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Friday, 28 March 2008

Islam and the planet

Islam and the planet
Taken from the BBC bitesize

The Qur'an says that Allah is the Creator of the world. Human beings are on the world as trustees or vicegerents. They are told to look after the world for Allah and for the future:

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 counted as charity on his part. (Hadith: muslim)

In the Qur'an, Muslims are instructed to look after the environment and not to damage it:

Devote thyself single-mindedly to the Faith, and thus follow the nature designed by Allah, the nature according to which He has fashioned mankind. There is no altering the creation of Allah. (Qur'an: Surah 30:30)

Muslims have to look after the earth because it is all Allah's creation and it is part of a human's duty to Allah:

Allah is He Who raised up the heavens without any pillars that you can see. Then He settled Himself on the Throne, and constrained the sun and the moon; each one pursues its course during an appointed term. He regulates it all and explains the Signs in detail, that you may have firm belief in the meeting with your Lord. He it is Who spread out the earth and made thereon firmly fixed mountains and rivers, and of fruits of every kind He has made pairs. He causes the night to cover the day. In all this, verily, are signs for a people who reflect. (Qur'an: Surah 13:2-3 )

Because of this passage, people see themselves as being responsible for the world which Allah created and they have to make their own decisions about how to do this.

In the Assisi Declarations, issued by a gathering of world religions in 1986, the Muslim statement was:

The central concept of Islam is tawhid or Oneness of God. Allah is Oneness; and His Oneness is also reflected in the oneness of mankind, and the oneness of man and nature. His trustees are responsible for maintaining the oneness of His creation, the integrity of the Earth, its flora and fauna, its wildlife and natural environment. Oneness cannot be had by discord, by setting one need against another or letting one end predominate over another; it is maintained by balance and harmony. Muslims say that Islam is the middle path and we will be answerable for how we have walked this path, how we have maintained balance and harmony in the whole of creation around us. So oneness, trusteeship and accountability, that is tawhid, khalifa and akhirah, the three central concepts of Islam, are also the pillars of the environmental ethics of Islam. They constitute the basic values taught by the Qur'an. It is these values which led Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, to say: 'Whoever plants a tree and diligently looks after it until it matures and bears fruit is rewarded'.

For these reasons Muslims see themselves as having a responsibility towards the world and the environment, all of which are the creations of Allah.

Unlike many other religions, Muslims do not have any specific festivals in which they give thanks for the harvest or the world. Instead they give thanks to Allah regularly for his creation.


Further Reading:

(1) Seven Ways You Can Save the Planet - youngmuslims.ca

(2) Islam and the Environment (PDF) - ifees.org.uk

(3) What does Islam say on the preservation of environment? - askmuslims.blogspot.com

(4) What does Islam say on the preservation of environment? - Q&A on islamonline.net

Useful Websites:

(1) Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences, UK - http://www.ifees.org.uk/

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