Iblis & the Tree

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

From the time of Bani Isra’il, there lived a pious man.  One day, the people informed him that at a certain location, there existed a tree that was being worshipped by a tribe.  When he heard this, the man flew into a rage, picked up his axe and set out to cut down the tree.  Iblis appearing before him in the form of an old man, asked, "Where are you headed for?"

The pious man replied, "I intend to cut down the tree, which is being worshipped so that the people will worship Allah (s.w.t.)."

"Hold yourself until you hear what I have to say," said Iblis to him.

The pious man agreed.  Iblis continued, "Allah (s.w.t.) has His own prophets and if it had been essential to cut down the tree, He would have Sent them to perform the task."  However, the pious man did not agree with Iblis and continued on his way.  "There is no way I will let you do it," said Iblis angrily, and he began to wrestle with the pious man.  In the ensuing contest, the pious worshipper hurled Iblis onto the ground.  "Wait!  I have something else to say to you", pleaded Iblis.  "Listen!  You are a poor man.  If you could possess some wealth by means of which you could give alms to the other worshippers it would be much better than cutting the tree.  If you refrain from cutting the tree, I shall place two dananir beneath your pillow every day."

The man said thoughtfully, "If you speak the truth, I shall give one dinar in charity while the other dinar I shall put to my use.  This is better than cutting down the tree; in any case, I have neither been ordered to perform this task nor am I a prophet to burden myself with unnecessary grief and anxiety."  Thus, man acceded to the request of Iblis who left him alone.  For two days, he received the two dananir and utilised them, but on the third day, there was no sign of the dananir.  Upset and distressed, he picked up his axe and set out to cut down the tree.

On the way, man encountered Iblis, who asked him: "Where are you headed?"

"I am going to cut that tree," he replied.

"There is no way you are going to do it," said Iblis.

Once again they began to contest, but this time Iblis overcame him and hurling him to the ground, ordered, "Turn back or I shall sever your head from your body."

The man said, "Leave me alone and I shall return, but tell me, how was it that I had managed to overcome you on the previous occasion?"

Iblis answered, "On that occasion, you had set out only for Allah (s.w.t.) and you were sincere in your intention.  As a result of which, Allah (s.w.t.) Subjugated me for you, but this time you were angry for your own self and for your dinar and so I could overpower you."

(Iblis) said: "Then by Thy power, I will put them all in the wrong - except Thy Servants amongst them, sincere and purified (by Thy Grace)." (Surah Swad:82-83)


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