Is Islam really a Green Deen?
The short and simple answer is YES! Islam in principle and practice is deeply rooted in understanding and caring for all creation and resources on our planet and in the universe. We live on Earth, a single planet embedded in a solar system embedded in a galaxy, embedded in a universe, all of which were created by Allah (SWT). The earthly environment includes water, food, air, minerals, plants, animals and us. We are reminded in the Noble Qurān, over and over again, that in the creations of the earth and all its wonders are countless favours for us to reflect upon an be thankful for. The link between Islam and the both the spiritual and utilitarian value of the environment cannot be emphasised enough.
“It is He who has appointed you khaleafa in the earth…that He may try you in what He has given you.” (Qurān, 6:165)
In light of the environmental crisis facing us today, environmental protection has become an important aspect of our everyday lives that we as residents of this planet cannot ignore. Creation is linked in marvelous ways and nothing: no grain of sand, rock, tree or animal exists in isolation. It is therefore important to keep in mind that our actions can have far reaching impacts. Islam teaches us that all living and non-living things, including humans, are subservient to Allah (SWT) alone. We as humans are not masters who rule over the earth, but servants of Allah (SWT) with a responsibility to maintain the balance which He has created. Allah (SWT) has given us the knowledge and intellect to design and build, which allows us to use the natural world to meet our needs. However we are not at liberty to exploit that which we have been given.
“Oh children of Adam!…eat and drink: but waste not by excess, for Allah (SWT) loves not the waster.” (Qurān, 7:31)
The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was himself a pioneer of the environment. He had a profound respect for Allah (SWT)’s creations and his lifestyle was one of simplicity and minimal waste. He was an advocate of the sustainable use of water, land and other resources. He emphasised the rights of all its users, both human and animal. We find ahadeeth where Prophet Muhammad (SAW) emphasises the planting of trees, curses animal cruelty and praises those people that have shown acts of kindness towards animals. He taught us that caring for the creation is a form of worship to its creator. The companions and successors of the Prophet (SAW) lived simply, and promoted cultivation and the just treatment of animals.
As Muslims, we need to:
- Respect and care for Allah’s creation.
2. Be wary of our actions, our lifestyles and use of resources – our direct and indirect actions influence the present and future of our environment.
3. Be actively involved in caring for our natural environment.
- Lead and assist efforts and research to understand our natural environment and impact on it.
Defining Deen and unpacking our motto “Living Fitrah”
“So direct your face toward the deen [religion, way of life), inclining to truth. [Adhere to] the fitrah of Allah upon which He has created [all] people. No change should there be in the creation of Allah. That is the correct religion, but most of the people do not know.” (Qurān, 30:30)
The most encompassing meaning of the concept of “Deen” دين, is to totally submit your life to a creed that leads you to a greater power – a complete way of life. Submitting your life encompasses every aspect of daily living over and above the common beliefs and ritual practices we commonly associate with following a religion. “Deen” is an Arabic word but is also found in the Hebrew and Persian languages. While “Deen” is repeatedly mentioned in the Qur’an and has in recent times been specifically associated with Islam, the meaning of Deen is not exclusive to Islam and is holistic to all faiths and belief systems.
Fitrah is an Arabic word that essentially means the natural state, the innate nature, of the human being. This innate nature of ours recognises our Creator in all that surrounds us and seeks to worship Him.
May Allah (SWT), the creator and controller of the Heavens and the Earth, forgive us all, strengthen us and guide us, Ameen.