The prophet muhammad and the environment
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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016
As inhabitants of this world, human beings are constantly interacting with our environment and the outcome is that the environment is changing. Now it seems beyond neither the human control nor even the measurement of modern technologies. The environmental protection agencies, enormous institutions, organizations and ecologists all over the world are making their maximum attempt to preserve the environment; but unfortunately the environment degenerates day by day to a horrible state. The whole world is under the threat of Global Warming and Ozone Depletion.
What Causes Global Warming And Ozone Depletion?
Scientists have determined that a number of human activities are contributing to global warming by adding excessive amount of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide accumulate in the atmosphere and trap heats which may gradually exit in to outer space. Scientists tell that Deforestation is the very significant source of greenhouse gases because when the trees are fewer in number, there is less carbon dioxide conversion to the oxygen. Human use of fossil fuels is also the source of excess greenhouse gases.
When the greenhouse gases grow, more heat will be trapped in the atmosphere and get less back to the space. Because of these, the climate changes and the weather structure alters which definitely hastens species extinction and adversely affects the length of seasons worldwide. It will cause the coastal flooding and lead to more frequent and severe storms too.
According to the current statistics, since 1970 more than 30 per cent of natural species have been destroyed. Consumption of natural resources and carbon dioxide emissions have both doubled over the last 40 years and continue to grow at an increased rate. Most of the countries have projected to lose more than 10 per cent of their forests over the next few years. Toxic chemicals which are mostly the emissions from the industrial sectors are widespread in the environment and about 10 per cent disease is caused by environmental pollution. The natural calamities like flood, earthquake, tsunami, and storm have increased unparalleled in history. Most of the world regions are counted to be the earthquake or other calamities prone areas. Epidemic diseases like AIDS, SARS, Bird flue dominate one by the other over the public health. Even though the hospitals, medical institutions and medical colleges numerically increase they all become mute spectator to the steady deterioration of public health. The death caused by this kind of disastrous epidemic diseases increase in a horrible situation.
A build-up of man-made chemicals in the atmosphere causes ozone depletion. The main chemical is CFCs (Chlorofluro carbon) that are used in refrigerants and aerosol spray propellants. CFCs are easy to store, chemically stable and non- flammable; hence they float in the atmosphere. They rise for about 8 years until they reach the ozone layer and they will be broken at there by large amount of ultraviolet radiation. CFCs contain one Fluorine atom, one Carbon and three Chlorine atoms. When ultraviolet radiation and CFCs work chemically the Chlorine atom is free and it can continue to destroy 100,000 of ozone molecules. If the atmosphere is cold the effect will be too worse. Scientists could find out that it has been very cold in the stratosphere in the last few years. Modern aircrafts transportation and supersonic airplanes also contribute to ozone depletion by putting some toxic chemicals in to the atmosphere. Another man-made chemical, which also causes ozone depletion, is methyl bromide. It has been used in many different pesticide applications since 1932. It is regarded to be 50 times more destructive to the ozone layer than CFCs.
Many A Mischief Done By Men:
The Holy Quran undoubtedly points out:-
“Mischief has appeared on land and sea because of that the hands of men earned” (30: 41)
Here the Holy Quran warns men that if they trespass on and overexploit land and water the overall outcome would be too unfavourable.
Imam Fakru Rrazi narrates this quranic verse as:-
“The epidemic infections, draughts, flood etc are meant by the usage of Holy Quran ‘Fasad’ i.e. mischief has appeared on land and sea” (Thafseerul Kubra)
So the increasing natural calamities must be the requital and outcome of men’s activities of misusing the natural resources.
The creation of Almighty GOD Allah is perfect. Allah says: “You can see no fault in the creations of the most beneficent. Then look again. Can you see any rifts” (67: 3)
So the Holy Quran asserts that whatever the change the nature turns to is not it’s own, but the results of men’s activities.
