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The Tree and the Vine: Part 3

Imam W. D. Muhammad


"I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman."

(St. John 15:1)

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful; peace and blessings upon His Servant and His Messenger, Muhammad, forever. Amen.

There is no god but Allah: Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.

My Dear Brothers and Sisters: Jesus, in his teachings, taught more on the "vine" than he taught on the "tree." He referred to himself as the "true vine" and to his Father, Almighty God, as the husbandman. The word "husband" comes from the word "husbandman," which means the owner who is the Chief or the head of the cultivation of that particular premises. Jesus described God as the husbandman, the boss, or the owner of the vineyard in which he was working. In words, he was describing himself as a "hired hand" in the garden of God (the earth) who was in the world to work the world as a farmer works a garden. Jesus said that he sought nothing of himself; he said that he did nothing of himself; he said that he did not know what tomorrow would be; he said that the words he spoke were not his own but they were of the one that sent him. Jesus clearly presented himself as one working under a husbandman.


Truth Converts Muslims

I mention this fact of scripture because some of the non - Muslim readers of this column may reject our message in order "to be faithful to Christ." They do not want to think that Muslims can change them from Christianity. Brothers and Sisters, Muslims did not even convert themselves. There were Christians, Jews and pagans all over Arabia when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) lived there 1400 years ago. They did not convert Prophet Muhammad and make the first "Muslim" (in the Western concept of Muslim), it was the truth that produced Prophet Muhammad, the first Muslim. The One that converted Prophet Muhammad to truth is the same One that is trying to convert you to truth today. Muslims are not trying to convert you because Muslims are satisfied to live in peace with their Maker.


The Religious Society Gone Astray


"And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
2  Son of man, What is the vine tree more than any tree, or than a branch which is among the trees of the forest?
3 Shall wood be taken thereof to do any work? or will men take a pin of it to hang any vessel thereon?
4 Behold, it is cast into the fire for fuel; the fire devoureth both the ends of it, and the midst of it is burned. Is it meet for any work?
5  Behold, when it was whole, it was meet for no work: how much less shall it be meet yet for any work, when the fire hath devoured it, and it is burned?
6 Therefore thus saith the Lori God; As the vine tree among the trees of the forest, which I have given to the fire for fuel, so will I give the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
7 And I will set my face against them; they shall go out from one fire, and another fire shall devour them; and ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I set my face against them.
8  And I will make the land desolate, because they have committed a trespass, saith the Lord God.

(Ezekiel 15:1 -8).

In this particular scripture, the vine is called a tree ("vine tree"). Vines resemble trees, but they do not resemble trees in their physical posture. The posture of the vine is quite different from the posture of the tree. The tree stands up erect with its head held high, but the body of the vine bows down and lays out along the ground. Both the tree and the vine have green leaves, they both produce fruit, and they both produce a bark after they begin to get old. The wood of both the tree and the vine can be used for firewood. If you throw a huge tree in the fire, the fire will usually burn out and still leave a big part of the tree trunk unburncd. But if you throw a dried vine into the fire, it will blaze up all at once and leave nothing but ashes.

The above verses are describing the religious society that had gone astray from God. It is symbolized as a vine because the people were not materially great. Societies of people who get materially strong resemble the body (trunk) of a strong tree. The spiritual people do not get strong in the wood (physical body) like the tree, they are weak like the vine. I am not speaking of the so - called spiritual people in the commercialized religions of today, I am talking about the real spiritual society that goes out in the world trying to convert people to truth. These spiritual people are like a vine because they do not have material wealth.

The above verses in the Book of Ezekiel are saying that the religious people of Jerusalem had failed to perform the only job for which they were made to do. They had been raised by the word of God to serve society as ministers of the truth, but when they became corrupt in their religion they began to misrepresent God and to misrepresent the truth. Because they were of no use to God or to the society, the scripture says that they were good for nothing but fuel for the fire. Being like the vine, they were too delicate and too weak to be used for the structure of society.


The Cursed Serpent

How did the ancient writers of scripture come up with the vine as a symbol for the religious society? The Book of Genesis uses the "cursed serpent" as a symbol to represent people who have their minds on materialism more than on humanism.

The Book (Bible) says that before the serpent introduced sin to the woman and to the man, the serpent was upright in the garden. If you think of a snake in the upright position, you will see a picture resembling a tree without branches and leaves. After the serpent beguiled the woman, God cursed him to crawl upon his belly. He went from an upright position to a prone position, flat upon the ground. The Book of Ezekiel says that the vine is a cursed thing when it does not perform its God - given work. Why are the religious people called a vine if the vine is something that is connected with the fallen serpent? Both the serpent and the vine crawl on their bellies and stretch out along the ground.

The vine grows up out of the earth in an upright position, but it bends over and finally touches the ground. When it touches the ground, it grabs the ground and sends its roots down into the ground. As this process continues, the vine is able to crawl over the earth. The movement of the vine is much like the movement of the serpent. The serpent falling down from its upright position means that it lost its first knowledge because it turned away from God. In scriptural language, the serpent that accepts God again after its first fall is symbolized as a vine. The serpent fell from an upright position because it was selfish and because it wanted all the knowledge for its own glory. Before it fell down, it kept its head high above the ground and would not let its head go down to the ground and feed upon the things that are low on the earth.


The Two Roads

Man starts out first in search for knowledge, but in time he becomes selfish in that search for knowledge. You have probably talked to many so - called educated people who are so selfish that they try to speak to you in such a way to make it hard for you to understand them. They do this because they do not want you to get any of their knowledge. The Book tells us that the proud and selfish "serpent" is going to be cursed to lick the dust of the earth. This means that he is going to lose his moral body, he is going to lose his knowledge, his head is going to drop from higher truth and feed on nothing but earthly knowledge. If a snake sees something that it wants and there is slime and filth between him and the object, he cannot lift his body up over the slime. He has to drag his whole body through all the filth to get to what he wants.

This is like the materialistic people that cannot go up off the ground like the spiritual people. Spiritual people can travel a route of humanism and a route of spiritualism that is above the surface of the earth. They can travel a route of righteousness and of God's truth that is high in the heavens and come down to where they want to go. The serpent, however, has no nature or no make up in him that enables him to get up off of the ground and take a high road. So be has to take the low road and go straight through all the filth, telling lie after lie, conniving to get where be wants to go. The wise writers of scripture saw this particular kind of person as a serpent who is fallen down because of a curse on him.

I hope that you can see that God's truth is "deep," but it is also simple. It can be presented to yon in an easy, clear form so that the simplest person can understand it.

Your Brother, W.D. Muhammad


13. He is it Who showeth
You His Signs and sendeth
Down Sustenance for you
From the sky: but only
Those receive admonition
Who turn (to God).

Holy Quran Translation by Yusuf Ali: Sura XL: Verse 13