As vicegerents, or stewards of the earth, protecting the environment is an important aspect in Islam. It is the responsibility of the practicing Muslim to take care of the environment in a proactive manner. God-Almighty has given the protection of the earth, as well as protecting all living organisms and the environments in which they dwell, as a duty, to mankind.
The Islamic approach to the environment and resource conservation focuses on sustainability. In the Qur’an, God-Almighty tells us “He it is Who has appointed you vicegerents over the earth (to improve it and rule over it according to God’s commandments) (6:165) (1) and O children of Adam! Dress cleanly and beautifully for every act of worship; and (without making unlawful the things God has made lawful to you) eat and drink, but do not be wasteful (by over-eating or consuming in unnecessary ways): indeed, He does not love the wasteful. (7:31) (1).
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) continuously encouraged the planting of trees, and the cultivation of agriculture. He said, “There is none amongst the Muslims who plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, but is regarded as a charitable gift for him.” (Bukhari). Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) upon his arrival to Madinah, immediately began a campaign in which they planted date trees. This not only helped to beautify Madinah, but also encouraged others to plant trees as well.
The protection of critical resources and cleanliness are of the utmost importance in Islam. Before modern plumbing, Prophet Muhammad even forbade that a person relieve himself in a water source, or on a path, or in a place of shade, or in the burrow of a leaving creature.
Even while taking ablution before prayer, a believer should not wasteful in water, even if we have a river at our disposal. Humanity is the keeper, or vicegerent of all creation. This includes the soil we walk upon, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the animals and trees. A tradition or sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is to build and maintain a healthy and clean environment. One that is free from misuse and pollution.
With social media as popular as ever, it is very easy to spread awareness about taking care of the environment in both our personal and professional lives. Something as simple as starting a tree planting campaign at your school, work, or college campus is very cost effective and will encourage others to join. In doing so, not only will you improve the esthetics of your building, but you will also improve the quality of air around you. According to a hadith, “No Muslim, who plants a shoot, except that whatever is eaten or stolen from it, or anyone obtains the least thing from it, is considered [like paying] charity on his behalf until the Day of Judgment.” (Muslim)
Unal, Ali. “The Miraculous Quran.” The Miraculous Quran.