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Periwinkle18
09-01-2012, 05:20 PM
NeverShed Your Leaves

The believer is like a tree, always at war with the wind. To survive thewind, the tree must possess certain qualities. For example, its seed must beplanted in fertile soil that allows it to grow strong. This is described in theQur'an:
{"Muhammad is theMessenger of God, and those with him ... their description in the Gospel islike a seed which sends forth its shoot, then makes it strong, and it becomesthick and stands straight on its stem, delighting the sowers, so that He mayenrage the disbelievers through them ..."} (al-Fath, v. 29)
And here is that description in the Gospel referenced in the above verse:
"The sower went outto sow his seed, and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it wastrampled under foot, and the birds of the air ate it up. Other seed fell onrocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away because it had nomoisture. Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up with it andchoked it out. Other seed fell into the good soil and grew up, and produced acrop a hundred times as great ...

Now, the parable is this: the seed is the Word of God. Those beside the roadare those who have heard, then the Devil comes and takes the Word from theirheart so that they will not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky soil arethose who, when they hear, receive the Word with joy, and these have no firmroot: they believe for a while, and in times of temptation, fall away. The seedwhich fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they goon their way, they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of life,and bring no fruit to maturity. But the seed in the good soil, these are theones who have heard the Word in an honest and good heart, hold it fast, andbear fruit with perseverance.
" (Luke 8:5-15)
So, the heart is likened to fertile soil in which a seed is planted. Ibnal-Qayyim likewise said, in 'al-Fawa`id' (p.70): "The soil ofone's natural state is fertile, accommodating whatever is planted in it. If thetree of faith and God-conciousness is planted, it will bring forth an eternallysweet fruit. If the tree of ignorance and desires is planted, all its fruitswill be bitter."

So, when you make your heart fertile for the seed of faith, that tree will growstrong and bear sweet fruit. The particular methods of making your heartfertile will be discussed later.

At this point, an angry wind will blow in your direction, because as theaforementioned verse notes, the strong tree will "enrage thedisbelievers." Nothing infuriates this wind more than a strongMuslim. This has been a reality since ancient times. When Pharaoh was huntingProphet Moses and his followers through the deserts of Egypt, he specificallycomplained:

{"They are a small gang, and they have enraged us! "} (ash-Su'ara',v. 54 -55)

This wind will try to uproot you and knock you down. You will look around atthe other trees, and you may find that some of them easily snapped and fellover, uprooted from the force of the wind. These are the hypocrites, whose weakroots are finally exposed:

("A filthy word is like a filthy tree, uprooted from the Earth'ssurface, having no stability."} (Ibrahim, v.26)

And the Prophet Muhammad (صلي الله عليه و سلم) specifically likened thehypocrite to a plant that is easily pushed around and knocked down by the wind(see 'al-Lu`lu' wal-Marjan,' hadith #1791). So, don't be affected bythem, no matter how many are paraded before you by the wind. Pity them, thankGod for saving you from their fate, and move on. For them, Islam was merely ahobby, a flavor of the week.

Now, when the wind sees that you won't fall over outright, it will shift to amore subtle strategy: to pressure you to shed your leaves. But it won't ask youto shed them all at once. That would be too obvious. Rather, the wind will blowsoftly, trying to get you to shed one leaf, then another, then another, untilyou're stripped bare. Sayyid Qutb explained this well:

"... the attempt of the authorities with those who stand for a cause,always, is to trick them so that they deviate just slightly from the firmnessand strength of the cause. It is to get them to accept a compromising solutionthat they can trick them in exchange for a lot of reward. There are some peoplewho stand for the cause who are tricked by this away from the cause becausethey don't consider it to be a big deal to make these compromises. So, theauthorities don't ask him to completely abandon his cause. Rather, they requestslight adjustments here and there so that both sides can meet in the middle.Satan will come upon the one standing for the cause from this angle, causinghim to imagine that he can benefit his cause by gaining favor with theauthorities through compromising on a part of it! But slight deviation at thebeginning of the road will lead to total deviation at its end, and the upholderof the cause who agrees to compromise on even a small part of it won't be ableto stop there, because his willingness to compromise increases every time hetakes a step backwards. The authorities thus deal with the upholder of thecause in a sneaky, gradual manner ..."

