Islamic garden in Sharjah with Quranic plants
Islamic garden has a central role in Islamic spiritualism as well as culture. ‘Whoever obeys God and his Chosen One will be chosen to live in gardens beneath which flow rivers, and where they will live eternally,’ says the Holy Quran (4:13). Naturally drawing heavily from such sayings Islamic, particularly Persian Islamic culture, has over centuries, designed various gardens broadly known as the Islamic Garden. However, there is one garden in the world that is unique in this world: The Islamic Botanical Garden. It’s located in Sharjah, a city in the United Arab Emirates.
And, unlike most of the celebrated Islamic Gardens, it is not medieval. Authorities of Sharjah created it less than a decade ago. What’s so unique about it? Well, it’s the only Islamic garden in the world which was created by planting trees and plants mentioned in Quran and Sunnah.
The symbolism of garden in Islam
The holy book mentions garden more than a hundred times. The Prophet’s Sunnah also mentions garden repeatedly. In a hadith he says, “The greatest door to the Garden is the awareness of Allah and good character”. Of course, more than an arrangement of plant and trees, such mention symbolises spiritual messages.
Clearly this kind of garden symbolises paradise. And a person can only be attained paradise through unflinching faith in Allah and relentless good deeds, irrespective of circumstances. The Sura al-Rahaman gives the most detailed description of the Garden of Paradise. We find mention of the Garden of the Soul, the Garden of the Heart, the Garden of the Spirit and the Garden of the Essence. In brief, beyond being a harmonious and beautiful design of flora, an Islamic garden has far deeper significance to humanity.
Significantly the Holy Quran also mentions several plants and trees that are good and useful.
Islamic botanical garden
The Islamic Botanical Garden in Sharjah combines all these. The Environment and Protected Areas Authority (EPAA) opened this unique Islamic garden at the Sharjah Desert Park in 2014. The EPAA designed this Islamic garden inspired by a concept of Sheikh Sultan Bin Muhammad Ali Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah. He decided to create the garden in 2006 in collaboration with UNESCO.
The Islamic garden in Sharjah aims to spread awareness about the messages of sustainable development and conservation of the environment in Islamic scriptures and traditions. It was inaugurated in 2014, on the occasion of the city being named the Capital of Islamic Culture.
According to Hana Saif Al Suwaidi, EPAA Chairperson, “The Islamic Botanical Garden provides visitors with the opportunity to view plants mentioned in the Holy Quran and Sunnah. The trees, shrubs, and herbs are presented in an innovative way with their scientific names in Arabic and English and a list of their medicinal properties and health and nutritional benefits.”
Visitors can see here fifty plants mentioned in the holy Quran. These include tamarisk, Christ’s thorn, palms, pomegranates, grapes, figs, olives, basil, eucalyptus, ginger, umbrella thorns, katam (Buxus dioica), miswak (Salvadora persica) and hina (Lawsonia inermis). Only two plants mentioned in the Quran are absent: Al Zaqqum, a plant that is said to be a tree, which grows in hell, and Al Gharqad, known as the ‘tree of the Jews’.
The garden has 42 plants mentioned in Sunnah. Among these are, black cumin, saffron, aloe vera, and mustard.
The Islamic Botanical Garden also has a nursery, a classroom, a library, and a restaurant.