It is important to care for the environment we live in, not only for our health but for our survival, too. This special day urges us at both individual and collective level to explore renewable energy, green technologies, and to restore our ecosystem. Islam is an eco-friendly religion that presents a unique model for a transition to sustainable development by focusing on justice and harmony between human and nature.
Islam has a rich tradition of highlighting the importance of environmental protection, ecological restoration and conservation of resources. Islam views environmental challenges as an indicator of a moral and ethical crisis. Looking at the creation of humans, earth, and cosmos as signs of the Creator is a key in Islamic values. The Qur’anic injunction “And do good as Allah has been good to you. And do not seek to cause corruption on the earth” (Al Qasas: 77) teaches us to live a good life on the planet.
There is a sense of hope and optimism in Islam about the possibility of attaining harmony between human and nature. The planet Earth finds balance when humans rethink their lifestyles and mindsets, as stated in the Holy Quran; “Corruption has appeared in both land and sea, because of what people’s own hands have brought” (Al Rum: 41).
Hence, overcoming environmental crisis and mitigating the impact of climate change, from an Islamic perspective, is underpinned by defining the role of humans as trustees and stewards of the planet earth. This balance has been disturbed because of human choices which result in over-consumption, over-exploitation and over-use of all natural resources. Thus, the ecological crisis is linked the crisis in human ethics and values. Today human actions are responsible for destruction of natural habitats, loss of biodiversity, climate change, Ozone depletion, global warming and erosion of soil. Human responsibility is to save and protect the ecosystem. To celebrate the symphony of life, all humans need to protect its biological and cultural diversity.
Islamic worldview calls for a transition to a sustainable society and economy by adopting responsible sustainability principles. This change requires a shift in our norms and practices. Islam being an eco-friendly religion can become a powerful part of the solution if humans embody a holistic spiritual view towards mankind.
Islamic beliefs, traditions and values provide an effective and comprehensive solution to the current environmental challenges faced by the human race. The Holy Qur’an has a number of specific references to ecology and also contains some important principles for environmental conservation. The first principle which guides Islamic teachings on environmental sustainability is the concept of trusteeship. Being a responsible guardian, man should take all necessary steps to ensure that the entrusted property is passed on to the next generation in as pure form as it is possible. The holy Qur’an teaches: “And do not do mischief on the earth after it has been set in order” (Al A’raf: 85).
According to Islam every human being is the custodian of nature, and must live with harmony with other creatures. It is enjoined upon us all to be eco-friendly Muslims. All kinds of corruptions including environmental corruption, environmental damage, reckless exploitation and mismanagement of natural resources are disliked by the almighty Allah (SWT). The Holy Qur’an mentions it as, “And Allah loveth not those who do mischief” (Al Ma’eda: 64).
The exploitation of a particular natural resource is directly related to accountability and maintenance of the available resources. The traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also deal extensively with various aspects of environment including resource conservation, land reclamation and environmental hygiene. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) discouraged over-consumption, luxury and lavishness and encouraged moderation in all walks of life.
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also forbade destruction of trees and crops even during in war. The Prophet (PBUH) gave high degree of importance towards sustainable cultivation of land, waste minimisation, humane treatment of animals, preservation of natural resources and protection of water and wildlife. The Prophet (PBUH) recognized that natural resources should not be exploited or abused: “Islam doesn’t like wasters” (Al-Ar’af: 21).
The Holy Qur’an and the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) are guides to sustainable development around the globe. The privilege to exploit natural resources was given to mankind on a guardianship basis, which implies the right to use another person’s property on the promise that it will not be damaged or destroyed. Islam stresses on the preservation of environment without any disturbance and destruction.
Let us follow the teachings of Islam to make ourselves such Muslims as care best for the cleanest, greenest environment.
The writer belongs to Tral and can be reached at [email protected]