If someone gives you a plant to take care of. How do you think you will do it? Wouldn't you try your best not to let that plant die? And of course, to do that you are going to make sure that all the things that plant need, you provide it and keep it away from all the harmful things. At the same time you will try to find out about the basic elements that plant is consisted of and the basic things those elements need to grow properly. Believe me or not but all of us have one, very delicate and at the same time very strong tree to take care of given to us by our Lord. Allah (SWT) has given us this tree that is planted in our hearts, called "shajarat-ul-Iman" (Tree of Iman).
Allah (swt) describes that tree in Quran: "Have you not seen how Allah coined a similitude (of parable) a good word like a good tree, the root of that tree is firmly established in the ground and the branches reach the heavens." At another place in Quran Allah (swt) said: "(this particular tree by the permission of its Lord), gives fruits (all kinds of fruits) anytime Allah (swt) wants it to give fruits." Allah (swt) also said: "Allah coin similitude for the human beings (for you and I), so that perhaps we may reflect (we may think)."
Science say there are trees in other plants than earth. Allah (swt) created seven heavens and earth other than this planet. Some people say that there are trees and some say there are not. There is proof in Quran and Sunnah that there are trees in Jannah (heaven). One of them is called "Toobaa", the tree for the "ghurab'a" (strangers). The shade of that tree is a month's journey and this is where the believers will take their clothes. The Most Important Tree in this World: is the Tree of Iman (shajarat-ul-Iman). The tree that Allah (swt) has planted in our hearts. The tree that we all should be worrying about day and night. We all must know what that tree of Iman is made of so that we can take good care of it.
What Does the Tree of Iman Have?
Almost all the trees that Allah (swt) has created/originated, almost all of them have three very basic things:
1. Root (O'rooq) - The roots of the most important tree on this earth are:
a) Knowledge (I'lm)
b) Certainty (Yaqeen)
The tree of Iman is the basic belief of Islam. "La ilaha illal lah" "There is nonoe worthy of worship except Allah (swt)" So the root for us of the Tree of Iman, is the KNOWLEDGE of the meaning of "la ilaha illallah". It covers every single aspect of our life. When we know that there is none other then Allah (swt), we totally surrender to Him alone and we take everything that He gave us through the Quran and the Sunnah of Rasul of Allah (saw). The other half of the root of this tree is the certainty, meaning the certainty of everything what "la ilaha illallah" brings. When implementing Islam in our lives, or when accepting a matter which we were not aware of before, we should do it with firm belief and certainty, as long as it is from the Quran and the authentic Sunnah of Rasul and his companions.
2) Trunk: (Saaq) - The tree of Iman, like the other trees, also has a trunk, which is Purity of Intention: (al-Ikhlas). We must have the purity of intention for our tree to be firm and unshakable and immovable. Abdullah Ibn Sahl at-tuzkuri (ra) (scholar from the taba'een) was asked: "What is al-Iman?", he said: "Iman is statement, is action, is Niyyah (intention) and is Sunnah. If it is a statement without actions then it is Kufr (disbelief), if it is a statement and action with out intention then it is Nifaq (hypocrisy), if it is a statement, action and intention without the Sunnah, then it is Bid'ah (innovation)." To keep a healthy trunk of our tree, we must have a pure intention of our actions. Our every righteous deed is divided into two parts. The first half of a righteous deed is the purity of intention. The Niyyah must be pure for the pleasure of Allah ONLY!
3) Branches & Fruits: This tree should also have branches and fruits. And these are:
a) Righteous deeds
b) Honorable/Noble Character
At several places in Qur'an, Allah (SWT) has distinguished the people of Jannah from the people of Hell as Indeed those who believed and did righteous deeds. Those who believed and did righteous deeds have also been given the glad tidings of Jannah at several places in Qur'an: Every righteous deed consists of two parts. The first part is the purity of intention (for the sake of Allah only!). Second half of the righteous deed is that the action has to be in conformed to Shari'ah (Qur'an and Sunnah of Rasool (SAW) and the Companions (RA)). If the action is not conformed to Shari'ah, it is not considered a righteous deed! When a tree has firm roots and healthy trunk and branches, it automatically produces good fruits. Similarly, when we establish firm roots of Iman in our heart and keep a healthy trunk and branches of the tree the fruits will prosper. If we have the knowledge of our Deen and certainty of whatever knowledge we have, and we do righteous deeds with pure intentions, we will automatically develop an honorable and noble character.
Things that will Make Our Tree Die:
1) Kufr: If we allow Kufr to come into our tree, it will destroy the tree.
2) Shirk: If we allow shirk to come into our tree, it will also destroy the tree.
3) Bid`ah: If we allow Bid`ah (innovations) of all types to come into our tree, it will destroy our tree. Our tree will become yellow, our tree will become dry and our tree will eventually die!
We nowadays are involved in so many "religious practices" thinking that they are pleasing Allah (swt), though in reality they are getting themselves involved either in Bid`ah or sometimes even to the extant of shirks. Muslims, intentionally or unintentionally, either add or remove stuff from how a certain act was originally practiced by our pious predecessors and hence making it a Bid`ah. And since the act was not practiced according to the "Shari'ah", it will not be considered a righteous deed. To avoid from getting ourselves involved in these dangerous things, it is extremely important to have the "knowledge" of the Deen and to refer back to our pious predecessors in every single thing we do or say.
What is Al-Iman?
1) Belief: Iman is a belief in our hearts. It is to have a firm belief of "la illah illallah" in our hearts and all of the things that it brings. Every thing that we find from Qur'an and Sunnah, we must have a sincere and firm belief on that without having any doubts.
2) Statement: Iman is a statement by our tongue. We must state "la illaha illallah" by our tongues. Meaning what ever believes we have, we cannot just keep them in our hearts, but we must say them out.
3) Actions: Iman is to carry out our beliefs and our statements by our bodily limbs.
After believing in "la illaha illallah" and stating it, we must imply it in our actions. And the way we imply "la illaha illallah" in our actions is by modifying our every action and deed according to the Qur'an and Sunnah of Rasool SAW and our pious predecessors. A general example of the above could be wearing Hijab. If one has a firm belief in Allah (swt) and whatever He revealed, will definitely believe that wearing Hijab is a command of Allah and it is mandatory. Then only believing is not enough, we must have to admit by stating by our tongues the fact that Hijab is necessary and inform other people about it in a nice pleasing way (not in a displeasing or complaining manner). But still our Iman is not completed until we start wearing it ourselves. To think that Iman is in our hearts only is one of the tricks of Iblis (Satan). We shouldn't be fooled by the Shaytaan (Satan) of the Ins wal Jin (Humans and Jinns) by thinking that Iman is in our chests only and as long as we have a firm belief, our Iman is completed Rather we HAVE to show our believes by our statements and by our actions.
Highest and Lowest of Iman: Rasool of Allah (saw) said: "Iman has 70 branches. And the highest of al-Iman is the statement "la illaha illallah" (It is the most sublime, the most magnificent and the most superior of all Iman). The lowest of the Iman is to remove some harmful thing from the street. And modesty is a part of al-Iman."
Iman Wears Out: We all go through high and low levels of Iman. As Rasool of Allah told us: "al-Iman wears out in each and everyone of you and me like a "thaub" (garment) wears out (like our clothes wears out...and they become shabby eventually. Iman wears out like that "thaub"). So Rasool of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) advised us (since our Iman wears out) "So all of you Muslims, should ask Allah (swt) to RENEW the Iman in our hearts."
By Umm Abdullah from a lecture by Dawud Adib