By Sajid Anjum,
Muslims are one-third of the world. How can they contribute to saving the earth? The world’s one-third population is not paying attention to their claim in associating themselves with their beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) while He was the staunch advocator for the cause of environmental protection. According to Prophet (Hadith by Al-Bukhari) “There is none amongst the believers who plants a tree, or sows a seed, and then a bird, or a person, or an animal eats thereof, but it is regarded as having given a charitable gift”[for which there is great recompense].
On various occasions, it’s been reported that the Prophet had given plenty of importance toward cultivation of land; better treatment for animals; special concern for the preservation of water, plant and birds.
Importance of planting a tree in Islam
Citing the Prophet’s concern about plants, Qumruzzaman Azmi, Secretary General of the World Islamic Mission, Manchester (UK), said that Prophet says, if a person is dying and he or she gets the chance to plant a tree then do it before dying. Azmi further quoted the Prophet “if the people knew the importance and benefit of planting a tree, there wouldn’t be a single place on earth left treeless.”
According to a prominent Muslim scholar, Dr. Al-Qaradawi, Prophet said “He who cuts a lote-tree (without justification), God will send him to Hellfire. (this is a much needed tree found in the desert area with scarce vegetation)
This Hadith gives value to even one tree so we can figure out that how much destructive it is in destroying millions of trees; spoiling the earth’s resources; causing destruction for ozone layer etc.
Encouraging to cultivate wasteland
In order to protect the natural resources and preserve the balance existing between the diverse elements of nature in the environment, Al-Qaradawi further quotes the Prophet who not only encouraged the sustainable use of fertile lands, He also told his followers of the benefits of making unused land productive: planting a tree, sowing a seed and irrigating dry land were all regarded as charitable deeds. “Whoever brings dead land to life, that is, cultivates wasteland, for him is a reward therein.”
Essentially, it is prohibited by Islam to let the land set idle for a long time without working it out, quoted by Iqbal Nadvi from ICNA (Islamic Circle of North America).
For the purpose of saving water, the Prophet strictly abstained His followers from wasting a single drop of water while making Wadu(a ritual of removing impurity) . He also recommended repeating each thing not more than three times while performing Wudu, even if they are sitting near lake, river or a flowing spring.
In fact, there are innumerable instances which substantiate the intimate relation of the Prophet with Earth, Water, Land and Animal. In the context of treating birds, He says “If anyone wrongfully kills even a sparrow, let alone anything greater, he will face God’s interrogation” [Mishkat al Masabih].
Reducing animal cruelty
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) taught his followers to be gentle and cautious at the time of slaughtering animals. He advised to use sharp knives following a civilized method in slaughtering the animals so that it could minimize the risk of hurting and facilitating them to die quickly with little pain.
However, He forbade sharpening the knives and slaughtering any animal in the presence of other animals which, essentially, shows the dignity toward the animal. Prophet used to give special consideration to camel and horses as the most useful animal for journey and battle.
Addressing in Cairo, US President Barack Obama inspired the Muslim World by inculcating them:” As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. It was Islam – at places like Al-Azhar University – that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment.”
The Qur’an says, mankind holds a privileged position among God’s creations on earth: he is chosen as khalifa (vice-regent), and carries the responsibility of caring for God’s earthly creations. Each individual is given this task and privilege in the form of God’s trust. But the Qur’an repeatedly warns believers against arrogance: they are no better than other creatures.
“No creature is there on earth nor a bird flying with its wings but they are nations like you [Qur’an 6:38]”; “Surely the creation of the heavens and the earth is greater than the creation of man; but most people know not [Qur’an 40:57]”.
In the thesis, submitted into UNO, Professor Dr. Farooq Hassan, President Pakistan Ecology Council, says: protecting the environment and eco-systems of the earth are a major concern of the Islamic Faith. If the situation of the environment keeps deteriorating at the present rate, there
will ultimately be no life, no property and no religion left.
As we face the effects of pollution and water scarcity in some parts of the world and floods and violent storms elsewhere, now it’s time for the world community as a whole, Muslims, Christians and Jews, Hindus and Buddhists, atheists and agnostics, to take a leaf out of the Prophet’s book and address the current environmental crisis seriously and wisely.
(The author is working as Media Specialist with Canada-based South Asian Media Hub. Email: [email protected])