It is proven. The earth is dying. The environment is suffering. The very fabric of our mother earth has been tampered and manipulated for our lust of wealth and economical advances. The global extraction of natural resources has been grossly over exploited, degraded and depleted beyond repair. Species extinction is now happening 1,000 times faster in numerous parts of the world . Climate change, global warming, pollution, acid rains, loss of biodiversity and the depletion of the ozone layers are among the consequences of abusing and intruding the environment. Future generations to come inevitably will suffer and endure more environmental catastrophes precipitated by humans’ narcissistic ambition and appetite for progress and development. These irreversible calamities hence, demand an immediate international intervention and strategic universal initiatives with meticulous planning and uncompromising approaches that are essentials for the pursuit of cleaner environment and better future.
Recent environmental catastrophes occurring in numerous parts of the world demonstrate that by failing to address these unethical and unprecedented conduct on the environment; more innocent lives will suffer. For instance, the people of Bangladesh who are living in the flood-prone delta nation are now facing life-threatening dilemma as frequent flooding continuously wiping out their entire crops and precious homes and spreading diseases.
Research studies also suggested that climate change inevitably would affect numerous low-lying islands like the Pacific islands of Tuvalu, which could instantaneously be completely wiped out; the highest point of the islands reaches only four and a half metres above sea level and the coral upon which the islands are built is seeping sea water, making much of the land too salty to farm.
In Sudan, the rising temperature has already affected the Sahara Desert that are now expanding and eating into the farmland on the edge of the wastelands; causing and immense pressure for food and other necessities. Countries like Australia, Siberia, Alps and few others are among the most affected areas caused by environmental issues like global warming and climate change.
Islam and the Environment
As stewards and Khalifah (Vicegerents) on this earth, we have been given the responsibility to protect and conserve the environment. As stated in the Holy Qur’an:
Just think when your Lord said to the angels: “Lo! I am about to place a vicegerent on earth,”(Al-Baqarah: 30)
Despite little awareness on Islam’s rich traditions of emphasizing the importance of conserving and protecting the environment, the roots of Islamic environmental practice which prohibit and prevent environmental exploitation, corruption and destruction can be found extensively in the Qur’an and the guidance (sunnah) of Prophet Muhammad PBUH.
“And do good as Allah has been good to you. And do not seek to cause corruption in the earth. Allah does not love the corrupters”. (Al-Qasas: 77)
“And do no mischief on the earth after it has been set in order: that will be best for you, if ye have Faith” (Al-A’raf: 85)
“The Earth is green and beautiful, and Allah has appointed you his stewards over it. The whole earth has been created a place of worship, pure and clean. Whoever plants a tree and diligently looks after it until it matures and bears fruit is rewarded. If a Muslim plants a tree or sows a field and humans and beasts and birds eat from it, all of it is love on his part ”. (Muslim)
An in depths look on Islamic Jurisprudence, contains regulations concerning the conservation of water and land. It also has special rules for the establishment of green belts and wild life protection and conservation. Historical Islamic environmental articles often reminds us of Abu Bakr – the first caliph of Islam instructing his armies; prohibiting the destruction of crops and trees even during conflict and war. As the Islamic tapestry unfolded, one could notice that the creation of nature is indeed referred in the Holy Qur’an as the ayat (signs), symbols and proves of the divine.
“ There are certainly signs in the earth for people with certainty; and in yourselves. Do you not then see? “ (Az-Zaariyat 20-21)
Current Environmental problems
With a massive influx of natural disasters, warming and cooling periods with different types of weather patterns and more, the environment is perilously constantly changing. Hence public awareness on environmental problems is vital. The section thus will elaborate briefly the most prevailing environmental issues our earth is facing.
Pollution of air, water, and soil require many years to recoup and breakdown. Soil pollution for instance is majorly caused by industrial waste. Chemical compounds created by motor vehicle exhaust are also among primary factors that are causing air pollution.
2. Loss of biodiversity
There’s every reason to conclude that the lost of biodiversity are caused by humans continuous destruction of precious habitats and the extermination of species; resulting in a catastrophic impact on the ecosystem which evidently caused ‘the sixth extinction’. Various populations of animals and plants all around the world are rapidly declining and on the verge of extinction faster than ever.
3. Climate change
The unprecedented rapid occurrences of climate change globally are among the consequences of releasing harmful industrial gasses and burning of fossil fuels that contributed to the rise of temperature. Human practices like emission of Greenhouse gasses are also among primary factors to environmental problems like global warming.
The case evidently is compelling, more people inevitably will suffer from these environmental catastrophes. Humans’ rapid development expansion and occupation; with extensive over exploitation and extraction of natural resources, not only have accelerated the disequilibrium process of our interdependent ecosystem but are impacting millions of species now on the verge of extinction.
Thus, environmental awareness and the protection of our fragile mother earth and its natural resources are imperatively vital. As viceroys and stewards on this earth, utilizing the natural resources in a sustainable manner is crucial to ensure that Allah’s bounties continues.
Future sustainable development initiatives and projects must requisitely be supported and encouraged by the international community . Strategic effective campaigns similar to ‘Saving Gaia’ or ‘Earth hour’ initiated by the United Nations must also frequently be implemented globally. Universal shift of human cultural behavior is possible. Further major catastrophic calamities and destruction could be avoidable. Pragmatic effective sustainable developments are also achievable. Our mother earth is suffering. The animals are suffering. The people of Bangladesh, Sudan, Siberia and in various parts of the world are also suffering. Alone we are uncertain and weak , but together we are a global force capable of ending this crisis of environmental suffering.
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