Environmental issues are a growing concern throughout the world. Climate changes across the globe have attracted the attention of scientists and academia. In the political arena, policy decisions are surrounded by each country’s contribution to the problem and the fears their people perceive. However, industrial countries are stalling in addressing the situation with immediate action for fear of inhibiting their industrial growth. They presently oppose the immediate actions suggested by concerned scientists.
Most environmental discussions take place in the political and scientific circles. However, there is another arena where this discussion needs to take place—the moral arena involving the role of religions. People respond to religious values and it is another avenue by which the solutions for problems such as global warming can be addressed.
Islam has provided guidance in the area of environmental issues as well. The Holy Qur’an and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) have provided clear direction on how to safeguard our surroundings and our planet. They also provide us guidance on how to co-exist with other species we share our world with. How we share the limited resources of the planet with others and how we protect the natural wealth provided by God from depletion is a matter of our survival.
Over billions of years, God has given us the means of our sustenance including the earth, the atmosphere, animals, the mountains, forests and water sources. Human beings have been entrusted with the moral responsibility of taking care of all these breathtaking treasures. We can subdue and rule over the animal species as well as other life forms such as trees. We can destroy them or take care of them in a manner that would assure the survival of billions of living beings on our planet.
Industrial growth took place over the last 200 years with such velocity that we did not worry about the implications on the environment. Even when we started to discover what the adverse effects would be, we ignored them and chose to be materialistic. Knowing full well the effects on the Ozone layer and the warming climate changes did not divert us from producing more carbon dioxide and contributing to the environmental problems. Now, this phenomenon is spread to the non-western industrial countries such as China and India.
It is essential that the religious leaders also discuss this important subject in bringing attention to their congregations about their responsibilities that God has bestowed upon them. Concepts of sharing, simplicity of life and fighting materialistic attitudes are common among all religions. Religious leaders need to dwell on these subjects. It is our responsibility to show our thanks to the Benevolent God for providing us a perfect planet for our needs. Everything is designed to be recycled in nature around us. We must appreciate what we have and show by our actions that we would cherish it to continue to benefit from it. It would be pleasing to God.
In this issue we have presented different aspects of the environmental issues from the perspective of Islamic principles and teachings. Hopefully, it would arouse debates in the religious circles to promote the importance of our responsibility for the planet we live on. May Allah give us the wisdom and show us the ways we can rise above the political, economical and materialistic platforms and take care of the beautiful planet God entrusted us with.
Read the articles in this volume: 2011_spring