Every now and then, we come across news and research, people demanding for action to be taken regarding the current state of the Earth, related to environmental issues and how the world is affected by our actions. We are compelled to make the right decisions and consciously try our best in caring for our planet.
Although such calling of good work has surfaced in today’s world, the encouragement for the well-being of our environment has long been mentioned and practised by our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) more than 1400 years ago. In his actions and response to the environment, we can deduce that this planet we are living in is, in fact, our responsibility to care for it.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has left a noble example of being eco-friendly and going green. He spent his entire life in an eco-friendly effort, helping humankind, caring for other creatures of God, preserving the earth, planting trees, and protecting the environment. Right from his young age, he was inclined towards the preservation of trees. When he was just 12, he travelled to Syria with his uncle and took shelter under a tree. Today, after more than 14 hundred years, the same tree is still alive in Jordan. This tree being the only living tree in hundreds of square kilometres of emptiness speaks greatly of the Prophet’s care for the preservation of trees and Allah’s creations.
The idea of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) as a pioneer of environmentalism will initially strike many as strange: indeed, the term “environment” and concepts like “ecology”, “environmental awareness” and “sustainability”, are modern-day inventions. They are terms that were formulated in the face of the growing concerns about the contemporary state of the natural world around us, yet a closer reading of many hadith reveal that he was a staunch advocate of environmental protection. From all accounts of his life and deeds, we read that the Prophet had a profound respect for fauna and flora, as well as an almost visceral connection to the Earth. He was a strong advocate for the sustainable use and cultivation of land and water, proper treatment of animals, plants, and birds. As narrated in a hadith, the Prophet (PBUH) said:
“The world is sweet and green, and verily Allah is going to install you as vicegerents in it in order to see how you act”.
Based on this hadith, one of the many lessons we can extract is that the Prophet (PBUH) showed much care and concern towards the environment and aimed at caring and protecting it wholeheartedly. Through this hadith too, he reminds us how we are all servants with a great duty to serve Allah.
What better way for us to work towards taking care of the environment than through following the footsteps of our best example, our Prophet (PBUH).
Most of us have heard of the 4R’s; Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. We are constantly reminded to reject packaging and unnecessary waste, use only what we need, re-use things or re-purpose them and convert waste into useful products. The Prophet (PBUH) himself practised these sustainable approaches during his lifetime. There are several narrations that the Prophet (PBUH) was seen to repair his shoes instead of discarding it at the first sight of its tear. The Prophet (PBUH) would also sew his clothes and advise his companions to sew their garments neatly.
Trees and plants are also essential in keeping the ecosystems balanced. They improve the quality of air by absorbing pollutants, release oxygen through photosynthesis and reduce greenhouse gases in our atmosphere which directly correlates to global warming. The Prophet (PBUH) encouraged the cultivation of trees. As narrated in a hadith, Anas ibn Malik (ra) reported that the Prophet (PBUH) 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”.
Through the mentioned hadith, it demonstrates that every good work and beneficial deed done by any individual will be given a reward.
Apart from caring for other people, animals are also equally as important inhabitants of this world and so we owe a duty and responsibility to take care of them. Animals coexist and balance each other out to reduce negative impacts on the environment and unknowingly address issues of pollution, global warming and disturbances that cause a drastic change in ecosystems.
Caring for animals has been highlighted by the Prophet (PBUH) As narrated in a hadith, Abu Huraira (ra) reported that people asked the Prophet (PBUH) about the rewards of serving animals. The Prophet (PBUH) then replied,
“There is a reward for serving any living being”.
The reply of the Prophet (PBUH) through the above-mentioned hadith tells us how important it is to serve and care for the living beings on Earth – animals included. This can be justified by the clarification of the Prophet (PBUH) on the reward upon doing such noble deeds.
Taking care of the wellbeing of the creations of Allah affects the state of the environment as it ensures the welfare of the living beings to carry out their crucial responsibilities for the world, we live in. Not only do we seek the rewards, but we also seek a peaceful, balanced, and healthy co-existence for the people of our time and for future generations to come.
It matters not the size of the problem at hand, but what weighs greater are the efforts that we consciously put in and take ownership of what we are responsible for.
Every conscious effort matters. Just because you are ‘one person’ doesn’t mean you are exempt from doing your best in preserving the world.
Even the smallest efforts can make a huge impact. It is your responsibility to care of the wellbeing of the planet we reside in.