Jabir (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: "The example of a believer is like an ear which stands sometimes and falls other times. And the example of an infidel is like cedar tree which remains stand still until it falls without feeling that." (1)
Explanation of vocabulary: (2)
(Ear) the flowering part of a grass-like plant such as wheat, which later contains the grains which are used as food.
(The cedar tree) is a tree looks like the pine, and it was said: It is the pine.
Lessons gained from the Hadith:
1- Plant is blessed in both its seeds and what comes out of it. The grain which comes out of plant is the provision of humans, the nutrition of their bodies, and the cause of their life. Likewise faith which is the nutriment of hearts, food of souls, and the cause of life. When hearts lose nutrition, they die and the death of the heart is death for the entire body, but it is rather the destruction of this world and the Hereafter.
2- Despite the weakness of the plant, it extracts its strength from the surrounding environment unlike great trees which they do not support one another. Likewise the state of the believers in their sympathy, mercy, and compassion is like one body when an organ complains, the entire body feels pain with fever and sleeplessness. Therefore, Allah (may He be Exalted) set an example to the Prophet and his Companions with plants because of that meaning. Allah (Glory be to Him) said: "But their description in the Injeel (Gospel) is like a (sown) seed which sends forth its shoot, then makes it strong, and becomes thick and it stands straight on its stem." [Surat Al Fath: 29].
So, the Ayah compared the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his mission to plants because of his abundant goodness and compared his Companions with the shoots of seeds which support the plant then make it strong until it becomes straight.
(1) Musnad (Hadith compilation of) Imam Ahmad, 23/348, No. (15154) and Al Jami` As-Saghir and its addition, 1/ 1079, No. (10783). The Hadith was graded as authentic by Sheikh Al Albany See: Sahih Al Jami` No. (5844).
(2) See: The commentary of An-Nawawy on Sahih Muslim, 17/ 151.