(Photo: Shaik Kadir)
Saving Planet Earth
Part 1: Be responsible in maintaining the eco-balance of our environment
By: Shaik Kadir
Earth Day, on 22 April, is a day devoted to the remembrance that earth is precious to us and that people ought to be proactive in saving it.
All over the world, the day sees various activities being conducted, such as trash-picking, tree-planting and talks on environmental issues like importance of recycling and conservation.
On 23 March, the world observed Earth Hour when non-essential lighting at public buildings was switched off for an hour to raise awareness about climate change.
Both Earth Hour and Earth Day are observed annually and are generally meant to save the earth and initiate a complete mindset shift globally.
The Quran says that Allah has created all that is in the heavens and on earth in perfect balance, order, and harmony. Each of the living and non-living thing on earth has an important role to play in the balance of the earth: bees, insects, animals, water, trees, fruits, jungles, mountains, birds, aquatic animals, rivers, seas, sky, wind and so on.
Allah says that He is the Originator of the earth (6:101) and that
لَّهُۥ مُلْكُ ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضِ ۚ وَإِلَى ٱللَّهِ تُرْجَعُ ٱلْأُمُورُ (٥)
To Him belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth: and all affairs are referred back to Allah. (57:5)
Allah goes on to inform us that:
وَمِنْ ءَايَٰتِهِۦ خَلْقُ ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضِ وَمَا بَثَّ فِيهِمَا مِن دَآبَّةٍ ۚ(٢٩)
Among His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the living creatures that He has scattered through both of them… (42:29),
وَهُوَ ٱلَّذِى مَدَّ ٱلْأَرْضَ وَجَعَلَ فِيهَا رَوَٰسِىَ وَأَنْهَٰرًا ۖ وَمِن كُلِّ ٱلثَّمَرَٰتِ جَعَلَ فِيهَا زَوْجَيْنِ ٱثْنَيْنِ ۖ يُغْشِى ٱلَّيْلَ ٱلنَّهَارَ ۚ إِنَّ فِى ذَٰلِكَ لَءَايَٰتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ (٣)
It is He who spread out the earth, and set thereon mountains standing firm and (flowing) rivers; and fruit of every kind He made in pairs, two and two; He draws the night as a veil over the Day. Behold, verily in these things there are signs for those who consider. (13:3)
The Quran points out:
أَلَمْ تَرَوْا۟ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ سَخَّرَ لَكُم مَّا فِى ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَمَا فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ وَأَسْبَغَ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعَمَهُۥ ظَٰهِرَةً وَبَاطِنَةً ۗ (٢٠)
Do you not see that Allah has made subject to you whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth and amply bestowed upon you His favours, (both) apparent and unapparent? (31:20)
All human beings are regarded as vicegerents (2:30) and inheritors (6:165) of the earth, and as such, we must treat our environment in a good way and preserve the natural system. We must use the resources wisely for good purposes and as needed but not over-use them, for example, by cutting away more trees than needed or setting fire to forest for acquiring land and in the process destroying insects and animals and even polluting the air and rivers.
At a time when climate change and natural disasters are afflicting us all over the globe in one way or another, we need to be more alert in not harming nature. Our responsibility is to be proactive in keeping our earth “healthy” by ensuring that her equilibrium is maintained for the good of mankind and that of the animal kingdom.
