Faith and The Environment
The outset of my undergraduate studies in Maritime Studies set sail a fervent voyage into the realm of the environmental knowledge — both for my academics and personal pursuits. My discernment of human relationships with nature for social, economic and political interests sparked an inquisition into our theological relationship with the environment, for Allah s.w.t. said:
“We created not the heavens, the earth, and all between them, merely in (idle) sport”
(The Quran, 44:38).
I believe that as we forge social, economic and political relationships with the environment, it is worth noting the elements of spirituality present in our dependencies on nature for worldly needs. Indeed, humans utilize and consume environmental resources such as our vast lands and forests, oceans, and fauna that roam through them for the survival and development of self and their communities. However, these bestowed resources ought to be used with regards to its limits, as well as the interests and rights of the present and future generations. Man should refrain from overindulgence and wasteful consumption of these vested natural resources and instead should strive to consume with reasonable moderation as a part of our religious duty. As the Quran reads:
“O Children of Adam! Dress properly whenever you are at worship. Eat and drink, but do not waste. Surely, He does not like the wasteful.” (The Quran, 7:31)
“He is the One Who produces gardens — both cultivated and wild — and palm trees, crops of different flavours, olives, and pomegranates — similar ‘in shape’, but dissimilar ‘in taste’. Eat of the fruit they bear and pay the dues at harvest, but do not waste. Surely, He does not like the wasteful.” (The Quran, 6:141)
Therefore, as custodians of the environment, the ummah ought to have a moderate and sustainable use of environmental resources. This can be done through espousing small habits such as conserving water during ablution and reusing material products.
Aside from providing us sustenance, the environment is also present to inspire spirituality and instil remembrance of God and His qualities. The environment, be it the extensive skies or the lush spread of flora and fauna, are all signs of His greatness and power. His strength and might can be attested through the precise movement of the planets, intricate climate conditions and powerful natural phenomenon such as tectonic movements and extreme weather. We can even see His power when the intricacies of the vast biodiversity are present. Indeed:
“Verily in the heavens and the earth, are Signs for those who believe. And in the creation of yourselves and the fact that animals are scattered (through the earth), are Signs for those of assured Faith. And in the alternation of Night and Day, and the fact that Allah sends down sustenance from the sky, and revives therewith the earth after its death, and in the change of the winds, are Signs for those that are wise.” (The Quran, 45:3)
Moreover, the environment is also a sign of His provisions, for He has vested us with extensive lands, abundant forests, teeming oceans as well as copious animals and plants for our sustenance.
“He it is Who made the earth subservient to you. So traverse in its tracks and partake of the sustenance He has provided. To Him will you be resurrected.” (The Quran, 67:15)
Indeed, Allah s.w.t. is the The Provider and The Sustainer. Therefore, as we take our saunters through the beaches, forests and parks, let us remind ourselves of His attributes and our responsibility to utilise His provisions sustainably. May the environment benefit both our Deen and Dunya, in shā’ Allāh.