“It is God, who made for you the earth a place of settlement and the sky, a ceiling and formed you,
And perfected your forms and provided you with good things. That is God, your Lord, then Blessed is Allah, Lord of the worlds.” [i]
Assalaamu’Alaykum Warahmatullah. I greet you in the Universal greeting of peace.
My introduction above, introduces us to a verse from the chapter entitled, “The Believer” from a book, which was revealed more than 1400 years ago i.e. the Quran.
In this verse, we are reminded of the beautiful abode upon which God has placed us, for a period of probation. It defines the placid and vast surroundings upon which we tread, giving us a chance to reflect upon the Magnificence of the One who created it all.
At the same time, it triggers an awakening to characteristics we are taught to echo through our daily actions as Muslims, .i.e. to be gentle and kind, and respect everything around us including nature.
Islam and the environment – the title alone brings a sense of comfort to the human heart, knowing, that everything Islam embraces has laws which protect and honor, producing a flow of harmony encompassing creation.
Let’s take a look at what Islam encourages when it comes to our treatment toward the environment.
Islam encourages us not to waste natural resources
In chapter 6, verse 141 of the Quran, entitled “The Cattle”, we are encouraged to use resources sparingly.
“But waste not by excess: for God loveth not the wasters” [ii]
As Muslims, we are told not to waste and instead practice moderation and display gratitude. We pray five times a day, utilizing water for ablution, and the above verse therefore, encourages us to use water abstentiously. As humanity, we are asked not to waste water even if we are at a stream as these are divine provision from the Almighty and are not to be abused.
Charity through planting
In Islam, the planting of trees is highly encouraged. We are made aware, through the words of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon his soul) that any form of life which derives benefit from the planting of a tree will be regarded as charity to the one who planted it. Islam goes as far as to say that even if the hour of Ressurrection approaches and one were to have a shoot ready to be planted, to go ahead with it. Such, is the sanctity of planting trees. [iii]
But planting trees and conserving water, is not all that is mentioned in Islam. When we take a closer look at the environment we are exposed to all types of living creatures including animals, as they form part of the environment and eco system.
Treatment toward animals
In Islam, the ill treatment of animals is highly discouraged and we acknowledge this through the behavior and actions of the gentlest of human beings, Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).
Upon seeing a bird distressed, he immediately ordered her chicks to be returned to her, made certain that a she camel had her rights to be milked only, near a place of water, and treated all other animals with love and respect.
Love and Respect: The basis for the treatment of the environment in Islam, as you may have taken heed to by now, and this is further clarified in chapter 6 of the Holy Qur’an, whereby God says,”
“And there is no creature on (or within) the earth or a bird that flies with its wings except that they are nations (communities) like you”[iv]
Just as other creatures upon earth, do not have the mental capabilities of human beings, we are held responsible for respecting them.
We are repeatedly encouraged to display harmony toward nature, but we are also told to avoid abusing it.
In Chapter two, entitled, “The Cow” verse 60, God compels us not to abuse the environment and resources he has provided us with.
“Eat and drink from the provision of Allah , and do not commit abuse on the earth, spreading corruption.”
This verse motivates us to restrain ourselves from abusing these provisions, and show gratitude for all that he has given us.
So the question that now remains is, how do we solve the ongoing deforestation, global warming and pollution that forms our current environmental crisis?
In order for humanity to have a reversal of our global crisis, it requires the assistant of us, the inhabitants of this earth. What better guide has the Creator of this earth, given us, than the Quran, in order to wake our senses, as He tells us in verse 41 of the chapter entitled, “The Roman Empire”,
“Corruption has appeared throughout the land and sea by [reason of] what the hands of people have earned so He may let them taste part of [the consequence of] what they have done that perhaps they will return [to righteousness].”[v]
The answer is simple. In order for our motives to be purified to toward being gentle with the eco system, we need to educate ourselves, and others, so that our own free will, will not be detrimental to society. As Muslims, we are taught to do this, under the guidance of the Quran and the practices of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him), which displays answers to every problem we come across in our daily lives.
[i] Quran, 40: 64
[ii] Quran, 6: 141
[iii] Shahih Al Bukhari –The book of agriculture
[iv] Quran, 6: 38
[v] Quran, 30: 41