That You May Know One Another

An Allegory…

“Abstract Tree of Life” painting, Abud Bali Art

“O [humankind], indeed we have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is knowing and acquainted.” Qur’an 49:13

Once there was a seed planted — a seed that would eventually grow all over the world. This seed was tenderly cared for by the Master Gardener such that it grew strong and healthy; reaching towards the skies, and unfolding its leaves in the sun. The unique thing about this special tree is that it was designed by the Master to grow different kinds of fruit on every branch. This tree began with just a few small branches that slowly grew until the branches were strong enough to bear fruit. The trunk grew taller and stronger so that the tree was able to grow other branches which were so flexible that even the strongest wind couldn’t break the tree limbs. These branches in turn grew strong enough to bear luscious, sweet smelling fruit that when one bit into it the heart couldn’t help but expand in justice and love. As the tree rose up into the sky, majestic and beautiful beyond measure, it provided shade from the sun and shelter from the rain. There was none like it in the entire world; this tree’s fruit was pure with the initial taste of manna-the bread of heaven, releasing the ancient perfume of its fruit rising up to the Master who smiled in delight.

However, after a time and half a time, the first branches that grew from the tree became stiff and brittle, and the taste of the fruit bitter. When one bit into this later fruit, it left an unpleasant taste in the mouth, and the heart would begin shrinking, almost as if it had stepped into darkness. The Master began smelling the odoriferous rotting fruit from the tree and determined the branches would need to be pruned from the tree so that it didn’t affect the other branches. The branches were cut off, and in its place He grafted new branches which began growing very quickly as the rest of the tree was strong due to the important planting of the initial root stock that was provided the best conditions for growth. The new branches sent out shoots which grew other branches and began producing the most beautiful, fragrant fruit of all. And, when one bit into this fruit, the stars lit up in their eyes, and the heart couldn’t hold all of its compassion, so the person was moved to help others and share the amazing secret of this incredible tree.

Day passed to night, and night into day…until a land that seemed to dwell in eternal darkness was brought to the light by the desire of a stranger to plant a seed from this tree where he dwelt in a dry, desert wilderness. He lovingly watered the seed, and watched every day to see if a shoot would come up. Finally, after much care, a little, weak shoot began growing, until it grew strong, and it too began producing fruit. When each fruit was joyfully picked from the tree, the darkness would become lighter and lighter. Now the fruit of this tree didn’t have just one distinct smell, but the intermingling of three smells which became more distinct when one bit into the fruit. This fruit was filled with life giving water and honey, and when one bit into it, scales would fall off their eyes and they would look around in wonder, being able to see things they had never seen before. Nature revealed herself in sign after sign which all pointed to the Master. How could they have not noticed this before? Look at the stars in the night sky, twinkling light out of darkness. Look at the sun’s rays coming through the clouds in light and dark bands. They were entranced and filled with happiness and understanding. The Master was delighted with their sudden delight in Him and all that He had created.

Many people took seeds from the fruit of this tree, and the tree’s abundance began growing in various places around the world. However, what was meant for humanity’s good became tragic because the people had lost the great secret of the tree. Each tree that was planted had the smell of the three fruits, but every place a tree was planted, those people began thinking their tree was better than the other trees, so that the fruit’s smell slowly lost the three distinct smells, and would only release the perfume of one smell. Subsequently, the fruit of these trees was bland tasting, not juicy at all, and when one bit into it there would be such a small response in the heart, barely discernible, that the mysterious secret of the tree began disappearing. The Master became saddened, fully understanding why the trees no longer gave of their supernatural gifts.

Slowly, the days became gloomier and gloomier with the dark clouds of non-seeing, while the secret of the tree disappeared entirely. Oh, but some of the old folks, could they ever tell stories of the glorious days when the majestic trees lifting their arms in praise towards the Master would produce the most incredible fruit that lifted even the most dreary heart. They would hearken to the time when so and so ate of the fruit, and found their loving actions towards others stemming from the new understanding that had reached their minds and hearts. How wonderful those times were- people were happy just sharing with others whatever they had on their tables. The laughter around mealtimes was amazing to hear, and the neighborliness of the villages created a joyful sound rising up to the highest heaven. But, sadly, the young people would hear nothing of it, thinking their elders were just telling stories to keep them amused, while the old ones would stare at the trees in sadness and talk to the Master in their minds and from their hearts, begging for a new tree to lift their spirits and revive their villages.

When darkness covered the land, the Master, who was merciful towards His Creation, looked down with His eyes twinkling and planted another seed. This tree rose up just like the very first tree that was planted; strong and immense, it branches spreading far and wide, shelter to animals and people alike, and was so strong, even stronger than the first tree, that the most horrific storms couldn’t move the large trunk, and the limbs so tender they just blew and danced in the strong winds. However, the fruit from this tree had the sweetest smelling scent of all, and when one looked upon the fruit, they discovered the color of the fruit made them look within the very inner parts of themselves. Once taking a bite, it was discovered the fruit didn’t have the same affect of the first tree, or the subsequent tree, but had the affects of all the trees fruit together, and with a sudden clarity, that once eaten, they would never be the same again, and they would see the Master’s work in every person they came upon. With the more bites they took, the deeper secret of the trees would become more and more apparent — all the fruits were good, none better than the other, and when brought together produced even more abundance and flourishing, so that all joyfully understood the tree was given by the Master so they would understand this very special secret — all the branches and all the fruit came from one tree, but they were all different, and produced differently, and moved people in different ways, but out of one giant tree trunk came many, and many more, until the earth could barely hold them, so that they could finally delight in one another, just like the Master delights in them. The secret would never again be hidden, and its message reverberated through people’s hearts and minds until the darkness lifted from the land and light came over the horizon delivering compassion, wisdom and love, and never again would there be fruit which became bland or bitter, but only the abundant produce of pure hearts raising their voices in praise to the Master who looked down upon His creation with love.