So, don't fall for this trick, and never even take a step in the direction ofshedding a single leaf for the wind. In fact, just like the Prophet likened thehypocrite to a plant easily pushed around by the wind, he likened the Muslim tothe palm tree - because the palm tree never sheds its leaves (see 'al-Lu'lu'wal-Marjan', hadith #1792). No matter how harsh the wind, the Muslim notonly remains standing, but doesn't give the wind even a single leaf. Rather,the harder the wind blows, the harder you cling to your leaves, and this is whythe wind is angry with you in the first place:

{"And they weren't angry with them except because they had belief inGod, the Mighty and Wise."} (al-Buruh, v.8)

The wind typically tries to hide this reality by distracting the cause of itsanger - it will claim that this is about violence, terrorism, or whatever. Butthe truth is that it hates to see a Muslim it cannot knock down. And when thetree refuses to shed even a leaf, the wind only becomes angrier. And when thewind gets angrier, you are rewarded by God:

{"nor do they take any step to anger the disbelievers ... exceptthat it's written to their credit as a good deed ..."} (at-Tawbah,v.120)


so, when the wind blows, don't be intimidated by it. Rather, look right up atit and:

{"Say: 'Die in your anger!' "} (Al 'Imran, v.119)

Those leaves are a trust from God that He has left in your care, as is thehealth of the tree as a whole. If you betray that trust, you will simply bereplaced by those who won't:

{"O you who have believed! Whoever of you turns back on hisreligion, God will bring people He loves and who love Him, humble with thebelievers, strong with the disbelievers, striving in God's cause, and notfearing anyone's condemnation. That is the grace of God that He bestows on WhomHe wills ... "} (al-Ma`idah, v.54)

This verse concisely describes the tree, the seed, and the leaves of greatestimportance. Let us analyze it, piece by piece:

The "religion" is the tree, as a whole.

The relationship of "love" between God and you is the seed from whichthe tree will sprout. Ibn Taymiyyah has a lovely treatise called 'at-Tuhfahal-'Iraqiyyah' (which can be found at the beginning of the tenth volume of'Majmu' al-Fatawa') where he comments on the mention of love in this verse,saying (p.18, 28)

"Love of God and His Messenger is one of the greatest obligations offaith, and its greatest principle. In fact, it is the basis of every action inthe religion ... The two nations before us (i.e. Jews and Christians), based onthe narrated statements of Moses and Jesus, agree that the greatest advice leftby them is to love God with all your heart, mind, and intent. This is thereality of the pure Abrahamic creed, which is the essence of the law of theTorah, the Gospel, and the Qur'an."

So, love for God is the seed from which every action and belief - every leafand fruit - grows, and this is why love is mentioned first in the verse.

We then have the first fruit of that seed, the leaf of wala' and bara':"humble with the believers, strong with the disbelievers."Ibn Taymiyyah commented on this (p.22), saying:

"The one who loves his beloved will love what he loves, hate what hehates, be loyal to his allies, disavow his enemies ... so, they are one and thesame in this regard."

Put simply, the wind focuses on getting you to shed this leaf so that the linesare blurred in your mind as to who your true enemies are. Once you consider theenemy to be a friend, the enemy's work is complete. Never let go of this leaf.Ever.

The next leaf is that of Jihad: "Striving (yujahiduna) in God'sCause ..." Obviously, this is the leaf that the wind hates morethan the others. In order to understand why, think of the AIDS virus. What doesit do to kill the body? It doesn't actually hurt the body directly. Rather,what is does is attack the immune system - the body's defense mechanism - sothat other infections can invade and attack without facing any resistance. Thebody is like the Muslim Ummah, Jihad is it's immune system through which itdefends itself against attackers, and the wind/ government is like the AIDS virus,trying to wipe out the spirit of resistance from this Ummah in order to make iteasier to invade, attack, and overtake it completely. This is why people likeSayyid Qutb are demonized, 'Abdullah `Azzam, az-Zarqawi, Shaykh Usamah, etc. -because they symbolize this spirit of resistance. And this is why the windblows harsher than ever when it wants you to shed this leaf. Don't fall for thetrick. Remember: the AIDS virus.

And indeed, the strong tree is one that is "not fearing anyone'scondemnation," and in fact is affected by condemnation in a manneropposite to what is expected. When the wind blows and tries to shake off your leaves- when it attacks you and condemns you for refusing to betray the concepts of wala'& bara' and Jihad - Ibn Taymiyyah says (p.23) that "the onewith complete love of god isn't affected by anyone's condemnation or criticism.On the contrary, this pushes him to adhere even more ..."

