God also rewards us for doing so on the Day of Judgment, because by earning our living we fulfill part of the task He has assigned to us when He placed mankind on earth. The following Hadith refers to both types of action at the same time. Anas ibn Malik quotes the Prophet as saying: Any Muslim who plants a tree or some other plant will be credited with a charitable action, or sadaqah, for whoever eats of that tree or plant, whether bird, man or animal. (Related by A-Bukhari).
The Prophet here speaks of the actions of Muslims, because a Muslim is required to address his actions to God and pray for His reward. Whatever a Muslim does can be counted as an act of worship, if he or she intends it for the right purpose. Muslims must intend their actions to be part of their compliance with the requirements placed on them by God as He assigned to them the duty of building human life on earth. However, the phraseology of this Hadith means that it applies to all Muslims, regardless of their religious or social status. It applies equally to men and women, whether pious or sinners.
When the Prophet does not qualify the subject he is speaking about, then his statement includes everyone to which his words apply. He is speaking here of planting, without specifying the purpose of the action. Therefore, the Hadith applies to all planting, whether intended for charity, business or what a person plants in the garden of his house for mere pleasure. The Prophet was keen to include all plants, referring to trees in particular.
What the Prophet highlights here is the abundant reward one earns for such action. This in itself is a great encouragement to increase agricultural land as much as possible, because it provides food for people and other creatures. We now know more about the importance of agricultural land for the ecology and environment. It is definitely most important for the continuity of life in a safe environment. Besides, when people, birds and animals eat of the trees and plants, the person who planted them will earn a reward for charity. This does not apply only to the owner of the land who performs the planting by himself. It applies equally to anyone whom he hires to do the job, such as a farm worker or a gardener, whether such a person is paid for his work or volunteers to do it.
What is very interesting here is that birds and many animals do not seek permission to eat of trees and plants. They simply help themselves to what suits them. When they do, the growers of those trees and plants earn their reward. A farmer who takes good care of his farm may want to keep away animals and birds, but some of them will not be deterred no matter how he tries. When they eat of his land, he earns his reward despite the fact that he would rather they do not come near his land. Moreover, trees and plants often survive the person who plants them. They continue to give their yield. This earns reward for the grower after his death. How splendid.
Reproduced from Arab News