Miracles related to trees
NINTH SIGN: One kind of miracle of God’s Messenger is that trees obeyed his orders and approached him. This miracle, like those connected with water flowing from his fingers, has the certainty of tawatur in meaning. Many examples have been reported through various channels.
Trees uprooting themselves upon the Messenger’s command and drawing near him can be considered explicit tawatur, because the best-known, trustworthy Companions (e.g., ‘Ali, Ibn ‘Abbas, Ibn Mas‘ud, Ibn ‘Umar, Ya‘la ibn Murra, Jabir, Anas ibn Malik, Burayda, Usama ibn Zayd, and Ghaylan ibn Salama) reported the same miracle with certainty. Hundreds of Tabi‘un scholars received their reports directly, which have come down to us and thus have the authority of multiple tawatur. This miracle therefore has the certainty of tawatur in meaning. We mention only a few examples.
FIRST EXAMPLE: Ibn Maja, Darimi, and Bayhaqi (through ‘Ali and Anas ibn Malik), and Bazzar and Imam Bayhaqi (from ‘Umar) report: “Three Companions narrated that God’s Messenger was disturbed by the unbelievers’ denial. He prayed: ‘O Lord, show me a sign so that I will no longer heed anyone who contradicts me.’ Anas relates that Gabriel also was present, and that upon his instruction God’s Messenger called to a tree located at one side of the valley in which they were located. It left its place and drew near to him. He told it to go back, and so it returned and settled down in its place.”139
SECOND EXAMPLE: Qadi ‘Iyad, scholar of the Muslim West (North Africa and al-Andalusia), relates in his al-Shifa’ al-Sharif from ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar through a sound chain of the most eminent narrators: “A Bedouin approached God’s Messenger during an expedition. The Messenger asked: ‘Where are you going?’ He replied: ‘To my Family.’ The Messenger asked: ‘Don’t you desire something better?’ When the Bedouin asked what that might be, God’s Messenger replied: ‘To bear witness that there is no god but God, alone with no partner, and that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger.’ The Bedouin asked: ‘Can you prove this?’ God’s Messenger replied: ‘That tree at the side of the valley will bear witness.’”
Ibn ‘Umar relates the rest of the event: “That tree swayed, uprooted itself, left the soil, and drew near to God’s Messenger. He asked it three times to testify, and each time it testified to his truthfulness. Then he ordered the tree to go back and settle down in its place, and it did so.”140
Ibn Sahib al-Aslami relates that Burayda said: “Once a Bedouin asked for a miracle while we were with God’s Messenger on an expedition. The Messenger pointed to a tree and told him: ‘Tell that tree that God’s Messenger summons it.’ The tree swayed, freed itself, and drew near to the Messenger, saying: ‘Peace be upon you, O Messenger of God!’ The Bedouin said: ‘Now tell it to return to its place.’ When God’s Messenger ordered it to do so, the tree went back. When the Bedouin said: ‘Let me prostrate myself before you,’ the Messenger answered: ‘No one is allowed to do that.’ The Bedouin said: ‘Then I will kiss your hand,’ and he allowed him to do so.”141
THIRD EXAMPLE: Authentic books of Tradition, including Muslim’s Sahih, quote Jabir as relating: “We accompanied God’s Messenger on an expedition. He searched for a place to relieve himself. When he saw that there was no screened place, he went to two trees and pulled one of them by a branch next to the other one. The tree was like an obedient camel being pulled by its reins. He addressed them: ‘Join together over me, by God’s leave.’ The trees did so and formed a screen. After relieving himself, he ordered them to go back to their places.”142 In another version, Jabir relates it with a very slight, insignificant difference.143
FOURTH EXAMPLE: Usama ibn Zayd, a brave commander and servant of God’s Messenger, reports: “We accompanied God’s Messenger on an expedition. Unable to find a screened place to relieve himself, he asked me: ‘Do you see any trees or rocks?’ When I said that I did, he told me: ‘Go and say to the trees that God’s Messenger orders them to join together so that he may relieve himself, and then tell the rocks to do the same.’ I went and told them to do this, and I swear by God the trees joined together and the rocks formed a wall. After relieving himself, God’s Messenger told me: ‘Tell them to separate.’ I swear by the Majestic One, in Whose hand is my soul, that the trees and rocks separated and went back to their places.”144 These two incidents also were reported by Ya‘la ibn Murra, Ghaylan ibn Salama al-Thaqafi, and Ibn Mas‘ud in connection with the Battle of Hunayn.
FIFTH EXAMPLE: Imam Ibn Fawrak, known as the second Shafi‘i on account of his excellence in jurisprudence and perfect character, reports: “God’s Messenger sometimes felt sleepy while traveling on horseback. One night during the Battle of Ta’if, a lotus tree appeared in front of him. To make way for him and avoid harming his horse, the tree split in half and God’s Messenger passed through it while riding his horse. That tree has remained so up to our time.”145
SIXTH EXAMPLE: Ya‘la reports: “During an expedition a talha or samura tree came and walked around God’s Messenger, as if circumambulating, and then went back to its place. God’s Messenger said: ‘It asked for God’s permission to salute me.’”146
SEVENTH EXAMPLE: Traditionists quote Ibn Mas‘ud as saying: “When the jinn of Nusaybin came to Batn al-Nakhl to be converted to Islam by God’s Messenger, a tree informed him of their coming.” Imam Mujahid relates from Ibn Mas‘ud that when the jinn asked for a proof of his Prophethood, a tree came to the Messenger and then returned to its place on his order. This miracle was enough for them to embrace Islam.147
Those who have heard of 1,000 similar miracles and still do not believe are even further astray than devils. Jinn describe such people as the foolish ones among us [who used to] utter extravagant lies against God (72:4).
EIGHTH EXAMPLE: Tirmidhi reports from Ibn ‘Abbas: “God’s Messenger asked a Bedouin: ‘If that tree branch comes to me when I call it, will you bear witness that I am the Messenger?’ He replied that he would, and so the Messenger called to it. The branch broke off and jumped over near to him. It then jumped back to its place when the Messenger commanded it to do so.”148
Many similar examples are reported through various narrations. Seven or eight ropes form a strong cable when they come together. In the same way, when these tree-related miracles reported by the most renowned Companions are taken together, they must have the certainty of tawatur in meaning or even in actual wording. In fact, they gain the degree of explicit tawatur through the Companions passing them down to the following generation. In particular, such authentic books of Tradition as Bukhari’s Sahih, Muslim’s Sahih, Ibn Hibban’s Sahih, and Tirmidhi’s Sunan note and record the chain of transmitters (leading back to the Prophet’s time) so soundly and convincingly that reading an account in Bukhari’s Sahih, for instance, is equivalent to hearing it from the Companions.
When trees recognize God Almighty’s Messenger, confirm his Messengership, call upon and salute him, and obey his orders, how can those unbelievers who call themselves human beings be considered anything but worthless pieces of wood and worthy of Hellfire?
TENTH SIGN: This concerns the grieving pole, which is reported in the form of tawatur and reinforces the tree-related miracles. This event, which happened in the Prophet’s Mosque before a vast congregation, consolidates and confirms such miracles, for the pole came from a tree. But this miracle itself is mutawatir (has the certainty of explicit tawatur), while miracles concerning trees are mutawatir when considered as a whole.
The Prophet used to lean on a date-palm pole while delivering a sermon in his mosque. However, when he began to deliver his sermons on the newly constructed pulpit, the congregation heard the pole moan like a camel. Its moaning ended only after the Messenger consoled it by putting his hand on it.
This miracle is widely known and has the certainty of explicit tawatur. It was reported through 15 different channels by an illustrious group of Companions, among them are such eminent scholars and leading Tradition narrators as Anas ibn Malik and Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah al-Ansari (both of whom served the Prophet), ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbas, Sahl ibn Sa‘d, Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri, Ubay ibn Ka‘b, Burayda, and Umm Salama (mother of the believers). Hundreds of Tabi‘un authorities received it from the Companions, and authentic books of Tradition, above all Bukhari and Muslim, transmitted it to the following centuries.
Jabir reports that God’s Messenger used to lean against the pole, called the “date-palm trunk,” when delivering a sermon in his mosque. After a pulpit was built, the Prophet would deliver his sermon from it. Due to this separation, the pole moaned like a pregnant camel. Anas relates that it moaned like a water buffalo and caused the mosque to tremble. Sahl ibn Sa‘d says: “When it moaned, many people burst into tears.”
According to Ubay ibn Ka‘b, the pole sobbed so much that it split. Another report relates that God’s Messenger said: “It moaned because it was separated from the recitation of God’s Names (during the sermon).” According to another version, he said: “If I had not embraced and consoled it, it would have wept until the Day of Judgment because of its separation from the Messenger.”
