The Natural Beauty of the Garden
The human spirit has been created so that it takes pleasure in form, symmetry, beauty, purity, order, harmony of colour, in short, in perfection. All colours and sights in nature correspond most to this delight in the human spirit.
The places that people choose to relax and be comfortable in are often closely associated with natural beauty: woods, forests, seacoasts and river banks. With their clean air and open spaces and often near water, these give people a sense of well-being and happiness.
Places far from natural beauty where there is no sunshine and fresh air do not appeal to human beings.
One of the reasons why we human beings look for natural beauty is because Allah has created us to take pleasure in the beauties of the Garden. Whether a person is aware of it or not, he is waiting for the blessings of the Garden. Allah describes the Garden to us in the Qur’an with all the attributes of nature:
But those who have iman and do right actions will have Gardens with rivers flowing under them. That is the Great Victory. (Surat al- Buruj: 11)
Shaded by spreading branches. (Surat ar-Rahman: 48)
The Trees of the Garden:
We enjoy being in places where trees grow. If we live in the middle of crowded cities, we generally would like to be in places where there are trees and green spaces. We take pleasure in the sight of an area with trees and we even like looking at photographs or paintings of such places. Trees have been created to be of great benefit for the earth and they are a blessing offered to us by our Lord. With their wonderful appearances, type and colour variations, and the pleasing shade they provide, trees have been created for human pleasure. The Prophet mentioned the enormous dimensions of the trees of the Garden, illustrating it by mention of their shade:
In the Garden, there is a tree under whose shade a rider could travel for a hundred years without covering [the distance] completely. (Narrated by Sahl ibn Sa’d, Sahih Muslim)
In the Garden there is a tree under whose shade a rider can travel for one-hundred years. And if you wish, you can recite: “and wide-spreading shade.” (Qur’an 56:30) (Narrated by Abu Hurayra, Sahih al-Bukhari)
In the Qur’an Allah describes shade as a blessing:
But as for those who have iman and do right actions, We will admit them into Gardens with rivers flowing under them, remaining in them timelessly, for ever and ever. In them they will have spouses of perfect purity and We will admit them into cool, refreshing shade.(Surat an-Nisa’: 57)
What is the Garden promised to those who have taqwa like? It has rivers flowing under it and its foodstuffs and cool shade never fail. That is the final fate of those who have taqwa. But the final fate of the kuffar is the Fire. (Surat ar-Ra‘d: 35)
They and their wives reclining on couches in the shade. (Surah Ya Sin: 56)
The people with taqwa will be amid shade and fountains. (Surat al-Mursalat: 41)
Reclining in it on couches, they will experience there neither burning sun nor bitter cold. (Surat al-Insan: 13)
In several hadith, our Prophet describes the trees of the Garden:
The trunk of every tree in the Garden is of gold. (At-Tirmidhi)
In the Garden we will witness Allah’s incomparable and endless creation in which everything is possible. For example, the fruit of the trees in the Garden will resemble rubies, diamonds, sapphires and other precious stones but become edible when people pick them.
The Rivers and Seas in the Garden:
Sources of water are abundant, refreshing and cleansing, and places near water often have a climate that is both more liveable and pleasing to people because of its temperateness. For this reason, places that people choose for relaxation are often near the sea, on lake-shores or on the banks of rivers. So, in the Qur’an, Allah, glorious is He and exalted, says that those who have taqwa will, by Allah’s mercy, be “amid Gardens and Springs.” (Surat al-Hijr: 45)
The Prophet made frequent mention of the rivers in the Garden:
The rivers of the Garden spring from mountains or hills of musk. (Mukhtasar Tadhkirah al-Qurtubi, p. 307/501)
Sayhan, Jayhan, the Euphrates and the Nile are among the rivers of the Garden. (Sahih Muslim)
Allah reveals in the Qur’an that there will be rivers of milk, honey and wine in the Garden (Surah Muhammad: 15), but these are quite different from the milk, honey and wine of this world, and are created according to the special conditions of the Garden. In the Garden, each of them is delicious and refreshing. For example, the wine of the Garden is not like earthly wine. It will not make the People of the Garden drunk or cloud their awareness. Allah describes “a cup from a flowing spring” He has prepared in the Garden as, “white as driven snow, delicious to those who drink, which has no headache in it and does not leave them stupefied.” (Surat as-Saffat: 46-47)
This example of rivers of milk, honey and wine points to other wonderful things in the Garden that may await Allah’s faithful slaves. Milk is a perishable food, but the fact that there are rivers of it in the Garden points to the perfection of the blessings there. It is very easy for Allah to create such manifestations when the People of the Garden desire them.
The use of the word rivers emphasises the abundance of these blessings in the Garden. In this world, people can only have a limited number of these blessings, in jars, glass bottles and in other types of packaging, but the fact that there are never-ending and unadulterated streams of them in the Garden is a wondrous blessing.
These rivers are described in detail in the Qur’an:
An image of the Garden which is promised to those who have taqwa: in it there are rivers of water which will never spoil and rivers of milk whose taste will never change and rivers of wine, delightful to all who drink it, and rivers of honey of undiluted purity; in it they will have fruit of every kind and forgiveness from their Lord… (Surah Muhammad: 15)
In this verse Allah gives examples including water, milk, honey and wine. But it is possible for rivers of other imperishable blessings, abundant and pure as water, to flow for the delight of the believers. Allah tells us that drinks will be offered in goblets in the Garden, and that the People of the Garden will not get headaches from them or lose their self-composure. In another verse of the Qur’an, Allah says, “a cup from a flowing spring passing round among them.” (Surat as-Saffat: 45) The inmates of the Garden, “… are given the choicest sealed wine to drink, whose seal is musk – mixed with Tasnim,” which has been prepared for believers (Surat al-Mutaffifin: 25-27). Tasnim is a fountain in the Garden.
Allah, exalted is He, also says in the Qur’an that these beverages are fragrant.
The Beautiful Landscape of the Garden:
The Prophet described the beauty of the landscape of the Garden:
[It is built of] one brick of gold and one brick of silver, its mortar is of strongly scented musk, its stones are pearls and emeralds, and its soil is of saffron … (At-Tirmidhi; Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad)
In this hadith, the soil of the Garden is said to be saffron, a spice and dyestuff obtained from a valuable plant. This plant, with its vanilla-like aroma and its bright golden colour is a very special spice. To obtain one kilogram of saffron, between 70 thousand and 250 thousand flowers must be picked. Today, the production of saffron decreases daily. The most important factor in this is the difficulty in growing the plant because it takes between 3-4 years for saffron to be harvested. That such a valuable plant, which is grown with such difficulty in this world, is so plentiful in the Garden that it covers the whole landscape shows that the blessings there will be beyond reckoning.
The Expanse of the Garden:
When the People of the Garden settle in Allah‘s Garden a wide space will be left over. There, Allah will populate three hundred and sixty worlds, each one of which is larger than the world from its creation to its end. (Ahmad Diya ad-Din al- Kamushkhanawi, Ramuz al-Ahadith, vol. 1, p. 30/5)
As the Prophet points out in this hadith, there is vast spaciousness in the Garden. Contrary to the narrow restriction of the Fire described in the Qur’an, the Garden is expansive. It has been created in this way so that the human spirit may delight in open horizons and take pleasure in its expanse. Allah, in the Qur’an, describes the breadth of the Garden in these words:
Race each other to forgiveness from your Lord and a Garden as wide as the heavens and the earth, prepared for the people who have taqwa. (Surah Al ‘Imran: 133)