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At another instance Allah Almighty said:
‘And when he turneth away (from thee) his effort in the land is to make mischief therein and to destroy the crops and the cattle; and Allah loveth not mischief.’ [Al- Baqarah: 204-205] This ayat shows that man is responsible for creating mischief in the universe. At various instances humans, due to overexploitation of natural resources, have created complex problems for themselves such as pollution, deforestation, climate change, global warming and extinction of different species, etc.
If we just value one of the basic resources, water, we’ll come to realize that it’s a blessing in disguise, as it helps in sustaining life on Earth and the Quran clearly states that every living thing is made of water. Thus according to the Quran and Sunnah, it is not permissible to waste water. As in verse 31 of Surah Al-A‘raf Allah Almighty said:
‘O Children of Adam! Look to your adornment at every place of worship, and eat and drink, but be not prodigal. Lo! He loveth not the prodigals.’
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) was the first to establish environmentally protected areasThis verse clearly states that wastage of water is not allowed at any cost. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) discouraged the wastage of water even during ablution (wuzu). The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saw a person wasting water while performing ablution and said to him:
‘Don’t be extravagant’
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) was the first to establish environmentally protected areas in which felling of trees and killing of animals was prohibited. He declared an area of 20 km out of each section of Al-Madina al-Munawwarah as a protected area and prohibited cutting of trees and branches except what was required for driving camels.
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) said: “I declare Madina as a sanctuary, and like Makkah, the area in between its two mountains shall be a protected area. Its trees shall not be cut, except the extent that is needed to drive camels” (Ref: Sahih Bukhari, Kitab al-‘I ‘tisam bi’ 1-Kitab wa’s-Sunnah, Bab ma yukrihu min kathratis-su ‘ali wa takallufi ma la ya ‘nihi, Hadith No. 2792)
Deforestation has changed the course of nature in PakistanThe Holy Prophet (PBUH) also prohibited Muslims from destroying crops and trees during war. He also stressed maintaining a clean environment, which can be judged from the following verse narrated by Abu Malik al-Ash‘ari that:-
‘Cleanliness is half of faith…..’
In short many diseases can be avoided by keeping the environment clean; otherwise the deteriorating environment can affect human life.
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) was also very affectionate towards animals and birds and prohibited beating animals without justification. The Messenger of Allah (Peace Be Upon Him) said:
‘Whosoever killed a sparrow unjustly, it will complain before Allah saying O! Allah such and such person had killed me unjustly and he had not killed me for any benefit.’ (Ref: Sunan al-Nasa’I, kitab al-dahaya, bab man qatala ‘usfuran bighayri haqqiha. Hadith No. 4446)
Pakistan is ranked third in Climate Risk Index’s most affected countriesIn another instance, our Holy Prophet (PBUH) said: ‘Leave the birds in their nests to live peacefully’ (Ref: Sunan Abu Da’ud, kitab al-Adaha, bab fil ‘aqiqati. Hadith No. 2835)
These Ahadith show the concern of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in protecting wildlife and environment and prove that Islam is a complete code of life which not only gives equal right to human beings but also stresses on the protection of every living species on Earth. It stops humans from killing animals for the sake of recreation, as indiscriminate hunting may cause danger to the survival of wildlife, the permission of which is not given in the Holy Quran or Sunnah.
Even the Indonesian Council of Ulema passed a fatwa titled ‘The Protection of Endangered Species to Maintain the Balanced Ecosystems’. The Ulema Council regards the endangered species i.e. tigers, rhinos and elephants and different types of mammals a creation of Allah Almighty in order to maintain a balanced ecosystem, meant for the interests of sustainable human welfare. Humans should therefore protect the ecosystem and wildlife otherwise it can deteriorate human life. The fatwa clearly mentioned illegal hunting of endangered species to be haram and to take immediate measures to conserve them.
This can also be applied in Pakistan, which hosts rich biodiversity such as the common leopard, snow leopard, turtles, markhor and different species of birds. The Ulema Councils of Pakistan should also play an important role in conservation of threatened and endangered species in the country.
Allah Almighty in different verses of the Holy Quran laid stress on the protection of the environment and informed us about the numerous blessings he bestowed us with. Forests are a valuable asset as they render great ecosystem services by hosting biodiversity, replenishing the underground aquifer, preventing soil erosion, reducing the impacts of flash floods, mitigating climate change and global warming. Keeping in view their immense importance we should take special care so that deforestation can be curbed and afforestation can take place simultaneously.
Today, the increase in the world’s population has exerted tremendous pressure on natural resources as the recent Living Planet Report 2014 by WWF confirms that humanity’s demand on the planet is 50 per cent more than what nature can renew, meaning it will take 1.5 Earths to produce the resources necessary to support our current ecological footprint.
Food and water scarcity – a global issue
If we implement Islamic principles in our daily lives and make our consumption patterns sustainable, we can easily maintain a balance between our resources and needs. Consequently, this will help to alleviate food and water scarcity, which are some of the major issues the world faces and we will be in a position to lead a sustainable life where humans live in harmony with nature.
The writer is a freelance journalist. He tweets @SyedMAbubakar and can be reached at [email protected]