Finally, the verse carries the crucial fact that this ability to stay true tothese Qur'anic teachings "is the grace of God that He bestows on whom Hewills." The ability to stand up to the wind is purely a gift from God. Godis the ultimate power capable of keeping a tree standing strong or letting itcrumble into dust:

{"Then tell me about the seed that you sow in the ground. Is it youwho make it grow, or are We the Grower? If We willed, we could crumble it todry pieces, and you'd be left in regret."} (al-Waqi'ah, v.63 - 65)

This is very important, because the Prophet warned us of how easy it would beat the end of time for people to change, and how quickly they will abandon thetruth due to the prevailing pressures, as well as their own weakness. He said (عليه الصلاة و السلام):

"Prior to the Day of Resurrection, there will be tests and trials likepieces of dark night, in which a person will wake up as a believer and go tosleep as a disbeliever, and go to sleep as a believer and wake up as adisbeliever."

These types of transformations are the result of hidden divine causes which wehumans cannot fully comprehend. However, there are practical means provided tous in the Qur'an and the Sunnah through which we can stay on the right side ofhistory. Here, we will explore just two methods, and both will focus on thevery first quality of the strong tree that I mentioned: being planted infertile soil - a good heart.

* In Makkah, when the Prophet was facing his harshest trials, he receivedconstant revelation focusing on the stories of Prophets who had lived beforehis time. The purpose of this was to show him that he was not the first personto experience harsh trials for the sake of Islam, as well as to show him howthose previous Prophets conducted themselves during those trials. Hearing thestories and learning this history played a huge role in strengthening thehearts of the Prophet and his Companions during their darkest hours in thebelly of the beast that was Makkah. This is reflected in the following verse:

{"And all that We relate to you of the stories of the messengers ismeant to keep your heart firm ..."} (Hud, v.120)

Likewise, as we relive those harsh trials and dark hours experienced by theearlier Muslims, it's a good idea to study history, particularly thebiographies of Muslims who took some kind of bold stand in history. Sometimeswe may spend hours looking through books of Fiqh to find out what to do in acertain situation, when often times, simply studying the lives of the rightpeople will cause their attitude to rub off on you and allow you to absorbtheir personalities into your own, thus giving you a general template as to howto deal with every challenge you may face in life. The author of the excellentbook 'Safahat min Sabr al-`Ulama' ('Pages of Patience of theScholars,' p. 17 -18) said:

"Reading the stories of the scholars who acted on their knowledge andthe righteous is one of the best ways to implant virtue in the soul and pushyourself to endure harshness for the sake of noble goals. And it pushes you toimitate those who sacrifice for these goals with persistence, so that you riseto the highest status. It was said that such stories are the soldiers of Godthrough which He keeps the hearts of His allies firm. Abu Hanifah said:"The stories of the scholars and their good qualities are more beloved tome than much knowledge, because they describe the character of thesepeople." "

So, reading about the lives of the right people, studying them, absorbing theirattitudes and character, is a good way to liven & strengthen the heart, andmake it fertile soil for the seeds of faith and knowledge. So, where should youstart? In 'Sayd al-Khatir' (p. 69), Ibn al-Jawzi said quite simply:

"The most useful knowledge is that gained by looking in the biographyof the Messenger and his Companions..."

* The second method of strengthening the heart is even more simple: just askyour Lord! Umm Salamah was once asked which supplication the Prophet made morethan any other, and she replied:

"His most frequent supplication was: 'O Controller of the hearts, keepmy heart firm on Your religion' (ya Muqallib al-qulub, thabbit qalbi `alaDinik)."

This is a method which can, and should, be taken advantage of constantlythroughout your day. As you drive to work, as you walk down a hallway atschool, as you have any opportunity to repeat this simple phrase to yourself,appreciate this supplication for the treasure that it is, and keep your heartfastened to Islam by making it a constant on your tongue. It is so easy to do,yet so easily neglected by many who need it more than anything these days.

So, by tending to your heart, tending to that soil, you keep your roots firmlyfixed. And the tree with firm roots ends up with branches that reach the sky:

{"A good word is like a good tree: its roots are firmly fixed, andits branches reach the sky ..."} (Ibrahim, v. 24)

And when your branches reach the sky, nobody can reach your leaves. They canimprison you, they can even assassinate you, but they can never say that theygot you to shed your leaves.

Written by: Tariq Mehanna
Wednesday, 4th of Safar 1433/
28th of December 2011
Plymouth Correctional Facility
Isolation Unit - Cell #107
(The Belly of the Beast)
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Periwinkle18
09-02-2012, 09:21 AM
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