Islamic solution to eco-problems
October 17 2019 11:41 PM

Islam expresses great concern for the environment. A number of verses in the Qur’an and the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam)  have addressed this issue. Islam’s solution to environmental problems lies in man’s adaptation of its guidance. Allah has stated that He made all the material objects on earth for man’s use, not for his abuse.
Allah Almighty has not prevented humankind from enjoying a luxurious standard of living, but this should not be maintained by damaging and abusing natural resources. This is clearly stated in a number of verses in the Qur’an. Allah says (what means): “But seek, through that which Allah has given you, the home of the Hereafter; and (yet), do not forget your share of the world. And do good as Allah has done good to you. And desire not corruption in the land. Indeed, Allah does not like corruptors. “ [Qur’an 28:77]
The Qur’an and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) contain instructions for Muslims to preserve the environment, which includes not cutting down trees unnecessarily. In this respect, Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) pointed out that there are benefits in planting trees, which will last until the Day of Judgment. This is illustrated in the saying of the Noble Prophet : “If the Hour is imminent and anyone of you has a palm shoot (to plant) in his hand and is able to plant it before the Hour strikes, then he should do so and he will be rewarded for that action.”
Allah has ordained severe punishments for those who damage and abuse natural resources. He says (what means): “Eat and drink from the provision of Allah, and do not commit abuse on the earth, spreading corruption.” [Qur’an 2:60]
“Corruption has appeared throughout the land and sea by (reason of) what the hands of people have earned, so He (i.e. Allah) may let them taste part of (the consequences of) what they have done that perhaps they will return (to righteousness).” [Qur’an 30:41]
Ibn Mas’ood, radhiallah ‘anhu, reports, “While we were on a journey with Allah’s Messenger  he went a short distance from where we had encamped. There we saw a small bird with two of its chicks and caught them. The bird was fluttering when the Prophet came back, so he asked, ‘Who has distressed it by taking its chicks ?’ Then he asked us to return the chicks. There we also saw an anthill and burnt it out. When the Prophet saw that, he asked, ‘Who has burnt it?’ When we informed him that we had done it, he said, ‘Only the Lord of fire has the right to punish with fire.’”
Allah says in the Qur’an (what means): “And  there is no creature on (or within) the earth or a bird that flies with its wings except that they are  nations (communities) like you.” [Qur’an 6:38]
We infer from the Prophet’s statement and this Qur’anic verse that all living things are partners to man in existence and they deserve our respect. We must be merciful toward animals and strive to ensure the preservation of different species.
Islam forbids wasting water and using it without benefit. The preservation of water for the nourishment of humankind, animal life, bird life and vegetation is a practice that gains Allah’s pleasure.
In his article Islam and the Environment, Arafat El Ashi, director of the Muslim World League in Canada, [] writes, “Human life is sacred in the sight of Islam. No one is permitted to take the life of another person except as life-for-life.”
Under Islam, El Ashi states, “It [is] incumbent on every Muslim to contribute his/her share in improving greenery. Muslims should be active in growing more trees for the benefit of all people.” Even during battle, Muslims are required to avoid cutting down trees that are useful to people.
Humankind’s stewardship of the earth entails a profound responsibility. Other living species, as mentioned above, are also considered by Allah to be “communities”. Creation itself, in its boundless diversity and complexity, may be thought of as a vast universe of “signs” of Allah’s Power, Wisdom, Beneficence and Majesty. The responsibility of humankind is to keep Allah’s creation undistorted. The environment is a trust presented by Allah to humankind and its abuse is a misuse of Allah’s trust.

