SHAFAQNA – “It is Allah Who has created the heavens and the earth, and He sends down water from the sky and with it He brings forth crops for your sustenance. And He disposed the ships so that they may sail at sea by His command, and He disposed the rivers for you. He disposed the sun and the moon for you, constant [in their courses], and He disposed the night and the day, and He gave you all that you had asked Him. If you enumerate Allah’s blessings, you will not be able to count them. Indeed man is most unfair and ungrateful!” The Holy Qur’an, Ibrahim:32-34)
Islam pays a lot of attention to environment. Good environments support the nation with the best and the most proficient individuals who progress in great steps in the fields of virtue and reformation. In like fashion, evil environments bring about the vile licentious individuals who distribute their mental defects among people.
The universe we inhabit is a sign of God’s creation as is the environment of our innermost selves. They both emanate from the one source and are bonded by only one purpose, which is to serve the divine will. This bonding of the cosmic to the inner core of each individual is the deep ecology of Islam. The Qur’anic view holds that everything on the earth was created for humankind. The tests are a measure of our acts of worship (ihsan) in its broadest sense. That is living in a way that is pleasing to Allah, striving in everything we do to maintain the harmony of our inner and outer environments. But we, as the human beings are destroying the earth by making it devoid of balance.
The lost balance between using water and wasting it, as in the Holy Qur’an we read, “Indeed the wasteful are the brothers of satans, and Satan is ungrateful to his Lord.” (Al-Isra; 27). The lost balance between right and responsibility, we as human beings do not own the earth it belongs to all the creatures of Allah, it belongs to the next generations and it belongs to all not just us; therefore, we are responsible for taking care of it in a responsible manner.
The lost balance between cultivating the plants and trees, and consuming them:
Muslims are to protect nature’s many bounties given to them by the Almighty. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) told his followers they would be rewarded by God for taking care of the Earth. He said: “If any Muslim plants any plant and a human being or an animal eats of it, he will be rewarded as if he had given that much in charity.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, 8:41) He also compared Muslims to a “fresh tender plant” that bends, but does not break, when afflicted with life’s inevitable calamities. (Sahih Al-Bukhari, 7:547)
Islam has urged humanity to be kind to nature and not to abuse the trust that has been placed on the shoulders of man. In fact, to be kind to animals is an integral part of Islam for Muslims. There are two primary sources defining Islam: The Qur’an (Muslim Holy Book) and the Hadith (the example, sayings, and actions of Prophet Muhammad). Both emphasize the accountability and responsibility of man toward the rest of creation.
Nature and environment have always played an important part in the lives of devout Muslims. Muslims understand that God has not created all this for nothing. In fact, Muslims have been commanded to find the wonderful signs of God around them so that they will only increase them in their awe of their Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer).
There are more than 700 verses in the Qur’an that exhort believers to reflect on nature. For example, the Qur’an states: “It is He who has spread out of earth and set in it firm mountains and streams, and of every fruit He has made in it two kinds. He draws the night’s cover over the day. There are indeed signs in that for a people who reflect.” (Al-Rad, 3)
According to Islamic beliefs, the Earth is a sanctuary in which mankind was made to dwell in comfort. The vast oceans, forests and mountains that make up this bountiful planet have been subdued by God for our enjoyment and productive use.
The Almighty Allah commands Muslims in the Qur’an to respect and revere the environment when He says, “Surely the creation of the heavens and the earth is more prodigious than the creation of mankind, but most people do not know.” (40:57)
Sound ecological principles are not limited to Islam, and should be acted upon by followers of other faiths, too. Together we can tackle the environmental problems that besiege our planet. On the occasion of ‘World Environment Day’, people of all faiths should take time to examine their own faith tradition’s advice for taking care of the environment and the earth that we share.