Everything on our planet plays an important role in nature. Examples abound in the Quran, such as:
وَأَنزَلْنَا ٱلْحَدِيدَ فِيهِ بَأْسٌ شَدِيدٌ وَمَنَٰفِعُ لِلنَّاسِ (٢٥)
…And We sent down iron in which there lies great force and which has many uses for mankind…(57:25)
وَٱلَّذِى نَزَّلَ مِنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ مَآءًۢ بِقَدَرٍ فَأَنشَرْنَا بِهِۦ بَلْدَةً مَّيْتًا ۚ (١١)
It is He who sends down water in due measure from the sky by which We bring a dead land back to life… (43:11)
وَأَوْحَىٰ رَبُّكَ إِلَى ٱلنَّحْلِ أَنِ ٱتَّخِذِى مِنَ ٱلْجِبَالِ بُيُوتًا وَمِنَ ٱلشَّجَرِ وَمِمَّا يَعْرِشُونَ (٦٨)
يَخْرُجُ مِنۢ بُطُونِهَا شَرَابٌ مُّخْتَلِفٌ أَلْوَٰنُهُۥ فِيهِ شِفَآءٌ لِّلنَّاسِ ۗ (٦٩)
And thy Lord taught the bee to build its cells in hills, on trees, and in (men’s habitations… there issues from within their (the bees’) bodies a drink of varying colours, wherein is healing for men… (16:68-69)
وَمَا مِن دَآبَّةٍ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ وَلَا طَٰٓئِرٍ يَطِيرُ بِجَنَاحَيْهِ إِلَّآ أُمَمٌ أَمْثَالُكُم ۚ مَّا فَرَّطْنَا فِى ٱلْكِتَٰبِ مِن شَىْءٍ ۚ (٣٨)
There is not an animal (that lives) on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but (forms part of) communities like you… (6:38)
and about food:
هُوَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أَنزَلَ مِنَ ٱلسَّمَآءِ مَآءً ۖ لَّكُم مِّنْهُ شَرَابٌ وَمِنْهُ شَجَرٌ فِيهِ تُسِيمُونَ (١٠)
يُنۢبِتُ لَكُم بِهِ ٱلزَّرْعَ وَٱلزَّيْتُونَ وَٱلنَّخِيلَ وَٱلْأَعْنَٰبَ وَمِن كُلِّ ٱلثَّمَرَٰتِ ۗ إِنَّ فِى ذَٰلِكَ لَءَايَةً لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ (١١)
It is He who sends down rain from the sky: from it ye drink, and out of it (grows) the vegetation on which you feed your cattle. With it He produces for you corn, olives, date-palms, grapes and every kind of fruit: verily in this is a sign for those who give thought. (16:10-11)
All these living things in nature are kept well-balanced not only to meet our needs but also the needs of other creatures. For example, we need water to survive, so do other animals, plants, trees and even the earth itself. We need fish to eat, so do other creatures like whales, seals, sharks, bears and crocodiles. So, we ought not to kill certain animals excessively and upset the eco-balance of the earth. (If certain animals kill certain other animals for food; they do so following their instinct (designed by Allah) and not kill in excessive numbers. For example a family of lions would kill just one zebra or a buffalo for the meal of the day. Certain animals kill certain insects for their food; and if they do not kill those insects, then the population of those insects would become too big, creating an imbalance in nature. These are all Allah’s arrangement as only He knows best about His creation.)
Human beings, since they are given intelligence and choice, have to be responsible in managing the resources given to us. We have to act responsibly in using Allah’s gifts and not deplete or destroy them.
According to environmentalists and researches, we have been exploiting and destroying the environment and the resources. We have wreaked havoc to nature, including the release of chemicals and pollutants into our rivers, seas and atmosphere and thereby causing immense environmental and health problems.
Most of these problems spring from a number of causes such as air and water pollution, waste/rubbish disposal, burning forests and global-warming (greenhouse gases that warm our earth). For example, due to global warming, certain species of insects/animal and certain varieties of trees would die out, causing an upset in the ecological balance. This means, a chain reaction is created when, for instance, certain insects that pollinate certain trees die, pollination is affected and animals that feed on these particular fruits also get affected as there would be no more such fruits.
Knowing that the earth is precious, everyone ought to play his part and be proactive in maintaining it; otherwise it is us human beings who would suffer in the long run.
The Quran says that Allah created the earth for our wise use of its resources, and therefore, as His Vicegerents on earth, we ought to see that no harm comes to it because not only we human beings depend on it for our subsistence but also all other creatures that crawl, walk, swim and fly.
It’s about time that we play a responsible role in respecting nature. We need to be collectively responsible in maintaining the eco-balance of our environment so as to ensure pleasant and harmonious living now and in the future.
(Part 2: “Be proactive in helping to keep the environment clean and unpolluted” appears in the 10 April 2013 posting.)