Allah (s.w.a) created the universe, the earth and us within it, with a purpose. Everyone and everything is aware of Allah, his might and Majesty and how to be in service of Allah – even humans & jinns. Our only unique distinguishing feature as humans (and jinns, as far as we are aware) is that we can choose to follow the path of submission or disist by the free will given to us. This free will came at a cost to us humans – our soul was to forget the journey, where we were and our agreement to come to earth as humans in order to freely choose Islam and fully submit to Allah.
تُسَبِّحُ لَهُ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتُ ٱلسَّبْعُ وَٱلْأَرْضُ وَمَن فِيهِنَّ ۚ وَإِن مِّن شَىْءٍ إِلَّا يُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِهِۦ وَلَـٰكِن لَّا تَفْقَهُونَ تَسْبِيحَهُمْ ۗ إِنَّهُۥ كَانَ حَلِيمًا غَفُورًۭا ٤٤
The seven heavens and the earth and all that is therein, glorify Him and there is not a thing but glorifies His Praise. But you understand not their glorification. Truly, He is Ever Forbearing, Oft-Forgiving” (Al-Isra’ 17:44)
It is innately in our nature to believe in a higher power as we wonder at the magnificence of all that Allah created. We see Allah’s Might as we look at the trees, the mountains, the vast oceans and the endless sky. When looking at the fine, intricate, symbiotic ways in which the world functions, believers with cleared sight, the chosen ones, will always say “which of the favours of Allah would you deny?” Therefore, Islam as deen al-fitrah (the religion of human nature) has taught us the ways we can live in full harmony with our natural human inclinations.
People are tested and entrusted with various things during their life span and the most fundamental of which, is the affirmation of the oneness of Allah. Not only are we entrusted with the Quran and our worship, our bodies (and limbs), our wealth, our relationships (with parents, spouses, friends, neighbours) and our children are a charge onto us.
Let us now acknowledge our positions as humans on this earth – Allah (s.w.a) has appointed us as stewards over it. This means we are also entrusted with the environment around us, and so we have to look after our homes, food, water, animals, surroundings and the even the paths on which we walk.
يُحَدِّثُ عَنْ أَبِي سَعِيدٍ الْخُدْرِيِّ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ” إِنَّ الدُّنْيَا حُلْوَةٌ خَضِرَةٌ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ مُسْتَخْلِفُكُمْ فِيهَا فَيَنْظُرُ كَيْفَ تَعْمَلُونَ…”
Abu Sa’id Khudri reported that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: “the world is sweet and green (alluring) and verily Allah is going to install you as vicegerent in it in order to see how you act…” (Sahih Muslim 2742; Book 49, Hadith 12)
With the status of vicegerents comes responsibilities and responsibility is an individual matter. Not everyone is equal in roles and status as some are placed in higher positions of power and so they have greater responsibilities I.e. leaders, husbands, wives, parents, children, orphans e.t.c. But each individual will be brought to account on his own and Allah (s.w.a) only confers each person the responsibilities that only they can bear.
وَهُوَ ٱلَّذِى جَعَلَكُمْ خَلَـٰٓئِفَ ٱلْأَرْضِ وَرَفَعَ بَعْضَكُمْ فَوْقَ بَعْضٍۢ دَرَجَـٰتٍۢ لِّيَبْلُوَكُمْ فِى مَآ ءَاتَىٰكُمْ ۗ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ سَرِيعُ ٱلْعِقَابِ وَإِنَّهُۥ لَغَفُورٌۭ رَّحِيمٌۢ
He is the One Who has placed you as successors on earth and elevated some of you in rank over others, so He may test you with what He has given you. Surely your Lord is swift in punishment, but He is certainly All-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Al-An’am 6:165)
This is a little introduction to the topic of Muslims and the environment. Here is a compilation of the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) on environmental justice and sustainability by Kori Majeed and Saarah Yasmin Latif: