What Does Islam Say about Environmental Protection?

Nowadays, we hear every day that our earth is becoming more and more polluted and that a day will come that our life on this planet will be no longer possible. This is undoubtedly the result of our negligence toward the blessing that God had granted us, the blessing of nature and a clean environment: “It is He who created for you all that is in the earth…” (2:29). We are responsible for whatever is going on in our surroundings and at the same time dependent upon it to be able to live.

 

 

It is important to note that at the time of the emergence of Islam, people did not face such complex environmental issues and thus this matter has not been dealt with in depth in Islam. Nevertheless, Islam has emphasized the significance of preserving the environment and provided us with guidelines that help us find solutions for such complexities through the narrations and actions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as well as the twelve infallible leaders (AS). This article is an attempt to summarize these matters for you briefly.

 

 

preserve environment, protection, planting, green

Why should we preserve the environment?

 

The answer is quite simple, and it reveals the direct correlation between human beings and their surroundings. Preserving the environment equals our own physical and mental wellbeing. Our immediate surrounding is where we are always in touch with, and its quality will inevitably affect our mind and soul. Moreover, we are the ones who make use of the environment to fulfill our needs, and the way we use it will ultimately determine our condition of life.

 

 

On the other hand, Allah has made this world in perfect equilibrium and human’s excessive exploitation of natural resources will result in damaging this balance: “And We spread out the earth and cast in it firm mountains, and We grew in it every kind of balanced thing” (15:19). When the balance is disturbed, the result will be the many environmental crises that we are faced with nowadays. These include pollution, global warming, natural resource depletion, waste disposal, climate change, loss of biodiversity, deforestation, ocean acidification, ozone layer depletion, acid rain, water pollution, etc. [1].

 

How Can We Preserve the Environment?

 

The problems mentioned above are the result of our irresponsibility toward the blessing of the environment, and this is we that should compensate for it. What follows are some Islamic guidelines for us to observe in our treatment of the environment:

 

preserve environment, extravagance, Salam Islam

 

1. Avoid Wastefulness

 

When you make excessive use of natural resources such as water or what is produced by water such as electricity, the paper that is made through cutting trees, fossil fuels, etc., you put the environment in danger and threaten its durability. Quran also emphasizes the necessity to be moderate in using God’s blessings in this world: “… Eat and drink, but do not waste; indeed, He does not like the wasteful” (7:31).

 

 

Moreover, our environment is not restricted to our use only but is a public possession from which every human being has the right to benefit. Therefore, we should be careful not to violate other people’s rights in having a share in the environment through our extravagant exploitation of its resources.

 

 

There is a general rule in Islam that bids Muslims not to “cause harm or return harm” [2], meaning that they should act in a way that neither brings inconvenience for others nor undermines their situation. Through wastefulness we bring injustice to both ourselves and other human beings; we consume their share in the environment and damage God’s blessing that was given to us to sustain our livelihood. So, respect yourself as well as your fellow human beings through respecting your surroundings. 

 

 

preserve environment, Salam Islam, greenery

 

2. Keep your Environment Clean

 

Think about the environment as your home and keep it clean as you like your home to be neat and tidy. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) says in a narration that: “Allah is pure and likes purity and cleanliness… therefore, keep where you live in clean” [3]. As it was mentioned above, pollution is one of the most pervasive environmental issues in today’s world; this includes air pollution, water pollution, as well as the excessive amount of waste produced on a daily basis.

 

Those who have faith in Allah and consider His satisfaction in every instance of their lives must be much more cautious regarding their own or their environment’s cleanliness since as Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) puts: “Cleanliness roots in one’s faith” [4].

 

Air, water, and soil are the three elements that are the source of life on the earth, which has been mentioned in the Quran as well as narrations [i]&[ii]. It is all the matter of your choice. Keep the air you breathe in clean by choosing to take a walk or public transportation instead of using your car. Preserve the water fresh and pure by avoiding throwing waste in the water, urinating in it and producing waste water excessively; Imam Ali (AS) emphasizes that water has some inhabitants, so we should not harm them through polluting it [6].

 

 

Even at the time of war, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) forbade his soldiers to pollute or poison their adversary’s city [7]. So, let the soil from which your food is provided remain unpolluted by not throwing waste, especially those that do not dissolve in the environment such as plastic waste, etc.     

 

preserve environment, planting, tree, forest, Salam Islam

 

3. Engage in Green Activities

 

Plant a tree or bring awareness to people about the environment and the natural crisis that is threatening the earth and its inhabitants. There are many narrations from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that highlight the necessity of planting trees. For instance, he says: “If a Muslim plants a tree and a bird, human or another creature eats its fruit, it will be considered as an act of charity from him [by Allah]” [8].

 

Also, Imam Sadiq (AS) considers planting trees and agriculture as the occupations which bring lawful (Halal) earning for the person performing them [9]. When your surrounding is green, your life will become lively and energetic [iii], and you will become more efficient in your performance.

 

Conclusion:

 

Finally, it all depends on you and how you want your future to be like. A green and lively environment is the result of our endeavors to preserve it and to give our posterity the opportunity to enjoy the blessing of God. The message of Islam in this matter is again that of moderation and responsibility which guides human beings to live in perfect equilibrium with the environment. 

 

Notes:

[i] (25:54), (23:12), (24:45), (30:24), (21:30)

[ii] Imam Sadeq (AS) said: “life in a land where is devoid of these three essential factors is highly difficult and challenging: clean air, fresh and plentiful water, as well as fertile ground” [5]. 

[iii] Imam Ali (AS) said: “looking at the green nature causes freshness, liveliness and vitality” [10].

 

References:

[1]  http://www.conserve-energy-future.com

[2] Shaikh al-Hur al-Aamili , Wasail Al-shia , vol. 18, p.32

[3] Muhammad ibn Hassan Sheibani, Al-Jame Al-Saghir, vol.1, p.267

[4] Muhammad Baqir Majlisi ,Bihar al-Anvar, vol.59, p. 291

[5] Ibn Shu'ba al-Harrani, Tuhaf al-Ughul, p.320

[6] Muhammad ibn Ali Al-Ehsaei, Avali al-Leali, vol.2, p. 187.

[7] Mirza Hussain Tabarsi , Mustadrak al-Wasail, vol. 13, p.26.

[8] Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni al-Razi , Usul al-Kafi, vol.5, p.260

[9] Shaykh as-Saduq,Uyun Akhbar ar-Reza (AS), vol.2, p. 40