Prophetic Jurisprudence Of Environmental Protection:
The Almighty GOD Allah has created every thing in this universe in due proportion. No one can find out any faults in Allah’s creation. All the creatures from the tiny microbes to large living animals and all the materials from tiny particles of molecules to the largest galaxies are in due measure both quantitatively and qualitatively. The whole universe is open to men to use for his benefits but not to misuse or trespass natural rules. This Islamic basic concept toward the environment is revealed by this Quranic verse:-
“Have you not seen that God is glorified by all in the heavens and on the earth – such as the birds with wings outspread? Each knows its worship and glorification, and God is aware of what they do”. (An-Noor – 24: 41)
The Holy Quran says: “There is not an animal in the earth, or a flying creature flying on two wings, but they are communities like you; We have neglected nothing in the book; Then unto their Lord they will be gathered” (Al- An-aam- 6: 38)
This Quranic verse describes that Allah did not miss any thing that is important for a meaningful existence. All the living organisms in the environment, they are also communities like human beings having the right of life in this earth. So, the basic and first concept of
Prophetic Teaching towards environment is that all the living and non-living things in the earth are created by GOD in due proportion and divine object. All other living beings are as communities as human beings, so they also have the right to live in this environment.
Secondly, Islam gives men the right to use the natural recourses for his use.
The Holy Quran says: “He Who has spread out the earth for you and threaded roads for you therein and has sent down water from the sky: With it have We brought forth diverse kinds of vegetation. Eat and pasture your cattle; verily, in this are signs for men endued with understanding.” (Surathu Twaha- 20: 53)
According to this verse the environment including of all its living and non living creatues are created by God for men’s benefits only.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has taught that earth is subservient to man, but it should not be misused, overexploited or abused. This is the third concept of Prophetic teachings towards environment. This concept basically forms environmental protection or solution to the environmental problems.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) says:
“The earth has been created for me as a mosque and a means of purification” (Swaheehul Bukhari- 1: 331)
Land and water that are created by God in due proportion for the benefits of men must be regarded to be sacred. Prophet Muhammad (s) emphasizes that earth is not only a pure entity but purifying agent also. By informing men that the earth is sacred land, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) teaches men to keep the land always clean and tidy.
One of the reasons for global warming is that the environment is being treated as dump for waste disposal. And as a result pollution is increased everywhere. Land, water and air have been polluted with toxic or non toxic hazardous waste from the towns, buildings, factories and houses. The land, air, rivers and seas provide dumping grounds for the waste, which can be environmentally too harmful. The environment is able to absorb some types waste up to certain levels of emissions. Beyond that level environmental pollution is likely to accelerate. As wastes grow, so environmental degradation is also most likely to grow at a faster rate. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH0 had put forward a preventive measure for the environmental protection, that is complete cleanliness of nature.
Allah says in Holy Quran:
“Verily, Allah loves those who turn to him constantly and He loves those who keep themselves pure and clean.” ( 2: 222). Islam makes purification a responsibility of men.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH0 has taught:
“Purification is half part of Islamic belief” (Swaheehu Muslim: H.No: 432)
Prophet Muhammad(s) mentioned purification in general, which includes the purification of body internally and externally and his environment also. All kinds of purification are the responsibilities of true believers. According to this Hadeeth, Islamic belief (Eeman) of a person can not be regarded to be perfect without due cleanliness in his body and surroundings too. Purifying human bodies by ablution or ritual bathing benefit him to prevent many infections that are caused by virus or bacteria. Purifying the nature prevents environmental pollution.
Responsibility Of Environment:
Who has the responsibility of the environment? Is the God responsible for it? Or the environment itself is responsible? Or those who have the right to use all natural resources for their use are responsible? Definitely, according to Islamic concept, those who are living and use the nature are responsible for nature.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has taught:
“Every one of you is guardian and will be asked about his subject” (Swaheehu Muslim)
Prophet Muhammad (s) was very strict that men should handle every thing on this earth with extra care. If man is much aware of his responsibility of environment, he cannot disfigure and spoil the resources available in the nature.
