Khutbah – 06|06|2014 – Islam and the Environment

Khutbah – 06|06|2014 – Islam and the Environment

 In the Name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Dispenser of Grace
Friday 8th August 2014
Imam Noor Salie

Almighty Allah Exhorts Us In The Holy Quran: “Eat And Drink From The Provisions Which We – Allah Have Provided For You, And Do Not Commit Abuse On The Earth, And Spread Corruption.” (Qur’an, 2:60)

 The Messenger Of Allah (Peace Be Upon Him) Said:  Many People Are Using The Property Of Allah In A Wrongful And Unjust Manner. For Them Is The Hellfire On The Day Of Judgment.   (Reported By Al-Bukhari)

World Environment Day Was Celebrated On June 5th 2014 — And It Is A Day That Should Stimulate Awareness Of The Environment And Should Enhance Political Attention And Public Action Among All People.

The First World Environment Day Was Celebrated In 1973. And It Is Hosted Every Year In A Different City Around The World With A Different Theme — And Is Commemorated With An International Exposition In The Week Commencing — 5th June.

In South Africa We Have An Organisation Called- “Green Deen South Africa” Which Is An Initiative Of The Union Of Muslim Students’ Associations Of South Africa And They Aim To Raise Awareness And Mobilise Action In The South African Muslim Community About Current Environmental Issues And To Provide Proactive Tools For Caring For Their Environment.

Green Deen South Africa’, Has Issued An Annual Call-Out For South African Muslim Leaders To Raise The Islamic-Environmental Banner From Their Mimbars.

All Religious Leaders Are Challenged To Look Into Their Traditions For Any Inspiration That Could Guide Us Towards Averting This Global Disaster.

This New Demand On Old Traditions –Forces Us To Look Creatively At The World’s Religious Heritage And Reinterpret Or Reapply Sacred Texts And Principles To Our Present Problem.

It Is Surprising, However, That The Texts Of The Islamic Religious Traditions Speak Directly On Many Issues That Are Pertinent To Our Problem. Hence The Task For The Muslims Here Is Not So Much A Reinterpretation Of The Traditions, But Mainly A Reapplication Of Old Texts To New Problems.

To Begin With, The Quran Calls On Us To Recognise Our Own Contribution To The Crisis: The Emphasis Is To Educate Muslims And To Make Them Aware Of Their Responsibility To The Environment.

Now If We Look At The Term “Environment” And Related Concepts Like — “Ecology”, “Environmental Awareness” Environmental Degradation” “Sustainability”, Sustainable Development/ Biodiversity And Global Warming – They Are All Are Modern-Day Invented Terms That Were Formulated In The Face Of Growing Concerns About The Contemporary State Of The Natural World Around Us.

The Environment Was Always There And Humanity Always Lived In Harmony With It. It Is Since The Last Two Centuries That There Was A Dramatic Change Globally In The World Around Us

The Relationship Between Human Beings And The Earth Is Increasingly Complicated And Urgent. -Every Day There Are Stories About Pollution, Global Warming And Animal Species Facing Extinction?  All Religions Are Responding With Views On The Environment And Our Responsibility For It.

 In The Hq  (Qur’an 6:165)    “And It Is He (Allah) Who Made You Vicegerents (Khalaa’ifa) On The Earth   And Has Raised Some Of You Above Others In Degrees Of Rank/ Intellect  / Awareness / Influence/ Wealth -So That He May Try You Through What He Has Given You    Indeed, Your Lord Is Swift In Penalty; But Indeed, He Is Forgiving And Merciful.” (Qur’an 6:165).

 In The Classical Arabic The Word For Earthling Is Khalifa. This Is A Magnificent Word With Multiple Meanings Like Deputy, Guardian, ‘Friend Of The Earth’ Viceroy, Vicegerent /Custodian – Or Caretaker– And It All Boils Down To Stewardship.

Human Beings Are The Most Intelligent Beings On Earth So It Makes Sense That We Should Have The Responsibility To Care For Our Planet = But Human Beings Are Also Responsible For Almost All The Damage Done To The Planet.* We Are A Species That Would Sacrifice Our Health For Money, And Then We Reach A Point Where We Become Ill – We Are Compelled To Spend That Money To Make Ourselves Healthy Again. We Do The Same To The Environment. We Rape The Land Seeking Its Value, And Then We Have To Use Our Profits To Fix Our Errors. Allah Has Set Severe Punishments For Those Who Damage And Abuse The Natural Resources.

