What do we have in common with trees?

trees and sky

Nature serves as evidence of the remarkable phenomena that exist within creation. It’s fascinating how God describes it in the Quran as a sign for those who not only observe the outer reality of it but also delve into its deeper meaning and we’re continually encouraged to reorient ourselves with God through the natural world and its inner workings.

  1. “He causes to grow for you thereby herbage, and the olives, and the palm trees, and the grapes, and of all the fruits; most surely there is a sign in this for a people who reflect.” [16:11]
  2. “And He has made subservient for you the night and the day and the sun and the moon, and the stars are made subservient by his commandment; most surely there are signs in this for a people who ponder.” [16:12]
  3. And [We produce] gardens of grapevines and olives and pomegranates, similar yet varied. Look at [each of] its fruit when it yields and [at] its ripening. Indeed, these are signs for people who believe.” [6:99]
  4. “And the Earth, We spread it out, and cast therein firmly set mountains and We have made to grow therein of all beautiful kinds; to give sight and as a reminder to every servant who turns to God.” [50:7-8]

It is quite easy to overlook the simple things in life. Take, for example, a tree. Often not even in our minds when we pass by them on the sides of streets. But from its roots, to its branches, and leaves, there is a whole hidden ecosystem at play that we ought to learn from. 

Trees are not merely ordinary elements of nature but they have a deeper significance. The Quran references trees as a sign of God’s power and creation, as well as a reminder of our own relationship with God.

“And the stars and trees prostrate [to God]” [55:6]

This prostration is not in the same way as it is for us humans, but rather as a symbol of their submission to God’s will. Their constant growth, survival, and service to the environment can be seen as a form of worship and servitude.

As we discover more about trees, it becomes clear that they are much more complex and social than we once thought. Biologists have actually found that trees have the ability to count, learn, remember, and they can even nurse sick members of their species.

They also communicate with each other by sending electrical signals through a network of fungi, warning nearby trees of potential dangers. 

And incredibly, trees have been known to keep ancient stumps of long felled companions alive for centuries by feeding them with a sugar sap through their roots.

Trees are much more than just ‘inanimate’ beings that are solely focused on their own survival. In fact, they have an interconnected and interdependent existence. Just like how we rely on our relationships and connections with people, trees also need others to thrive in their environment. 

The importance of maintaining strong bonds with our family, neighbours, and communities is emphasised by God and exemplified by the Prophet’s actions.

Muhammad (peace be upon him) mentions, “The believers in their mutual kindness, compassion, and sympathy are just like one body. When one of the limbs suffers, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever” (Bukhari). 

Our social ecosystem thrives on the foundation of care and support we show towards others. We can do this by helping those around us, giving gifts, checking up on one another, and building bridges. All are ways to increase love and connection.

Being in service to others, in itself, is a beautiful way of being in servitude to God.

As we become increasingly disconnected from each other, it’s important to remember the value of human connection. Just like a tree with deep roots, establish a firm foundation so we can also flourish and prosper from true togetherness that goes beyond the surface.

It’s amazing how even just pondering on a simple tree, we can learn a lot!