Environmental Education in the Quran (Part 2)

Environmental Education in the Quran (Part 2)

In the first part of this article (published on 17/12/2021 in KR), an argument was built with reference to the Quran as the Book of Allah that the Quran’s sole objective is the development of man on such lines as may make him not only a reflection of the Principle of Unity but also a practitioner of the Principle of Balance and the Principle of Responsibility, three important principles on the basis of which Quranic education in general and with reference to the environment as a whole in particular stands. In continuation with the same argument, in this article I shall try to arrive at some specific examples and illustrations from the Quran which we may use as guidelines for environmental education.
There are in the Quran many ayats which talk about water as a “miraculous liquid” that is not only the base of all life under the sun but is also responsible for the sustenance of all the forms of life on the earth. Allah, the Almighty, has talked about water and its life-giving properties at many places in the Quran: for example, Allah says, “And we sent down water from the heaven in proper quantity, and we made Earth its dwelling, and We are able to take it away” (23:18). At another place in the Quran, Allah says, “In the creation of the heavens and the earth, in the alternation of night and day, in the ships that sail the oceans for the benefit of mankind, in the water which Allah sent down from the Heavens and brought with it life to earth after being dead and gave life in it to every kind of land animal, and in directing the winds, and in the clouds that are enslaved between the heavens and the earth, all these are signs for a people who comprehend”(2:164).
Similarly, at another place in the Quran Allah says, “Can’t you see that Allah makes the clouds move gently, then makes them into a pile? Then you see rain come out from within? And then sends down from heaven mountains with ice inside them that strike whomever He wishes or miss whoever He wishes; its flash almost blinds you.”(24:43); at another place, Allah thus explains the miraculous functions of water, “And you see the earth barren, but when we send down upon it rain, it quivers and swells and grows (something) of every beautiful kind” (22:5); at another place, Allah discusses water as a source of joy and happiness for the mankind in these words, “And it is He who sends the winds as good tidings before His mercy and We send down from the sky pure water” (11:7); about groundwater, springs, wells, lakes and other sources of water, Allah makes the following statements in the Quran: “Do you not see that Allah sends down rain from the sky and makes it flow as springs and rivers in the earth” (39:2); “And We have sent down rain from the sky in a measured amount and settled it in the earth, and, indeed, We are able to take it away” (25:48).
Having discussed water as the source of all forms of life under the sun, Allah goes on to state that all life on the earth has actually been emanated from water: “Have those who disbelieved not considered that the heavens and the earth were a joined entity, and We separated them and made from water every living thing? Then will they not believe?”(21:30). Apart from these ayats of the Quran, there are other scores of ayats that talk about water in different contexts. Needless to mention, Allah says that his arsh (throne) is also built upon water. He says, “And it is He who created the heavens and the earth in six days – and His throne had been upon water – that He might test you as to who of you is best in deed….”(11:7).
If, on the one hand, it is important to note that the Quran has discussed water as a source of life, it is equally important to see, on the other hand, that the Quran has time and again in its message emphasised on the balances and responsible use of all of His blessings including water; therefore, the first part of this article invoked the three very important principles of the Quran with reference to environment as a whole: The Principle of Unity, The Principle of Balance and The Principle of Responsibility.
But for water, what the earth would have been like? Allah, wherever He mentions any of His blessings like water, air or different plants and animals or mountains, asks man to thank Him for everything and one of the ways of thanking Him would be to make a judicious and compassionate use of all the things in our environment, including water.
Apart from being the source of life and its sustenance on the earth, water, according to the Quran, has a socio-religious function also. It purifies our bodies and clothes also; in the absence of purification of our bodies and clothes, a Muslim cannot offer and say the five-times mandatory prayers; in other words, water, by purifying our bodies and clothes, makes us fit for the spiritual development that is the top-most requirement of human beings for being suitable to the title of Vicegerent of God; and, it is through our spiritual development alone that humans beings can be capable of being compassionate, responsible, balanced, peaceful, stable and proportionate in their attitude and behaviour towards other forms of life.
In our world today, due to tremendous population explosion, industrialisation, corporate invasion of natural habitats and resources, and massive migration of human beings from place to place with transport facilities for the same, water resources are the biggest causality; biggest in the sense that if sources of water deplete and their condition worsens, it would simply amount to depletion and degeneration of life as a whole; therefore, human beings cannot afford but to be accountable and responsible with regard to water and its sources. Allah, the Almighty, asks in Sura Ar-Rehman, “So which of the blessings of your Lord would you go on falsifying?” This ayat has been repeated around fourteen times in this chapter and the question is, therefore, significant. Water, like other uncountable blessings of Allah, is one of the biggest blessings which if we go on misusing and abusing by our daily activities amounts to falsifying all the blessings of Allah, an act of disbelief which definitely earns us hellfire and punishment from the Lord of all these blessings.
Concluding, the Quran, as the word of Allah, teaches us, guides us and instructs us through its ayats (signs) so that it may lead us out of the darkness of our own making towards the light that Allah showers from above. May Allah shower upon us all the light of the right path and awakening, so that we do not misuse and abuse His blessings and so that we may Thank Him for every blessing!
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