 Islam’s Regard For Environmental Ethics Is Very Clear In The Organization Of Its Sacred Scriptures. The Titles Of The Quranic Súrahs, Refer Both To The Attributes Of Almighty Allah And A Series Of Natural Phenomena, Including Animals,(Al Baqarah / Al An Aam/ Fil) Plants,(Masad/ Teen) Insects, (Al Nahl / Al Naml/ Ankabut) Mountains (Tur And Weather. (Ar Raad/ Dhaariyaat)

 This Holistic Vision Of Man’s Relation To Allah And The Environment Is Likewise Evident In Multiple Passages Of The Quran, Which Indicates That People Will Be Accountable For How They Treat All Of The Earth’s Natural Resources. Allah Also Exhort Us In The [Quran 2:60]” “Eat And Drink From The Provisions Which Allah Has Provided For You, And Do Not Commit Abuse On The Earth, Spreading Corruption.”

 If I Destroy A Person’s Property That Is Called Vandalism And I Could Be Taken To Task, But When Global Corporations Clear Hundreds Of Acres Of Land, Destroying The Lives Of Millions Of Creatures We Call It Progress. This Land Is Not Inherited From Our Ancestors It Is Borrowed From Our Children And Is A Trust Left To Us By Almighty Allah.

 About The Islamic Belief And The Environment  —  The Qur’an Says That Allah (God) Is The Creator Of The World. Human Beings Are On The World As Trustees Or ‘Vicegerents’ – They Are Instructed To Look After The Earth For Allah And For The Future:  The Whole Earth Has Been Created A Place Of Worship, Pure And Clean.

In The Qur’an, Muslims Are Instructed To Look After The Environment And Not To Damage It:  In Surah 30:30 Almighty Allah Says — Devote Yourselves Single-Mindedly To Thisway Of Life, And Follow The Nature Designed By Allah, And Which He (Allah) Has Fashioned For Mankind. There Is No Altering The Creation Of Allah.

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: Surah 13: 4 Almighty Allah Says: It Is Allah Who Spread Out The Earth And Made Therein Firmly Fixed Mountains And Rivers, And Of Fruits Of Every Kind He Has Made Pairs. ( Zawjain Ithnain) He Causes The Night To Cover The Day. Verily In All This, Are Aayah / Signs /Proofs / Evidences / Lessons For  People Who Can Reflect.  (Yatta Faqqaroon)

Because Of This Instruction, – People Should See Themselves As Being Responsible For The World Which Allah Created And They Have To Make Their Own Decisions About How To Do This. – We Have A Duty To Protect And Take Responsibility For The Well-Being Of Allah’s Creation. The World And Everything In It Provides For The Needs Of Mankind And All Other Creatures.

 However, The Utilization Of This Creation Should Be Done In A Respectful And Responsible Manner, All The While Recognizing The Generosity Of Almighty Allah. -Muslims Believe In Accountability, And Cruelty To Allah’s Creation And Lack Of Respect Of The Natural World Will Be One Of The Bases For Judgment. In Shariah, There Are Regulations And Guidelines On How We Are Supposed To Treat The Natural World. This Ranges From The Prohibition Of Cruelty To Animals, To The Allocation Of Water Resources, As Well As The Process Behind Land Designation.

Cruelty To Living Creatures Is Absolutely Forbidden. A Variety Of Stories And Anecdotes Exist In Islamic Teachings Regarding The Evil Of Those Who Mistreated Animals, And The Virtue Of Those Who Went Out Of Their Way To Demonstrate Kindness To Animals.

 It Is Also Prohibited To Cut Down Trees Without Just Cause. Damage To The Natural Environment And All Living Things Is A Criminal Offence And Laws Do Exist For Protection, Assigning Punishments To Those Who Oppose The Law.

 The Punishment Of Crimes Against Nature, As Well As The Duty To Protect And Conserve Allah’s Creation, Makes Islam Very Much In Tune With The Needs Of The Environment.

  Let Us Look At The Wisdom Of Some Of The Teachings Of Prophet Muhammad (Saw) And See How Many Solutions There Are For These Modern Terms.

About The Role Of Plants And Trees: The Prophet Muhammad (Saw) Encouraged The Planting Of Trees And The Cultivation Of Agriculture Which Are Considered As Good Acts. This Is Illustrated In The Following Tradition: Narrated By Anas Bin Malik (Ra) That Allah’s Apostle (Saw) Said: “There Is None Amongst The Muslims Who Plants A Tree Or Sows Seeds, And Then A Bird, Or A Person Or An Animal Eats From It, But Is Regarded As A Charitable Gift For Him.”(Bukhari).

