bear fruit no matter what ground we’re planted in, no matter what season it is: springtime or fall. For the energy comes from the inner treasure of faith, not from a salubrious external environment. The Muslim’s khayr (goodness) is not seasonal or conditional or time-bound.

The date-palm grows in the desert, in arid waterless lands. It promises nourishment, comfort and shade to the wearied desert dweller and the wayfarer. Its deep roots enable it to reach water that is not easily accessible. Its deep roots give it firmness, making it stand tall in the scorching barren desert under the blazing skies.

The date-palm grows in clumps, in community: life-giving oases in the wastelands. It marks the presence of water, beckoning the traveller and the seeker towards itself with hope and the glad tidings it exudes by its very existence. It is a place of refuge: energizing, revitalizing. In all this are traits of the believer. When Maryam (A.S) was in pain and distress, Allah gave her refuge, rest and comfort under the date-palm:

“And shake towards yourself the trunk of the date-palm  it will let fall on you fresh, ripe dates.” (19:25)

It is the deep-rootedness that makes its branches reach higher up. Just like connection with your origin and essence, your history and genesis- that is, Allah who we come from- makes us mindful of our direction and purpose, fuels our journey onward and blesses us with spiritual elevation and moral uprightness. It is by looking back that we go forward. It is by being poised in the ethos of our existence (the fitrah) that we make the circle of life whole.

And at the apex of its journey, the highest point, the slender branchless trunk springs into a rich profusion and luxuriance of deep green leaves, at the core of which lies the hard-won prize, the fruit of labour: the date that is enriched with healthful, delectable sweetness: like the sweetness of eeman engendered over the long years of struggling in His way unifocally, with fear and with hope; and the sweetness of Allah’s Pleasure and reward that awaits us at the long journey’s end.

Maryam Sakeenah

About the author

Maryam Sakeenah teaches Sociology, Literature and Islamic Studies in Lahore, Pakistan. She authored a book documenting Islamic and Oriental responses to the Clash of Civilizations thesis. Maryam is also a social worker running an organization providing free virtual primary education for the poor.

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  1. Weight Gain: Dates are said to be a part of healthy diet. They consist of sugar, fats, proteins as well as many essential vitamins. If the dates are consumed with the paste of cucumber, one can easily come out from the problem of over-slimming. One kilogram of dates contains almost 3,000 calories. These calories alone are sufficient to meet the daily requirements of a human body.

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