Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Muslims, Environmentalism & Communal Responsibility

By Guest Blogger Irtiza Hasan

As Muslims who strive to worship Allah we have been entrusted with a great role and responsibility in this world. Our responsibility includes fulfilling the rights of Allah and the rights of the creation of Allah.

From the favors and blessing of Allah upon us is that he chose Islam as our religion and a complete way of living.

In Surah Al-Anaa'm (6:165) Allah says:

وَهُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَكُمْ خَلاَئِفَ الأَرْضِ وَرَفَعَ بَعْضَكُمْ فَوْقَ بَعْضٍ دَرَجَاتٍ لِّيَبْلُوَكُمْ فِي مَا آتَاكُمْ

(Meaning): And it is He who has made you successors upon the earth and has raised some of you above others in degrees [of rank] that He may try you through what He has given you.

And in Surah Yunas (10:14):

ثُمَّ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ خَلاَئِفَ فِي الأَرْضِ مِن بَعْدِهِم لِنَنظُرَ كَيْفَ تَعْمَلُونَ

(Meaning): Then We made you successors in the land after them so that We may observe how you will do (what deeds you will do). I would like to bring your attention to the pertinent and often overlooked topic of environmentalism .

Environmentalism is the concern for the restoration, preservation and general importance of the natural environment.

Topics closely related to environmentalism include natural resources efficiency and waste minimization. Allah and his Messenger salallahu alaihee wa salam gave great value and and importance to the environment.

Jabir bin Abdullah reported: I heard Allah's Messenger salallahu alaihee wa salam saying, "Never does a Muslim plant [trees], or cultivate, but has reward for him for what the beasts eat, or the birds eat or anything else eats out of that." (Sahih Muslim)

In another hadith Anas ibn Malik narrated that the Prophet salallahu alaihee wa salam said, "If the Day of Judgment is starting and there is a faseela (seed or sapling) in the hand of one of you, if you can plant it before the Day of Judgment starts, then you should (go on and) plant it." (Silsila Saheeha)

There are many verses and traditions which mention trees, rivers, plants, water, rivers, the skies and the Earth.

In fact, the word "ardh " occurs almost 500 times in the Quran. Preserving the environment is one of the major aims of shariah and these aims include the "preservation of nafs (life), 'aql (intellect), nasl (progeny), maal (wealth) and deen (religion)".

For the Muslim who understands his religion and the overall purpose of the shariah, he must be concerned with the preservation of the environment. This concern ties in directly with communal responsibility; something people of all faiths, cultural backgrounds and age groups can unite upon and work together, hand in hand.

The sad truth is that currently there are not enough initiatives or efforts addressing environmentalism coming from Muslims, and certainly we can do better.At an individual and community level we must increase our efforts to recycle trash, reuse products and reduce waste. We must all do our part.

Can we carpool going to the Masjid or school?
Can we plant trees and help build parks?
Can we join efforts with our non-Muslim friends who have already initiated so many noble efforts to protect and preserve the environment?

We have a responsibility before Allah and to our children to help preserve this world and the bounties Allah ahs given us therein. I hope that as Muslims we will help to lead there efforts, insha allah and I would like to propose a plan which all the massajid, Islamic organizations, Imams and leaders can adopt and improve. Here are some practical steps we can take to help preserve the environment:

1. Every masjid should setup a recycling container for paper, plastic and other recyclable items.
2. We should strive to make our massajid, Islamic schools and centers as green as possible; we need to plant more trees around the masjid.
3. Imams, community leaders and specialists should give several lectures, workshops and sermons (khutab ) every year about environmental awareness and issues and address how we as Muslims can have a major role in protecting our planet.
4. Distribute educational materials about environment and how we can be positive consumers, use energy more efficiently and preserve natural resources.
5. Invite specialists in the field of environmentalism, recycling and related areas to talk about these pressing issues at our centers, schools and massajid.
6. Organize programs in our schools to educate our children and inculcate the idea of preserving the environment in their minds from an early age.
7. For programs we hold at our massajid and centers we should use recycled materials such as paper or plastic cups, plates and other utensils. We must avoiding non-recyclable materials such as foam cups.
8. Our massajid should reduce the use of energy & water by energy saving methods include:
a. Double tinting the windows
b. Good insulation.
c. Turning off electricity when it is not needed by using timers.
d. Using motion sensor faucets and toilets.
e. Putting up signs for being moderate in using water, electricity, etc.
9. Supporting companies who are environment friendly.
10. Participating with local community members, government agencies and local universities in any programs related to environmental issues.

This issue is a priority and a cause that all human beings must rally behind. I would love to see for us, as Muslims, to take a lead role in preserving and improving our environment and keeping this world beautiful for our communities and our children and generations after them.

For more information and resources about environmentalism and energy conservation please refer to these websites:

I can not help but think of the current situation with the California fires which have devastated and destroyed so much forestation in that beautiful state and hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes. Our thoughts and prayers are with them all.


Huda Shaka` said...

I'm looking forward to the first "green" masjid...if not in CA then where??
Jazaks for the tips Br. Irtiza.

Amer said...