Reflection on Juz’ 3 by Kori Majeed

This reflection is part of Sapelo’s Ramadan 2021 series. To read other reflections in the series click here.

By Kori Majeed

Go to your fridge and get a bell pepper. (If you don’t have bell pepper, a cucumber, eggplant, or tomato will do.) Starting from the base of the stem, use a sharp knife to cut your bell pepper directly down the middle. Take a moment to notice the bounty of seeds inside. Each seed is the promise of a new plant. If that seed were to grow into a plant, and that plant produced just one bell pepper, that bell pepper would have its own cache of seeds. Repeat ad infinitum. This perennial blessing is evidence of how Allah rewards charity and good deeds.

The example of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is like a seed [of grain] which grows seven spikes; in each spike is a hundred grains. And Allah multiplies [His reward] for whom He wills. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing. (2:261)

The beginning of the global COVID-19 pandemic coincided with my completion of a beginning farmer training program at a local urban farm. I had just rented a 20-by-4 foot plot in my neighborhood community garden. I was also volunteering at my masjid’s community garden. So, while many people were retreating indoors and hoarding toilet paper and hand sanitizer, I was spending more time outside, putting my hands in the restorative, healing soil. I felt the sun stroking my back while I made dhikr and tended to the plants. The birds and insects recited remembrances in their own way. The wind whispered about the pricelessness of uncontaminated air.

After watching a video on how easy it is to start seeds from kitchen scraps, I decided to give it a try using the leftover seeds from an organic bell pepper. I repurposed a plastic cupcake container as a mini-greenhouse, poked a few holes for drainage, added soil, and tucked a couple bell pepper seeds into each compartment. To my delight, all the seeds sprouted! I had more seedlings than places to put them. Bell pepper is more than just a fruit masquerading as a vegetable. (Botanically speaking, any part of a plant that contains seeds is fruit.) The plethora of seeds inside a bell pepper signifies Allah’s often subtle but plentiful generosity. 

I am surrounded by Muslims in the garden—cucumber seeds, tomato plants, earthworms, beetles—who all readily surrender to Allah’s will.

Satan threatens you with poverty and orders you to immorality, while Allah promises you forgiveness from Him and bounty. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing. (2:268)

The garden has tutored me in many life lessons during this wearisome time. Everything will not go as planned. Allah tells the seed whether or not to germinate. Most things are out of my control. Allah has complete authority over the weather. 

And they [i.e., the disbelievers] planned, but Allah planned. And Allah is the best of planners. (3:54)

The garden cultivates wonder and awe. The first shoot of green emerging through the soil always provokes exclamations of praise and gratitude for the One who commanded it to grow. There is serenity at the sight of a bee resting on an okra blossom. I marvel at how long, slender green beans sprout from dwarfish white flowers. There is so much pleasure in popping a tart, juicy cherry tomato into my mouth straight off the vine. All of these natural phenomena point to the One who created us all: al-Khaaliq (the Creator), al-Muqeet (the Sustainer), al-Muhyi (the Giver of Life).

I am surrounded by Muslims in the garden—cucumber seeds, tomato plants, earthworms, beetles—who all readily surrender to Allah’s will.

So is it other than the religion of Allah they desire, while to Him have submitted [all] those within the heavens and earth, willingly or by compulsion, and to Him they will be returned? (3:83)

I envy their inclination toward obedience and generosity, and ask Allah to make me like an abundant garden, thriving yet content with Allah’s decree.

And the example of those who spend their wealth seeking means to the approval of Allah and assuring [reward for] themselves is like a garden on high ground which is hit by a downpour – so it yields its fruits in double. And [even] if it is not hit by a downpour, then a drizzle [is sufficient]. And Allah, of what you do, is Seeing. (2:265)

The garden has tutored me in many life lessons during this wearisome time. Everything will not go as planned. Allah tells the seed whether or not to germinate. Most things are out of my control. Allah has complete authority over the weather.

Time seems to move like thick molasses in the garden because the pleasurable work absorbs my attention. Even after a short time away, I anticipate returning because there is always fresh, new growth and signs of life. There is a give-and-take with with the animals like the groundhogs, deer and caterpillars claiming their portion of my harvest. But what the garden most reminds me of is the Eternal Garden in Allah’s divine presence.

Say, “Shall I inform you of [something] better than that? For those who fear Allah will be gardens in the presence of their Lord beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally, and purified spouses and approval from Allah. And Allah is Seeing [i.e., aware] of [His] servants (3:15)

Gardens have been spaces for reflection and gratitude for me, especially in these heavy, anxiety-ridden times. They are earthly sanctuaries that arouse reverence for Allah and reminders of the gardens promised to the righteous. Gardens are sacred spaces of spiritual and physical nourishment, meditation, and hope of Allah’s mercy. May Allah allow us all to recognize the signs of Allah’s sovereignty and munificence, even if it is in the seed of a bell pepper sprouting in a small pot.

Our Lord, let not our hearts deviate after You have guided us and grant us from Yourself mercy. Indeed, You are the Bestower. (3:8)

Ameen.

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Photo of Kori Majied

Kori Majeed has used her Green Ramadan platform to encourage Muslims to eat mindfully and tread lightly by cultivating sustainable habits during Ramadan since 2013. These habits are based on Islamic teachings and principles that call humanity to give all of Allah’s creation their rights. Kori is a GreenFaith fellow, Master Watershed Steward, a Muhammad Ali Scholar at Bayan Islamic Graduate School, and co-chair of the Green Team at Masjid Muhammad, the Nation’s Mosque, in Washington DC.

Web: greenramadan.com
Email: kori@greenramadan.com

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  • Thank you for sharing!

  • Very beautifully written. Just reading this piece gave a very peaceful and tranquil experience. Thanks for sharing Sister Kori.

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