Shajrae Tayyiba (The Consecrated Tree) denotes Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) and the Accursed Tree denotes their enemies
The Almighty Allah says:
أَلَمْ تَرَ كَيْفَ ضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا كَلِمَةً طَيِّبَةً كَشَجَرَةٍ طَيِّبَةٍ أَصْلُهَا ثَابِتٌ وَفَرْعُهَا فِي السَّمَاءِ. تُؤْتِي أُكُلَهَا كُلَّ حِينٍ بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهَا وَيَضْرِبُ اللَّهُ الْأَمْثَالَ لِلنَّاسِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَذَكَّرُونَ. وَمَثَلُ كَلِمَةٍ خَبِيثَةٍ كَشَجَرَةٍ خَبِيثَةٍ اجْتُثَّتْ مِنْ فَوْقِ الْأَرْضِ مَا لَهَا مِنْ قَرَارٍ.
Have you not considered how Allah set forth a parable of a good word (being) like a good tree, whose root is firm and who branches are in heaven, yielding its fruits in every season by the permission of its Lord? And Allah sets forth parables for men that they may be mindful. And the parable of an evil word is an evil tree pulled up from the earth’s surface, it has no stability. (Surah Ibrahim 14:24-26)
According to some the good word is the formula “There is no god except Allah” (La ilaha illallah) and according to other it denotes all good words. The simile mentioned is that of the ‘good tree’ which has a good growth and a huge spread, whose roots spread in the earth and are strong and its branches reach upto the skies. By the command of Allah it bears fruits all the year round or every year or every six months.
Some have said that it is the date palm and some say that the example of those trees is given whose roots spread in the earth and whose branches reach the sky and whenever you want you can take fruits from it although apparently no such tree exists.
Others say that the ‘good word’ is faith and the ‘good tree’ is also refers to faith. Allah had given this example for people so that they can take advice and the ‘evil word’ refers to polytheism or every false belief and bad word that Allah has prohibited from. It is like that evil tree which does not grow and its fruit is also bad, its roots grow above and are not firm and strong. Some have said that it is the cactus and some say it is a thorny tree and some opine that it means a tree with a foul odour and very weak tree which does not apparently exist.
Both the similes are perfect and clear because the true words and the right beliefs are like the tree whose roots are firm and strong and during times of doubt and unclarity they do not move from their place and their branches reach to the sky and it becomes taller and taller and those words and true belief are accepted in the realm of Allah and everyday due to correct belief and good deeds Allah’s grace is showered upon him.
That tree bears fruits and immediately bears pure fruits in the world and due to belief and good deeds in abundance and due to good ethics it acquires nearness to the Almighty. The wrong-doers try their best to uproot it and destroy it but they cannot do so and in the hereafter that tree will bear the fruits of everlasting benefits and never-ending pleasures and the false words and wrong beliefs are like cactus for the intelligence, which is bitter in taste and unbearable. Although misguided and ignorant people try to spread it, but it gets uprooted from the ground as it does not have firmness and in the hereafter its fruits would be destruction and annihilation. In Hell there would be nothing to eat and drink except cactus, blood and pus.
Of the explanations of these verses by Shias and Sunnis there is a traditions of Ibne Abbas from Ahle Sunnat sources that Jibraeel said to the Holy Prophet (S): You are that tree, and Ali is its branches and Hasan and Husain (a.s.) are its fruits.
In Firdausul Akbhar there is a tradition from the Holy Prophet (S) that: I am the tree and Fatima is its branch and due to Ali and Fatima it has the capability of bearing fruits and Hasan and Husain are its fruits and the friends of Ahlul Bayt (a.s.) are its leaves and all its parts are in Paradise.
Kulaini, Saffar and Ibne Babawayh have narrated from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) that the Holy Prophet (S) said: I am the base and the root of that tree and Amirul Momineen (a.s.) is its trunk and the Imams from his progeny are its stems, and the knowledge of the Imams are its fruits and the believers are its leaves. Is there anything else in a tree? No, by Allah, said the narrator. The Hazrat said: By Allah when a believer is born a leaf grows from that tree and when a believer dies, a leaf falls off the tree.
In Maniul Akhbar there is a tradition from Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) that the tree is the Holy Prophet (S), its trunk is Amirul Momineen (a.s.), its branch is Fatima (s.a.) and its fruits are their sons and its leaves are our Shias. Surely when a believer from our Shias dies, one of the leaves of that tree falls and when a son is born among our Shias a leaf grows on that tree.
