Humanity is facing environmental problems of all kinds, today. Climate crisis, sustainability, and ecological balance are only a few of them. Several solutions are offered for these problems. Authorities and organizations come together, activities are carried out at national and international levels, climate summits are held, and sustainable development goals are set. In this article, we will try to understand how the issue of environmental awareness, which has been on the agenda of the whole world, has been handled in Islam for centuries. Let’s take a look at the Qur’an, hadiths, and the life of our Prophet (saas) to figure it out!
The Arabic word for the environment, al-bie, has three different senses. The first meaning is the bank of a river which is sheltered from weather events such as wind and rain, chosen by man for residence. The word is also used to express good or bad human behavior from various perspectives. Finally, the third meaning is the relationship of people with each other and with all living and nonliving creatures, along with the religious and worldly status of a person in all areas of her/his life. The most relevant sense in this context is the third one.
The issue of environment in Islam has been comprehensively discussed in various studies from different perspectives. There are many expressions in the Qur’an and hadiths that are directly or indirectly related to the environment. These expressions are based on issues such as keeping the environment clean, respecting nature, planting trees, protecting animals, avoiding waste, and they impose various responsibilities on Muslims.
Environmental Awareness in the Qur’an
As can be seen, the verses emphasize the balance and measure in nature and warn people not to disturb this balance.
According to Aktaş, the environment in the Qur’an is not an object that is dominated and manipulated. People should act consciously, trying not to waste while fulfilling their responsibilities.
Approximately 500 verses in the Qur’an mention the environment within these principles. Therefore, we see that environmental awareness, which is becoming more and more important today, was addressed centuries ago, and that Allah (SWT) gave his messages about the solutions to the problems we experience today in the Qur’an long ago.
Environmental Awareness in Hadith and Sunnah
Likewise, the subjects were emphasized in Sunnah as in the Qur’an. The Prophet Muhammad set an example for us in terms of environmental awareness with his attitude in various situations. The example he sets and the friendly relationship he establishes with nature is called the ecological sunnah.
The Prophet’s view of the environment has always been within the framework of the concepts of trust, blessing, right to life, and love. Human, the most honorable of beings, is the caliph of the earth. Nature is the greatest blessing bestowed upon him. For this reason, it is obliged to protect the environment and nature in which it lives. All living and nonliving beings have the right to coexist on earth. For a person to protect what he has, he must love and adopt it. According to Akyüz, the Prophet once said, “Uhud is a mountain that loves us and is loved by us.”
If all humanity had the environmental consciousness of the prophet, do you think the problems we experience today would still exist?
Cleanliness is Faith
In another hadith, our Prophet (PBUH) said: “The earth is a mosque for you, so wherever you are at the time of prayer, pray there.” Here, the perception of the earth as a mosque and the suggestion to pray wherever one happens to impose a responsibility on Muslims to keep the whole earth clean.
In another hadith, “…and removing a harmful object from the road is a charity.” he ordered. In addition to this, he always advised his ummah to plant trees, and protect animals and plants.He also made recommendations for improving the urban order by commenting on forest facilities, building-prohibited areas (harem), and the determination of road widths.
What can be fit in this article is a limited part of the environmental awareness message in Islam. Islam inspires us on the subject, both through the life of Prophet Muhammad and hundreds of verses manifesting environmental awareness.
After seeing all these, we must act responsibly as Muslims. This can be achieved by integrating the measure and balance of the Prophet’s sunnah into our entire lives, viewing the environment from his perspective, and setting an example to the whole world in this regard.
This article was originally written in Turkish. Click to read it! Ayet ve Hadislerle İslam’da Çevre Bilinci