Islam and the Environment: Looking After Our Planet

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According to the Noble Quran the environment we see around us was all created by the one and true God:

Verily your Lord is Allah, who created the heavens and the earth in six days, and is firmly established on the throne (10:3)

Since God is the creator of the earth, then naturally the earth also belongs to him, and not to us, as the Noble Quran mentions:

To Him belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth: and all affairs are referred back to Allah. (57:5)

We as humans only live on this planet, which God has placed us on; we do not own this planet. Since we are not the owners of this planet, we must naturally not destroy or harm it since it doesn’t belong to us. After all, if you went and stayed in someone else’s house, would you start tearing the place apart, or would you have respect for the house you are in? Obviously you would have respect for the house you are in, and would make sure to look after it. The same applies to planet earth, since we as humans don’t own it, we have no right to destroy or harm it neither.

The Noble Quran often points to our natural environment as a sign for the existence of a creator, as we read:

Most surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day, and the ships that run in the sea with that which profits men, and the water that Allah sends down from the cloud, then gives life with it to the earth after its death and spreads in it all (kinds of) animals, and the changing of the winds and the clouds made subservient between the heaven and the earth, there are signs for a people who understand. (2:164)

In the mentioned verse God tells us about the alternation between night and day, how the ships run through the seas earning a profit, how the rain comes from the cloud and revives the earth, and all of these sorts of natural systems within our environment and how they are a sign for the existence of God. This is not the only verse in the Noble Quran that points to our environment as a sign of God; there are many others that mention the same thing as we read:

The Bee and the honey it makes:

And thy Lord taught the Bee to build its cells in hills, on trees, and in (men’s) habitations; Then to eat of all the produce (of the earth), and find with skill the spacious paths of its Lord: there issues from within their bodies a drink of varying colours, wherein is healing for men: verily in this is a Sign for those who give thought. (16:68-69)

The varying colours of plants:

And the things on this earth which He has multiplied in varying colours (and qualities): verily in this is a sign for men who celebrate the praises of Allah (in gratitude). (16:13)

The rain and vegetation of plants, fruits etc:

Seest thou not that Allah sends down rain from the sky, and leads it through springs in the earth? Then He causes to grow, therewith, produce of various colours: then it withers; thou wilt see it grow yellow; then He makes it dry up and crumble away. Truly, in this, is a Message of remembrance to men of understanding. (39:21)

And from the fruit of the date-palm and the vine, ye get out wholesome drink and food: behold, in this also is a sign for those who are wise. (16:67)

It is He who sends down rain from the sky: from it ye drink, and out of it (grows) the vegetation on which ye feed your cattle. With it He produces for you corn, olives, date-palms, grapes and every kind of fruit: verily in this is a sign for those who give thought. (16:10-11)

The Mountains:

And He has set up on the earth mountains standing firm, lest it should shake with you; and rivers and roads; that ye may guide yourselves (16:15)

And the mountains, how they are firmly fixed (88:19)

The Atmosphere:

And We have made the heavens as a canopy well guarded: yet do they turn away from the Signs which these things (point to)! (21:32)

It is Allah Who has made for you the earth as a resting place, and the sky as a canopy, and has given you shape- and made your shapes beautiful,- and has provided for you Sustenance, of things pure and good;- such is Allah your Lord. So Glory to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds! (40:64)

The Seas:

It is He Who has made the sea subject, that ye may eat thereof flesh that is fresh and tender, and that ye may extract therefrom ornaments to wear; and thou seest the ships therein that plough the waves, that ye may seek (thus) of the bounty of Allah and that ye may be grateful. (16:14)

He has let free the two bodies of flowing water, meeting together: Between them is a Barrier which they do not transgress (55:19-20)

Weather patterns:

It is He Who sendeth the winds like heralds of glad tidings, going before His mercy: when they have carried the heavy-laden clouds, We drive them to a land that is dead, make rain to descend thereon, and produce every kind of harvest therewith: thus shall We raise up the dead: perchance ye may remember. (7:57)

It is Allah Who sends the Winds, and they raise the Clouds: then does He spread them in the sky as He wills, and break them into fragments, until thou seest rain-drops issue from the midst thereof: then when He has made them reach such of his servants as He wills behold, they do rejoice!- (30:48)

It is He Who doth show you the lightning, by way both of fear and of hope: It is He Who doth raise up the clouds, heavy with (fertilising) rain! (13:12)

So as one can read, the Noble Quran points to our environment as something that has been put in place by God, and that the environment is a great sign and proof for God. The verses also point to the environment as something good, something beneficial for us, so naturally we must look after our environment, it makes no sense for us to read these verses talking about the environment in a positive manner, and to then go out and start ruining it! These verses make us realize that we must look after our planet and the natural environment.

Now although we humans should be looking after our planet, we know that this isn’t the case, and that we are causing great harm to this planet through pollution, and tearing things apart so we can produce products etc. So what does Islam have to say about harming our environment? When we read the hadiths, we will find the following authentic narrations:

Narated By Ibn ‘Umar: The Prophet cursed the one who did Muthla to an animal (i e., cut its limbs or some other part of its body while it is still alive). – [Bukhari Vol. 7, Book 67, #424

Narated By Hisham bin Zaid: Anas and I went to Al-Hakam bin Aiyub. Anas saw some boys shooting at a tied hen. Anas said, “The Prophet has forbidden the shooting of tied or confined animals.” – [Bukhari Vol. 7, Book 67, #421; #422]

Narated By ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar : Allah’s Apostle said, “A lady was punished because of a cat which she had imprisoned till it died. She entered the (Hell) Fire because of it, for she neither gave it food nor water as she had imprisoned it, nor set it free to eat from the vermin of the earth.” – [Bukhari Vol.4, Book 56, #689]

All of the above hadiths talk about the evil of harming animals, now as we all know, animals are one of the biggest victims of humans harm to the environment. Thousands of animals have been killed because of what we have done to our environment, and many others have been sent to extinction because of us! The Noble Quran also often speaks about humans who cause mischief in the land, and the Quran greatly condemns this:

Mischief has appeared on land and sea because of (the meed) that the hands of men have earned, that (Allah) may give them a taste of some of their deeds: in order that they may turn back (from Evil) (30:41)

But seek, with the (wealth) which Allah has bestowed on thee, the Home of the Hereafter, nor forget thy portion in this world: but do thou good, as Allah has been good to thee, and seek not (occasions for) mischief in the land: for Allah loves not those who do mischief. (28:77)

So the Quran speaks against those who cause mischief on earth, obviously if one is responsible for destroying our natural environment, which is leading to the deaths of animals, as well as causing storms that are leaving many humans dead is definitely causing mischief in the land, what else should we classify it under?

So in conclusion, this planet does not belong to us, it belongs to the one true God who created it, and he has placed us here to live on it. Since we don’t own it, we have no right to destroy it, furthermore we are not the only ones who live and breathe on this planet, we share this planet with a vast animal kingdom, so we have no right to destroy their habitats and send them to extinction, how would we like it if some alien race came to our planet and started destroying our natural habitats sending us humans to extinction? Furthermore, the environment is a sign from God to us, it is mentioned in the Quran as something beneficial and good, so therefore in light of this we humans must treat our planet in a good way, to look after it, and to preserve the natural system, for if the natural system was something bad, then the Quran would have told us so, but rather it tells us the opposite, so we should do our utmost to look after it.

At the end of the day, planet earth is our home, now should we not look after our home? Not only for ourselves, but for our future generations as well who will come to inhabit this planet long after we are gone. And Allah Knows Best!

Source : muslimdebate.org, by : Sami Zaatari

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