The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) once said to the companions:"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" [Bukhari] . When nobody could answer, he let them know that it is the palm tree. This may seem odd, but Allah (swt) gives us the explanation in a parable in Surah Ibrahim:
“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. ۞ And the example of a bad word is like a bad tree, uprooted from the surface of the earth, not having any stability. ۞ Allah keeps firm those who believe, with the firm word, in worldly life and in the Hereafter. And Allah sends astray the wrongdoers. And Allah does what He wills.” [14:24-27]
This is how the Muslim should be. Always bringing benefit to those around us. The scholars have explained that the “good word” referred to in the verse is the kalima - that there is no God but Allah (swt), the foundation upon which Islam is built. The verses continue and discuss how a “bad word” is like a bad tree, this is often understood to be any negative trait someone may have (but some scholars specify it to mean disbelief) and the bad tree would be similar to a specific cactus tree found at the time of the Prophet (ﷺ) in Arabia that provided zero benefit. Afterward, the verses discuss how the benefits of the “good word” is not only limited to this life but also the next by providing steadfastness, in the same way a palm tree does not waiver in the wind and can withstand all the elements.
When we apply all of this to the verses and compare our Islam to a palm tree, it all comes together:
- The conviction in the oneness of Allah (swt) provides us with a strong and solid foundation just like the roots.
- Once our belief reaches conviction, then it becomes action and helps us rise above all odds just like the branches.
- We are in turn able to benefit all of those around us regularly, without fail just like the fruit.
- We are also able to hold steadfast and firm in the face of corruptness and evil therefore we are unaffected by the difficulties of this life and our own whims and desires just like a palm tree in the face of the harshest winds.
So we should ask ourselves, after reading the above verses: Am I a Palm Tree?