The Prophet was becoming increasingly sensitive when he was traveling with his Swahaba and he was telling “Do not encroach on the trucks on the habitats of these wild beasts and animals, you are to share the earth with them”
Overexploiting Natural Resources:
Another reason for the global warming and all other environmental problems is that men overexploit the natural resources. Allah the Almighty has taught in Holy Quran obviously that the earth and resources are for the benefits of men, but it should not be overexploited. The land provides us food, mines, quarries and oil wells provide us with fuels and raw materials, forests provide us wood, and seas provide us with fish. Allah has given the right to extract raw materials for production process and to cultivate crops, vegetables and fruits for men’s use, but the same time He has prevented men to use these resources by extravagance. This Islamic rule also forms as a preventive measure for the environmental problems.
The Almighty Allah says:
And it is He Who produces gardens trellised and untrellised, and datepalms, and crops of different shape and taste (its fruits and its seeds) and olives, and pomegranates, similar (in kind) and different (in taste). Eat of their fruit when they ripen, but pay the due thereof on the day of its harvest, and waste not by extravagance. Verily, He likes not Al-Musrifoon (those who waste by extravagance)”. (Al-Anaam -6:41)
Allah says in another verse in the similar meaning:
O Children of Adam! Take your adornment while praying and going round the Kabah, and eat and drink but waste not by extravagance, certainly He (Allah) does not like Al-Musrifoon (those who waste by extravagance).” (Al-Araf- 7:31)
These Quranic verses clearly encourages men to use several fruits, crops and other natural resources and prohibits men to waste there of.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has told that Allah hates extravagance.
“Narrated Ash-sha’bi: Al mugheera wrote; “I heard the Prophet saying: Allah has hated three things: 1- vain talks that you talk too much or about others. 2 – Wasting of wealth by extravagance, 3- and asking too many questions” (Muslim H no: 591)
Conservation of water:
Water is a gift from God and source of all life in earth. Conservation of this vital element is very important to the preservation and existence of life in its various forms.
The Holy Quran points out:
“And We have made from water every living thing.” (21:30)
“Consider the water which you drink, Was it you that brought it down from the rain cloud or We? If We had pleased, we could make it bitter” (56: 68- 70)
“And we caused rain to descend on you from heaven to cleanse you therewith”
Allah reminds men the value of water through these verses. Allah has made the use of water a common right of all creatures. So all living and non living creatures are entitled to use and share it without monopoly, wastage, extravagance and despoilment.
Prophet Muhammad (s) lived in the desert environment where water was very synonymous to life. Though the two third of the globe is filled with water many regions, countries and communities all over the world are suffering from the lack of water. The water levels in rivers go down so as a result the water level in the nearby wells goes down and people face the difficulty to get the water both for their life and multinational purposes.
Narrated Jabir (R): Prophet Muhammad (s) has prohibited passing urine in stagnant water” (Swaheehu Muslim, Riyalu Sswalheen: H.No: 1772)
Prophet Muhammad (S) strictly prohibits taking more water than necessary. Making ablution by washing more than three times is considered as ‘Karaha’ i.e. discouraged by Islam. Even if you are making ablution from a large water reservoir, or from a flowing spring or near to river you must not take water to wash a particular part of body more than three times. Prophet Muhammad (s) perceives it as extravagance. Any human activity that impairs the structural and biological smooth functioning of water, whether by misusing or lavishing or polluting it with urine or any other dirty substances is really against the Prophetic law of preserving environment. The root cause of environmental problems is the reckless behavior of men by polluting the nature that would definitely make it unsuitable for his use. So man is baited against man. The Prophetic teachings not to pass urine in stagnant water and to lavish drops of water even for making ablution ultimately form a splendid methodology to preserve the water; that all other ecologists, scientists, and environmental protection agencies have been seeking for a methodology theoretically sufficient and pragmatically effective to preserve the environment.
Treatment of Animals:
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) believed that animals, as indispensable part of the environment, should be treated with dignity and respect that they deserve. He had considered camels and horses courageous companions during his journeys and battles. So prophetic teaching basically has enjoined up on men right environmental relation ship with animals. It is not allowed in Islam to kill animals except for food, but in some cases only some animals can be killed when they endanger the human life.