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Pondering over the signs of Allah
In the Qur’an, it is mentioned that the unbelievers are the people who does not recognise and appreciate the signs of Allah. The significance of a believer is his ability to see those signs and proofs. They know that these are not created in vain; they can realise the power and great art of Allah everywhere and find ways to appraise Him. About such people Allah Almighty says (what means): “Who remember Allah while standing or sitting or [lying] on their sides and give thought to the creation of the heavens and the earth, [saying], ‘Our Lord, You did not create this aimlessly; exalted are You [above such a thing]; then protect us from the punishment of the Fire.’”[Qur’an 3:191]
Many times in the Qur’an, there are expressions like “will you not take heed?” “...there is a sign for thinking men” which emphasise the importance of pondering on the signs of Allah. Allah has created an endless list of things to be the subjects of pondering. Everything we see and sense is indeed a manifestation and sign of Allah; so all those in heavens and in earth and in between may be a means of pondering for us. Allah says (what means): “He causes to grow for you thereby the crops, olives, palm trees, grapevines, and from all the fruits. Indeed in that is a sign for a people who give thought.” [Qur’an 16: 11]
Let’s think for a while of one of the items mentioned in the above verse; for instance, the “date-tree, as well known, grows up from a seed out of the earth. From this tiny seed (a seed is not even 1 cm3 in size), an enormous wooden mass of several metres long and hundreds of kilograms of weight, forms. The only thing that seed can use while constituting this great mass is the earth in which it is buried.
How can a seed know how to constitute a tree? How does it know how to decompose the necessary substances in the soil to form food? How can it predict the required shape and structure? This last question is especially important, because it is not an ordinary wooden piece that emerges out from the seed. The seed develops a complex living organism with roots for assimilating substances from the earth, with veins in itself and with branches that are perfectly organised. A human being has difficulty while drawing even a picture of a tree, but on the other hand a simple seed can produce that extremely complex object using the substances in the soil.
This observation concludes that a seed is extremely intelligent and wise, even more than us. Or better to say, there is an amazing intelligence in what a seed does. But what is the source of that intelligence? How can it be possible for a seed to have such an intelligence and memory like a computer “chip”?
The chips are produced by people who have intelligence and knowledge. Just like a seed which is created by Allah with the ability to develop a tree. Every seed on earth is encompassed by Allah and grows within His knowledge. He Almighty says (what means): “Indeed, Allah is the cleaver of grain and date seeds. He brings the living out of the dead and brings the dead out of the living. That is Allah; so how are you deluded?” [Qur’an 6: 95]
A seed is merely one of the numerous signs that Allah has created in the universe. If men begin to think with not only their minds but also with their hearts, asking the question of ‘why’ and ‘how’ to themselves, they can understand that all the universe is a proof of the existence and power of Allah, the Most Exalted.
However, the unbelievers cannot understand such things, since they don’t have the ability to “see” this purpose- as the Qur’an expresses (what means): “…They have eyes with which they do not see…” [Qur’an 7: 179] i.e., they do not have the wisdom and comprehension to realise the important reality with their materialistic vision.
On the other hand, believers are different than this ‘blind’ group, because they realise and accept that the whole universe is created by Allah with a certain aim and wisdom. This belief is the first step of faith. As faith and wisdom, both of which are in parallel, increase, they will start to identify every detail of Allah’s creation.
One of the things to be done to identify the details of Allah’s Creation is to be careful and observant. Because the ability to see the signs of Allah and not to be “blind” like the unbelievers, require a high concentration.
Allah Almighty says (what means): “Unquestionably, to Allah belongs whatever is in the heavens and earth. Already He knows that upon which you [stand] and [knows] the Day when they will be returned to Him and He will inform them of what they have done. And Allah is Knowing of all things..” [Qur’an 24: 64]
“Unquestionably, they are in doubt about the meeting with their Lord. Unquestionably He is, of all things, encompassing.” [Qur’an 41:54]
One should train himself to recognise the signs of Allah and should always keep this in mind. Otherwise, mind will start to wander, jumping from one topic to another, wasting time thinking about useless things.
