The Lote Tree
is not an actual tree on Earth, but a mystical Islamic metaphor
concerning the uppermost boundary in knowledge a human being can possess concerning God
. It comes from the Qu'ran
chapter 53, An-Najm (The Star), verses 10-18 and alludes to Muhammad
's night journey from Mecca
and then through Heaven
. "The Lote Tree of the farthest boundary," as it is called, is believed to be the farthest anyone can travel in Heaven in their approach to God; beyond this none can pass. The following are the Quranic verses from which this term is derived (Qur'an 53:10–18
10 So did Allah convey the inspiration to His Servant (conveyed) what He (meant) to convey.
11 The (Prophet's) (mind and) heart in no way falsified that which he saw.
12 Will ye then dispute with him concerning what he saw?
13 For indeed he saw him at a second descent,
14 Near the Lote-tree beyond which none may pass:
15 Near it is the Garden of Abode.
16 Behold, the Lote-tree was shrouded (in mystery unspeakable!)
17 (His) sight never swerved, nor did it go wrong!
18 For truly did he see, of the Signs of his Lord, the Greatest!
The following is an excerpt from a non-Quranic Sufi
narration of the Prophet's encounter with the Lote Tree. Sufis narrations do not follow the strict method of evaluation developed by early Muslim scholars in determining the veracity of reports attributed to Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him
. Thus its authenticity is disputed in contrast to authenticated hadeeth
The Prophet and Gabriel traveled once more until they reached the absolute limit of the created intellect, named sidrat al-muntaha: "The Lote-Tree of the Farthest Boundary." There they saw nothing which the tongue could describe. The effect of the sight they beheld on the Prophet is a secret which took place in his heart. A sound came to them from above which dissipated some of the Prophet's astonishment. At that time he saw a large tree which does not resemble any of the trees of Paradise, a tree without description, covering all the Paradises, heavens, and universes. The trunk of the Tree was a huge angel named Samrafil. The Prophet could see nothing else besides it. It grew from an infinite, unimaginable, indescribable ocean of musk. The tree had an infinite number of branches, created from a heavenly element that has no name in a created language. The distance between one branch and another was five hundred thousand light-years. On every branch there was an infinite number of leaves. If all the created universes were placed on a single one of these leaves they would disappear, like an atom disappears inside an ocean of water. On every leaf sat a huge angel in a multi-colored light. On his head was a crown of light and in his hand a staff of light. Written on their forehead was the inscription: "We are the inhabitants of the Lote-Tree." Their praise was: "Praise be to God Who has no end." Their names are the sarufiyyun or Seraphim, "The Secret Ones," because they are created from the absolute secret of their Lord.
(The preceding excerpt was taken from: http://www.naqshbandi.org/library/angels/angels_13.html