By Aftab H. Kola
July 14, 2015
The aim of both the conservation and development of the environment in Islam is for the universal good of all created beings
Ramadan offered a good chance to inculcate a positive change in our attitude towards the environment. But we hardly care for the environment and do all sorts of things that damage the environment. Also, reckless exploitation of natural resources is posing a grave threat to protection of environment. Global warming is threatening to pose serious problems. It is time to plant more trees to protect the environment. Proper solid waste management and sustained environmental protection awareness programmes are the other measures that would go a long way in checking adverse effects of global warming.
Islam lays great emphasis on protecting the environment. The Holy Quran shows the inherent value of creatures and of life, and how each creature in nature must be respected and cherished by human beings as their fellow beings. This natural world was created by Him, for His purpose and that in itself confers upon the natural environment a sacredness which must be recognised by all believers. This, then, means that all believers must have the utmost care and respect towards nature.
God has created everything in this universe in due proportion and measure both quantitatively and qualitatively. God has declared in the Quran: “Verily, all things have We created by measure” (Quran 54:49).
“...Everything to Him is measured.” (Quran 13:8) “And We have produced therein everything in balance.” (Quran 55:7).
Islam has attached much importance to the protection of environment asking its followers not to cut trees, pollute rivers or contaminate the atmosphere. Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) taught people to live on less, to protect animal and plant life, and to worship the Creator by being merciful to the creation. “If a Muslim plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, it is regarded as a charitable gift (Sadaqah) for him.” (Al Bukhari).
In Islam, man’s relation to the earth is seen as that of a custodian mainly responsible for improving the quality of life and guaranteeing a healthy environment. “Now, behold! Your Lord said to the angels: I am placing upon the earth a human successor to steward it” (Quran, 2:30).
It is required that man should work towards the conservation of earth, ensuring sustainability of natural resources for future generations. In short, to be a Muslim is to pray (worship) and to be a custodian of (to develop earth). Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) declared said: “The world is beautiful and verdant, and verily God, be He exalted, has made you His stewards in it, and He sees how you acquit yourselves.” (Saheeh Muslim)
All of the resources upon which life depends have been created by God as a trust in our care.
He has ordained sustenance for all people and for all living beings.
“And He has set within it mountains standing firm, and blessed it, and ordained in it its diverse sustenance in four days, alike for all that seek.” (Quran 41:10).
Thus, in Islam the utilisation of these resources is the right and privilege of all people and all species. Hence, man should take every precaution to ensure the interests and rights of all others since they are equal partners on earth.
The Holy Quran is filled with more than 6,000 verses, of which more than 500 talk about with natural phenomena. Allah repeatedly calls on us to reflect on His signs, which encompass all aspects of nature such as trees, mountains, desert, seas, animals, birds, stars, the sun and the moon – and our own hearts.
The Prophet (PBUH) had declared a 30 km area around his city of Madinah a protected grove, prohibiting the cutting down of trees within its borders. He prescribed picking up litter from the streets as an act of faith. He forbade the cutting of cedar trees in the desert that provided shade and shelter to animals. He calls upon us to be what God intended us to be, which is in harmony with nature. We can sum up the importance of environment by quoting what the Prophet (PBUH) famously said, “Even if the Day of Judgment should arrive and you are holding a sapling in your hand, plant it”.