Mind is like water; unless it is directed which way to flow, it spreads away, to the places that you would not want it to flow. This is a kind of unconsciousness; you can not control your mind. You cannot focus and concentrate on a subject. Actually, you can not conceive the truth behind the events happening and also can not ever have the competence to interfere in them. On the contrary, your mind gets directed by those events. You are “bewildered” all the time, which is not an attribute of a believer, but the unbelievers, as Allah Almighty Says (what means): “...And he who associates with Allah – it is as though he had fallen from the sky and was snatched by the birds or the wind carried him down into a remote place.”[Qur’an 22: 31]
Believers, on the other hand, are the ones who direct their minds, try to better perceive Allah, and who try to better serve His religion. The believers are the ones “who turn away from ill speech” [Qur’an 23:3]. They free their minds from any useless thoughts and whenever they realise the appeal of Satan, they rescue themselves just like Allah Almighty Says in the Qur’an (what means): “Indeed, those who fear Allah – when an impulse touches them from Satan, they remember [Him] and at once they have insight.”[Qur’an 7: 201]
Therefore, the believers should be careful to keep their minds free of useless thoughts and ponder only on useful things that serve them in their life and keep them close to the Mighty Creator.

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Prayer for seeking rain from Allah
This prayer is a means of seeking rain from Allah, the Exalted, during times of drought. That is, people are naturally disposed to ask help from the One Who is able to support them; Allah Alone. This prayer was known among the previous nations. It is regarded also as one of the acts of the prophets, peace be upon them all, as Allah, the Exalted, Says (what means):
“And [recall] when Moses prayed for water for his people...” [Qur’an 2: 60]
Similarly, the Seal of Prophets, Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) performed Prayer for Rain for his people many times, and in many ways. In addition, Muslim scholars unanimously agree on the legality of such an act.
The Prayer for Rain is ordained during times of drought and times when rain fails, which causes harm to people. Then there is no way out except by supplicating their Lord and asking Him for water (rain). People may supplicate Allah in various ways. For instance, people may supplicate Allah in Prayer, whether in congregation or alone. They may also supplicate Him by invoking Him during the sermon of the Jumu’ah (Friday) Prayer, in which the Imam may invoke Allah, and Muslims say, “Aameen (Amen)”.
Furthermore, it may be by invoking Allah, the Exalted, after performing prayers, or by supplicating Him in seclusions with neither prayer nor sermon. All such acts are related about the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam.
The Prayer for Rain is regarded as a stressed Sunnah (Prophetic tradition) as ‘Abdullah Ibn Zayd, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, went out to invoke Allah for rain. He faced the qiblah (the direction of Ka’aba in Makkah), invoking Allah. Then he reversed his cloak and performed two Rak’ahs (units of prayer) and recited the Qur’an aloud in them.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
There are many hadiths in support of this practice.
The Prayer for Rain is similar to that of the Eid Prayer concerning its relevant rulings and the place where it is performed. That is, it is viewed desirable to perform it in the place where the Eid Prayer is performed; outside the mosque. Moreover, its rulings and practices are the same as those of the Eid Prayer, namely the number of Rak’ahs, the loud recitation of the Qur’an, being performed before delivering the sermon, and the additional Takbeers (saying ‘Allahu Akbar’) in the first and second Rak’ahs before the recitation of the Qur’an.
Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated:
“The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, performed two Rak’ahs as he does in the Eid Prayer.”
