• Maulana Wahiduddin Khan

Spiritual Lessons from the Tree.



Surah Ibrahim



A verse in Surah Ibrahim says: “Do you not see how God compares a good word to a good tree? Its root is firm and its branches are in the sky, it yields its fruit each season with its Lord’s permission, God makes such comparisons for people, in order that they may take heed.” (14:24-25)

Fitting into God's cogwheel: The Creator has provided various factors in the environment for the tree to grow and mature. For example, sunlight, CO2, water, fertile soil. It utilizes these factors to transform from a tiny seed into a fully-grown flourishing tree. We can describe this phenomenon in our language by saying that this is an example of the tree fitting its wheel into God’s wheel. We all have seen how cogs or cogwheels function: it is a wheel with many teeth which fits into another cogwheel and then they function in coordination. We need to understand and adopt this principle. Our focus must be on fitting our wheel into God’s cogwheel. We too need to recognize and utilize the opportunities that God has made available for us. For example, the present age we live in is one in which peace is considered power. We have several opportunities available to use peaceful means for our development. But if we overlook all this. And instead take to violence to achieve our goals, we will not be fitting our wheel into God’s wheel. And the result will be that we will be destroyed as God’s wheel is far more powerful than ours. We have to identify what opportunities God has provided, what laws He has set for the world and work accordingly and not contrary to them. Silent consolidation. We see that in the winter trees shed their green leaves. Gradually, the tree is reduced to dry wood. But then a silent process works within the tree and when spring comes, we see a vibrant lush green tree growing from the remains of plain dry wood. In this, there is symbolic lesson for us. When you feel something is taken away from you unjustly, work harder, and gradually you will be able achieve far more than what had been taken away from you. There is no point in initiating movements of injustice, directed at venting our anger and vexation at others. Because this will mean depending on others to determine the course of your life. Rather a person must always focus on his own inner being, consolidate himself from within. And very soon you will discover that you have regained your life. Art of conversion: The process of photosynthesis is a very famous process used by the leaf. The leaf gathers together water, CO2, minerals. A substance called chlorophyll in the leaves then takes in sunlight to convert this mixture into carbohydrates or food, which is transported throughout the tree. Here we can see that the tree takes everything from the environment and converts it into nourishment for itself. This is the art of conversion. In doing so, every tree gives a silent message to us: Learn the art of conversion. Make the whole world a global source for your personality development. Take material events and extract spiritual food for your soul. But there is a difference here. A seed grows automatically, following the law of nature. Humans, however, are required to develop their personality by their own efforts. This requires conscious planning. Such a person will convert even material loss into spiritual gain. A person who has this mindset will not, for example, regret if he incurs material loss. Rather it will make him come closer to God and realize the ephemerality or the temporariness of this world. It will set his eyes on the Hereafter. He will be able to utter special words of prayer: ‘O God, I lost in this world but don’t make me lose in the Hereafter.’ ‘O God, Convert the loss of this world into gain of the other world.’ Negativity to positivity. This is a great principle we need to adopt. We will get not only positive elements from our environment, we will also get unwanted and undesirable. We will have to develop the ability to change that to positive and use it for our advantage. Everything to be converted to one’s advantage. For example, if someone says something that goes against what you think, then enter into a discussion with him and thus increase your own intellectual development. It may help you re-assess or review your understanding or even help you strengthen or confirm your point of view.

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