The life of this world, there is no doubt, is full of mysteries. Scientists and philosophers had tried and are still researching and pondering to understand some of these mysteries. The recent incident in Oyo State is one in a long line of such. I doubt there could be any scientific explanation; it is just a mystery. And if there is any such explanation, the scientists and philosophers—world wide—should put heads together through inter-disciplinary efforts to demystify the mystery. If they should, with success, it will be a breakthrough and a plus to science.
It is true that science has demystified many things that were hitherto explained superstitiously. Yet, it is also true that there are many other things that science has failed to explain due to their supernaturalness. The supernaturalistic resurrection—or rather re-erection—of a tree popularly called ‘Igi Odan’ in Oyo State and other similar wonders is something scientists cannot denied. That they cannot explain these phenomena does not rule out their existence. All they (scientists) could do is to keep mum, seal their lips or open their mouths in—amazement—without uttering a word.
Moreover, this gives credence to the Qur’anic ASSERTION that; “…but over all those endowed with knowledge is the All Knowing [Allah] (Q12:76). Only Allah knows it all. All, He knows. He is the ultimate source of knowledge. “And of knowledge, you (mankind) have been given only a little” (Q17:85). In this wise, and in His unique way of informing us about the paucity, shortage, shallowness, and serious limitations of our knowledge, He instructed the Prophet (SAW): “وَقُل رَّبِّ زِدْنِى عِلْمًا” [And say: “My Lord! Increase me in knowledge”] (Q20:114). This instruction, by extension, is directed at the rest of us.
In the category of unexplainable phenomena is the existence of God and life after death. Scientists cum philosophers whose knowledge is devoid of divine light are confused and in doubt about God’s reality. They could not extricate themselves from this limbo—state of confusion. But those whose knowledge has substantial components of divinity never had in them an iota of doubt—despite being scientists—of the existence of God, life after death and other allied matters that are in the realm of the unseen.
Having established the factual fact that science itself has limitations in explaining supernatural phenomena, the resurrected tree in Oyo shall be explained from the perspective of religion. By ‘religion’, I mean Islam. If anyone can explain it from other religious perspectives aside Islam, he should please take up the task. But importantly, textual verifiable references should be provided from the scriptures to avoid speaking in God’s Name without making reference to God’s Words.
All we can say about the fall and resurrection of about a hundred year old tree in Oyo State is that the tree has most probably been possessed by jinn(s) (spirits). Belief in the existence of jinns (not necessarily evil spirit) is one of the requirements of being a Muslim. Of them are the righteous and the evil, they are groups each having a different way (Q72:11) Allah, in His wisdom, titles a chapter of the Qur’an the Chapter of Jinn. The essence, God knows best, is not to be over drunk with the half-truth-concept that says “seeing is believing”. There are things we perceive, we feel, we experience— without seeing. Yet we believe them. The realm of faith is stretched to accommodate, not only what we see but also, what we perceive.
Jinns—for the fact that they are spirits— are very powerful (see Qur’an 27:39). They have the ability to transform into many other creatures and to inhabit inside many creatures (including trees). It is a common knowledge that when people are possessed by Jinns they misbehave. Similarly, when things—like the tree under discussion—are possessed, they also misbehave. They (people or things) exhibit strange behaviours due to the presence of jinns in them (see Qur’an 2: 275). May Allah spare us from the evil of being possessed by evil spirit. For it is real. It is not just superstitious.
Next, what should be our reactions or attitudes towards this tree? Much is attached to this incident. The prompt visit of Alaafin speaks volume of the import attached to it. Though the Alaafin was said to have gone there to pay a condolence visit to the bereaved. About four people allegedly lost their lives to the fallen but resurrected tree. However, it should be noted that this is not the first accident in Oyo where people lost their loved ones. Why Alaafin visited this, not others, shows that his visit is symbolic. It could also have spiritual undertone. After all, it is a spiritual accident.
But should the tree be considered evil, sacred or harmless? To say it is harmless is a travesty of fact. It is indeed harmful as its fall caused the death of about four people. Yet, it cannot also be considered sacred if by sacredness we mean something that is to be regarded with awe and respect. To say it is evil needs further discussion. Let’s make an analogy. Can a person possessed by jinn be considered evil? Apparently, one does not become an evil person for being possessed. S/he would rather be referred to as a patient—a sick person.
Do we then say the tree is sick? Sickness as far as I know is one of the characteristics of human beings and other animals. What is clear is that the tree is possessed. It needs to be exorcized; not to be worshipped. Neither should it become a tourist centre as there is nothing touristic about it nor should it become a place of solemnization as there is nothing solemnizing about it.
It could be a trial from Allah to test the faith of the believers. Would they fall prey to the shenanigans of Shaitan (Satan) by attributing deity to the tree and supplicating towards it; or the episode will reaffirm and increase their faith in Allah that He is able to do all things?
This explanation is important as many (if not most) people are weak in faith. They could slide into the deep abyss of faithlessness by this ‘mere’ supernatural incident. Some are already of the opinion that deliverance has come the way of the people in the area. I ask; which deliverance? Some think the gods need to be appeased. I ask again; which gods? The earlier we stop this nonsense, the better for us.
What needs to be done is to CHASE away the jinns if our assumption that the tree has been colonized by jinns is anything to go by. Note that I wrote CHASE. The jinns need to be CHASED by means of exorcism; they are not to be worshipped nor appeased. No sacrifice is to be offered to them or to anyone.
At any rate, if the tree continues to misbehave after being exorcized, we may be compelled, by necessity, to declare it as شَجَرَةٌ مَّلْعُونَةٌ (an accursed tree) which fruits are like رُءُوسُ الشَّيَاطِينِ (heads of devil). Then, it has become a devil and must be fiercely bulldozed completely with no fear of any consequence.
I join the Alaafin in commiserating with those who lost their loved ones. Though this is irreparable. However, with patience and with the willingness to acceptance it as Allah’s decree—without any reluctance—the bereaved are assured of unquantifiable rewards from Allah. The Qur’an says: “Those who patiently persevere will truly receive their rewards without measure” (Q39:10). May Allah guide us, give us peace, and grant us patience and tranquillity in the face of calamity.