This absolutely touches my soul. This tree was alive when the Prophet Muhammad walked on the Earth. This tree was probably alive when Christ walked on the Earth. This tree might have been alive during the time of Moses.
How it would change our relationship with nature if we shattered the illusion of thinking of her as an "it" to control, and came to see her as mother Earth (as ancient native people did), as an angel (the way ancient Persians did), as a theater of manifestation of Divine qualities (the way Muslim sages did).
The Islamic tradition usually speaks of the natural phenomenon as an aya, a word that means both the Sign of God and a verse of the scripture. Within the context of the Qur’an, God frequently swears by natural phenomenon, including the wind, the sun and the moon, and a whole host of animals. The Qur’an invites humanity to meditate and reflect upon natural phenomenon, and be led to the conclusion that surely a nature this awesome begs for an awesome Creator.
In the medieval time period, Muslim sages even discussed how there were two kinds of scripture: the written down scripture (tadwini) and the existential scripture (takwini), i.e., the natural cosmos. Imagine how it would change our perspective if we came to think of nature as a scripture, with every leaf, every wind, every river, and every coastline as a verse of God’s grandest scripture.
We would never rip up a book scripture or shred it to pieces, and yet we do this every day to the scripture of nature.
How sweet would it be to realize that peace inside our hearts and souls, peace among us humans, is intimately connected to our ability to live in peace with the natural cosmos.
[The tree is in Santa Maria Del Tule, in Mexico. Estimates are that this still living tree is between 1400 and 3000 years old.]