The Prophet (Saw) Knew The Value Of Planting And Cultivation. Planting Of Trees Results In More Nutritious Food For Man And Beast, It Serves As A Shade From The Burning Sun Especially In Hot Areas, It Supplements The Oxygen In The Atmosphere. In Certain Areas It Prevents Soil Erosion And Prevents Mudslides. It Is Also Home To Several Species Of Insects And Animals.

Islam Is Against The Cutting Or Destruction Of Plants And Trees Unnecessarily As Is Evident In The Following Hadith: Abdullah Ibn Habashi Reported That Nabi Muhammad (Saw) Said: “He Who Cuts A Lote-Tree [Without Justification], For Him Await A Severe  Chastisement In The Hereafter.” (Abu Dawud)

Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi Explains Many Ahadith In Terms Of Protecting The Natural Resources And Preserving The Balance That Exists Between The Creatures In The Environment –He Says –Islam Teaches That Allah Created All Things In Perfect Balance And Measurement. There Is A Purpose Behind All Living And Non-Living Things, And Each Species Has An Important Role To Play In The Balance —  In This Regard Almighty Allah States In The Hq: 55  -7-13

7-And The Heaven – He (Allah) Raised High And He Set A Balance-

8 In Order That You May Not Transgress The Due Balance

9. And Observe The Weight With Equity And Do Not Make The Balance Deficient.

10.And The Earth Has Been Created For All The Creatures.

 11.Therein Are Fruits And Species Of Dates

12. And Also Corn With Its Leaves And Stalk For Fodder (Feed For Animals) And Sweet Scented Plants.

13. Then Which Of The Favours And Blessings Of Your Lord Do You Deny.

 The Devastation Caused By Deforestation In Many Countries Causes Soil Erosion And Kills Many Of The Biodiversity Of The Earth. Planting Of More Trees Will Restore The Earth’s Health –Reduce Soil Erosion And Flooding, There Will Be A Recycling Of Rainfall Inland And There Will Be A Restoration Of Aquifer Recharge. (Aquiferrecharge Or Deep Drainage Is A Process Where Water Moves Downward From Surface Water To Groundwater)

Sustainable Use Of Land: The Prophet (Saw) Was A Strong Proponent Of The Sustainable Use And Cultivation Of Land. The Prophet (S.A.W.) Thus Encouraged The Cultivation Of Land. Abu Hurairah (Ra) Said That Nabi (S.A.W) Said: “Whoever Owns Land Should Cultivate It Himself Or Give It To His (Muslim) Brother For Cultivation” (Bukhari)

 Unsustainable Use Of Land Affects The Physical Space, The Natural Resources Of Soil, The Mineral Deposits, Water, As Well As Plant And Animal Life. The Expansion Of Human Activities Has Affected The Quality Of The Land. It Causes Instability Of The Earth’s Ecosystems. It Leads To The Disruption Of The Global Nitrogen Cycle.

Conservation  And Saving Of Water And Using It Sparingly Were Pointed Out By The Prophet (Saw) To His Companions. When The Prophet (Saw) Saw Sa’d Performing Wudhu He Said : “What Is This? You Are Wasting Water.” Sa’d Replied: Can There Be Wastefulness While Performing Ablution? The Prophet (Saw) Replied: “Yes Even If You Perform It In A Flowing River.” (Ibn Maja)

In Addition To Encouraging Water Conservation, The Prophet Saw) Himself Set The Example; It Is Narrated By Anas (Ra): The Prophet (Saw) Used To Take A Bath And Ablution With Very Little Water ( Bukhari)

In The Qur’an, 6:65 “Almighty Allah Says –-And Allah Sent Down Rain From The Sky And Give Life Thereby To The Earth After Its Lifelessness. Indeed In That Is A Sign (Clear Proof) For People Who Listen. (And Obey)”) This Verse Leaves One With No Doubt That The Preservation Of Water Is Paramount To The Natural Order Found On Earth.

Wastage Of Water Causes Deficiency  In Nature And It Affects The Ecological Balance. It Violates The Rights Of Forthcoming Generations To Live In A Healthy Environment. All Living Beings Are Affected By Water Wastage.

The Prophet (Saw) Was Also Concerned About The Purity Of Water. The Prophet Warned Against Water Pollution By Forbidding Relieving Yourself In Stagnant Water.

 The Prophet (Saw) Said: “Be On Your Guard Against Three Things Which Provoke Cursing: Relieving Yourself In The Watering Places, And On The Thoroughfares, And In The Shade (Of The Trees)”( Abu-Dawud ).

This Hadith Prohibits Humans From Defecating At Places Frequented By Others And Also Teaches Them That Human Waste Has Its Specific Place. If It Is Dropped At Unguarded Areas It Can Cause A Health Hazard And Can Lead To Many Illnesses.