Islam allows hunting but it must be for the necessity. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) could not put up with unnecessary hunting of any animals.
Ibnu Masood said: We were traveling with Prophet Muhammad (s), when he left us for while we could see a bird with its two chicks and we too the chicks. Then the mother bird started spreading its wings. When Prophet(S) came and saw this, he said “who caused her to take away her two children, return her two children to her” (Bukhari & Muslim)
Prophet Muhammad(s), more than any other ecologist, has realized the feelings of relation between mother and children birds; that is why he reacted when he saw the feelings of mother bird.
Narrated Hisham bin Zaid: Anas and I went to Al-Hakam bin Aiyub. Anas saw some boys shooting at a tied hen. Anas said, “The Prophet has forbidden the shooting of tied or confined animals.” (Swaheehul Bukhari- Book 67, Hadith 421)
Narrated Ibn ‘Umar: that he entered upon Yahya bin Said while one of Yahya’s sons was aiming at a hen after tying it. Ibn ‘Umar walked to it and untied it. then he brought it and the boy and said. “Prevent your boys from tying the birds for the sake of killing them, as I have heard the Prophet forbidding the killing of an animal or other living thing after tying them.” (Swaheehul Bukhari- Book 67, Hadith 422)
Prophet Muhammad (s) has prohibited killing some animals:
“Narrated Abdulla Bin Abbas: The Prophet Muhammad (s) prohibited to kill four creatures: ants, bees, hoopoes, and sparrow hawks”. (Sunan Aboo Davud- H. No: 5247)
Prophet Muhammad (s) teaches that there would be a reward for from Allah for serving any animals.
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “While a man was walking on a road. he became very thirsty. Then he came across a well, got down into it, drank (of its water) and then came out. Meanwhile he saw a dog panting and licking mud because of excessive thirst. the man said to himself “This dog is suffering from the same state of thirst as I did.” So he went down the well (again) and filled his shoe (with water) and held it in his mouth and watered the dog. Allah thanked him for that deed and forgave him.” the people asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! Is there a reward for us in serving the animals?” He said, “(Yes) there is a reward for serving any animate (living being).” (Swaheehul Bukhari – book73, Hadith 38)
This Hadeeth gives us unique lesson. He understands the thirst of dog and tells that it also has the same set of thirst I had. The way that he has poured the water in to dog’s mouth is certainly a unique one that we can not see same sort of way to deal with any animals any where in the history nor in the modern practices of preserving nature.
Narrated by Ahmad:
“If you kill a sparrow senselessly, it will hasten to God on the Day of Judgment, and it will say: Oh Lord so and so killed me for play not for use” (Mishakathul Masabeeh)
These Prophetic words reflect the reverence, respect and great love to the animals.
According to Prophetic teachings, killing an animal without giving food, drinks, or even by disturbing it will cause a man to go to Hellfire.
“Narrated Ibnu Umar: Prophet Muhammad (s) said- A woman she tied a cat has gone to Hellfire; she neither fed it nor allowed it to find food of its own”. (Bukhari & Muslim, Riyalussaliheen- H.No: 1600)
Through these Hadeeths, Prophet Muhammad (s) prohibited killing or disturbing any animals. He orders men to be kind towards all living beings in the earth.
“Allah, the great and omnipotent, will do his mercy to those who do their mercy (towards the living beings in the earth). So do mercy to every living being in the earth, then Allah and his angels will do the mercy towards you” (Bukhari & Muslim)
This is a broad concept of treating the animals. Whatever men can do to treat and protect animals, that are considered to be mercy and Allah will give his rewards for that.
Not only physical harm to animals but insulting or cursing animals is also prohibited by Prophet Muhammad (s).
“Imran bin. Husain reported: We were with Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) in some of his journeys and there was a woman from the Ansar riding a she-camel that it shied and she invoked curse upon that. Allah’s Messenger (May peace be upon him) heard it and said: unload that and set it free for it is accursed. ‘Imran said: I still perceive that (dromedary) walking amongst people and none taking any notice of that. (Swaheehu Muslim: Hadith.No: 6276). This prophetic concept not to curse or insult an animal is almost very humane perspective. According to Quranic lesson a human must not curse another human, this is because the dignity and respect of the men are highly considered. Similarly, the indispensable role of animals in this environment is something great and they too perform their functions in the nature. As they do their role in here, they also deserve their dignity. So any animal must not be cursed.
