We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam - Customs and Culture - What does Islam say about the environment? - Oxford Islamic Studies Online
Select Translation What is This? Selections include: The Koran Interpreted, a translation by A.J. Arberry, first published 1955; The Qur'an, translated by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, published 2004; or side-by-side comparison view
Chapter: verse lookup What is This? Select one or both translations, then enter a chapter and verse number in the boxes, and click "Go."
:
  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Look It Up What is This? Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Next Result

Customs and Culture >
What does Islam say about the environment?

In recent years many Muslims, like believers of other faiths, have become increasingly concerned about the environment and have looked to Islam's scriptural and doctrinal resources for a theology of the environment.

The Quran teaches that creation is the first revelation of God, the Creator of the heavens, earth, plants, animals, and humans, creating everything with a purpose. But creation does not belong to humans—it belongs to God (Quran 16:48). Human beings are God's representatives on earth who have a sacred duty to protect and care for God's creation, utilizing the earth's resources while not exploiting or destroying them. The Quran warns us against thinking that we are better than animals and the environment, because all creation is equal. While God invites humans to partake of the earth's fruits, we are reminded not to be wasteful and to avoid extravagance (Quran 6:141).

The Prophet Muhammad expressed great concern for the environment, especially for the sustainability of agriculture and the cultivation of unused land. He frequently instructed followers to plant trees and vegetation. “There is none among the believers who plants a tree, or sows a seed, and then a bird, or a person, or an animal eats thereof, but it is regarded as having given a charitable gift (for which there is great recompense).”

The Islamic tradition teaches respect for animals, which, like humans, are also creatures of God: “There is not an animal on earth or a bird that flies but are communities like you” (Quran 6:38). Sayings of the Prophet emphasize respect and compassionate treatment of animals. Muslims are instructed not to neglect or overwork animals, or to hunt or have animals fight for sport. Animals are to be killed humanely, without needless suffering. The Prophet is reported to have said, “Whoever kills a sparrow or anything bigger than that without a just cause, Allah will hold him accountable on the Day of Judgment.”

Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, who writes about “green deen” (green faith), captures the religious worldview of a growing movement of Muslims motivated by their faith and concerned about the environment: “In Islam, humans are stewards of the Earth with a responsibility … to leave the planet in a condition better than we found it. In Islam, the Earth is a mosque. Mosques are sacred, to be kept clean, and to be used for worship of the Creator. If the Earth is a mosque, it, too, is sacred, and must be kept clean, and to be used for worship. The way we treat the planet is a reflection of the way we treat ourselves. It is time for Muslims, and the rest of the 6.7 billion people on the earth, to learn to love themselves.” As Abdul-Matin concludes: “Green Muslims are relevant, they are vibrant, they are green, and they are poised to transform the way we manage water, waste, and energy.”

Recognizing that overconsumption has led to the pollution of the land, air, and water, and endangered plants and animals, a growing number of Muslims are part of a movement to address this issue. The heroes of Green Muslims are passionate scholars with eco-sermons and halal butchers who are as much concerned about how the animal was raised and what it was fed (free-range and organic) as the manner in which it was slaughtered so that it is halal.

While some Muslims can now order halal, organic, grass-fed, farm-raised meat online and have it shipped to them, others are becoming vegetarians and vegans. In August 2010, Saffron Road, the packaged food brand of American Halal Co., began to place certified all-natural halal frozen Indian entrees in Whole Foods Market stores nationwide.

The Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences (IFEES), an internationally recognized charity based in Birmingham, U.K., utilizes Islamic principles to create and promote activities to preserve the environment and fight the ecological crisis. The group researches Islamic solutions to environmental problems and organizes conferences and training sessions, based on the Quran and focused on improving the environment through organic farming, waste recycling, and solar power. It also publishes materials for Muslims worldwide to raise awareness about the environmental crisis and introduce strategies to address the problem. One of its most recent publications, “A Muslim Green Guide,” tells Muslims how to reduce climate change by making different household decisions. Working with a variety of NGOs, international organizations, governments, and universities, IFEES projects include ecological resource management in Indonesia, reclaiming traditional Islamic water conservation principles in Yemen, and the Green Mosque project, which encourages Muslims worldwide to build eco-friendly mosques.

Wisdom in Nature (WIN), another U.K.-based group, organizes educational events, ecological justice activities, and nature outings to inform and mobilize Muslims (and others) to improve the environment. Educational events include workshops on Islam and ecology, climate change, and nature in mosques, Islamic centers, interfaith gatherings, and schools. Through WIN, Muslims volunteer in programs like Resource Recycle and Fast for the Planet and participate in marches and demonstrations for environmental improvement.

Governments in the Arab and Muslim world, which like many others have until recently pursued development without concern for ecology, are now developing policies to protect their environment. The Malaysian government has implemented Vision 2020, intended to make Malaysia a fully developed country by the year 2020. City planners wanting Islamic principles to be part of this process created the Total Planning and Development Doctrine (TPDD). TPDD integrates moral and spiritual values into city planning and development programs, requiring that all micro- and macro-urban decisions made by the public and city planners be guided by theocentric principles and aim to produce peace and prosperity.

Saudi Arabia has implemented Agenda 21 to reduce pollution and improve management of natural resources. In collaboration with Agenda 21, the Meteorology and Environmental Protection Administration (MEPA) recently prepared a plan for Saudi coastal regions to preserve and protect the marine ecosystem. MEPA has also formulated a plan to improve the quality of the water and air in Jeddah.

Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria are among a number of Middle Eastern countries that have joined the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and are committed to cultivating renewable energy forms.

  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Look It Up What is This? Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Next Result
Oxford University Press

© 2019. All Rights Reserved. Cookie Policy | Privacy Policy | Legal Notice