Yes, religion can be a solution for ecological problems – believe it or not

When someone loves you, they’ll express their love in a lot of ways. One of the most popular ways is by giving a present. Every time you look at your gift, you feel something special inside. Something like happiness, peace, and love. You don’t know why or how but at this moment you’ll smile and think “I’m so lucky to have this person in my life. It feels great to have someone who’s thinking about me. I am so blessed!”. And then, all of a sudden, you don’t want to lose this person.

You’re afraid to feel lost without this unique thing called love! So what would you do to preserve it? Yes, that’s right! You’ll do everything to keep that person in your life. You’ll do anything to please them. You will feel responsible to protect them and you’ll never allow anyone to disturb this beautiful relationship. If this is your way of expressing your love for someone who gave you just a simple present, how would you express your love for The One who created us and gave us the most perfect gift which we call nature? Let me ask the question otherwise. Do we really love God? Don’t answer loudly. Whisper the answer in yourself and be honest. Don’t answer quickly with “yes” or “no”. Before you do so, take your time and think very deeply. Because loving God is a verb: you have to act like a lover.

Protecting God’s gift

Nature is one of the most beautiful blessings and presents that we received from the Creator of the whole universe. It’s the most perfect gift. Allah told us in the Quran that He created “humans to be guardians of His creation (in Arabic: khaleefah)”. That means that nature does not belong to us, and we do not have the right to do whatever we want with it. God gave us the order to protect and preserve it. That means that humans are responsible for the use of their power and the use of nature and its resources.

“The world is green and beautiful, and Allah has appointed you his guardian over it,” said the Prophet Muhammad.

The earth is like a cradle created for mankind. It’s our task to protect nature. Our duty is to keep balance and harmony in Allah’s creation. Islam is not only a religion of peace or a religion that calls Muslims to pray five times a day and that’s it. Islam is a way of life. It’s a religion with systems. And being a Muslim means that you accept Islam as it is and taking the entire system as a way of life.

Ecology in islamic history

Protecting flora and fauna is not something new. It’s an islamic prescription and order.

Quranic verses like “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 30:30) and hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad like “If the Hour (the day of Resurrection) is about to be established and one of you was holding a palm shoot, let him take advantage of even one second before the Hour is established to plant it” should help Muslims in their understanding of his religion and it should help the world to solve ecological problems.

In the Islamic history, horses and camels were always used in wars and as tool for transport. It was forbidden to overload a camel on caravan routes. The travellers were obligated to stop for food and drinks at regular times and to see that the animals are well rested and fed. Any sick animal was taken out of service and treated for its sickness. The Shariah law, the laws of Islam, protects animals from cruelty, protects forests, and limits the growth of cities. Safeguarding the purity of water is an important issue in Islam and wasting water is totally forbidden. Prophet Muhammad happened to pass by a Companion, Sa’d, as he was performing ablution (wudhu) next to a river. At this, the Prophet said, “Sa’d, what is this squandering?” Sa’d replied: “Can there be an idea of squandering (israf) in ablution?” The Prophet said: “Yes, even if you are by the side of a flowing river.”

Also, being kind to animals is an act of good faith in Islam. The Prophet told us that a man entered into paradise because he gave a dog some water to drink and a woman entered to the hellfire because she mistreated a cat. Islam expects humankind to treat all animals with respect and dignity.

Islam as a solution for ecological problems

There are a lot of examples in Islam that prove that Islam is the only solution for many ecological issues.

Once I read a very beautiful quote:

“Islam is indeed deeply an ecological religion but we Muslims must learn how to read the Quran with the heart to see many Quranic verses about the human relationship with land, animals and worldly resource exploitations. No more hiding with the ecological sense of Islam!”

I wish that more people would read the Quran, the Hadith, and study the relationship between Islam and ecology. The Islamic religion has a lot of answers about many ecological problems. Islam is the only religion that calls its followers to “not pollute water, destroy plants, trees, and animals even in times of war”. But the question is: Are we ready to understand that Islam is more than only about the five pillars?

Written by Afifa Thabet

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Afifa Thabet is 33 years old. She studied Oriental Languages and Cultures and volunteers as a teacher. She's interested in everything concerning Islamic history and Arab societies.