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Reviving the Spirit of Water Conservation in Islam

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The Qur’an defines Allah as the giver of water. Humankind is really powerless in the process of creating water.

By Muhammad Shafeeque

“Water is life” is not a figurative description. It is a proclamation of reality. God, having created the earth for human existence, has filled three-fourths with water. Commonly, the egotistic minds of humankind try to exploit this gift in a negative manner. It is a fact that a single drop of water gone astray cannot be regained. Now the world has received the shocking news that the next generation will face a shortage by 40 percent of water as compared to the present availability of water. This creates more apprehension as the usage of water will double in the next generation. Within this context, the teachings of Islam, a religion which works for the safeguarding of nature, have great relevancy in the present.

Use Water Carefully
The Qur’an recalls this principle in two verses. “Then tell me about the water that you drink”. “Is it you who cause it from the rain clouds to come down, or we who are the cause of it to come down?” [Sura 56:68-9, Al-Waqi’ah]. There are certain commands between these verses. Allah orders us to use water carefully, not to make it a reason for arrogance as it is entirely a mercy from God and should be used in a sustainable manner that the next generation may flourish.
Allah introduces water by giving it the name “blessed”. Water is mentioned 63 times in Qur’an. There are many instances in the life of the Prophet (pbuh) that express the nobility of preserving water and elucidate how to safeguard it.

“My Well,” “My Water,” are Only Phrases
The Qur’an defines Allah as the giver of water. Humankind is really powerless in the process of creating water. Allah has allowed using it without any extravagance. Sometimes He may test us by granting much water without any exertion. It is the choice of Allah to grant water for someone and to decree drought for someone else. Allah will calculate how patiently a person faces drought and how he exploits water at the time of ease of use. Moreover, our life is a continuous affliction. The world is a hall for examinations and we are only students. Allah says “He may test you which of you is best in deed” [Sura 67:2, Al-Mulk]. Thus we must obey divine instruction. “My well,” “my water,” etc. are only phrases. Water is for all. No one can be barred from its usage. The Prophet said that no one can usurp things which have an equal partnership of community like water, fire and salt, and that those who ignore the need of the people to drink water while it is available will have a severe punishment in the afterlife.

The Prophet Forbade Extravagance
Do you ever think how much water is wasted while brushing your teeth from a tap? Also just think about the water employed uselessly while pouring it over your head. You need only a cup of water to wash your hands. We are losing too much water which cannot be regained. It’s obvious that Islam takes a strong stand against extravagance. The Prophet forbade extravagance as it destroys human life and the greenery of the earth. The Prophet once corrected one of his Companions, Sa’ad, when he used too much water for ablutions. Here the religion acts to preserve water.
In addition to preserving water, Allah also instructed us to donate water for the use of the people. Finally, water is a boon from the Lord. Once when Sa’ad asked about a deed he may do for the betterment of his mother’s life in the hereafter, the Prophet told him to dig a well.
(Muhammad Shafeeque is enrolled in a programme in classical Islamic studies from Madeenathunnoor College of Islamic Science, Kozhikode, Kerala. (Extracted from an article hosted on http://www.islamicpluralism.org)