Feb 21, 2012

Our Connection With The Earth


by Umm Yacoubi

Bismillah

Environmental conservation, such as “being green” and “caring for the earth,” have become such cliché phrases that they may not mean much to us. We may think of environmental issues as being the concern of big business and politicians, a problem to be solved by scientists in faraway labs. We become busy with our lives, going to work, cooking, cleaning, going to school, shopping, caring for our children, etc. Who has time to worry about the environment? However we need to be worried. Many issues are causing severe damage to the earth. Environmental issues impact our and our families’ health and the lives of generations to come. It is the duty of a Muslim to care for the earth. Being green is not a new concept for us , it is part of our tradition. The Noble Quran warns us to take care of our actions upon the earth. Also, our beloved prophet Mohammed sal allah aleyhi wasallam advised us in hadith to care for the environment, over1400 years ago.

What is our personal connection to the earth? We live on it, we eat from the plants and animals that grow on it, and it has a climate that allows us to live. But have we considered that we were created from it?

Allah (swt) has told us that we are made from the earth: “And certainly did we create man from an extract of clay” (Surah Al-Muminun 23:12)

Clay is a chemically reactive soil made of very fine particles of weathered ground rock and organic material (decayed plants and animals). Clay is earth, SubhanAllah.

The earth is always constant in our lives. Whatever the climate or terrain- under water or over glaciers wherever we go,we will find our feet planted upon the earth and when we look up we are surrounded by the awesome sky and vast universe. Alhamdulillah, it is our life spring, life as we know it cannot exist without it. The earth is a constant source of comfort, beauty and sustenance. It is so essential to our existence that we may take it for granted.

However since the earth is a blessing from Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala, we shouldn’t take it for granted.

It is Allah who made for you the earth a place of settlement and the sky a ceiling and formed you and perfected your forms and provided you with good things. That is Allah, your Lord; then blessed is Allah, Lord of the worlds.” (Surah Ghafir 40:64)

We must understand that with this great blessing there is also great responsibility. Yes, Allah has given us the right to use the earth to sustain ourselves, but not the right to waste and destroy his blessing.

Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: "I will create a vicegerent on earth." They said: "Wilt Thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood? - whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy (name)?" He said: "I know what ye know not." (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:30)

Even though the angels only praise and glorify Allah, the exalted. Allah placed us, humans in authority of the earth, so clearly our treatment of the earth is a test for us.

We have been given guidance from the prophet Mohammed sallalahu aleihi wa sallam on how we can fulfill our duty. One such way is illustrated in the following hadith as related by Muslim:

Jabir (Allah be pleased with him) reported that Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him) visited Umm Mubashshir al-Ansariya at her orchard of date-palms and said to her: Who has planted these trees of dates-a Muslim or a non-Muslim? She said: A Muslim, of course, whereupon he said: Never a Muslim plants, or cultivates a land, and it out of that men eat, or the animals eat, or anything else eats, but that becomes charity on his (planter’s) behalf. (Sahih Muslim)[i]

Also, this simple act of planting a tree helps to stop the global climate change by reducing atmospheric CO2 (carbon dioxide) levels.[ii]

We are made from the earth and we are only passing through this life upon it, truly our time here is short. As we pass through we have to realize that it is arrogant to take part in the destruction of the Earth, Allah’s great creation.

Allah (swt) tells of the type of person who brings harm to the earth: “There is the type of man whose speech about this world's life May dazzle thee, and he calls Allah to witness about what is in his heart; yet is he the most contentious of enemies. When he turns his back, His aim everywhere is to spread mischief through the earth and destroy crops and cattle. But Allah loveth not mischief”. (Surah Al-Baqarah 2:204-205)

We may think that we do not have a part in the destruction of the earth or that our impact is very small. Yet, consider that the average person in the US creates 1130 [iii]pounds of trash every year. There are 6,984,749,946[iv]people in the world; multiply the pounds of garbage by the number of people in the world and the numbers are staggering! Even if you cut the number of people in half or quartered it millions of pounds of garbage is created every year! This garbage goes to landfills and sits there slowly poisoning the earth. The mix of toxic chemicals, corrosive plastics and other garbage causes poisonous gasses to escape into the air, these gasses have been linked to destruction of the Ozone layer. The toxic mix also creates deadly garbage sludge that seeps in to our oceans and rivers.

Other ways we humans cause destruction to the earth:

  • Over development : The building of bigger homes and strip malls, without the natural resources to sustain the communities, creates a loss of natural habitat, leaving wild animals nowhere to go.
  • Clear-cutting : Whole areas of Forests often ancient are chopped down to house herds of animals used in fast food or to create new space for houses and malls. Chopping down trees also reduces an important source for carbon dioxide absorption and emits a multitude of new dangerous greenhouse gases[v].
  • Over fishing : Overfishing our oceans has led to a massive decrease in plankton and smaller fish that sustain larger fish and sea mammals permanently altering marine ecosystems[vi].
  • Spraying of pesticides on crops : Pesticides cause cancer, miscarriages and poison animals and water sources[vii].
The Earth is an amana we should not let greed for worldly success cause us to break the trust with Allah.

It is a heavy responsibility and I urge you to consider your life and the impact you have upon the earth. Remember that the earth is a trust from Allah, who has given us authority over the plants and animals of the earth. But with this authority comes a great responsibility that should not be taken lightly. It is similar to being a mother or father, we have a responsibility over our children, yet they do not belong to us and are a trust unto us, we are responsible for what happens to them in this life. As we are also responsible for what happens to the earth. We must take care not to cause harm to the Earth.

Some simple ways to “be green” and to begin “to care for the earth” are:
  • Learn the natural history of the region you live in, then help to enact laws to protect it.
  • Recycle garbage and purchase recyclable containers/products.
  • Raise our families to respect and not harm animals.
  • Teach our children not to take more than they need.
  • Walk or ride your bike to work or school, carpool.
  • Make better decisions about the food we buy based on knowing where our food comes from and the way that it is produced.
  • Plant trees and flowers.
The earth is old and vast and as we were molded from the earth our physical bodies will return to it, our remains will turn to dust, providing nutrients for the life that comes after we are gone. Our time here is short ,we must find the balance with what we take from the earth and what we give back to it. Treat the earth with reverence as an act of Ibadah to Allah. If we do not become mindful of what we do in this earth, we may destroy it for future generations, and we will have to answer to Allah for the destruction we caused in it. Our Earth is a beautiful reminder of Allah’s mercy and power. Let’s be grateful!

References:
[i]http://www.hadithsahihmuslim.com/land/excellence-of-planting-of-tress-and-tilling-of-landsahih-hadith-muslim.html
[ii]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree_planting
[iii]http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/ind_home.html
[iv]http://www.census.gov/main/www/popclock.html
[v]http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/public_lands/forests/clearcutting_and_climate_change/
[vi]http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/campaigns/oceans/overfishing/
[vii]http://earthjustice.org/our_work/campaigns/pesticides-in-the-air-kids-at-risk?gclid=CPKEubjGra0CFaQbQgodiwFQnw

2 comments:

Great reminder! It's great to see Muslims talking about a variety of issues which affect us daily.

Alhamdulilah!
 InshAllah, the green movement continues to flourish amoung the Muslims

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