Thursday, 10 May 2007

Islam and the environment

"Greater indeed than the creation of man is the creation of the heavens and the earth." (40:57)

The Prophet Muhammad told his followers they would be rewarded by God for taking care of the Earth. He said:

"If any Muslim plants any plant and a human being or an animal eats of it, he will be rewarded as if he had given that much in charity." (Sahih Al-Bukhari, 8:41)

Another tradition of the Prophet Muhammad, or hadith, quotes him as saying: "If the Hour (Judgment Day) is about to be established and one of you is holding a palm shoot, let him take advantage of even one second before the Hour is established to plant it."

An example of Muslims taking ownership of their divine obligation to protect the environment was seen recently when the people of Tanzania reversed a growing trend toward ecological destruction through a policy of sustainable fishing and environmental preservation based on the principles of the Quran.

Prior to implementation of the educational program, over-harvesting by fishermen on the Muslim-majority island of Misali had threatened the area's aquatic ecosystem. But thanks to an indigenous campaign to remind local inhabitants of Islam's respect for nature, those who earn their living from the sea learned the benefits of protecting the region's biodiversity.

See also Austin Arensberg, Handbook for Environmental Conservationists in the Muslim World - for example:

Khalq, “Creation”

The word Khalq can be used in substitute for “environment”. Just as the theme of Tawhid helped explained the creator, Allah, Khalq helps elaborate Allah’s creation – earth. This theme like Tawhid can be used to form a basis of introspection for the target audience. The line from the Qu’ran: He created everything and determined it most exactly. 25:2<2> (Khalid, 2003, 16)
Allah’s creation includes not just humans and animals but even abiotic objects such as rocks and air. Therefore the environment, and the natural resources are all a part of Allah’s Khalq (Khalid, 2003, 16). The concepts of Tawhid and Khalq are important because they place inherent responsibilities on Muslims’ actions towards the environment because it is a product of Allah and created for their use. Earth can be viewed as Allah’s creation. If people abuse this creation of Allah’s it is in defiance of Him.
’Amana, “A Trust”
The concept of ’Amana explains the trust bestowed upon humankind. This trust is something given to a person in which he is expected to act in a certain way but has the power to use it otherwise. If humans uphold the trust they will avoid bringing punishment to themselves.

We did indeed offer
The Trust To the Heavens
And the Earth
And the Mountains;
But they refused
To undertake it,

Surah 33: al-Ahzab vss. 72-73 (Ali, 1989,1080)

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