Archive for the ‘Muslim Religious Scholars' Viewpoint On Environmental Issues’ Category

Reward for Planting Trees and Houseplants

March 21, 2010
Title Reward for Planting Trees and Houseplants

It says in a hadith that even if you sow a seed, you will get the reward. Do we get the reward of growing plants in a pot like houseplants? And if we take good care of them but they die, do we get the sin for that?

  Date 02/May/2006
  Name of Counsellor Dr. `Abdul-Wahhab ibn Nasir Al-Tariri
  Topic Environment

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Thank you for contacting us, we implore Allah earnestly to guide us all to the best both in this world and in the hereafter.

Muslims are required by Islam to keep the environment around them pure and clean. True Muslim are those who appreciate the beauty surrounding them. This may explain many of the Prophetic hadiths that talk about the merits of planting trees and other acts that benefit people.

Responding to the question, Sheikh Abdul-Wahhab ibn Nasir Al-Tariri, former professor of the Shari `ah at Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud University in Saudi Arabia, states the following:

The are a number of hadiths which refer to the issue mentioned in the question. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said, “Whenever Muslims plant a tree, they will earn the reward of charity because of the food that comes from it; and likewise what is stolen from it, what the wild beasts eat out of it, what the birds eat out of it, and what people take from it is charity for them” (Muslim).

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is also reported to have said, “Muslims will always earn the reward of charity for planting a tree, sowing a crop and then birds, humans, and animals eat from it” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

Allah knows best about how this might apply to potted houseplants which are merely kept in the home for decoration and household purposes. Houseplants do not provide the types of general benefit mentioned in the hadith as being the reasons for the reward. The hadith describes the reward for planting a tree to be that of charity. The hadith goes on to describe the charity as being gained through the food the tree provides for humans and animals.

We might extend the meaning of the hadith by analogy to other benefits that plants provide to people, animals and the environment. For instance, trees provide shade along the road and contribute to the beauty of the urban environment. These are important benefits that are enjoyed by the general public. Likewise, trees provide habitation and shelter for birds and many other animals.

However, similar benefits to the public can be likened to charity, but most people keep houseplants at home for beautification, fresh air, and other purely personal reasons. Therefore, we cannot easily extend the hadith’s of charity meaning to such plants. However, we cannot rule out a reward for taking care of such plants. If the houseplant dies without there being fault or negligence on the part of the owner, then there is, of course, no sin upon the owner for its death.

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Wastewater Treatment

March 21, 2010
Title Wastewater Treatment

I am working in the field of wastewater treatment and reuse. From the Islamic point of view, is the reuse of treated wastewater permissible for irrigation of crops or park areas?

  Date 25/Apr/2006
  Name of Counsellor Standing Committee for Islamic Research and Ifta’
  Topic Health & Science, Environment

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Thanks for your question, we beseech Allah to guide us all to the best and to grant us insight to better understand the teachings of Islam.

First and foremost, it should be stressed that it is Allah’s will that all living beings on earth are dependent for their existence on water. Referring to this, Allah Almighty says, [We made from water every living thing] (Al-Anbiya ‘ 21:30). If water treatment restores the taste, color, and smell of unclean water to its original state, then it becomes pure and hence there is nothing wrong to use it for irrigation and other useful purposes.

Some scholars state that such treated water can be used for washing clothes, for making ablution and even for drinking purposes, if it is good for health and has been categorically proven that it doesn’t lead to health risks.

Focusing more on your question, the Saudi House of Fatwa issued the following fatwa:

Wastewater treatment was one of the issues studied by the Supreme Scholars Council in Saudi Arabia. The following resolution was issued as follows:

According to the report set by the experts in this regard, a large amount of water would be deemed pure from any impurity if the impurity is removed, if more water is added to it, or if the impurity is eliminated by the passing of time, the sun, the wind, or any other cause that would remove it.

Impure water can be purified by using modern filtering techniques that are the best and most efficient methods for purifying water. Many additives are put in impure water to remove impurities, as attested to by water treatment experts.

Therefore, the council believes that such water would be completely pure and it may be used for ritual purification and drinking as long as there are no negative consequences on people’s health. If it is recommended that water not be drunken, it would be due to reasons of public health and safety and not Islamic law.

The council recommends avoiding using treated water for drinking purposes to avoid health problems and also in consideration of the negative public sentiment about this water. However, using this water for the irrigation of crops or park areas is permissible.