According to Burayda, the Messenger put his hand on the pole when it began to weep and said: “If you wish, I will restore you in the wood from whence you came so that you may be rooted again, perfectly flourishing, and yield fruit again. Or, if you wish, I will plant you in Paradise and God’s friends will eat from your fruits.” Then he listened to it, and the people in the mosque heard the pole say: “Plant me in Paradise, and God’s friends will eat from my fruits in the place where there is no decay.” God’s Messenger replied that he would and added: “It has preferred the World of Eternity to the transitory one.”
The well-known scholar Hasan al-Basri would weep whenever he recounted this miraculous event to his disciples, and would say: “A piece of wood demonstrates such love and ardor for God’s noble, most beloved
Messenger. You need to feel this love much more than a piece of wood does.”149 And we say: “That is true, and love and ardor for him are possible by adhering to his illustrious Sunna and Sharia.”
QUESTION: Why were miracles of abundance concerning food and water not reported through as many channels as the grieving pole, even though more people saw them?
ANSWER: There are two kinds of miracles. Some affirmed his Prophethood. The grieving pole is of this kind, for it is a proof that strengthens the believers’ belief, urges hypocrites to belief and sincerity, and causes unbelievers to believe. This is why everyone witnessed it and so much effort was exerted to spread it. The other kind of miracles involving food and water are wonders or Divine gifts, even banquets provided by the All-Merciful One because of need, rather than manifest miracles.
Although they are miraculous proofs of his Prophethood, their real significance is that God, Who creates hundreds of tons of dates from a single date-stone, provides a banquet for 1,000 people out of a little food and satiates a thirsty army of holy warriors with water flowing abundantly from the Prophet’s fingers. This is why each miracle related to food and water does not reach the degree of the miracle of the grieving pole.
However, examples of these two kinds of miracles are considered, in their entirety, to have been as widely reported as the grieving pole. Besides, while each person present could see only the effects (and not the incidents) of the abundant food and water, with some only witnessing their happening, the pole’s moaning was heard by everyone. This is another reason why the latter was spread so widely.
QUESTION: The Companions preserved the record of the Prophet’s every act and condition with the utmost care. So why are such important miracles not related through more than 10 or 12 lines of transmission? And why are the main reporters only Companions like Jabir, Anas, and Abu Hurayra, and not, for example, Abu Bakr and ‘Umar?
ANSWER: The answer to the first part is given at the beginning of this letter, in the Fourth Sign’s Third Essential. Concerning the second part, just as a patient goes to a doctor, engineers are consulted about engineering matters, and muftis are asked about religious issues, some scholarly Companions were entrusted with and devoted themselves to instructing the following generations in the Prophetic Traditions. For example, Abu Hurayra devoted his life to preserving Traditions, while ‘Umar shouldered administrative matters and the caliphate’s problems. Thus ‘Umar narrated only a few Traditions, for he had confidence in such people as Abu Hurayra, Anas, and Jabir, to instruct the Muslims in the Traditions. In fact, a Tradition can be considered as established if it is reported by a well-known person belonging to the truthful, sincere, and trusted Companions. Given this, there is no need for it to be related by others. This is why some significant incidents have only one, two, or three channels.
139 Shifa’, 1:302; related by Bayhaqi, Ibn Maja, Darimi, Bazzar, and Ibn Hanbal.
140 Shifa’, 1:298; related by Tirmidhi, Ibn Hibban, Bayhaqi, and Hakim.
141 Shifa’, 1:299; Bazzar, Musnad, 3:49.
142 Muslim, no. 3006-12; Bayhaqi, 6:8.
143 Shifa’, 1:299.
144 Ibid., 1:300, related by Bayhaqi, Ibn Hanbal, and Abu Ya‘la.
145 Ibid., 1:301.
146 Shifa’, 1:301; Hakim, 2:617; Ibn Hanbal, 4:170; Bayhaqi, 6:23.
147 Bukhari, 5:58; also related by Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, and Ibn Hanbal.
148 Tirmidhi, no. 3632; Hakim, 2:620; Bayhaqi, 6:15.
149 Bukhari, Sahih, 4:237; Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, nos. 2236, 2237, 2400, 2401, 2430-32; Muslim, Sahih, no. 2374; Qadi ‘Iyad, al-Shifa’ al-Sharif, 1:304-5; Nasa’i, Sunan, 3:102; Tirmidhi, Sunan, No. 3631; Bayhaqi, Dala’il al-Nubuwwa, 6:66; Abu Nu‘aym, Dala’il al-Nubuwwa, 2:399; Darimi, Sunan, No. 39; Kanz al-‘Ummal, 12:411-18.