Where I grew up, my parents owned a single little field in a beautiful valley balanced between grazing fields for sheep and cows, and trees – both forestry and woodland. And they let their land to a farmer for his sheep to live on. Several ewes and lambs benefited from eating the lush grass and exercising on the safe ground, year after year.
However, year after year, people living uphill of the field cut down branches from trees that bordered it. Trees within the field. Trees they had no permission to damage. They also uprooted their own trees, turning their woodland site half into glade.
Over the years, my father spent more and more time clearing hazardous branches dropped into the field by the environmental vandals who cut them.
He also fenced off an area of the field that became water logged. This change to the terrain was perhaps a result of the extensive tree felling up hill. Was there more run off because of fewer tree roots to keep the earth porous and to absorb water saturation, and fewer tree branches to slow rainfall onto the ground?
I daresay the sheep suffered the force and cold of the wind increasingly, too, with fewer and fewer branches to provide shield.
The Right Way to Fell Trees for Wood
If we look to the example of Prophet Adam AS, we can find the correct way to fell trees. First plant trees to replace those you will take – even if you know the whole earth will be flooded. Also, only fell what you need for the task(s) you undertake to please your Lord – and be in constant communication with Him.
There is a difference between replanting and decimating, between pruning and lopping, as between sustaining and destroying.
Where I currently let my home, the garden is almost completely bordered with trees and is a sanctuary for birds. Alhamdulillah, I observed the garden for more than a turn of all seasons before I learned how to prune the trees at the right time of year and in ways that continue to support nest building and perching.
Pruning was hard work, but it was more joyful than anything else.
Since pruning is best done over the winter, when the trees are dormant and birds are mature, I can see the sense in pruning for firewood. However, from my suburban estate, I have sent the branches to the council to utilise.
In my current situation, I can’t plant a tree on land I ‘own’ (Allah is the ultimate owner of everything). And it’s been years since I collaborated to plant a tree. But I want to, in a way that is beneficial to the land and its inhabitants, insha’Allah. I would love to pray beside, and later under, a tree I have planted myself insha’Allah. (And I have written a song prompted by this desire, to be released next year insha’Allah.)
How about you? What kind of brick-free setting would you like to cultivate for worship?
CLICK HERE > Read my poem ‘Summer Salah to Allah Outside’ (published in Sisters Magazine, and a discontinued anthology).
The following rhyme is about two city people who want to pray outdoors in the countryside nearby. But, due to extensive tree felling in their area, the wind has become too strong. Determined to pray on time – wherever the place – they return home for salah.
The Swansea Muslims
(The Kilkenny Cats)
There were once two Muslims of Swansea
who wanted to pray by an ash tree,
but the wind flapped their mats,
and it whipped off their hats,
then the rain splattered down,
so they ran through the town,
and at home, calm and dry, they prayed happily.
© 2018 Elizabeth Lymer
CLICK HERE > Read about tree vandalism in Swansea. Is the felling intended to ‘improve the view’ as with the motives of the people who neighboured my parents’ field? 😦
Care for Our Hearts Like Seedlings
Trees and shrubs benefit from regular pruning, to increase light and reduce over-covering.
Like trees, our hearts benefit from cutting unnecessary and unhelpful branches of fascination, to redirect connection to Allah’s noor, and reduce spiritual blindness, deafness, and forgetfulness.
When we cause damage, only Allah knows how wide it will spread. And He is the Oft Forgiving, if we ask Him.
SubhanAllah, only Allah knows how many good deeds will result from the small good intentions and actions we do for His sake.
Let’s sustain like responsible farmers. When we plant or replant, let’s consider our effects on Allah’s local and wider creation. When we need to sever and let go of specific things, let’s do so as part of a strategy for effecting growth towards Allah.
Self-pruning may be hard and painful, but can potentially lead to eternal joy.
Care for Trees and the World Like Shepherds
If we look to the example of every prophet, we notice they all tended sheep to some extent.
And we can too. Differently, in most cases. But intention is half of action. So next time you perform environmentally friendly deeds to please Allah, how can you layer your shepherding intentions to widen benefits to yourself and creation, insha’Allah?
With Allah’s signs in the Qur’an, we read (listen, observe), learn (memorise, comprehend), and then endeavour to actively respond to Allah’s call in our actions. So too with His signs in the world. Sense, understand, proceed. And repeat.
So what can you do today?
CLICK HERE > Learn about Ash trees, which are native to Europe.
CLICK HERE > Discover trees native to the UK.
CLICK HERE > Rehearse spreading peace to farm animals, practising gratitude for Allah’s blessings to us through them, and enjoy calming colouring with young children. Get ‘Peace and Thanks on the Farm Colouring Book’.
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PRAISE ALLAH ALWAYS! Alhamdulillah for trees. 🙂