In the Islamic context, the environment is everything that surrounds you, be it humans, animals, trees, mountains and everything else. The relativity of the environment is that it represents the platform for stewardship, a term that was used in the Holy Quran as the responsibility for living in truth for God, as an overseer and protector of this environment. God the Almighty said: {He produced you from the earth and has settled you therein [to cultivate it]} 11:61.

One of the unique features of our environment is that God has united us with other creatures and vegetation through a biological composition of water and the dependency on water for survival. God the Almighty said: {We have made every living thing [therein] from water} 21:30.

This environment was created in balance to preserve the creations and the continuity of all things. Therefore, anyone interfering in this balance by causing harm to the environment is endangering not just the species around us but rather the human existence itself. When God created this world as we know it, He created life in pairs. God the Almighty said: {And of all things we made two pairs). God commanded Noah before the mighty flood, as the Holy Quran says: {Moreover, of everything We have created pairs, so that you may become mindful that God is One} 51:49, which ensured the preservation of the species thus preserving continuity. Another interesting note is that the Arabic word for “pair” has the same root as the word for “opposite.”  Obviously pairs must be opposite to procreate thereby ensuring continuity.

When Prophet Mohammad migrated to Medina from Mecca, he found a large percentage of dogs there were infected with rabies. When people started killing the dogs almost to extinction out of fear of the disease, he stopped them and said: “If it wasn’t that dogs are of a nation (like other nations) I would have permitted it.” (to stop the spread of infection)

The most significant matter in relation to the environment is that it leads people to their Lord. Verses in the Holy Quran are filled with references about how God created everything from insects to camels to mountains and galaxies for one reason, that people might ponder and contemplate the wonder of this creation and thereby submit to the One and only God, the Lord and Creator of heavens and earth. As in this example, God the Almighty said: {Do they not look [with reflection] at the [form of] camels how [wondrously] they are created; and the sky how [majestically] it is raised; and the mountains how [firmly] they are set erect; and the earth how [smoothly] it is spread?} 88:18/21.

All these references take us to the one fact that preserving our environment is an obligation to preserve the human race so we can worship and serve God the Almighty.

There were three phases introduced in Islam to preserve the environment from any type of harm. Prevention measures which are prior to harm being caused, eliminating harm which is dealing with the harm as it happens, and guarding measures which are removing the effects of harm after it happens.

In these days when our environment is facing challenges like water degradation, energy crisis, pandemics, pollution, global warming and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, humanity must unite on common standards to bring real solutions and implementation methods to keep our habitat safe for us and our generations to come.

By Sh Kifah Mustapha