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Need help understanding this Hadith [Parable]

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Very often, we find the Messenger of Allah [s.a.w] giving parables as examples. I would like help in understanding the deeper meaning behind this parable, if possible. I have my own ideas, but i would like to see a proper understanding:

Chapter 168  Description of the hypocrisy and the hypocrite

صفة النفاق والمنافق

The Messenger of Allah [s.a.w] has said: ‘An example of the hypocrite is like an example of the trunk of a palm tree. When its owner intends to use it in a construction, it does not fit in the place he wants it to fit. His then tries it in another place, and it still does not fit. So at last he burns it in the fire’.

 أبو علي الأشعري ، عن الحسن بن علي الكوفي ، عن عثمان بن عيسى ، عن سعيد بن يسار ، عن أبي عبد الله عليه‌السلام قال قال رسول الله صلى‌الله‌عليه‌وآلهمثل المنافق مثل جذع النخل أراد صاحبه أن ينتفع به في بعض بنائه فلم يستقم له في الموضع الذي أراد فحوله في موضع آخر فلم يستقم له فكان آخر ذلك أن أحرقه بالنار.

[Kitab Al Kafi - Volume 2 ] [Grading: muwathaq  Mirat Al Uqul]

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In dream interpretation a dried palm tree means a hypocrite.

Some food for thought

Consider Surah Munafiqun verse 4:

وَإِذَا رَأَيْتَهُمْ تُعْجِبُكَ أَجْسَامُهُمْ وَإِن يَقُولُوا تَسْمَعْ لِقَوْلِهِمْ كَأَنَّهُمْ خُشُبٌ مُّسَنَّدَةٌ يَحْسَبُونَ كُلَّ صَيْحَةٍ عَلَيْهِمْ هُمُ الْعَدُوُّ فَاحْذَرْهُمْ قَاتَلَهُمُ اللَّهُ أَنَّى يُؤْفَكُونَ {

And when you look at them, their bodies please you; and when they speak, you listen to their words. They are as blocks of wood propped up. They think that every cry is against them. They are the enemies, so beware of them. May Allah curse them! How are they denying (or deviating from) the Right Path.

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I think by considering some verses of the Quran related to hypocrites, we understand this Hadeeth better.

The Quran states:


" —those who lie in wait for you: if there is a victory for you from Allah, they say, ‘Were we not with you?’ But if the faithless get a share [of victory], they say, ‘Did we not prevail upon you and defend you against the faithful?’ ....wavering in between: neither with these, nor with those. And whomever Allah leads astray, you will never find any way for him." [4:141-143]


This hadeeth says a faithful should not make friends with hypocrites because this friendship doesn't benefit a faithful. like a trunk of a palm tree which doesn't fit any place so it doesn't benefit his owner; a hypocrite doesn't benefit his faithful friend( Sahib either means friend or owner, both are true).

For instance, in hardship one can not count on a hypocrite; because a hypocrite is used to showing off in some situations for his own benefit not for others.


Edited by Alireza Huseini

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I think it means believers command towards good and forbid evil, and hence build society, and are a building block. A hypocrite does the opposite and hence destroys society.

Edited by LinkZelda

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A tree often can represent the Deen. A tree with many, firmly established roots will stand upright amidst the biggest storms. Just like your Deen if it's correct. Ofcourse, theoretically... one can use portions of the tree (parts of the Deen) to build your own house (your own ideal of the Deen) but it wouldn't help at all. Because this Deen in it's essence can't be used as a mishmash of ideals.  It's either you accept the entire tree as your abode or not. Finally when he realizes this Deen can not be used for his own good, he throws all the little bits of wood (the little knowledge one had accumulated over the years) in a fire to burn. I think the fire is pretty self explanatory.

After all, a hypocrite is basically someone who uses Islam as means for his own ego/worldly gains.

Edited by P. Ease

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