The Green Deen: Islam’s Teachings on Environmental Protection


Among the innumerable blessings of Allah SWT that surround us, the
natural environment around us stands at the forefront with a strong relationship with the inhabitants of the Earth. Being a matter of intrigue and interest to philosophers and naturalists alike, the subject of Man's relationship with the environment has raised many questions, primarily in the light of the degradation of the latter. It is disheartening to note that much of the deterioration of the environment is owing to man-made means rather than natural ones.

That, understandably, gives rise to the question of attention and care that we give to our surroundings: Do we intend to continue living as we are with nary a thought to the inevitable civic and individual responsibility we have towards the environment and its finite resources that are constantly being utilized with some close to depletion?

Islamic Perspective on Environmental Care

The diversity of subjects Islam addresses also includes the responsibility of Man towards his environment to ensure continuity of human life on the earth. Islam bases its teachingson environmentalism on the concept of Tauheed (Monotheism)and morality with the relationship of God, Nature and humans at its core.

It is important to understand that the Environment is an asset or reserve of natural resources to meet human needs from time to time. It is a blessing from Allah SWT in which numerous qualities of Allah SWT manifest themselves. A conscientious Muslim should be aware of his responsibility and the principles forming the basis of Islamic environmental ethics:

1. Tauheed (Oneness of God)
2. Khilafa Stewardship
3. Amanah Responsibility
4. Mizan (Balance) & Adl (Justice)  

In succinct terms, Man has been appointed as the viceregent(Khalifa) of Allah SWT with the responsibility (Amanah) of the conservation of the Earth and preserving its resources for future generations and the creation in general. This preservation and conservation has to be done on the principles of Balance (Mizan) and Justice (Adl). In a hadith of the Prophet one of his companions, Abu Sa'id Khudri (R) narrates him as saying:

‘The world is sweet and green (alluring) and verily Allah is going to install you as vicegerent in it in order to see how you act.’ Sahih Muslim 2742 Book 49, Hadith 12.

The concept of Trusteeship is among the foremost principles thatlay down the groundwork for the basis of environmental protection in Islam. Man’s appointment as the Khalifa’ or the viceregent makes him the caretaker of the Earth so that he ensures the conservation and protection of its topography, its wildlife, flora and fauna and not to mention its limited resources in their unadulterated states.

Any study of Islam from an environmental perspective cannot be considered complete without a mention of the concept of moderation. Indeed, Islam is a religion prescribing moderation and a special emphasis has been added with reference to controlled utilization of natural resources such as water. Despite the significance water has as a purifier, Muslims are repeatedly advised to use only as much as required and to refrain from wasting. The Prophet is reported to have said:

‘Do not waste even if performing ablution on the bank of a fast-flowing large river’. (Al Thirmidhi).

Role of Muslims in Protecting the Environment

The above discussion ultimately leads us to the important question of the role Muslims are supposed to play in the protection of the environment. So far, we have thus established Muslims as custodians of Nature which makes it incumbent upon them to respect and care for the environment and to ensure harmony on Earth. This solidifies a deeply spiritual connection of Man’s faith with Earth, making it a sacred responsibility, keeping him from wastage and unjust exploitation of all the resources that should be accessible to all Creation. Indeed, this is a test and honor for Man for while he does not own or possess anything from nature, he is responsible for the balanced use of it.

The approach of Islam towards the use of natural resources was brilliantly put forward by the Fourth Caliph Hazrat Ali ibn Abi-Talib (RA) who said:

Partake of it gladly so long as you are the benefactor, not a despoiler; a cultivator, not a destroyer. All human beings as well as animals and wildlife enjoy the right to share Earth’s resources. Man’s abuse of any resource is prohibited as the juristic principle says, ‘What leads to the prohibited is itself prohibited’.

While we might be wavering away from this responsibility, not believing it essential to basic faith, it is advisable to endeavor towards employing an eco-friendly lifestyle that would serve to manifest the sense of environmental stewardship every Muslim should strive to have. Today, with many modern ideologies surfacing, the awareness towards environmental protection is surely increasing but there is still a long way to go. As Muslims, it is our duty to spread awareness and garner more support for the preservation of the environment even if it is through encouraging individual efforts towards recycling and reduction of waste. Steps can be taken towards educating the general public to reduce their reliance on non-biodegradable products (that which cannot be decomposed by natural agents) and move on towards more eco-friendly biodegradable items.

Conclusively, all Muslims, regardless of their station, have a duty towards the protection of the environment that Allah SWT has blessed them with. While some actions may seem trivial like the proper disposal of trash and on a communal level,departments taking steps towards sustaining the environment, any contribution goes a long way in achieving the goals of what we call the Green Deen. Today there are many Muslim entrepreneurs who highlight environmental ethics and have based their ventures on the concepts of environmental sustainability. Aiming to increase the usage of eco-friendly products, DEENIN is continuously endeavoring to promote the protection of our environment and working towards an Earth that is loved, nurtured and respected. Many of its products like the ABDEEZ Portable Bidet and the ABDEEZ Portable Wudhu Towels are contributing to a sustainable and greener Earth by reducing the reliance on toilet rolls and tissue paper. DEENIN is committed to adhering to its principles and will continue to add more eco-friendly products to its growing number of products.

Bibliography

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Fatima Al-Banna. (2023, May 13). Islam and Environment Protection. EcoMENA. https://www.ecomena.org/islam-environment/

Firdous, N. (2022, November 24). Why you must be an eco-friendly productive Muslim and how to go about it. ProductiveMuslim.com. https://productivemuslim.com/be-an-eco-friendly-productive-muslim/

Green Ummah. March 28, & Ummah, G. (n.d.). Spirituality, sustainability, and the environment: An islamic perspective. eePRO. https://eepro.naaee.org/community/blog/spirituality-sustainability-and-environment-islamic-perspective

Islam and Sustainability. GreenIftar. (2021, March 24). https://www.greeniftar.com/en/islam-and-sustainability/

Salman Zafar. (2023, March 22). Environmental sustainability in Islam. EcoMENA. https://www.ecomena.org/sustainability-islam/

Wan Nur Athiyyah Binti Wan Ahmad Sukri. (2023, June 21). The Islamic perspective on environmental protection: Principles and practices. Islamonweb English. https://en.islamonweb.net/the-islamic-perspective-on-environmental-protection-principles-and-practices#:~:text=Protection%20of%20Trees%20and%20Plants,Allah%20SWT%20and%20Rasulullah%20SAW.

TL;DR: Islam emphasizes environmental stewardship, appointing Muslims as Earth's caretakers. Principles like Tauheed, Khilafa, Amanah, and Mizan/Adl guide conservation efforts and promote moderation. Muslims play a crucial role in protecting the environment and adopting eco-friendly practices.

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