Symbolism of trees in Islam

I love to use wood slices and twigs in paintings because of the symbolism of Trees in Islamic Scripture. It’s very common to see depictions of trees within many Islamic artworks. This is also common as religious symbolism within Persian carpets.

Some significant trees are:

The tree of Life (Shajaratul khuld) - it represents the afterlife and is as a connection between heaven and earth

The Lote Tree (Sidratul Muntaha) - it marks the end of the seventh heaven.
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 Date Palm Tree -

This is a good tree to which Allaah likened the word of Tawheed when it is established in the sincere heart, where it bears fruits of good deeds that strengthen eemaan (faith).
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): "See you not how Allaah 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)." [Ibraaheem 14:24]

The Olive Tree - the purity of which Allaah set forth as a parable

Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
"Allaah 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! Allaah guides to His Light whom He wills. And Allaah sets forth parables for mankind, and Allaah is All-Knower of everything." [al-Noor 24:35]

✨ 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).

✨The Cypress Tree - symbolising immorality


These are just a few trees mentioned in Islamic Literature, there are so many more!  I hope you enjoyed this article and would love to know about any trees that you have read about. 🌹🌹🌹

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