In Islam, to slaughter an animal Muslims have to use sharp knife in order to save the animal the pain associated with the use of an object. Prophet Muhammad (s) used to tell his companions:
“Shaddid bin. Aus said: Two are the things which I remember Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) having said: Verily Allah has enjoined goodness to everything; so when you kill, kill in a good way and when you slaughter, slaughter in a good way. So every one of you should sharpen his knife, and let the slaughtered animal die comfortably. (Swaheehu Muslim:, Hadith 4810).
Prophet Muhammad (S) teaches Muslims to consider the psyche of an animal to be slaughtered. The hadeeth usage “And let the slaughtered animal die comfortably” is almost a very natural perspective toward the pain and sufferings of an animal. Prophet Muhammad (s0 has shown great sensitivity and gentleness. Throughout his life, many hadeeths and incidents obviously show that He was extremely sensitive toward the sufferings of animals. That is why he recommended using sharp blades and an easy method in order to the animal can die quickly with as little pain as possible. He has also prohibited slaughtering an animal in the presence of another animal and sharpening the blade in the witness of the animal which is to be slaughtered. If you let the animals witness the sharpening of your blades, according to Prophetic teachings, it is almost similar to slaughter the same animal twice.
“Ibnu Abbas reported: A man has kept a sheep laid down while he was sharpening his blade. Then the Prophet told: Would you like it to die twice? Why didn’t you sharpen your blade before lying it down?” No other religions, isms or any other social leaders too can put forward this kind of noble ideology of extreme sensitivity to the feelings and sufferings of an animal. In short, prophetic environmental teachings recommend to consider the animals as indispensable part of ecology. So it must get the dignity and respect that it deserves. Men must be sensitive an all dealings with animals, no matter whether it is to be slaughtered or not. Through his example of sharpening knife in front of animals He teaches men to consider the feelings of animals. If had practiced the Prophetic ideology to protect the environment through preserving animals, we would have overcome the horrible situation of global warming and all other environmental degradation up to an extent.
‘Planting a tree’:
Plants are an integral part of the environment. One of the reason for global warming and other environmental problems is that the plants have been lost all over the world due to human activities and as a result carbon dioxide absorption has been decreased more than 30 per cent within the last 50 years. “If you have a means to plant a tree, start digging” is the instruction presently given by the ecologists to preserve the nature. Plants Absorb carbon dioxide and give off the oxygen during the photosynthesis time. A single plant would be able to absorb one ton of carbon dioxide approximately during its life time. Many an infections and disastrous diseases too are becoming increasingly widespread very faster than ever before because of that a large amount of poisonous carbon dioxide is left in the atmosphere unabsorbed. This will adversely affect the immunity of the human body also.
Those who leave no stone unturned in getting the environment preserved can really appreciate the greatness of prophetic teaching of “ plant a tree”.
Jabir (Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: Never a Muslim plants a tree, but he has the reward of charity for him, for what is eaten out of that is charity; what is stolen out of that, what the beasts eat out of that, what the birds eat out of that is charity for him. (In short) none incurs a los! k to him but it becomes a charity on his part. (Swaheehu Musli- Hadith No:3764)
Jabir bin . ‘Abdullah (Allah be pleased with them) reported: I heard Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) saying: Never does a Muslim plant, or cultivate, but has reward for him for what the beasts eat, or the birds eat or anything else eats out of that. (Muslim – Hadith no:3766)
This holy Hadeeths not only comprise of the vital important of planting a tree, but also the very structural and biological inter relation of plants, birds, human and other animals. In the second Hadeeth, the usage “to cultivate” is very important regarding with the preservation of all kinds of cultivations. According to the meaning of this Hadeeth, who ever does some thing to preserve the environment, he will certainly get the charitable reward from the creator of environment. Planting a tree is not only benefited for contributing fruits or seeds but for the carbon dioxide absorption also, which in turn purifies the whole living atmosphere.