Ali Ibne Ibrahim and Saffar have narrated from the same Hazrat that the tree is the Holy Prophet (S) whose lineage is proved in Bani Hashim. Its trunk is Ali Ibne Abi Talib (a.s.), its branch is Fatima (s.a.) and its fruits are the sons of Ali and Fatima, and its leaves are their Shias. ‘Yielding its fruits in every season by the permission of its Lord’ refers to those sciences by which the Holy Imams (a.s.) issue verdicts of permissible and prohibited things to their Shias during Hajj and Umrah.
In Basairud Darajat there is a tradition from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) that the tree means the farthest lote-tree (Sidratul Muntaha), the Holy Prophet (S) is its root, Ali is its trunk, Fatima is its branch, and the Imams from the progeny of Fatima are its branches and its leaves are their Shias. And its fruits which are always available are the sciences that are inquired from the Holy Imams (a.s.) and what they say in reply. People asked why is it called ‘farthest’? He replied: Because, by Allah, the religion of Allah ends at him and whoever is not the leaf of that tree, is neither a believer nor from our Shias.
Ayyashi has narrated from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) that the ‘good tree’ is an example that Allah has mentioned about His Messenger’s Ahlul Bayt and the ‘evil tree’ is the simile that Allah has given about their enemies.
In Majmaul Bayan there is a tradition from Imam Baqir (a.s.) that the ‘evil tree’ refers to Bani Umayyah.
Allah says in Surah Bani Israel:
وَمَا جَعَلْنَا الرُّؤْيَا الَّتِي أَرَيْنَاكَ إِلَّا فِتْنَةً لِلنَّاسِ وَالشَّجَرَةَ الْمَلْعُونَةَ فِي الْقُرْآنِ وَنُخَوِّفُهُمْ فَمَا يَزِيدُهُمْ إِلَّا طُغْيَانًا كَبِيرًا.
…And We did not make the vision which We showed you but a trial for men and the cursed tree in the Quran as well; and We cause them to fear, but it only adds to their great inordinacy. (Surah Israa 17:60)
There are many traditions in its explanation that the cursed tree is the lineage of Bani Umayyah. That is why Ayyashi and other narrators with many chains of narrators have related from Amirul Momineen (a.s.), Imam Baqir (a.s.) and Imam Sadiq (a.s.) that the cursed tree is Bani Umayyah.
Ayyashi has also narrated through many chain of narrators in the explanation of this verse that the Holy Prophet (S) dreamt that a group of people are going on his pulpit and making people aloof from the religion, after that Jibraeel came with this verse that the unjust caliphs and Bani Umayyah would sit on your pulpit and make people aloof from religion.
Ayyashi has also narrated from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) that one day the Holy Prophet (S) emerged from his house in very aggrieved mood. The companions asked the reason for his grief. He said: Last night I saw a dream that the descendants of Bani Umayyah were mounting my pulpit. When I asked Allah whether this would happen in my lifetime, He said: It would occur after your passing away.
According to other traditions the Holy Prophet (S) said: I saw twelve persons from Bani Umayyah climbing my Pulpit.
Shaykh Tabarsi has related that the Prophet saw some people going up and down his pulpit. After this, till the Prophet was alive, no one saw him laughing.
There is a tradition is Sahifa Kamilah from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) that one day the Holy Prophet (S) was on the pulpit and he dozed. He dreamt that some people were jumping up and down his pulpit, as monkeys do and they were sending the people away. Seeing this the Hazrat was astonished and sadness and grief became apparent from his face. Just then Jibraeel brought this verse and the cursed tree refers to Bani Umayyah.
Shaykh Tabarsi in Ihtijaj, in the footnotes of the debate between the Imam Hasan (a.s.) and Muawiyah and their companions, has narrated that Imam Hasan (a.s.) said to Marwan Ibne Hakam: Allah has cursed you, your father, your dear ones and your progeny and that curse caused you to commit polytheism, sins and transgression.
As Allah says: ‘and the cursed tree in the Quran’. O Marwan you and your Progeny are the cursed tree, whom Quran has cursed and we are the people of the Quran and we know the apparent and hidden meanings of the Quran. We are from that tree praised by Allah in these words: ‘Whose root is firm and who branches are in heaven’ It means the knowledge of the Quran would be expounded to the people of the world and our enemies are from the cursed tree:
يُرِيدُونَ أَنْ يُطْفِئُوا نُورَ اللَّهِ بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَيَأْبَى اللَّهُ إِلَّا أَنْ يُتِمَّ نُورَهُ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْكَافِرُونَ.
They desire to put out the light of Allah with their mouths, and Allah will not consent save to perfect His light, though the unbelievers are averse. (Surah Tawbah 9:32)
If the hypocrites had understood the meaning of this verse, that I have mentioned, they would surely have removed it from the Quran as they have removed many verses which were clearly in our praise and in denouncement of our enemies.1