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Adding A Chemical Substance to Natural Water

March 21, 2010
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Using Impure Water Processed by A Refining Substance

March 21, 2010
Name of Questioner huda
  Title Using Impure Water Processed by a Refining Substance
  Question Respected scholars, as-salamu `alaykum.

What is the ruling on using sewage water to perform Wudu’ (ablution) or Ghusl (ritual cleansing of the body) after it has been treated? 

Jazakum Allahu Khayran.

  Date 24/Jun/2009
  Name of Counsellor Standing Committee for Islamic Research and Ifta’
  Topic Purification, Impurities & methods of purification
Wa`alaykum as-salamu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear sister in Islam, thanks a lot for your question. May Allah guide us all to the truth of His religion.

Many countries all over the world suffer from water shortages and a decrease in water resources. Thanks to modern techniques that have enabled man to refine water and made it reusable, as it has helped hundreds of thousands in their dire need.

Now, the issue arises as to the permissibility of using refined water. Water is an integral part in Muslim’s rites of worship. In books of fiqh there are entire chapters dedicated to lengthy discussions concerning the conditions and types of water that a Muslim is allowed to use to fulfill his religious duties.

Answering this question, the Standing Committee for Research and Ifta’ stated:

The Council of Senior Scholars has previously studied this matter in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and has issued a decree regarding it to the following content:

The Council has read the study that was made on this issue by the Standing Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta’. The Council has also read the letter of his Excellency, the minister of agriculture and water No. 1 / 1299 in 30/05/1398 A. H. After studying and discussing the matter; the following was decreed:

According to what has been mentioned by scholars, large amounts of water which has been changed by najasah (impurity) becomes tahir (pure) if this change happens either on its own, by adding tahir water to it, by the passage of time, by the effects of the sun or wind, etc. as a ruling becomes terminated as soon as its `Illah (effective cause) is no longer existent.

The Council is of the view that such impure water can be considered pure after it is refined fully in a way that it regains its original nature with no change in its taste, color, or smell. This is because impure water can be purified by various means. Modern ways of water purification is guaranteed in this regard as many tangible mediums are utilized to make sure that the water is free from all impurities. Experts whom no one can doubt their work and experience are witnesses to this.

Such water, after being purified, can be used to remove major and minor ritual impurity. It can also be drunk but if doing so will harm a person’s health, it should be abandoned in order to avoid harm, not because the water is impure.

If possible, it is preferred not to drink such water so as to protect health, avoid harm, and to be far above doing anything that people naturally detest and regard as filthy.

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Using Recycled Water: Islamic Approach

March 21, 2010
Name of Questioner Ahmad   – United States
  Title Using Recycled Water: Islamic Approach
  Question What is the Islamic position on recycled water? In many countries used water is now recycled. It is mostly used for agricultural and industrial purposes, but is it considered pure?
  Date 05/Jun/2007
  Name of Counsellor Muzammil Siddiqi
  Topic Impurities & methods of purification
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All thanks and praise are due to Allah and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear questioner! Thanks for your question. May Allah help us have our efforts come up to your expectation,

It is to be stated firstly that Islam is the religion of purity. It commands Muslims to pay much attention to the purity and the beautifulness of their appearance as well as their deeds. It urges them to purify their hearts from envy and grudge and their deeds from showing off. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) teaches us that Allah loves those who are pure and clean, those who keep themselves far remote from dirtiness and sin. Almighty Allah says: (Truly Allah loveth those who turn unto Him, and loveth those who have a care for cleanness.) (Al-Baqarah 2: 222)

Coming to the question in point, the eminent Muslim scholar Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, President of the Fiqh Council of North America, states the following:

Before answering your question, let me say a few words about the Islamic concern for the care and preservation of water. Water is a very valuable resource for life and a great gift from Allah. The Qur’an talks about water sixty-three times. Allah says: (We made from water every living thing.) (Al-Anbiya’ 21: 30) Almighty Allah also tells us that He has given water for all of his living creation. He says: (Tell them that the water is to be shared by all of them.) (Al-Qamar 54: 28) Water should be used with great care and should not be polluted or wasted.

There are many Hadiths that forbid the pollution of water. Imam Ibn Majah reports that a person was making ablution and he was using too much water. Upon seeing him, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “What is this waste?” The man said: “Is there a waste in ablution also, O Messenger of Allah?” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Yes, even if you were near a flowing river.”

