Trees mentioned in the Qur’an and Sunnah
A number of trees are mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah, some of which will be discussed below:
The date palm tree
This is a good tree to which Allah likened the word of Tawhid when it is established in the sincere heart, where it bears fruits of good deeds that strengthen Iman (faith).
Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “See you not how Allah sets forth a parable? – A goodly word is as a goodly tree, whose root is firmly fixed, and its branches (reach) to the sky (i.e., very high).” [Ibrahim 14:24]
This is the tree to which Allah likens the believer because it is good in all aspects, it is lasting and it offers different kinds of benefit. Ibn ‘Umar reported: “The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: ‘There is a kind of tree whose leaves do not fall and it is like the Muslim. Tell me what it is.’ The people mentioned different kinds of desert trees … and I said to myself, ‘It is the date palm tree,’ but I felt too shy to speak up. Then the people said, ‘Tell us what it is, O Messenger of Allah.’ He said: ‘It is the date palm tree.’” (al-Bukhari, 60)
The blessed olive tree the purity of which Allah set forth as a parable
Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth. The parable of His Light is as (if there were) a niche and within it a lamp, the lamp is in glass, the glass as it were a brilliant star, lit from a blessed tree, an olive, neither of the east (i.e., it neither gets sun-rays only in the morning) nor of the west (i.e., nor does it get sun-rays only in the afternoon – but it is exposed to the sun all day long), whose oil would almost glow forth (of itself), though no fire touched it. Light upon Light! Allah guides to His Light whom He wills. And Allah sets forth parables for mankind, and Allah is All-Knower of everything.” [al-Nur 24:35]
In Surat al-Mu’minun, Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “And a tree (olive) that springs forth from Mount Sinai, that grows oil, and (it is a) relish for the eaters.” [al-Mu’minun 23:20]
Abu Asid said: “The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Eat the oil and use it on your hair and skin, for it comes from a blessed tree.” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, 1775; see also Sahih al-Jami’)
The tree which Allah caused to grow for Yunus (upon whom be peace) for food and healing.
Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And, verily, Yunus was one of the Messengers … Then a (big) fish swallowed him and he had done an act worthy of blame. Had he not been of those who glorify Allah, he would have indeed remained inside its belly until the Day of Resurrection. But We cast him forth on the naked shore while he was sick, and We caused a plant of gourd to grow over him.” [al-Saffat 37:139, 142-146]
The Mufassirin (commentators) said: The gourd (al-Yaqtin) is a kind of pumpkin. Some of them described the benefits of the pumpkin, such as: it grows quickly, it provides shade, it has large, smooth leaves, it keeps flies away and its fruit provides good nourishment: it can be eaten raw or cooked, and its skin may be eaten too. It is known that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) liked this kind of pumpkin and used to look for it on the plate of food. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir).
The great tree in heaven where our Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) saw his father Ibrahim (upon whom be peace)
Samurah ibn Jundub reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, describing his vision: “Then we went up until we reached a green garden, in which there was a great tree, with an old man and children at its base, and another man near the tree, trying to light a fire in front of him. They took me up to that tree and into a house; I have never seen any more beautiful than that house. In it there were men, old men, youths, women and children. Then they brought me out and took me up to the tree and into another house, even better than the first one. In this house there were old and young men. I said: ‘You have shown me around tonight; tell me about what I have seen.’ They said, ‘Yes… the old man at the foot of the tree was Ibrahim (upon whom be peace), and the children around him were the children of mankind…” (al-Bukhari, 1270).
Sidrat al-Muntaha, by which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) saw Jibril when he was taken up into the heavens
Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And indeed he (Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) saw him (Jibril) at a second descent (i.e., another time), near Sidrat al-Muntaha (the lote tree of the utmost boundary, beyond which none can pass), near it is the Paradise of Abode, when that covered the lote-tree which did cover it! The sight (of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)) turned not aside (right or left), nor did it transgress beyond (the) limit (ordained for it). Indeed, he did see of the Greatest Signs of his Lord (Allah).” [al-Najm 53:13-18]
The phrase translated here as “when that covered the lote-tree which did cover it” is explained by the Hadith narrated by Imam al-Bukhari from Abu Dharr, in which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “It was covered in colors, I do not know what they are…” According to a Hadith narrated by Abu Sa’id and Ibn ‘Abbas, he said: “It was covered by the angels.” According to a report narrated by Muslim, he said: “When it was covered with whatever covered it by the command of Allah, it changed, and none of the creation of Allah could describe its beauty.”
In the famous Hadith about his Mi’raj (ascent into heaven), the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said that when Jibril took him up into the heavens, he went through from one heaven to the next by the command of Allah, until he reached the seventh heaven. He said: “Then I was taken to Sidrat al-Muntaha; its fruits were like the pitchers of Hajar and its leaves were like the ears of elephants. He said, ‘This is Sidrat al-Muntaha’…” (Reported by al-Bukhari, 3598).
