“You look at that river gently flowing by. You notice the leaves rustling with the wind. You hear the birds; you hear the tree frogs. In the distance you hear a cow. You feel the grass. The mud gives a little bit on the river bank. It’s quite; it’s peaceful.”
That was an excerpt from An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore lecture circuit who was a former presidential candidate campaign aiming to raise public awareness of dangers of global warming and the aftermath which is the climate change. He sought for solutions to protect the environment.
Ever since I was small, I was taught to play with soil, plants and care for animals. Basically, I was brought up by my dad who is a nature enthusiast. Having the opportunity to study biodiversity for my degree has brought me close to an affinity for environmental movements. I was also able to pursue tertiary education in environment and work in the environmental field. This has enabled me to venture my interest which is Islam and nature. Hoping to spread the environmental advocacy, I aspire to educate my fellow Muslim friends about this.
“The Earth is green and beautiful, and Allah has appointed you his stewards over it. The whole earth has been created a place of worship, pure and clean. Whoever plants a tree and diligently looks after it until it matures and bears fruit is rewarded. If a Muslim plants a tree or sows a field and humans and beasts and birds eat from it, all of it is love on his part.” [Hadith]
Did you know that the highest pollution index for 2017 comes from the Muslim countries like Egypt, Bangladesh and Pakistan? Why does an Islamic country unable to care for the environment? Look at Japan for instance, where the majority of their faith are Shinto and Buddhism. Yet, their country is so clean that rivers are crystal clear and you can hardly see any trash on the road. Perhaps, we often see the nature and Islam as two different entities. We don’t see it as part of us. We just see the plants, animals and the whole environment itself as just an insignificant body.
Nevertheless, in the book of Fi Zilal al-Quran “In the Shade of the Quran” by Syed Qutb (an Islamic Theorist) said that universe and life are full of activity that every single action is glorifying God.
The seven heavens and the earth and whatever is in them exalt Him. And there is not a thing except that it exalts [Allah] by His praise, but you do not understand their [way of] exalting. Indeed, He is ever Forbearing and Forgiving. [Surah al-Isra’ verse 44]
Also, in the book Tawhid and Science where Dr Osman Bakar said that unity of Islam and Nature is the reflection of the divine power. Thus, whether we like it or not we have to be aware of our environment. Because they are part of us and we are given the Amanah (responsibility) as a Khalifah (steward) on this earth. If only the trees and animals can speak. We would be shocked to hear their weeping of what destruction we have done to mother earth up till now. Regrettably, our community tends to overlook the care for environment whereby in some case: people have a tendency to take ablution in a wasteful way. This is contradicting with our prophet’s teaching where he emphasized on not to waste water even at a flowing river.
Abdullah ibn Amr reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, passed by Sa’d while he was performing ablution. The Prophet said, “What is this extravagance?” Sa’d said, “Is there extravagance with water in ablution?” The Prophet said, “Yes, even if you were on the banks of a flowing river.” Source: Sunan Ibn Mājah 425
Even during the war, Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) warned armies not to destroy trees or harm animals. This shows years before the term of environmental awareness existed, our prophet has taught us to care for the environment.
“Do not destroy the villages and towns, do not spoil the cultivated fields and gardens, and do not slaughter the cattle.” (Sahih Bukhari; Sunan Abu Dawud)
In a nutshell, showing you care for the environment starts with changing our own attitude. As Dr Badri, a fellow researcher from International Institute of Advanced Islamic Science (IAIS) said that by getting the bigger picture of environmental fitrah will help you in environmental conservation. You must learn to know God, identify the bad and good sides look for areas you can help to make the world a better place. We as Muslims must take charge now. We should stop pointing fingers and expect others to do our part. Start reflecting and make the first step in showing the change. Walk the talk.
O you who have believed, why do you say what you do not do? Great is hatred in the sight of Allah that you say what you do not do. [Surah as-Saff, verse 2-3]
Be a changemaker. Paint the World Green.