Islamic Greenism – Why Prophet Muhammad Loved Trees

In the name of God, entirely Compassionate, especially Merciful. Peace be with you. As I mentioned previously, there are a number of ecolo...

In the name of God, entirely Compassionate, especially Merciful. Peace be with you.

As I mentioned previously, there are a number of ecological catastrophes occurring across the Muslim world today: deforestation, flooding, desertification, pollution, starvation, mass consumption and obesity as governments and the people themselves become estranged from the way of the final Messenger of Islam, who taught us to follow the middle path of balance (Arabic: Mizaan) and self regulation.

Some Muslims seem unconcerned with this situation, stating that the dunya (this world) is temporary and doomed to destruction in the end in any case. A Hadith (Prophetic saying) often quoted to support his notion is when Prophet Muhammad, may Allah be pleased with him said: “I am in this world like a rider who halts in the shade of a tree for a short time, and after taking some rest, resumes his journey leaving the tree behind." [Ahmad, Tirmidhi]

But does this Hadith tell us that this world is irrelevant, useless or worthless? If the world is like a tree in the desert under which we shelter for a bit and then move on, then sure, we do not intend to live under it forever. But a tree is a resting place, offering shade to the traveler. Shade is one of the many benefits trees offer. Shade itself is referred to in another well known Hadith in which Prophet Muhammad describes seven types of people who earn the most needed shade on the Day of Judgement; shade under the throne of God.

Shade is clearly both symbolic of and an actual expression of the mercy of Allah most high. Hence the parable of the world (Arabic: Dunya) as a tree under which we stop to rest for a while, does not imply that it is worthless. The implication is that others will pass along after us and if we cut it down, it won’t offer shade them. If we forgo destroying that tree, so that others could take shade under its canopy, surely that is a charitable act, and will be rewarded for it. Indeed, in reference to charity (Arabic: Sadaqah) and trees, the Prophet Muhammad, Allah's peace be upon him said the following:
"If a Muslim plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, it is regarded as a charitable gift (sadaqah) for him." (Bukhari)
“Whoever plants a tree and diligently looks after it until it matures and bears fruit is rewarded,” (Musnad)

Trees give shelter from wind and clean the air, filtering out dust, preventing the schifting of dessert sands, take in carbon dioxide, breath out oxygen and raise humidity, which helps cloud formation.

Trees cycle nutrients, providing habitat for insects, birds, reptiles and all kinds of living creatures of untold forms and numbers; from the fungal networks, which trade in minerals and sugars with the plant roots in the soil, to predatory bugs which prey on sap sucking aphids in the tips of the branches; each is a nation unto its own. Subhan’Allah! (Glory be to God)

And Prophet Muhammad left real life examples of this. As a boy he travelled to Syria with his uncle Abu Talib, and the very tree that sheltered him is still there today!

“Fourteen hundred years later that same tree was discovered still alive in the northern deserts of Jordan. The only tree alive in hundreds of square miles of emptiness. This tree is a link to the life of the Prophet and a place of pilgrimage today…” (Muhammad - His life on the earliest sources, Martin Lings)
So trees are an expression of the mercy and generosity of Allah: they dispense many forms of provision (Arabic: Rizq); fruit, fodder for animals, wood as fuel and building material, pollen for bees and many other non timber products useful to man. Furthermore, trees build soil fertility and prevent erosion. They catch the rain and guide it into the ground, recharging aquifers and reducing both floods and droughts.

Abdurrahman McCausland has been running two Permaculture courses in Jordan at the PRI Greening the Desert Site and in Marrakesh Organics, including the Islamic Mu’amalat (Economic systems of Sunnah).
+ Public Domain Images


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