The reason why it is called Sidrat al-Muntaha is stated in the Hadith narrated from Ibn Mas’ud by Imam Muslim: “There everything that comes up from earth stops (Yantahi), and it is taken from there, and there everything that comes down stops, and it is taken from there.” Al-Nawawi said: It is called Sidrat al-Muntaha because the knowledge of the angels stops at that point, and no one has gone beyond it except the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him).
It is the tree at which the knowledge of every Prophet who has been sent and every angel who is near to Allah stops. What lies beyond it is unseen; no one knows it except Allah or the one to whom He tells it. It was said that this is the ultimate destination of the souls of the martyrs.
The fruits described in the Hadith are well known: they are the fruits of the lotus tree. Al-Khattabi said that the phrase “like the pitchers of Hajar” meant that they were big like pitchers; this is something that was known to the first listeners, which is why this analogy was used. Hajar is a place-name. The phrase “its leaves were like the ears of elephants” is also indicative of huge size.
The Tree of Tooba in Paradise
Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “In Paradise there is a tree in whose shade a rider could travel for a hundred years without crossing it. Recite, if you wish: ‘In shade long-extended’ [al-Waqi’ah 56:30]” (Reported by al-Bukhari, 4502)
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Tooba is a tree in Paradise, one hundred years big. The clothes of the people of Paradise are made from its calyces (outer casing of its flowers).” (Reported by Ibn Hibban; see also Sahih al-Jami’, 3918)
‘Utbah ibn ‘Abdin al-Salami said: “A Bedouin came to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and asked him about al-Hawd (the cistern). He mentioned Paradise, then the Bedouin asked him, ‘Is there fruit there?’ He said, ‘Yes, and there is a tree called Tooba.’ The Bedouin asked, ‘What tree of this world does it resemble?’ He said, ‘It does not resemble any tree of your land. Have you been to Syria?’ He said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘It resembles a tree in Syria called al-Jawzah (walnut) which grows on one trunk then spreads its branches higher up.’ The Bedouin asked, ‘How big is its trunk?’ He said, ‘If one of the camels of your people was to go around it, it would not complete one circuit before its neck broke of old age and exhaustion. The Bedouin asked, ‘Are there grapes there?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ He asked, ‘How big is a bunch?’ He said, ‘The distance a crow could fly without stopping in a month.’ He asked, ‘How big is one grape?’ He said, ‘Does your father ever slaughter a he-goat from his flocks?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘And does he skin it and give the hide to your mother, and say, “Make me a bucket”?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ The Bedouin asked, ‘Is one grape big enough to satisfy me and my family?’ He said, ‘Yes, and your whole tribe.’” (Reported by Imam Ahmad).
The tree of Zaqqum, which is the food of the people of Hell
This tree is described in the Quran as (interpretation of the meaning): “… the accursed tree (mentioned) in the Quran” [al-Isra’ 17:60].
Allah also says about it (interpretation of the meaning):
“Then, moreover, verily, – you the erring-ones, the deniers (of Resurrection)! You verily will eat of the trees of Zaqqum. Then you will fill your bellies therewith, and drink boiling water on top of it, so you will drink (that) like thirsty camels! That will be their entertainment on the Day of Recompense!” [al-Waqi’ah 56:51-56]
“Verily, the tree of Zaqqum, will be the food of the sinners, like boiling oil, it will boil in the bellies, like the boiling of scalding water. (It will be said): ‘Seize him and drag him into the midst of blazing Fire, then pour over his head the torment of boiling water, taste you (this)! Verily, you were (pretending to be the mighty, the generous! Verily! This is that whereof you used to doubt!’” [al-Dukhan 44:43-50]
“Is that (Paradise) better entertainment or the tree of Zaqqum (a horrible tree in Hell)? Truly We have made it (as) a trial for the Dhalimin (polytheists, disbelievers, wrongdoers, etc.). Verily, it is a tree that springs out of the bottom of Hell-fire, the shoots of its fruit-stalks are like the heads of Shayatin (devils); truly they will eat thereof and fill their bellies therewith. Then on the top of that they will be given boiling water to drink so that it becomes a mixture (of boiling water and Zaqqum in their bellies). Then, thereafter, their return is to the flaming fire of Hell.” [al-Saffat 37:62-68]
The tree under which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) accepted his Companions’ pledge of allegiance unto death and not to desert him.
This happened during the campaign of al-Hudaybiyah, when he heard of the betrayal of the Mushrikin. This tree is also mentioned in the Quran (interpretation of the meaning):
“Indeed, Allah was pleased with the believers when they gave the Bay’ah (pledge) to you (O Muhammad) under the tree…” [al-Fath 48:18]
The tree next to which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to preach
Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to go and stand next to a tree or palm-tree on Fridays. A woman or a man of the Ansar said: “O Messenger of Allah, should we not make for you a Minbar (“pulpit”)?” He said, “If you wish.” So they made a Minbar for him, and when the next Friday came, he was shown to the Minbar. The tree cried like a small child, then the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) came down and hugged the crying tree until it calmed down.” Jabir said: “It was crying because of the Dhikr (remembrance of Allah) that it used to hear.” (al-Bukhari, 3319).
