Let me explain….
In my opinion, the pomegranate is one of the most delightful fruits that exists, both pleasing on the eye and the tongue. To ponder over this miracle of nature is to be in awe of Allah Himself. It is also to have an amazing appreciation of life.
To prise open a pomegranate, takes both patience and diligence as the outer covering can often be unyielding. However, the reward for perseverance is well worth the wait. The secrets of the inside chambers are exposed to reveal serried ruby-red jewels – arils – each nestled neatly in cosy compartments. It’s impossible not to have one’s fingertips stained with the brilliant red colour as these arils are carefully removed from their dwellings. And all this delight is before the treasure has even been tasted itself!
So how does this all compare with life?
Well, I believe the pomegranate is a true microcosm of this duniya (the world). Its tough outer shell epitomises the Earth that we live in – the bedrock of our existence. This shell protects us and holds us secure and yet, simultaneously, it can suffocate and imprison us within. Undisturbed, it can be sometimes beautiful and other times not so much. There are times we want to break free from our current situations but our movements are forcibly restricted. When the ‘world’ is ripped apart and the status quo is no more, its inhabitants are rudely awoken from their slumber and thrown into disarray. In the chaos and confusion that ensues, they can often become riotous and even bloody.
That being said, the alignment of arils inside this wondrous fruit are a thing to marvel at. The tidy arrangement of these ‘little people’ is not random. Where we are placed and amongst whom is no accident. Far from it. It is a carefully considered grand design engineered by our Maker, Allah. We humans are brought into this life and selectively placed amongst our families and friends. This interdependency was fixed well before we began to come into being. Throughout our lives, we lean on this person and that; we learn to forge very close relationships with those who surround us; we are blessed with homes, both physical and metaphysical. At least this is true for many fortunate ones.
There are times, though, when Allah decides to rearrange the balance of things. As with the contents of a pomegranate that cascade out when split open, so it is that human relationships are irreversibly reshuffled too. To put things back as they were is simply impossible. For me, peering at the pomegranate jewels strewn across the surface of a plate, this is a visual allusion to divorce. I have to accept that the perfect order of life has been upset. It will be no more. There are also the rotten parts of the fruit which need to be discarded before they corrupt other parts. These are the bad relationships which serve no purpose other than to cause turmoil and destruction in our lives. That separation is as bracing as it is brutal.
However, as Muslims, we know that we must embrace the rough with the smooth. Therefore, we should not lose sight that the pomegranate is a true representation of the divine concept of beauty. Together, or alone, the arils and their seeds radiate beauty and bring light and joy to the world. Humans too, have a social responsibility to be beacons of beauty wherever they go.
The awe-inspiring pomegranate is a wonderful reminder to others that Allah’s majesty can be found everywhere. As a testimony to its greatness, on three separate occasions in the Quran, Allah refers to the superior status of the pomegranate amongst other fruit. (Surah Al-Anam: 99 and 141; Surah Ar-Rahman: 68)
So, you see, the pomegranate is the perfect metaphor of this life. It is as stubborn as it is sweet and it is as rewarding as it is a great test of our patience.