Saturday, March 28, 2009
Islam and environment conservation
In ISLAM, every act that is good in protecting our environment is done for sake for Allah.
The hadith shows the importance of every single tree in earth needs our care and protection:
"He who cuts a lote-tree (without justification), God will send him to Hellfire."
Al-Tirmidhi, # 5239
The lote-tree grows in the desert and it is very much needed in an area which has scarce vegetation. A well known Muslim theologian, Dr. Al-Qaradawi, is of the view that this Hadith provides us with the most vivid illustration in terms of protecting the natural resources and preserving the balance that exists between the diverse elements of nature in the environment.
The Prophet indeed encouraged people to work hard under all circumstances in maintenance of the earth’s natural heritage. He explained that people should plant and undertake all kinds of plantations.
This trend is particularly focused upon for those plants that bear fruit particularly a palm-tree seedling. So much is this emphasis that it is enjoined upon all Muslims, even if it is the Day of Judgment and that the world is coming to an end, they should still do it!
When Allah made us , He gave us the liberty to own and care over the earth. Why gives us the earth? Because we are created with intelligence, intellect and the ability to manage. “Greater indeed than the creation of man is the creation of the heavens and the earth” (Al-Ghaafir 40: 57).
Therefore, we should respect and protect the gifts from nature that Allah gave us.
Protection of land finds many verses in support thereof by emphasizing that it must be kept clean and free from rubbish. It is reported by a famous Hadith that God likes cleanliness. Further, the Prophet is said to have warned Muslims not to throw refuse in public or near the fruit trees. The message that this Hadith sends is that cleanliness is something desirable, good and reflects an act of necessity towards the environment. As such it is submitted that if cleanliness is something good, then it should be reflected everywhere.
Islam has thus created a bond between faith and cleanliness, rendering the latter as a part of faith. The Prophet’s sayings on this point illustrate that solid waste of any kind must not pollute the grounds that produce food or which forms parts of the dwellings. It is obvious that cleaning such places means, in this context, the removal of material obstacles or solid waste which constitutes a kind of pollution in contemporary perspectives of this matter.
The prohibition in such Hadiths is thus intended to prevent pollution. The direct human polluting activity presently is manifestly to extend to indirect sources of pollution as well, such as through sewers. The natural pollutants of any given time conceptually extended to include the chemical pollutants or other activity which is connected, for instance, with industrial production. The language of another Hadith which prohibits the pollution of water may further be cited to support the thesis just articulated by me that, in a contemporary context, pollution of any kind is impermissible in Islam. It is mandated that a Muslim should keep the channels of drinking water clean. We know already those chemicals such as pesticides, insecticides, or herbicides which are detrimental to the health of humans, and we know that much of these chemicals reach the reservoirs of drinking water. Analogical reasoning will justify, therefore, from the perspective of the Shraiah, that such activity be also prohibited and not allowed to be undertaken.
The Shariah aims at protecting the environment, and while the individual is asked to help in this respect, the ultimate responsibility is in the hands of the state. When Abu Musa was sent to Al-Basrah as the new governor, he addressed the people saying:
"I was sent to you by 'Umar Ibn Al-Khattab in order to teach you the Book of your Lord [i.e. the Quran], the Sunnah of your prophet, and to clean your streets."
The function of the governor who represents the authority of the state, in the narration about Abu Musa, tends to establish that keeping the environment clean is amongst the responsibilities of the Administration. This position should be highlighted, because it obligates the governments, as much as the Muslims themselves, to keep their civic environments and amenities clean and free of pollution.
The above analysis would have already stressed the significance of water for various human needs. It is God's will that all living beings on earth are dependent for their existence on water:
"…We made from water every living thing…" Quran, 21:30
Furthermore, there are many verses in the Quran that reflect the direct involvement of the Divine Will whenever it rains.
Following are typical of these verses from the Quran:
"And God sends down rain from the skies, and gives therewith life to the earth.” Quran:16:65
And again Quran mandates to Muslims:
"…and He sends down rain from the sky and with it gives life to earth…" Quran: 30:24
Yet another instance of this philosophy this contained in this verse:
"And We send down from the sky rain charged with blessing, and We produce therewith gardens and grain for harvests." Quran: 50:9
In addition to the protection of water from pollution, the Sunnah emphasized the proper use of water without wasting it. One more Hadith regarding the protection of water is related to the use of clean still water.
ARE WE WASTING TOO MUCH WATER IN ABLUTION?
The Prophet said: "No one should bathe in still water, when he is junub (impure)"
In a Hadith that reflects the future scene regarding the said issue, the Prophet said according to Abu Dawud:
"There will be a people amongst this Ummah who will transgress in their supplication and ablution."
It is obvious that the transgressing in wasting EVEN in ablution means the use of excessive amounts of water or it misuse even for a lavish purpose and objective is disallowed by Islam. This is contrary to the Islamic ethics of maintaining the healthy balance between NEED and Waste.
Quran frequently reminds us about how precious natural resources like water, air and land are and prohibits good Muslims from wastage:
“Say: Have you considered, if your water were one morning to have seeped away, who then could bring you clear-flowing water?” (Al-Mulk 67: 30)
Islam forbids extravagance in using water. It is related that the Prophet passed by his companion Sa’ad, who was performing his wudhu’ (ablutions), and said:
“What is this wastage, O Sa’ ad?”
“Is there wastage even in washing for prayer?” asked Sa’ d;
and he said, “Yes, even if you are by a flowing river!” – Ibn Majah
By thinking carefully about our water use in the home and changing some water-wasting habits, it is easy to save water. For example, turning the taps off when we brush our teeth or cutting down the amount of water when we perform our wudhu’ (ablutions) can save up to five litres a minute. Water is the world’s most precious resource, and in a country like Singapore where we do not even have an adequate supply of water for our own needs, saving it is more critical than ever. Not only can we help protect the environment, we save ourselves money in the process.
Another aspect of environmental protection is water pollution. As Muslims, we are prohibited from polluting water. In fact, Rasulullah S.A.W was so strict about this that he did not allow his followers to even bathe in standing water, what more pollute it with excrement and urine when they relieve themselves.
My Brief notes adapted from MUIS. Filed under Education and Environmentalism, Singapore
So in conclusion, Islam is a religion which gives rights to all creation of Allah.