Unfortunately, there is a great waste of this valuable resource. The result is that there is a shortage of water all over the world. Countries are fighting each other or trying to control the water resources of others. Everywhere there is discussion going on currently to preserve water. We must use water wisely but we have to save this resource and keep it clean and pure as much as possible.

Recycling is a method of cleaning and preservation. It is being used in many Muslim countries as well. It should be encouraged. Some Muslim jurists and scholars have discussed this topic. There is a great need to discuss this subject in greater details and rules and regulations should be given in the light of the Shari`ah and modern science. We Muslims should be in the forefront of this study.

Briefly I can say that the basic rule of the Shari`ah about water is that by nature it is pure as long as its taste, color and smell have not changed. Nature also recycles itself. Allah has put some laws in nature by which it restores itself. Some recycling methods are very much like natural methods, but in a faster way. If a recycling method restores the taste, color and smell of some unclean water to its original level, then it will become pure. It can be then used for washing clothes, for making ablution and even for drinking purposes, if it is good for health. We must keep in mind that sometimes water looks like water, tastes and smells like water, but it could be very unhealthy and even deadly. Such water must not be used, not because it is impure but because it is unhealthy and dangerous.

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Islam and Environmental Pollution

March 20, 2010
Name of Questioner J. K.
  Title Islam and Environmental Pollution
  Question Dear scholars, as-Salamu `alaykum. Some people ask about the Shari`ah point of view regarding environmental pollution or damaging the environment and not preserving it. Jazakum Allah khayran.
  Date 04/Jun/2007
  Name of Mufti Nasr Farid Wasil
  Topic Environment
Wa `alaykum as-salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear questioner, we would like to thank you for the great confidence you place in us, and we implore Allah Almighty to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Islam calls for every good and prohibits every evil. In other words, Islam commands its followers to adhere to standards of righteous behavior and good manners. Among such good behaviors is protecting the environment, which results in benefits for individuals and society.

In his response to this question, Dr. Nasr Farid Wasil, the former mufti of Egypt , has stated:

Needless to say, all divine religions have called for protecting the environment and have prohibited polluting and damaging it. When one contemplates the Qur’anic verses of Surat An-Nahl which begin with the verse that reads (And the cattle hath He created, whence ye have warm clothing and uses, and whereof ye eat) and end with the verse (And it is He Who hath constrained the sea to be of service that ye eat fresh meat from thence, and bring forth from thence, ornaments which ye wear. And thou seest the ships ploughing it that ye (mankind) may seek of His bounty, and that happily ye may give thanks) (An-Nahl 16: 5-14), one will realize that Allah has subjected the universe to man. Thus, man must keep the universe as pure and magnificent as Allah has created it.

Moreover, since Islam is the last religion of all previous heavenly messages, it urges people—all people—to protect the environment and calls them not to pollute or spoil it. For example, Islam prohibits urinating or defecating or throwing garbage, carcasses, industrial wastes, or suchlike things in water, for doing so causes much harm to man, animals, and the environment.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) founded a very important legal rule when he said, “No harm shall be inflicted or reciprocated in Islam.” (Reported by Ahmad) In addition, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) stated that cleaning rubbish and the like from streets is something which deserves divine reward. In this concern, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “If you refuse but to sit in roads, then pay the road its right.” They said, “What is the right of the road, Allah’s Messenger?” He said, “Lowering your gaze, returning greetings, and removing harmful things from the road” (Reported by Muslim).

To conclude, a Muslim should be keen on complying with the teachings of our true religion, Islam. A Muslim should further realize how important it is to protect the environment, and that spoiling it, for whatever reason, is prohibited. In other words, every Muslim should protect the environment in which he lives and keep it free from the causes of illness, which harm individuals and communities.

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How Islam Cares About the Environment?

March 20, 2010
Name of Questioner Sami   – Egypt
  Title How Islam Cares About the Environment
  Question Scholars of Islam, as-Salamu `alaykum. Thanks a lot for your service. May Allah accept your good deeds! I’d like to know what does Islam say about preservation of the environment? This subject is important for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Jazakum Allah khayran.
  Date 03/Jun/2007
  Name of Mufti IOL Shari`ah Researchers
  Topic Environment
Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Brother, thanks a lot for your appreciation of our work. We implore Allah to accept our humble efforts and render them purely for His sake.

