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April 18, 2005

Reflections on Spring, Part I

“He brings forth the living from the dead and brings forth the dead from the living, and gives life to the earth after its death, and thus shall you be brought forth.”
–Surah al-Rum, verse 19
(and you thought Surah al-Rum is only good for the marriage ayahs… tsk tsk)

Spring has to be my favorite season. Not only does the weather get warmer and vacation from school gets closer (or if you’re like me, you’re already on break… suckas), but it’s one of the times of the year that even the most apathetic person can see change and growth around them. It is a time when one sees the trees blossoming into life, nurtured by the sun and the rain, the two parents who give birth to their innumerable children that are scattered in the earth. From the earth there shall burst forth a variety of fruits (such as cherries… can’t wait till June), each of them similar in their origin, yet different in their end product: “And in the earth there are tracts side by side and gardens of grapes and corn and palm trees having one root and (others) having distinct roots– they are watered with one water, and We make some of them excel others in fruit; most surely there are signs in this for a people who understand (13:4)” It is a time when all that was dead is once again alive by the mercy of their Lord. It is a time of infinite possiblities, not only with nature, but even with certain baseball teams that are like young saplings in the spring, hoping to blossom into gigantic oaks that bedazzle the eyes of onlookers come fall.

Three things come to mind when I reflect about spring:

The first is that this is simply a marvelous time of the year to witness. If one thinks back to a few months ago and remembers how dead and lifeless the trees were, and how it seemed that nature itself was devoid of the spirit of life. A stranger to our planet may have looked at such a sight and remarked, “How will these dead trees return to life? They have not even a trace of life apparent.” And yet, no matter how many springtimes one may witness, the rebirth of that dead tree is an amazing site: seemingly overnight, the buds of life appear as a testimony that life indeed exists in that tree–it was present the entire time, though it may not have been apparent to the casual onlooker. The amazing part about all this is that it demonstrates one of the greatest powers of God: the power of rebirth and resurrection. It is He who brings back that dead tree to life–and this is a parable for the same process that is to take place in the children of Adam. Just as He effortlessly restores a dead wood with life and it blossoms into a bustling forest, He can and will do the same to us.

One of the biggest problems that the Jahili Arabs had with accepting the Prophet (salallahu `alayhi wa sallam) and Islam was the concept of resurrection. They could not fathom that a lifeless corpse, rotted away with the passage of time, could ever be brought back to life–their belief was “…and nothing shall destroy us except time (dahr)“. The Qur’anic assertion in an eschatology, particularly one that emphasized the nature and reality of a resurrection was impossible for them to accept. They would remark, “…What! when we shall have become bones and decayed particles, shall we then certainly be raised up, being a new creation?“. And Allah’s response to this was: “Say: Be you stones or (even) iron, Or some created thing that is yet greater in your thoughts! Then they will say: Who shall bring us back (to life). Say: He Who created you the first time! Then will they shake their heads at thee, and say: When will it be? Say: It will perhaps be soon; a day when He will call you and ye will answer with His praise, and ye will think that ye have tarried but a little while.”  Looking at the rebirth of nature in the spring, the parallel nature of our own spiritual journeys is quite apparent. I think springtime serves as yet another reminder as to the imminency of death… but perhaps more importantly, the incontrovertibility of a final resurrection to stand before God.

The second thing is that the trees themselves are such amazing signs that are present all around us and yet we never consider their significance. Just as all of creation is in worship to God, the trees are in perpetual qiyam before Allah. Shah Rafi’uddin wrote that our salaat (prayer) is so amazing in that it combines the forms of worship of the rest of creation; the qiyam portion of prayer mirroring the form of worship given to trees by Divine prescription. Moreover, they understand the dual nature of their existence before God–not only is it a personal worship and relationship with the Creator, but also a desire to contribute to one’s environment as a physical manifestation of that relationship. Trees are perhaps the epitome of this: taking one of our waste products (carbon dioxide), benefiting from it, and giving us something of benefit (oxygen). And amazingly, unlike human beings, they never complain. They know their duties and they silently set out to achieve perfection in their tasks. I think Mawlana Rock (aka “The Rock”) said it the best: “Know your role and shut your mouth.” Seriously, if people followed this wisdom, the world would be a much nicer place to live in.

Anyway, I got sidetracked… and my statement that trees never complain is somewhat inaccurate. They do complain… about certain things, as mentioned in the famous story wherein the Prophet would stand in the shade of the date-palm to deliver his sermon, and when it became time for the prayer, he would leave the tree to move to lead the prayer. And then the date-palm would audibly cry out (ta`innu) as the Prophet would leave it; Hasan al-Basri wrote that this dead wood cried in the absence of the Prophet… and we don’t cry in his absence from us.

Oftentimes we consider our tarrying in this world to be the most important thing in the universe. It’s quite humbling to think that there are trees, such as sequoias, that have been around for hundreds of years, silently and perpetually continuing their worship–and continuing to just exist. Perhaps they look at our self-prescribed importance we afford to our lives and silently laugh at our follies and such buffoonery.

The incomparable Imam al-Busiri wrote in the Burdah about how the trees and their relationship with the Prophet:

The trees answered his call, prostrating
Walking towards him on shins without feet
It is as though lines of writing were written
With their branches, calligraphically writing of his perfection
Like the cloud, following him wherever he went
Sheltering him from intense heat, (as if) of an oven in the scorching summer.

Bottom line: trees are better believers than most human beings. Seeing as how the spring is a time wherein trees are reborn, one ought to take a few moments to reflect on and follow this arboreal example.

Part II to follow later, inshallah, since people complain that my posts are too long… buffoons.



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  1. Anonymous permalink

    im too lazy to read this post….
    but sure its eithet inspiring/funny/or somthin…

  2. mashAllah kr, keep this kind of stuff coming
    oh, and mashallah on this:
    4/1/2005… lol.

  3. good post.  saqib should add ‘spring’ to his things that are underrated post

  4. Good Post. “Most surely there are signs in this for a people who understand.”The reminders are countless, but our eyes are blind. Subhan’Allah.

  5. inspiring….as usual

  6. Anonymous permalink

    asalaamu alaykum wrwb,
    very cool. I was just talking to my baba this morning about spring, trees, cellulose, Subhanallah stuff. spring is great, Indian chem teachers are a lot nicer too.

  7. Anonymous permalink

    Asalamualaikum,good post mashaAllah. i was just complaining about how its too hot now a days and that i prefer cooler times cuz all these weird peeps keep themselves semi covered…but after reading your post i was like hmmm i should nto complain about these things…anyways. props.

  8. Anonymous permalink

    The palm tree hadith is awesome.

  9. Anonymous permalink

    Stop posting up your Khutbah’s here. Thats an unfair advantage, just cuz your religious doesnt mean you should get eprops for it.

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