People of the Garden
By Muhammad Abdul Hai
Once upon a time there was a wealthy and pious man. He had a big garden always full of green trees laden with fruits. In the season, this rightful man used to distribute some of the fruits among the poor. The poor people of the City would wait for the fruits to become ripe and throng do the Garden during the season. They would be happy after getting their share and go away.
Allah liked this act of the man. By the grace of Allah the Garden used to give rich harvest every season. True, one who spends in the name of Allah would soon get the reward in this life itself as well as in the life after death.
The man had many sons. They were not pious as their father. So in the first season after their father’s death they conversed with each other. They discussed a plan and said to each other that their father was not a wise man. He did not know how it was difficult to earn livelihood. They did not like the practice of distributing some of the fruits among the poor since they toiled for it. They felt as if all their efforts went in vain. They thought they would also be ruined if they spend like this.
One of them said the poor people wait for the season and throng to the garden as usual. He asked how they could deny them next time.
Then they thought over its implications. As some people give away to poor for fear of their own prestige, they are afraid to deny the poor as well. At the same time they do not give alone for fear of Allah. Similar was the case of the boys. They were not afraid of Allah’s punishment. They were afraid of the people around.
One of them suggested plucking the fruits in the night and clear the garden of them before dawn overtakes, so that nobody could come and ask for his share. All others agreed to the suggestion. Since they were not even afraid of Allah, they forgot to say ‘Insha-Allah’, which means if Allah Wills. If a Muslim does not say so before doing something Allah may not fulfil his wish. But those who have no faith in Allah fail to remember this and get stuck up in their act. “….they resolved to gather the fruits of the garden in the morning, but made no reservation, (‘if it be Allah’s Will’)”
Allah is all Powerful. He knows no bounds in His Governance. All the brothers went to sleep with a view to getting up early in the morning and gather the ripe fruits. In the meantime, with the Will of Allah “there came on the (garden) a visitation from the Lord, (which swept away) all around, while they were asleep.”
Before the dawn broke, all of them got up and hurried up and “called out, one to another- ‘Go you to your tilt (betimes) in the morning, if ye would gather the fruits. So they departed, conversing in secret low tones, (saying)- ‘let not a single indigent person break in upon you into the (garden) this day’.”
As they were proceeding towards the garden, they were quite unaware that Allah had willed otherwise. The garden had become by the morning, ‘like a dark and desolate spot” So when they reached the garden, by now a desolate, deserted, and razed to the ground, they said this was not there garden, and that they had strayed away from the right path to the garden. But when they saw there was no other way around, they were wonder struck and awe-stricken. Soon they realized the situation and yelled: “We have surely lost our way. Indeed we are shut out (of the fruits of our labour)!” One of them said: “Did I not say to you ‘Why not glorify (Allah)’?” He had been advising them against this act, for he had said it is only Allah who would enhance their fruits if they continued to give away some of them in charity. Now all of them felt bad over their misdeed. Then they turned, to one another, in reproach and said: “Glory to our Lord! Verily we have been doing wrong. Alas for us! We have indeed transgressed!” All of them, then, sought Allah’s pardon and said: “It may that our Lord will give us in exchange a better (garden) than this, for we do turn to Him (in repentance).”
The of the People of Garden is but a small parable. Allah has mentioned this in the Surah Al Qalam in the Qur’an. It has wider meanings for us to draw lessons. Allah has mentioned many other such parables in the Qur’an only to caution us and teach a lesson.
(1) Allah created human beings. But not all are equal in strength, power, physique, wisdom, wealth, etc. While some are strong and powerful, others are weak and powerless; some are wealthy and some poor and pauper; some are wise and intelligent, some coward and mediocre. Allah has divided a man’s mental, physical faculties with variable powers. He has distributed wealth with variance. And it is all according to one’s mental and physical ability and power. That is why some are wealthy persons and others are poor and look to the wealthy for their needs. Then, Allah has also made the wealthy leave behind his wealth for his progeny, and the generation of poor mostly remain poor. But this is not without any reason. Allah has also made it obligatory on the wealthy to help the poor in distress. The wealthy are put to severe test by Allah. He likes those who spend according to His wishes. He does not like those who either fritter away their wealth and resources in worldly affairs or do not give to the poor.
On the other hand, Allah has also put the poor to test. They are not supposed to ask for any thing that they need from any one except Allah. In doing so they may lose their faith because in asking for help from others amounts to Shirk. And if they remain steadfast in their poor condition and remain firm in their faith, Allah surely likes such people and has assured of reward in the Hereafter. Those who have love for worldly pleasure despite being poor and would not believe in the pleasures in the Hereafter would try to gain wealth in this world itself, which is short lived. They forget that real, beautiful and satisfactory life is assured in the Hereafter. Hence, he should not ask from people wealthier or powerful to him for fulfilling his desires. Instead he should continue to strive for gaining Allah’s pleasure by remaining steadfast and firm in his faith.
And the army of Islam consists of such persons who do not spend their wealth on worldly affairs but distribute due share to the poor, and the poor remain steadfast in their life.
(2) It is obligatory on the part of a Mu’min to assess the quality, utility and value of what Allah has given him. He should not spend it without the will of Allah in worldly affairs. He should know that he has to account for his wealth before Allah. Those who do not respond to the will of Allah suffer from one loss or the other.
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