Islam, the true religion of Allah, cares about all aspects of life. No wonder, Islam deals with the minor details of life. Whoever reads the Glorious Qur’an and the Prophet’s Sunnah thoroughly will undoubtedly admit this fact. Here, we recall the Qur’anic verse that reads, (There is not an animal in the earth, nor a flying creature flying on two wings, but they are peoples like unto you. We have neglected nothing in the Book (of Our decrees). Then unto their Lord they will be gathered.) (Al-An`am 6: 38)

As regards your question, the eminent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, states:

It is quite striking to the fair researchers how the Qur’an and Sunnah cared about the environment. For example, the Qur’an says: (Do they not look at the camels how they are created.) (Al-Ghashiyah 88: 17)

Here, the Qur’an mentions camels rather than other animals. The reason behind that is to attract the attention to this remarkable animal and calling people to contemplate about its structure, properties and benefits, as it is the closest of the grazing livestock to the Bedouins who are addressed directly by the Qur’an.

The Qur’an speaks repeatedly of grazing livestock (camels, sheep, cattle) rather than other animals that might exist in other areas. The reason is that it wants to attract the attention of the addressed people to the animals present in the surrounding environment in order to make use of them; be grateful to the Bounties of Allah, to eat its meat and drink its milk; Allah says, (Pure milk palatable to drinkers.) (An-Nahl 16: 66) Also, to enjoy their sight when you are leading them in the morning and bringing them back in the evening: (And wherein is beauty for you, when you bring them from home in the evening and as you lead them forth to pasture in the morning.) (An-Nahl 16: 6)

The same is mentioned in the Qur’an about the bees; their homes, various kinds, nutritive and medical values in a Surah called An-Nahl (the bees).

Likewise, the Qur’an talks about the date-palm, grapes, crops of diverse flavor, the olive and the pomegranate similar and different. Here, the Qur’an stresses on two important aspects:

1. Enjoying its beauty:
(Look at their fruits thereof when they bear fruit and upon its ripening.) (Al-Ma’idah 5: 99)

2. Making use of its substance, but paying the due Zakah prescribed by Allah: (Eat of their fruit when they bring fruit, but pay the due thereof (its Zakah according to Allah’s Order) on the day of its harvest. But be not extravagant.) (Al-Ma’idah 5: 141)

It was repeatedly mentioned in the Qur’an that man should not engage himself in acts that entails spoiling the earth after Almighty Allah has created it suitable and well prepared for the successive human generations. It announced that Allah does not like spoiling or those who spoil in life; this includes spoiling environment, polluting it or being aggressive with it. Also it is forbidden to abuse it in any way that would make it deviate from the purpose Allah created it for.

Such act is tantamount to showing ingratitude to Allah, and He gave a warning to those who perpetrated this that severe penalty will almost come upon them as what happened before to the `Ad and the Thamud and those who came after them: (Who did transgress beyond bounds in the land (in the disobedience of Allah) and made therein much mischief. So your Lord poured on them different kinds of severe torment. Surely your Lord is Ever-Watchful.) (Al-Fajr 89: 11-14)

This is like the punishment that came upon the Sheba (Saba’) who did not appreciate the bounties that Allah gave them; the fertile land, the fresh pure water, the sweet-smelling gardens, and they showed reluctance, neglected the land and wasted their source of bounty. Allah (Exalted and Almighty) says: (There was indeed a sign for Sheba in their dwelling-place: Two gardens on the right hand and the left (as who should say): Eat of the provision of your Lord and render thanks to Him. A fair land and an indulgent Lord! But they were froward, so We sent on them the flood of ‘Iram, and in exchange for their two gardens gave them two gardens bearing bitter fruit, the tamarisk and here and there a lote-tree. This We awarded them because of their ingratitude. Punish We ever any save the ingrates?) (Saba’ 34: 15-17)

Quoted, with slight modifications, from Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi’s Islamic Concept of Education & Economy as Seen in the Sunnah, Al-Falah Foundation for Translation, Publication & Distribution, Cairo, 1418 AH.

Shedding more light on this issue, we’d like to cite for you the following:

Many people express their concern these days about the preservation of the environment, so much so that this has become a trend worldwide. It is interesting to indicate here that an increasing number of people in the West ask about the position of Islam toward the environment. Here are a few thoughts on the subject:

First of all, Islam makes it incumbent on every Muslim to contribute his/her share in improving greenery. Muslims should be active in growing more trees for the benefit of all people. In one tradition the Prophet says: “If the Hour is about to take place while any one of you has a sapling in his hand, which he can cultivate before it takes place, let him cultivate it for he will be rewarded for it.”

