“You may then begin to imagine what great reward will be kept for you if over a thousand people as well as a thousand birds eat from that tree year in year out and even after you are dead.”
I will always remember the grand event that lead to my zeal to uncover the great secrets of the orchard. It was a friend’s wedding banquet; truly a one of a kind event and one to always look forward to when Allah (SWT) says it’s time to finally leave the chain of childhood or spinsterhood. No white wedding gowns, no white tents, no tables and chairs and no music. Everyone was seated on beautiful green fluffy rugs spread out on an expanse of green grass under the canopy of the blue sky and the cool shade of fruit trees. We had lots of fresh fruit drinks and a variety of delicious meals. There was a continuous melodious recitation from the Qur’an which made the atmosphere very serene and one to reflect upon. It was so beautiful. It was simply green and fully Islamic. It was a wedding in an orchard.
The venue of the wedding was not what thrilled me the most. I was more astounded at the fact that the orchard did not belong to the families of either the bride or the groom. It was owned by a man who died over ten years ago leaving his orchard in the hands of a faithful trustee to hold it as a charitable benefit for his entire community. So, it turned out that not a single kobo was paid to anyone to benefit from it, even the couple did not pay a rental fee.
One thing I’ve come to realise over the years is that we never can tell what deed will pave our way to eternal success. We’ve heard stories in Islamic history of evil doers who later secured the mercy of Allah (SWT) with just one good deed. On the other hand, quite a large number of good people secured His wrath by one act of evil. The case of a man who extended an act of kindness to a mere dog by feeding him with water from a well and thereby securing a place in Jannah will always remain fresh in my mind. I have long been thinking in this way: “In what good act can I invest that will pave my way to Jannah?” Thoughts of being an Islamic educator have crossed my mind several times, which is still a good idea. I have also thought about drilling boreholes for a number of communities when I get the wherewithal. But not until the wedding banquet of my friend did I ever think about orchards.
Having an orchard is not only rewarding in this world but also in the hereafter. Apart from being a source of livelihood and a means of contributing to sustainable development, orchards are also a greener choice of sadiqah jariya (continuous charity), which is a renewable source of earning rewards from Allah (SWT). After the wedding, I remembered reading a hadith of the Prophet (SAW) reported by Anas Ibn Malik which says: “If a Muslim plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird or a person or an animal eats from it, it is regarded as a charitable gift (sadaqah) for him.” (Bukhari)
You may then begin to imagine what great reward will be kept for you if over a thousand people as well as a thousand birds eat from that tree year in year out and even after you are dead. What if you own a hundred trees? You will not only provide free food to many hungry people but will also provide shade to a number of people which you could never even imagine. Apart from improving the oxygen cycle in your environment, you will also earn the reward for preserving it.
Of course not everybody can own an orchard. Some may not have the wherewithal to start one; some may not have the time needed to grow it and some may feel it is not necessary since a considerable number of people in their communities already do so for financial gain. Whichever the case, not owning an orchard does not necessarily mean that you cannot participate somehow in growing one, especially for your community. There are quite a number of ways to earn continuous rewards from Allah (SWT) by participating in growing an orchard:
1. Conceive the idea
Your local community does not have an orchard, not even a garden that people can benefit from. Even if you are limited in terms of finances and feel that you can do little or nothing about it, you may be able to be a catalyst for something great by doing the footwork. Talk to your local community imam, telling him the benefits of starting an orchard and what it can do for the community. You can follow it up by volunteering to raise money for it and getting committed people to make it work. Make sure you put much effort into it and purify your intentions over and over again, telling yourself that it is only for the sake of Allah and not for any ulterior motive.
2. Become a volunteer
You may dedicate some of your time; probably two hours three times a week or even once a week to work in a community orchard or a private charitable orchard. There are a variety of things to help out with such as watering the trees, cleaning the surroundings, weeding, harvesting when it is time and planting new seedlings. Contributing to the growth of an orchard is more like owning an orchard too and a very rewarding act as such. Don’t forget that there is also administrative work needed to run an orchard, perhaps you could help an orchard thrive by working on its website or aiding in various office duties.
3. Make some donations
If you have been benefitting one way or an other from a particular orchard, then it’s likely time to give back. You may donate some seedlings or a sum of money to help in many other ways. You may also increase the sources of water in the orchard by sponsoring the drilling of a borehole or such. If on the other hand, your community needs some funds to start an orchard, you may also donate to the cause. Make sure that your act of charity is made secret and nobody except the person directly in charge of the orchard knows about it. This is how to create a renewable source of earning rewards from Allah (SWT) for yourself.
4. Involve your children
Sometimes, we may think that the children are too small to participate in the little hobbies that we involve ourselves in. We are utterly wrong. Making them understand from a very young age is important in helping them nurture their eco–love right from the cradle. Watering the plants, tilling the grounds, giving petty donations and lots more – these are areas where they should actively participate. Since they will always remain our legacies after we are no more, their good activities in this world remain a renewable source of reward for us in this world and beyond.
All in all, uncovering the secrets of the orchard has been a fulfilling way of creating a source of sadaqa jariya for myself. And it may be an excellent opportunity for you too.
Wardah Abbas is a graduate of law from the University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria. She is a passionate Eco-Muslimah and a budding writer who believes in intellectualism as a prerequisite to change. You can read more of her writings on therosespen.wordpress.com