On the Qutbiyyat* of Trees
We have blessed you by extending Our hands from the trees in the forest,
did you not see the thousand hands of blessing?
-Hazrat Inayat Khan
As at the coming of the spring-tide rains
Rivers of sap through growing trees upstart,
So runs Thy love throughout my very veins,
Yea, to the tender tendrils of my heart.
-Princess Zib al-Nisa'
the legendary Majnun, whose skin and hair hardened into bark and
branches, in time the practitioner of the Elemental Purification
Breaths acquires the attributes of a tree.
below the tree eats earth and drinks water through its roots. From
above it partakes of fire and breathes air through its leaves. Every
tree is a cosmic pole grounding Heaven in the soil of Earth and
inspiring in Earth the soul of Heaven.
Nur al-Din and his vegetarian Sufi rishis planted fruit trees all
across the valley of Kashmir, moving the emperor Jahangir to proclaim,
"if there is a paradise on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here!"
tree has no itinerary or destination. What better guide could there be
on the pathless path which leads not from here to there, but from
nowhere to everywhere?
tree is a genius loci, a quietly eloquent witness of the place in which
it stands. Its branching frame is a favorite haunt of jinn, a
crossroads where strangers meet by chance, a lectern for the orations
child once ran away from home and for three days sat under a tree in
despair. On the third day a sugar-eater perched overhead and began
chirping, "tu'i, tu'i, tu'i" (you are, you are, you are). That became the boy's zikr**, and his faith was renewed.
mystics attach themselves to trees, the attachment sometimes proves to
be mutual. Soon after Hazrat Inayat Khan left the world, the apricot
tree under which he was accustomed to meditate followed him into the
have even been known to sacrifice themselves to a righteous cause. When
a ruthless mob set its sights on the prophet Zacharias, legend relates
that a compassionate tree opened its hollow and urged him to enter. His
pursuers were confounded until the Devil intervened and betrayed his
hiding place, whereupon the villains brought a saw, and tree and
Zacharias both were martyred.
we Homo sapiens have trees to thank for the very oxygen we breathe, as
the proverb goes, 'the fool cuts the branch on which he is sitting.'
All around us forests are falling, whole nations of trees disappearing.
Surely now the time has come to open our hollows and offer sanctuary to
our endangered green friends, whose friendship is by any sane reckoning
* The quality of being a qutb, or pole.
** Invocation, mantra.