IT is wonderful to experience nature’s beautiful fragrances. Allah has created and captured for us lovely smells in flowers, herbs and other natural materials such as wood, honey, and the endless variety of the produce of the earth.
The countless herbs and foliage that Allah grows out for us lend exotic, diverse tastes and textures to our cuisines. Not to mention, their wonderful aroma entices the nostrils when they accentuate our food as garnishes, condiments, or sauces.
Flowers are a joy to behold and smelling them is an exhilarating experience. However, flowers may not possess the ability to fill up a room with pleasant fragrance. But a few citrons are enough to play the role of an air freshener. Melons, lemons and oranges come with their own unique, refreshing scent. We eat their raw pulp with relish, or make juices, desserts and what not from them, not to mention grate their skin to add further “zest” to our recipes!
In a beautiful Hadith, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) describes the action of reciting the Qur’an with a beautiful analogy: “The example of him (a believer) who recites the Qur’an is like that of a citron which tastes good and smells good. And he (a believer) who does not recite the Qur’an is like a date which is good in taste but has no smell. And the example of a hypocrite who recites the Qur’an is like the Raihana (sweet basil) which smells good but tastes bitter. And the example of a hypocrite who does not recite the Qur’an is like the colocynth which tastes bitter and has no smell.” (Al-Bukhari, vol. 6, no. 538)
The first analogy describes the sincere believer who has a sound monotheistic belief (Aqeedah) in his heart and he recites the Qur’an beautifully. He is like a succulent fruit citron that tastes good in the inside, because of his sound heart, love of Allah and pure intention. Further, the fact that he recites the Qur’an aloud in a melodious voice makes him akin to a citron that smells good from the outside too. This analogy expounds how Qur’an recitation is an action that beautifies the outer persona of a believer, because when others hear it, they are attracted to it, just as they are to fragrant citrons.
The second analogy mentions a believer who has a heart sound in faith and pure in intention like the first one, but who does not recite the Qur’an. He is like a date, which does not give off a pleasant fragrance, but is still sweet and succulent when eaten. This analogy in particular should be a soothing balm for those sincere believers who, despite concerted efforts at learning Tajweed to try to recite the Qur’an in a melodious voice, cannot accomplish but a mediocre recitation. Their inside is still sweet like the date, but the outer smell of the fragrant fruit is missing.
The third and fourth analogies are about the Munafiq or hypocrite. The Qur’an calls “Nifaq” a disease of the heart, in which the infected person has corrupted faith that makes his inner heart and soul like the basil leaf that is extremely bitter in taste when bitten. However, even if such a hypocrite, with his heart diseased by the love of this world, falsehood and Riya (show-off), learns to recite the Qur’an beautifully and is able to do so, so that people hear it and get attracted to it, is akin to the fragrant basil leaf: its scent is attractive and pleasant, but inside, it is repulsively bitter, rendering it inedible.
Finally, the analogy of a person who does not have sincere faith in his heart, but rather has a heart diseased with Nifaq, nor does he recite the Qur’an properly or melodiously, is like the colocynth or bitter gourd. This vegetable has neither got a pleasant fragrance emanating from it, nor does it taste sweet when eaten.
This beautiful Hadith explains to us with analogies of the tastes and scents of fruits and vegetables that the action of reciting the Qur’an adds a pleasant, attractive outer quality to a believer’s personality that attracts people to him and makes him a pleasure to be around. Even if they do not get to know him well (viz. they do not “eat the succulent citron”), they still enjoy his “fragrance” (the scent emanated by the citron).
The Hadith also gives a warning to people with diseased hearts and wicked souls. Just as no one would want to bite into basil or raw gourd, people get repulsed by such a person’s inner evil and vice, from which they inadvertently get hurt if they interact with them.
– Saudi Gazette