The World Is Moving Into A Water Stress Era. Water Tables Are Falling In Almost Every Country That Irrigates Under –Ground Water. Farmers Are Losing Water To The Ever Growing Cities. Glaziers Are Melting Faster Than Expected Due To Global Warming Which Results In Mountain Peoples’ Reduction In Their Water Supply. Underground Water Becomes Contaminated Due To Mining Activities In Many Areas. Every Citizen Of The World Has To Adopt A Water Conservation Attitude.

The Treatment Of Animals And Insects: Play A Vital Role In The Ecosystem Of The Earth. The Species Should Be Respected, Protected And Not To Be Destroyed. If A Species Become Extinct It Can Never, Ever Be Replaced And A Whole Ecosystem With Many Lives Can Be Affected.

 The Prophet (Saw) Preached That Animals Should Be Treated With Dignity. He Promised A Reward For Those Who Care For Animals.

The Prophet (Saw) Showed Great Gentleness Towards Animals And He Was Also Extremely Sensitive To The Suffering Of Animals. Any Killing Of Animals Without Justification In Islam Is Not Allowed Even If The Victim Is A Very Small Animal Or Bird.

Global Warming Has A Significant Impact On The Biodiversity Of The Earth Which Contain Much Of Animal Life. We Are Still Presently Discovering Many New Species Of Animal Life And Many Species Of The Fauna Are Already Extinct Or On The Brink Of Extinction. Destruction Of Habitat And Over-Harvesting Are Destroying Animal Life On Great Scale.

Conclusion:   I Have Mentioned Only A Few Of The Narrations In This Khutbah – But Much Of The Prophet’s (Saw) Advice Can Be Appreciated And Applied. Today One Finds That Everyone Is Concerned About The Effects Of Global Warming And Climate Change Mainly Brought About By The Hands Of Humanity. The Nabi (Saw) Told Us: There Should Be No Harming (Daraar) Or Reciprocating Harm (Diraar). { Imaam Malik.}

The World Is Suffering Due To Deforestation And Prophet (Saw) Showed Us The Importance Of Trees And Plants. Land Degradation And Desertification Is Practiced By Many Countries Worldwide And Sustainable Use Of Land Is In Our Islamic Teachings.

 Developed As Well As Developing Countries Are Suffering From Water Stress And How To Overcome This Was Given To Us 14 Centuries Ago. Biodiversity Of The World Is Suffering And This Includes Over-Fishing And Over-Hunting Due To Human Activities And Human Greed, But The Prophet (Saw) Taught Us The Value Of Animal Life.

 Islam Is Characterized By An All-Encompassing Spirituality Which Is Found In All Acts Of A Muslim’s Life And His Way Of Consuming The Gifts Of Nature Is Part Of Worship.

 What Is Distinctive About The Prophet’s Approach To Environmental Issues Is The Connection He Established Between Green Practices And Rewards In The Hereafter, Which, Represents, An Incentive Greater Than Any Worldly Gain Or Reward. Thus, His Lessons Prompt A Greater Care For The Earth And More Effort To Conserve Its Resources.

This Planet And Body Is A Trust From Allah And We Should Make Dua That Allah Allows Us To Continue Taking Care Of That Trust

Environmental Stewardship Is A Qur’anic Mandate And Commission From Almighty Allah. All Of Allah’s Creation Is Important, Down To The Last Sparrow And Blade Of Grass. — We Have Wrongfully Assumed That Creation Exists For Our Own Consumption. It Is The Responsibility Of Every True Believer To Take Stewardship Seriously, And That Includes Environmental Stewardship. We Need To Embrace The Task To Start “Tending The Garden.”1

 I Believe — There Is Most Certainly A Message From Islam And Our Beloved Prophet (Saw) For Many Future World Conferences And Meetings On Environmental Justice.

Let Us Pray –  O Allah!! , Creator Of The Heaven And Earth, We Thank You For The Wonder And Beauty Of Nature. May We Be Ever Vigilant And Responsible With The World That You Have Given Us, Keeping Mindful Not Only That We Are Your Stewards, But Also That Your Creation Is A Gift For All Generations.

 O Allah!! Breathe Into Us Solidarity  With All Those Who Suffer Now And The Future Generations Who Will Suffer Because Of Our Environmental Irresponsibility. —  Move Us Into Action To Save Our Earth And To Build Your Sustainable Kingdom. —-

O Allah!! We Have Caused Corruption On Land And Sea, And It Is Up To Us To Mend Our Ways. Our Present Crisis Calls On Religious Leaders To Find Faith-Based Messages That Will Inspire The Faithful Towards A Heightened Environmental Awareness.

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