HomeHeritage and Environment

Ecosystem Restoration

Europe’s Oldest Mosque May Be Buried Underground in Spain
Tibet’s Lhasa Mosque
Plant More Trees

Mohammad Aslam Parvaiz

As custodians of resources, it is binding on us that we should ensure judicious use and check wastage. That means we must avoid extravagance and exhibitionism, willingly, as an act of submission (Ibadat) to Allah.

The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), along with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), has declared the present decade (2021-2030) as the “UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration”. It will be officially launched on 5th June 2021, on “World Environment Day”. The agency will provide a digital gathering place for everyone who is interested to join hands. We all must join this venture as it is not only our social and ethical responsibility but adeeni or Islamic duty as well, because taking care of everything on Earth and their surroundings is mandatory on all those who claim to be Muslims. The irony is that this task has not been taken as seriously as other Islamic obligations like namaz, fasting and zakat.

Surprisingly, Muslims, who are expected to follow Divine orders, are indifferent towards clear instructions about the environment given in Quran.

Our planet is an integrated whole. Each of its components survives and performs best in its very own micro environment called an ‘ecosystem’. Take a tree as an example: It is rooted in the soil and derives its minerals and water from it. If the soil composition changes due to chemical discharge from a nearby factory or if someone dumps some waste there, it will affect the tree. Lots of birds, insects, worms and micro organisms derive their sustenance from this tree and depend on it. If any of these organisms disappears from the ecosystem, it will affect the tree. Similarly, if someone cuts the tree, all these organisms will be affected. So, there is an intricate web of dependence and interdependence among all the creatures, living as well as non- living, inhabiting the planet. If we clear a forest for some civil or industrial activity, the entire ecosystem of the area is affected, including the weather, the soil and animals. We must remember that this planet and all its resources are meant for all inhabitants of the Earth. Allah has created the Earth for all creatures.
“And the earth, He has set it for (all) creatures” (Quran: 55:10).
And all the provisions on and in the Earth, we must remember, are meant for all:
“He it is Who has created for (all of) you, all that is in the earth”. (Quran 2: 29).
So, it is noticeably clear that the earth has been created for all creatures, and not just for human beings. Besides, all resources which the earth harbours are meant for all the creatures. When Allah created the earth for all the creatures and its resources are also for all the inhabitants of this planet, there must be some mechanism, some authority, to ensure that the resources are justly distributed to all those who need them. For this purpose, Allah has made us, human beings, as vicegerent or custodians of the earth.
“And He it is Who made you vicegerent of the earth and raised the grades of some of you above others that He may test you through that which He has given you.” (Quran:6: 165)
These three verses mentioned above, are addressed to all of us, all human beings, because Quran is a divine guidance for all. That they are binding on all Muslims, who submit to Allah’s guidance, is obvious. But do we really take note of them? The Divine order declares that this planet and all its resources are for all creatures and we have been given the responsibility as vicegerents or custodians of these resources that they should be used judiciously. If someone has more resources than others, it is a test for the person, and Allah watches how His bounties are used.
As custodians of resources, it is binding on us that we should ensure judicious use and check wastage. That means we must avoid extravagance and exhibitionism, willingly, as an act of submission (Ibadat) to Allah.
From the point of view of the environment and our well being, another Quranic verse is very instructive:
“There is not a thing whose store houses are not with Us. We send it down only according to a well-defined measure.” (Quran: 15: 21)
As the resources are measured, we must ensure that they are properly recycled. Natural cycles operate in Nature on their own, as per the Divine plan. But human interventions often disrupt or reduce them. A very relevant example is of fresh water. Whenever rain falls, its water is naturally harvested if there is sufficient greenery and natural soil. The roots of plants hold the water and help in its percolation down the soil. How ever, if due to human activity, greenery is absent and the soil is exposed, water runs over it. It is not much absorbed, and also takes along the precious top soil with the run-off. In many urban areas, natural water bodies and water channels are covered up due to construction. This blocks the flow of water, which results in floods. In most of our urban spaces, soil is covered by concrete or tarmac, which results in total loss of rain water, as nothing is absorbed. This rain water, if not absorbed by natural greenery and soil, brings floods, erodes soil and finds its way into rivers, which become silted because of the soil carried along by this rain water. This silt raises the floor of rivers, reducing their water-carrying capacity, resulting in further and massive floods. This silt also reduces the life of dams by settling down at the bottom of reservoirs.
From this we can see a whole chain of disorder and destruction resulting from our intervention in the natural water cycle. It also disturbs the rain pattern, and the rain frequency and duration, which affects the cropping pattern and crop productivity due to droughts, on the one hand, and floods, on the other. It also causes the emergence of newer diseases.
We have been ignoring the fine balance which exists in nature. It has resulted in all sorts of disorders and chaos, including pollution, water scar- city, global warming and new diseases and pandemics. The majority of human society is still careless and to come out of their slumber.
Surprisingly, Muslims, who are expected to follow Divine orders, are indifferent towards clear instructions about the environment given in Quran. There must be an all-out effort by all concerned sections of society, including religious scholars, teachers, preachers and NGOs, to motivate people to return to the Quran, to understand and practice it, so that the much-neededthrust is provided to human welfare activities, such as protection and preservation of the natural environment, which are part of our ibadaat, like namaz, roza and zakat.

(The author is a former Vice Chancellor, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad. He can be contacted on [email protected])

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 0