Tempting & luscious it was beyond my grasp. I pulled-up the garden chair to reach & pick the ripe golden papaya from the tree. Do I love papaya? No, I don’t even eat it. But, oh for the joy of picking edibles from trees! Alhumdullilah.
It’s that time of the year, when fruit trees are gearing up to carry the weight of their delicious off-springs. Green clusters of baby dates have already adorned the thousands of date palms dotting the streets. As much as we love the local wonder-food of the desert, we also know the familiar sad sight that is in store – perfectly good dates lying around the pavements, unwanted, unvalued & flattened by pedestrians.
While it is wrong to have food wasted & devalued this way, it is also human nature not to appreciate that which is near, accessible or in-plenty. We yearn for the taste of the exotic distant delights. And interestingly, one man’s exotica is another man’s run of the mill.
A Kashmiri family friend who arrived in the UAE recently was amazed to see the sight of plentiful ‘free’ dates. He said it reminded him of the abundant unwanted apricots that grace the streets in his native region. People have had too much and don’t care to eat them anymore. I was shocked. How can anyone be tired of relishing apricots? Hmmm, perhaps the same way, we get tired of the dates?
On a charming horse-drawn carriage ride across the idyllic Princes’ Island on the Marmara Sea, I was drooling at the sight of trees with cherries & white mulberries peeping over the wall of every third house. ‘Oh, I wish we had such trees in UAE. We’d be picking fruits and eating them all the time’, I had said to my mother. But, did the islanders feel the same way? No. Their streets and alleys were proof of that.
As we drove along the length of Florida during peak summer, my eyes were feasting on the endless rows of trees with oranges & grapefruits on both sides of the highway. Wouldn’t it be scrumptious to live here, I thought. Do the Floridians appreciate this bounty, I wondered.
Alhumdullilah, we have a number of fruits, vegetables & other useful trees that grow in our garden. During the summer peak, one of them is laden heavy with lemons, alhumdullilah. Yes, we use them and do value them, but unlike apricots, we can’t just bite into a lemon every day. And we can only have as much lemonade.
We have a lush curry-leave tree, alhumdullilah. We use it sparingly for certain dishes only. The Indians and Sri Lankans make liberal use of these leaves and sometimes strangers knock on our gate to ask if they can take some (they can see the tree from the street). Curry leaves are also beneficial for lowering high blood pressure.
Then there is the aloe vera. The one that grows in my house is the superior type & it is excellent for cosmetic purposes. Alhumdullilah. I’ve used it a couple of times to rub over my face, but that’s about it.
Also, there is the henna tree. Yes, there are some wildly romantic stories attached to having a henna tree in one’s house & no, they are not true. But, its leaves & blossoms have medicinal & cosmetic value. Never once have we used its leaves to make fresh henna to dye our hands or hair. Had it been in someone else’s house, we would have been envious, but since we have our own, we sadly don’t make use of it.
There are also, trees of mango, guava, mulberry, custard-apple, papaya, banana & pomegranate. Not all of them produce fruit though. Some are young, others don’t find conducive environment for fruitation while others produce few and far between.
Alhumdullilah, we are blessed. This calls for gratitude. One of the best ways of showing gratitude is by sharing that blessing with others. So, here’s the offer. If you would like the following, please let me know & inshaAllah, I will give it when I can or when it’s in season:
* Curry Leaves
* Papaya (sorry, they are already booked)
InshaAllah, I’d like to go beyond this by adopting the example of Sadaqa Jaariya explained in the following hadiths:
“Whoever plants trees, Allah will give him reward to the extent of their fruit.” [ Musnad, 415]
If a Muslim plants a tree, that part of its produce consumed by men will be as almsgiving for him. Any fruit stolen from the tree will also be as almsgiving for him. That which the birds eat will also be as almsgiving for him. Any of its produce which people may eat thus diminishing it, will be as almsgiving for the Muslims who planted it.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
My late grandfather had planted coconut saplings in each of his brother’s yard & one in his own. The others did not survive but the one in his house grew & flourished. Today, more than three decades after his death, his planted sapling is the tallest palm tree in the neighbourhood, producing abundant coconuts that are enjoyed by his family, neighbours & strangers. May Allah (Subbhanawataala) make it a source of sadaqa jaariyah for him.
So, allow me the chance of procuring on-going charity by taking the saplings of the few plants that I know how to propagate. If you have the space & the interest, I can offer curry tree/plant, aloevera & papaya plantlets at present, inshaAllah. You benefit from the fruit & I benefit from the ajr inshaAllah.
If you don’t know me or are in another country, but feel inspired, then please start your own ‘fruity sadaqa’ campaign!
Also, check out the ‘Muslim Grower’.