The Tree That Cried And The Man Who Hugged It
I love to make the stories of the prophets real for my kids. I have written in detail about it here, and every now and then I come across a beautiful narration that I just can not wait to share with them.
One of the best ways, I have found is when a Hadith or Quranic ayah (verse) relates directly to a child’s life and experience in the here and now.
So recently, when I heard the Hadith of ‘The Tree That Cried’, I knew it would be perfect for my small brood of two. Sticks, bark, leaves, twigs, both my children love anything to do with trees. May be you too have a pile of carefully selected sticks in your home bought in after every park visit or walk outside. I cannot even throw them away discreetly as they will be looked for and tears will be shed if I dare to admit they are part of the trash.
I might complain about it, but honestly? I love it. I love that they love foraging for sticks. Which later will be used as magic wands, swords, a pile will be used to construct pretend fires, (and mashmallows will be ‘roasted’ on top)!
And really if ‘The Tree That Cried’ is not the title of a story any young child will want to hear then I don’t know what is!
We had been slowly working our way through the Words From the Quran flash cards from Parenthood Muslim Style (and we still are !). I had been trying to attach a story or a craft to each word as we did them. So many of the words are to do with nature and the natural world. We had looked at phases of the moon for the word ‘Moon’, read the most delightful book for the word ‘Whale’, and explored the ‘Night Journey’ story for the word ‘Night’ so when it came to the word ‘Tree’ we settled in for a ‘story’ to be retold by mama…
The narration went something like this …
On Fridays while delivering the kuthba after the prayer, The prophet Muhammad (pbuh), used to take comfort from the hot midday sun, in the shade of a particular tree near the masjid. A worshipper from the people of Medina suggested that they build a purpose made pulpit for the Prophet to stand on. So when it was built and the prophet moved toward the pulpit instead of toward the tree, a cry was heard amongst all the companions who were with him. One narration states that it sounded like the “cry of a child”, the ‘sobbing’ so loud that the people around were astounded and amazed! What noise was this? But the Prophet knew and he climbed down from the pulpit and first stroked then hugged the tree while it continued moaning like a child being quietened.
‘See?!’ I told my 5 year old and two year old – who were listening quite enraptured by the story,
‘you guys have been doing a sunnah without even realising it!’
We had talked in the past about the meaning of the word ‘sunnah’ so the five year old knew for sure what I meant. ‘We did hugging trees!’ he said with a proud pink cheeked smile.
‘Why do you think the tree was crying?’ I asked them And of course they knew it was because the tree ‘missed having the prophet near itself. The Prophet muhammad was so gentle and kind to all the creatures of the earth that not only the animals but even the plants loved him and he loved them back.
‘Then what happened mama?’
Well, by this time the companions too had gathered around the tree trunk and the Prophet whispered to the tree talking to it and asked it whether it would like for him to return to its shade and be near the tree in this world or whether it would like to become a tree of paradise living forever with the prophet, drinking water from the streams of paradise and giving fruit to the people there.?
‘What do you think the tree chose to be?’ I again stopped the story and asked my kids – And of course again they knew the answer.
The tree finally stopped crying but the prophet told his companions “…By Allah in whose Hands rests my soul, if I had not hugged it, it would have remained sobbing like this till the last day”
This incident is from authentic narrations and narrated by many sahabah (companions of the prophet) who were present at the time.
Yes this is an important hadith. Yes to kids reviving a sunnah! Yet, this whole topic, if you pick it up with your child can be the start of a final and supremely important message that- YES – WE are the guardians of the Earth, and that they are ‘Ecomuslims’ and have a great responsibility to keep this earth protected. Remind your children of God’s Mercy to us in the signs of the natural world, from the celestial bodies to simple rainfall.
It is Allah who made for you the earth a place of settlement and the sky a ceiling and formed you and perfected your forms and provided you with good things. That is Allah , your Lord; then blessed is Allah , Lord of the worlds.
Most children take the concept of Eco-Consciousness very seriously if presented with facts and will remind you religiously to turn off the lights when you are not using them, they will feel proud to be given the responsibility of sorting out the recycling into groups of paper/plastic/metal ect.
When I had first heard this story, I will tell you I couldn’t stop the tears forming in my eyes and I let them form and drop too. To be touched by the love of the tree and the kindness and Mercy of a man who hugged it. Yes! In every sense of the phrase ‘tree hugger’ ~ “Our Prophet was a ‘Tree Hugger’ ” I tell my children, and they giggle and laugh and know him just that little bit more.