Every country in the world worries about wasting water. This applies even to Canada, one of the richest states in water resources. Look how Islam deals with this issue. A Muslim is recommended to save water in his ceremonial washing for Prayer even if he has a river at his disposal, according to one tradition of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Furthermore, a Muslim is warned against urinating in still water. Islam’s care of the environment is not limited to times of peace. This also applies to behavior in wars where Muslims are required to avoid cutting trees which are useful to people in general.

Islam’s mercy is not restricted to human beings but is extended to animals and birds. Game hunting of birds or animals just for the pleasure of the sport and not for a real need is forbidden in Islam.

Even when a Muslim slaughters an animal or a bird for eating, he has to sharpen his knife and to treat the animal gently and never cut its meat until it becomes completely senseless and lifeless.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) once saw a mother bird flying over the heads of a group of Muslims as if seeking for its little one which they had taken. Seeing this, the Prophet ordered them to return the little bird back to its mother.

Even insects, Islam gives a special attention to them; it considers them signs and miracles of Allah. That is why insects like flies, spiders and bees, ants, etc. are mentioned in the context of being miracles of Allah in the Qur’an.

Once the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “One woman is qualified to enter Hell fire just because of her behavior towards a cat. She imprisoned it, and neither did she feed it nor did she release it to seek for its food from the open land.”

The Prophet warned us against cursing animals which we ride, and which carry our burdens. He, on the contrary, commands Muslims to treat them gently and with kindness.

All games and sports harmful to animals and birds are forbidden in Islam because of their cruelty.

In no other religion, philosophy or ideology except Islam do we find a unique attitude toward nature i.e. the universe. Time and again we find Allah swearing in the Qur’an by various elements of nature, His creation. Several chapters in the Qur’an begin with an oath like: By the Heavens, by the moon, the sun, the stars, the night, the day, the trees, animals, vegetation, etc…. This is to indicate, among other things, the great value of these elements.

Islam considers all creatures to be Almighty Allah’s slaves. They surrender to His laws, and every creature has his form and method of worship. They all glorify Allah, each in his own way. Thus, Islam establishes a relationship of true love and harmony between man and all creation.

Again, Islam has in fact introduced a more comprehensive meaning of environment or nature. It considers man the major factor in this universe and defined for him a course of action and behavior that makes him an ideal model. In this context, Islam enjoins the protection of human nature. Human life is sacred in the sight of Islam. No one is permitted to take the life of another person except as life for life. Suicide is a crime in Islam.

As for personal hygiene, Islam recommends a weekly bath at least every Friday for Muslims especially those who attend Friday congregational Prayer, which is an obligation on all Muslim men, and an option for Muslim women. Thus, cleanliness can prevail among people.

Islam is not only keen on outward cleanliness but has its own guidelines in inward cleanliness. The Prophet said: “Five things are in harmony with nature: cutting one’s mustache, removing hair of the armpit, shaving the pubic region, trimming one’s nails and circumcision.” It enjoins avoiding eating onions or garlic before attending public meetings to prevent bad odor.

It is the duty of Muslims to remove dirt and obstacles from roads and streets. This is an act of worship in Islam. Cleanliness of front and back yards is encouraged also. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) says: “Allah is beautiful and He loves the beautiful.”

Islam commands Muslims to avoid all bad habits that are harmful to their bodies and to other people, like smoking, drug addiction, alcoholic drinks, etc…

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Islam and Environment

March 20, 2010
Name of Questioner Shakir   – Botswana
  Title Islam and Environment
  Question Dear scholars, As-Salamu `alaykum wa Ramatullah wa Barakatuh! What does Islam say on the preservation of environment? May Allah bless you all!
  Date 05/Jun/2007
  Name of Counsellor IOL Shari`ah Researchers
  Topic Environment
Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear questioner, we are greatly pleased to receive your question which shows the confidence you place in us. May Allah reward you abundantly for your interest in knowing the teachings of Islam.

As regards your question, we’d like to make it clear to you that Islam urges its followers to have great concern for everything created by Allah, for it is part and parcel of “submission to Allah” to show reverence to all what the Almighty Allah created.

