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He it is Who brings into being gardens, trellised and untrellised, and the date palm and crops with diverse produce, olives and pomegranates, like unto one another and yet not alike. Eat of their fruit when they grow, and pay the due thereof on the day of its harvest, but be not prodigal. Truly He loves not the prodigal.
(Quran, 6: 141)
The olive tree, belonging to the family Oleaceae, is traditionally cultivated in the Mediterranean Basin amongst other regions and has always been considered to be a sacred plant. In Ancient Egypt, olive branches acquired a ritual meaning and are depicted as offerings on the wall of the Aten temple. The burial tomb of Tutankhamen, when excavated, also contained decoration rings of olive branches and leaves.
In the Holy Quran and hadith literature, many references are made to the olive tree and its fruit. Umar ibn al-Khattab narrated that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: “Eat the oil and anoint yourself with it, for it comes from a blessed tree". The olive tree, according to Quranic commentators, came to represent the light of understanding.
Considering its blessed status, it is no wonder that olive wood became a staple material used by tasbih makers around the Islamic world.
With God's grace, Rumi's Garden has had the opportunity to work with a masbaha guild, based in Khan el-Khalili in close proximity to the mosque of Sayidna Husain, to bring you a wonderful olive tasbih. The brown and white tasseling was accomplished by students from West Africa who are studying al-Azhar University.