Prophet Muhammad (s) prohibits cutting and destroying trees.
“Narrated Hassan ibn Ibrahim: I asked Hisham ibn Urwah about the cutting of a lote-tree when he was leaning against the house of Urwah. He said: Do you not see these doors and leaves? These were made of the lote-tree of Urwah which Urwah used to cut from his hand? He said: There is no harm in it. Humayd’s version adds: You have brought an innovation, O Iraqi! He said: The innovation is from you. I heard someone say at Mecca: The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) cursed him who cuts a lote-tree(without justification). He then mentioned the rest of the tradition to the same effect. (Sunan Abudavud: Hadith No:5221)
Another hadeeth can be read like this:
“he who cuts a lote-tree (without justification), God will send him to Hellfire”.
Those people who cut the trees just for some celebrations and festivals, those countries that destroy forests for the sake of competing development, and those institutions and industries that wipe out plants for their temporary purposes must think about the prophetic teachings of environmental protection. They must understand that what ever they are doing for the sake of industrialization will finally turn to be harmful to their own development.
Don’t contribute to your own destruction:
Allah the almighty says:
“Don’t make your own hands contribute to your own destruction, but do good only, for Allah loves those who do good” (Holy Quran- 2: 195)
Through this verse Allah prohibits men doing any activity which in turn will contribute to his own destruction. Researchers could find out that about 80 percent of tobacco users will get cancer or some other diseases. Islamic scholars then have given the Fathwa that tobacco consumption is prohibited in Islam according to this verse. Same is the case with environment also. Allah prohibits men destroying animals and plants, and polluting water, land and air through this verse. Because these all can contribute to the destruction of human being as well as the environment.
PROPHETIC TEACHINGS AS ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS:
Prophet is the pioneer of environmental preservation. The words like ‘conservation of water’, ‘ecology’, ‘environmental awareness’, ‘sustainability’ etc can be seen in many Quranic verses and Holy Hadeeths. He taught that the natural resources are created by God Allah for men’s use. The same time, men don’t have any right to overexploit or misuse these natural resources. One of the reasons for environmental problem is that the scarce resources of nature are overexploited. Industrialization has done a major role in this. Prophetic lesson only can solve these problems. Whoever extracts raw materials, oils, and mines, who ever cultivate vegetables and fruits and who ever take water and all must be aware of prophetic environmental ethics that it should not be misused or rather overexploited. This is the only way to protect our limited natural resources.
Secondly, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has given the responsibility of environment to men. He will be asked about his nature also. We can not see this seldom explored ideology in any other religions or scientific books. If men had thought about his responsibility of all the living and non-living creatures in his surroundings, most of the species would have had lived here and the whole environment itself would have left tidy and suitable to use.
Prophet Muhammad (s) had taught not to pollute water, air and land. He also had taught the way how to treat animals and to plant trees as many as possible. From these noble environmental ethics, we can realize Prophet as a great ecologist, scientist and pioneer of environmental protection when scientific outfits and innovations were nothing. Hence, those who spend a lot for environmental protection must take into account the noble ethics of prophet Muhammad(PBUH), and do the best to be practiced every where. The whole ecological harmony and biological relations that the prophet Muhammad (S) advocated between human and his nature has today almost lost. As the whole world is under the great threats of many kinds of natural calamities and these are basically caused by pollution, over exploitation, desertification, animals destruction and deforestation, it is the exact time for the whole world community to think about it seriously and find out the best effective environmental ethics to be practiced. Definitely the sound and effective environmental ethics are lying in the noble teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). So, let the world community as a whole take a leaf out of the Hadeeths and find out the solutions for current environmental crisis.
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2- Swaheehul Bukhari
3- Waheehu Muslim
4- Sunan Aboo Davud
5- Mishakathul Masabeeh
6- Riyalu swaliheen
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11- Muhammad A Mercy to all Nations/ Al Hajj Qasim Ali Jairazzbhoy
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