The Bad Word and the Bad Tree – Part 1

“And the example of a bad word is like a bad tree, uprooted for the surface of the earth, not having any stability. And Allah keeps firm those who believe, with the firm word, in worldly life and in the Hereafter. And Allah sends astray the wrongdoers. And Allah does what He wills.” (Surah Ibrahim:26-27)

Allah then mentioned the opposite of the good word, ‘the bad word‘ and likened it to the bad tree that has been uprooted from the surface of the earth. It is unstable with a weak trunk and no high branches, bears no fruit nor has any shade – as it is in reality nothing but a low and fruitless tree.

When a person with a sound intellect contemplates upon most of the writing and speech of mankind, he will realise that it is similar to this bad tree. It is a great loss when a person busies himself with this fruitless talk and leaves behind the best and most beneficial speech (i.e. the Qur’an).

Al-Dahhak said, “Allah compared the disbeliever with a tree that has been ‘uprooted from the surface of the earth, not having any stability’ to say that a rootless tree without branches or fruit is without benefit and is similar to the disbeliever, whose actions and speech are devoid of good and therefore Allah places no grace or benefit within them. Ibn Abbas said: “The phrase ‘the example of a bad word‘ refers to shirk, and ‘is like a bad tree‘ refers to the disbeliever, and ‘uprooted from the surface of the earth, not having any stability’ means shirk as neither has an origin that a disbeliever can hold to nor a proof.” And Allah never accepts the deed of a disbeliever and never raises it to Himself. The intended meaning of ‘has no firm roots on earth and no branches in the sky‘ is that the disbeliever has no good deed to be raised to Allah and no good deed in the Hereafter.

Al-Rabi ibn Anas said, “The example of the bad tree is like the disbeliever whose words and deeds have neither roots nor branches, and his deeds and sayings having no stability on earth nor can they reach high into the sky.”

Said narrated from Qatadah regarding this ayah, “A man once asked someone from the people of knowledge that he met on the road, ‘what do you say about the phrase in the ayah ‘the bad word‘? he replied, ‘As far as I know, it neither settles on earth nor ascends to the sky, so it accompanies the one who said it until the Day of Judgement.” Then Allah informs of His separation between the two groups; the people of the goodly word and the people of the bad word, and His justice. He informs us that ‘He keeps firm those who believe, with the firm word’ which is what they are most in need of in they life, and the hereafter; and that He ‘sends astray the wrongdoers (i.e. disbelievers)’ by directing them far from the firm word thus He sends them astray by His Justice; and holds the believers upon the firm word by His Grace, and due to their Iman.

With this ayah ‘Allah keeps firm those who believe, with he firm word, in the worldly life and in the Hereafter‘ lies a magnificent treasure. Those who find it, utilise it and spend from it, will be successful, whereas those who are prevented from enjoying this treasure will be from the losers. Indeed the slave of Allah cannot survive without Allah keeping him firm, even for the blinking of an eye because without the Support from Allah, his world would come crashing down. Allah said to His most noble and beloved one amongst His creation,

“And had we not made you stand firm, you would nearly have inclined to them a little…” (Surah Isra:74)


“(Remember) when your Lord revealed to the angels, “Verily I am with you, so keep firm those who have believed…” (Surah al-Anfal:12)


“And all that We relate to you of the news of the Messengers is in order that We may make strong and firm your heart…” (Surah Hud:120)

Paragons of the Qur’an by Ibn Qayyim al Jawziyyah Pages 81-83

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