Why the Environment Should be Important to Muslims

ظَهَرَ الْفَسَادُ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِي النَّاسِ لِيُذِيقَهُم بَعْضَ الَّذِي عَمِلُوا لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُون

Surat Ar-Room, Verse 41

In the book Environmental Protection In Islam, Dr. Bagader et al explain Islam’s attitude towards the environment and the Universe (islamset.com):

 

 

  1. All things that God has created in this universe are created in due proportion and measure both quantitatively and qualitatively. God has declared in the Qur’an, “Verily, all things have We created by measure”1 and “Everything to Him is measured.”2 And He says, ” And We have produced therein everything in balance.”3
  2. God has not created anything in this universe in vain, without wisdom, value and purpose. God says, “We have not created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them carelessly. We have not created them but for truth.”6
  3. Man is part of this universe, the elements of which are complementary to one another in an integrated whole. Indeed man is a distinct part of the universe and has a special position among its other parts. The relation between man and the universe, as defined and clarified in the Glorious Qur’an and the Prophetic teachings,
    1. A relationship of meditation on, and consideration and contemplation of, the universe and what it contains.
    2. A relationship of sustainable utilization, development and employment for man’s benefit and for the fulfillment of his interests.
    3. A relationship of care and nurture, for man’s good works are not limited to the benefit of the human species, but rather extend to the benefit of all created beings; and “there is a reward in doing good to every living thing.”
  4. God’s wisdom has ordained to grant human beings stewardship (khilafah) on the earth. Therefore, in addition to being part of the earth and part of the universe, man is also the executor of God’s injunctions and commands. And as such he is only a manager of the earth and not a proprietor; a beneficiary and not a disposer or ordainer. He has forbidden waste and destruction, “Do not cause destruction in the Earth after it has been rectified”

All of the resources upon which life depends have been created by God as a trust in our hands. 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.”‘1 Thus, the
utilization of these resources is, in Islam, 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.

 

Dr. Mawil Izzi Dien Ph.D., of the University of Wales, UK summarizes why it is “Islamic” to conserve the environment in the following reasons(captiveminds.org):

1. The environment, is God’s creation. The creation of this earth and all its natural resources is a sign of His wisdom, mercy, power and His other attributes and therefore serves to develop human awareness and understanding of this creator. (Quran 13: 2-4; 21:79)

2. Muslims should seek to protect and preserve the environment because by so doing they protect God’s creatures which pray to Him and praise Him. Humankind might not be able to understand how these creatures praise God but this does not mean that they do not do so:

The seven heavens and the earth, And all beings therein, Declare His glory: There is not a thing, But celebrates His praise: And yet ye understand not. How they declare His Glory! (Quran 17:44)

3. Thirdly, the environment contains God’s creatures which the `ulama’ or Muslim scholars consider to also deserve protection (hurma).

4. A fourth reason why Islam seek to protect and preserve the environment is that Islam, as a way of life, is established on the concept of good (khayr). Therefore it is expected that Islam will protect the environment once it is understood that such protection is good by itself. The Quran states that:

He whoso do good, An atom’s weight, Will see it. And whoso do ill, An atom’s weight, Will see it. (Quran 99: 7-8)

5. All human’s relationships in Islam have to be based on the concept of justice (`adl), and kindness (ishn), and not on material or economical gain. The Qur’an strongly emphasizes this concept in the following verse:

God enjoins justice; And kindness. (Quran 16: 90)

In Islam, humans are expected to protect the environment since no other creature is able to perform this task. Humans are the only being that God has “entrusted” with the responsibility of looking after the earth. This trusteeship is seen by Islam to be so onerous and burdensome that no other creature would `accept’ it. The Quran (33: 72) says:

Lo! We offered the trust; Unto the heavens and the; Earth and the hills, But they shrank from bearing it, And were afraid of it, And man assumed it, Lo! he is a tyrant and fool

Accordingly, not every human can claim this appointment, only those who are aware of this caring pact of respect for life can claim it.

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