Elaborating more on this, we cite the following:

The Islamic attitude towards the environment that surrounds humanity is not merely restricted to the presence of Allah everywhere but also to the following dimensions:

By submitting to Allah, Islam establishes the bedrock of the relationship between finite, mortal human beings and the infinite Divine, the secular and the sacred. This relationship cannot be understood without first realising the meaning of the “submission” that the “created” should concede in his relationship with the Creator.

Humans have to accept that they are created beings who act as the “agents” of Allah on earth. These agents are creative in their own way but they are not Allah. Humans, however, will become closer to the sacred by operating according to Allah’s instructions. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in a Hadith Qudsi (Divine Hadith), quotes Allah as saying: “When a worshipper moves closer to me by good virtues and voluntary acts of worship (nawafil), I will be his hearing by which he can hear, I will be his eyes by which he can see, I will be his hand by which he can act, and his feet by which he can walk. If he asks Me [to give him] I will give him what he wants, and if he asks for protection I will protect him.” (Al-`Asqalani, 1959: 11, 341)

Islam, as a way of life, expects human beings to conserve the environment for several reasons which may be summarized as follows:

1- The environment, is Allah’s creation. The creation of this earth and all its natural resources is a sign of His wisdom, mercy, power and His other attributes and therefore serves to develop human awareness and understanding of this creator. (Ar-Ra`d, 13: 2-4; 21:79)

2- Muslims should seek to protect and preserve the environment because by so doing they protect Allah’s creatures which pray to Him and praise Him. Humankind might not be able to understand how these creatures praise Allah but this does not mean that they do not do so, Allah says: (The seven heavens and the earth, and all beings therein, declare His glory: There is not a thing but celebrates His praise, and yet ye understand not how they declare His Glory!) (Al-Israa’ 17: 44)

3- The environment contains Allah’s creatures which the Muslim scholars consider to also deserve protection.

4- Also among the reasons why Islam seeks to protect and preserve the environment is that Islam, as a way of life, is established on the concept of good (khayr). Therefore it is expected that Islam will protect the environment once it is understood that such protection is good by itself. The Qur’an states: (He whoso do good an atom’s weight will see it. And whoso do ill an atom’s weight will see it.) (Az-Zalzalah 99: 7-8)

In Islam, humans are expected to protect the environment since no other creature is able to perform this task. Humans are the only being that Allah has “entrusted” with the responsibility of looking after the earth. This trusteeship is seen by Islam to be so onerous and burdensome that no other creature would ‘accept’ it. Allah says: (Lo! We offered the trust unto the heavens and the earth and the hills, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it and man assumed it Lo! he is a tyrant and fool.) (Al-Ahzab 33: 72)

In Islam the relationship between humankind and the environment is part of social existence, an existence based on the fact that everything on earth worships the same God. This worship is not merely ritual practice, since rituals are simply the symbolic human manifestation of submission to Allah. The actual devotions are actions, which can be practiced by all the creatures of earth sharing the planet with the human race. Moreover humans are responsible for the welfare and sustenance of the other citizens of this global environment. The Qur’an contains many verses that can be referred to for guidance in this respect. The following verse 21 of the second surah of the Qur’an, is one example:

(O people! Worship your Lord, Who hath created you and those before you, so that you may ward off (evil). Who hath appointed the earth a resting-place for you, and the sky a canopy; and causeth water to pour down from the sky, thereby producing fruits as food for you. And do not set up rivals to Allah when ye know (better).) (Al-Baqarah 2: 21-22)

The word in this verse which is translated as “may ward off evil” is in Arabic tattaqun. It enjoins piety and awareness which is accompanied by an appreciation of the surrounding environment. In this verse, the Qur’an speaks directly to all groups of people, whether believers, or not. It attempts to mobilize people to the importance of “worshipping Allah” as a symbol and a way of life that enjoins justice and equity in handling the system created by Him.

This system has been placed under human responsibility, to be cared for and not misused as can be concluded by returning to verse 22 ofsurat al-Baqarah. The word lakum (for you) in the phrase “created for you” contains the message that the earth is not for one generation but for every generation, past, present and future and that would include humans as well as other creatures on this earth. Accordingly, rivers, minerals are the property of all. This should be distributed fairly and justly especially when it happens to be owned collectively like the Rivers Tigris and Euphrates.

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