At-Tirmithi says that this is a hasan (good) and saheeh (authentic) hadith, and Al-Hakim and others view it as a saheeh hadith, as well. The one performing the Prayer for Rain is to recite the chapter of Al-A’laa in the first rak’ah, and the chapter Al-Ghashiyah in the second one. People are to perform it in a vast spacious place, away from the place of residence, as the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam,  did not perform it except in the desert. This is because performing it in such a place is a means of showing much need to Allah, the Exalted. When the Imam wants to proceed to perform the Prayer for Rain, he should start with reminding people of what may soften their hearts by mentioning Allah’s reward and punishment. They should also be commanded to turn to Allah in repentance and return rights to whom they are due. This is because sins are amongst the main reasons that cause rain and blessings to be withheld. On the other side, repentance and asking Allah, the Exalted, for forgiveness are reasons for Allah’s answering of supplication. Allah, the Exalted, Says (what means):
“And if only the people of the cities had believed and feared Allah, We would have opened [i.e. bestowed] upon them blessings from the heaven and the earth; but they denied [the messengers], so We seized them for what they were earning” [Qur’an 7: 96]
Furthermore, the Imam should command people to give charity to the poor and needy, as this is regarded as a cause for sending Allah’s mercy. After that, he is to set for them a certain day, at which they are to come out and be prepared for such an honourable occasion, and according to that which best suits it as an act of the Sunnah. At that date, people are to go out to the place of prayer showing humbleness, submissiveness and neediness of Allah, the Exalted, as Ibn ‘Abbas ( may Allah be pleased with him) said:
“Allah’s Messenge,r sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, went out to perform the Prayer for Rain showing humility, humbleness, and submissiveness, and supplicating (Allah).” [At-Tirmithi said that this is a hasan and saheeh (good and authentic) hadith.]
No Muslim should stay behind (from going out) while able, even boys and women, whose presence does not cause temptation, are to go out to perform it. Then, the Imam is to lead people performing two rak’ahs, as mentioned before. After doing so, he is to deliver one sermon. However, some scholars view that the Imam is to deliver two sermons. Both opinions are permissible, but the soundest opinion is to deliver one sermon, according to the most preponderant legal proof. In most cases, the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, delivered the sermon after performing the Prayer for Rain, and Muslims acted according to this. However, it is related that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, delivered the sermon before performing the prayer. This is the view of some scholars, but the first view (delivering the sermon after performing prayer) is more preponderant; and Allah Knows best.
In the sermon of asking for rain, the Imam should ask for Allah’s forgiveness as well as recite the verses that command asking for forgiveness, in abundance, as this is considered a cause for sending rain. Moreover, the Imam should supplicate Allah, the Exalted, with much invocation, asking for rain. When supplicating Allah, the Imam should raise his hands, as the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, used to raise his hands when invoking Allah in the Prayer for Rain, so much that the whiteness of his armpits became visible.
The Imam should also confer blessings upon the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, as this is a cause for (Allah, the Exalted) answering his supplication. He may invoke Allah, the Exalted, with the supplication related about the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, in such situations, as a means of following him. In this regard, Allah, the Exalted, Says (what means):
“There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day...” [Qur’an 33: 21]
It is viewed as an act of the Sunnah to face the qiblah at the end of supplication, and to reverse one’s clothes, as related in the Two Saheehs (Al-Bukhari and Muslim, the two authentic books of Hadith) that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, turned his back toward the people and faced the qiblah asking Allah (for rain). Then he reversed his cloak. The wisdom behind this - Allah Knows best - is that it is like a good omen that the present hard condition may turn into prosperity and the sending of rain. People should also follow the Imam and reverse their clothes, as Imam Ahmad related, “... the people followed him (the Prophet) and reversed their clothes.” In addition, what is stated as done by the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, is to be done by his nation, unless it is proved that he alone is particularised with such a thing.
This would be until Allah, the Exalted, sends down rain; otherwise, Muslims should repeat asking for rain, as long as there is a need for that. It is considered an act of Sunnah that when rain starts to fall, one is to stand and receive some of it and say, “O Allah! Let it be a strong fruitful rain,” and say, “The rain is due to the Favor and Mercy of Allah.” However, when rain falls heavily and there is fear that it might cause harm, one should say as the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, used to say:
“O Allah! (Let the rain be) around us, not on us. O Allah! (Let the rain be) on the plateaus, on the mountains, on the hills, on the hillocks, in the valleys, and on the places where trees grow” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim] Allah Knows best.

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