The tree from which Allah spoke to Musa (upon whom be peace) and sent him as a Prophet
Allah says in the Quran (interpretation of the meaning):
“So when he reached it (the fire), he was called from the right side of the valley, in the blessed place from the tree: ‘O Musa! Verily! I am Allah, the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, Jinns and all that exists)!” [al-Qasas 28:30]
The tree from which Allah forbade our father and mother (Adam and Hawwa) to eat
Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And O Adam! Dwell you and your wife in Paradise, and eat thereof as you both wish, but approach not this tree, otherwise you both will be of the Dhalimin (unjust and wrong-doers).” [al-A’raf 7:19]
“Then Shaytan whispered to him, saying: ‘O Adam! Shall I lead you to the Tree of Eternity and to a kingdom that will never waste away?” [Ta-Ha 20:120]
“So He misled them with deception. Then when they tasted of the tree, that which was hidden from them of their shame (private parts) became manifest to them and they began to stick together the leaves of Paradise over themselves (in order to cover their shame). And their Lord called out to them (saying): ‘Did I not forbid you that tree and tell you: Verily Shaytan is an open enemy to you?’” [al-A’raf 7:22]
The cedar tree to which Allah likened the Kafir (disbeliever)
Abu Hurairah said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: ‘The example of the believer is like that of a plant which is continually bent over by the wind; the believer is continually beset with afflictions. The example of a hypocrite is like that of the cedar tree, which does not yield until it is uprooted in one go.” (Muslim, 5024)
The scholars of Arabic language said: the cedar (al-Arz) is a tree similar to the stone pine tree, which grows in Syria and Armenia. According to another report, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “The example of the Kafir is that of the firmly-rooted cedar which does not yield to anything until it is uprooted in one go.”
The scholars said: The meaning of this Hadith is that the believer suffers a great deal, in his physical health, with his family and with his wealth, but this is an expiation for his sins and will raise his status. The Kafir, however, suffers little, but even if something happens to him it will not expiate for his sins at all; he will come with a full burden of sin on the Day of Resurrection.
The tree in the righteous vision that was narrated concerning the Sajdah (prostration) to be performed when reciting certain Ayat of the Quran
Ibn ‘Abbas said: A man came to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and said: “O Messenger of Allah, last night I had a dream in which it was as if I was praying behind a tree. I prostrated and the tree prostrated after me. I heard it saying: ‘Allahumma uktub li biha ‘indaka ajran wada’ ‘anni biha wizran waj’alha li ‘indaka dhukhran wa taqabbalha minni kama taqabbaltaha min ‘abdika Dawud (O Allah, record for me because of it (the Sajdah) a reward, alleviate some of my burden, and make it an investment on my behalf with You. Accept it from me as You accepted it from Your slave Dawud).’” Ibn ‘Abbas said: The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) recited an ayah where a Sajdah is required, then he prostrated, and I heard him saying the same words that the man had reported that the tree had said. (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, 528)
The two trees which came together to conceal the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) when he was answering the call of nature
This was recorded in the Sahih report narrated by Imam Muslim, may Allah have mercy on him, from Jabir (may Allah be pleased with him): “… We stopped in a fragrant valley, and the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) wanted to answer the call of nature. I followed him, bringing a bottle of water, but he could not find anywhere where he could conceal himself. There were two trees at the edge of the valley, so the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) went to one of them, took hold of one of its branches, and said: ‘Follow me, by the permission of Allah.’ So it followed him like a camel being led by a rope, until he came to the other tree. He took one of the other tree’s branches and said: ‘Follow me, by the permission of Allah.’ So it followed him until he reached the halfway point between them, then he put them together and said: ‘Stay together and cover me, by the permission of Allah.’ So they stayed together.” Jabir said: “I kept away, for fear that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) might feel my presence and move even further away. So I sat down, thinking to myself, and when I turned around, I saw the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) coming towards me, and the two trees had separated and taken up their former positions.” (Sahih Muslim, 5328)
Trees (plants) with foul-smelling “fruits” after eating which the Muslims are forbidden to come to the mosque
Jabir said: “The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: ‘Whoever eats of these vegetables (the first time he said ‘garlic,’ then ‘garlic, onions and leeks’), let him not come near us in our mosques, for the angels will be offended by whatever offends the people.’” (al-Nasa’i, 700)
The trees (all except the Gharqad) which will show the Jews to the Muslims so that they may kill them during the great battle at the end of time
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “The Hour will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them. The Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will say: ‘O Muslim, O slave of Allah! There is a Jews behind me, come and kill him!’ (All the trees will say this except for the Gharqad (box-thorn), for it is one of the trees of the Jews.’” (Reported by Imam Ahmad; it is a Sahih Hadith).
These are a number of the trees mentioned in the Quran and Sunnah, from which we may learn many lessons. We ask Allah to help us benefit from these lessons. May Allah bless our Prophet Muhammad (saws)