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Terrorism: Whose Monopoly?

Terrorism: Whose Monopoly?

Quran

The message of the Qur’an is clear as we have seen that the sanctity of any human life is to be respected and any violation in that regard is paramount to the worst crime.

Unfortunately more and more often, Islam has been associated with terrorism and violence due to the actions of a few extreme individuals who’ve taken it upon themselves to do the most heinous crimes in the name of Islam.

Tragic events such as the attack on the twin towers in New York, the bombings of Bali, Madrid and London are assumed to be justified by Islam in the minds of some people. This idea has been fueled further by many media channels which defame Islam by portraying these bombers as ‘Islamists’ or ‘Jihadists’, as though they were sanctioned by Islam, or had any legitimate spokemenship on behalf of Muslims.

The actions of a few fanatical individuals who happen to have Muslim names or ascribe themselves to the Muslim faith should not be a yardstick by which Islam is judged. For the same reason, that one would not do justice to Christianity if it were perceived as sanctioning the genocide of the Native Americans, the atrocities of world war II or the bombings of the IRA.

To understand Islam’s stance on terrorism, one must refer to its original sources, the Qur’an and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) which are explicit in their prohibition of any form of injustice including that of wanton violence which seeks to instill fear, injury or death to civilians.

The Qur’an turns our attention to the high value of human life, whether it is Muslim or Non-Muslim and makes it absolutely forbidden to take an innocent life unjustly.  The gravity of such a crime is equated, in the Qur’an, with the killing of all humanity.

On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person- unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our apostles with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land. (Al-Ma’idah 5:32)

Not only is human life sacred in Islam but the property, wealth, family and dignity of all individuals in society are to be respected and protected.  Those who transgress these rights and sow fasad (corruption) as the Qur’an describes it, incur the wrath of Allah.

…and seek not corruption in the earth; lo! Allah loves not corrupters. (Al-Qasas 28:77)

Likewise in another verse:

The blame is only against those who oppress men and wrong-doing and insolently transgress beyond bounds through the land, defying right and justice: for such there will be a penalty grievous. (Ash-Shura 42:42)

Islam goes further than just prohibiting oppression and safeguarding rights, it commands its faithful to deal kindly and compassionately to all those who seek to live in peace and harmony

Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for your faith, nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: For Allah loves those who are just. (Al-Mumtahanah 60:8)

In times of war and conflict, where enmity can obstruct an individual’s judgment to act morally, Islam commands that justice be upheld even towards one’s enemies.

O you who believe! stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do. (Al-Ma’idah 5:8)

Centuries before the Geneva Convention was drawn up, Muslims were bound by a code of conduct which the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) set. He forbade the killing of women, children and elderly in war. In an authentic narration the Prophet (peace be upon him) warned that he who kills anyone who has a covenant of peace with the Muslims will not smell the scent of Paradise.

In fact, he taught that justice is not only to humans but must be shown to animals and all living things. In a narration the Prophet informed us about how a lady was sent to hell because of a cat she had locked up until it starved and died. If such is the sanctity which Islam places on the soul of an animal, how much more grave is the killing of hundreds of innocent humans?!

Abu Bakr, the first Caliph of the Muslims, reflected these prophetic teachings when he advised his general Yazid, who was confronting Roman armies,

’I advise you ten things: Do not kill women or children or an aged, infirm person. Do not cut down fruit-bearing trees. Do not destroy an inhabited place. Do not slaughter sheep or camels except for food. Do not burn bees and do not scatter them. Do not steal from the booty, and do not be cowardly.’

The message of the Qur’an is clear as we have seen that the sanctity of any human life is to be respected and any violation in that regard is paramount to the worst crime.

Mercy is at the heart of the Islamic call: “We sent thee (O Muhammad) not save as a mercy for the peoples” (Al-Anbiyaa’ 21:107); a totally different message to what the terrorists are sadly imparting to humanity.

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Source: islamway.net.

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Islam: A Religion of Quality

Islam: A Religion of Quality

nature_islam

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that unkempt, unclean and loutish individuals who spout distorted religious speculations as being wholly representative of Islam.

The Islamic world is wide-spread not only in its geography, but in its various traditions. However, when we look at the world of Islam today, a general coarsening has taken place.

At one time, Muslims were regarded as people of good character; in the Middle Ages, Saladin was regarded by the Crusaders, including Richard the Lionhearted, as a wise and noble figure worthy of respect. Islam led the world in the sciences, the arts and literature.

Now when we gaze upon the Islamic world, we see a degraded culture where shabby-looking men are held up as saints, where beautiful women are commanded by bigots to conceal their beauty, and where unkempt women are held up as paragons of virtue by the very nature of their appearance, as though having bad skin and uncombed hair somehow makes you pious.

It goes without saying that many, especially in the West, look at bedraggled men with long and disheveled beards, wearing rags and semi-literate, as examples of Islam. This occurs because the media has made them so, and these particular men love nothing more than to claim to speak for the whole of the Islamic world.

But it is not only in the West that this has happened; in the Islamic world, far too many Muslims see these same men and think to themselves, “Why, look! He wears filthy rags, and has a long and ungroomed beard. Surely this is a holy man!” Or they see a woman in stylish clothes, wearing makeup or having her hair uncovered, and the immediate reaction of far too many is, “Why, this woman is a prostitute, a Jezebel!”

This kind of foolish thinking is unfortunately commonplace in the Islamic world.

So how has it come to this? How is it that music, art and beauty is condemned, when music, art and beauty are gifts from God? Why are these gifts, which uplift and elevate the mind and soul, looked upon as curses from the devil himself?

Perhaps it is because we have allowed petty and small-minded provincials with peculiar ideas to rule the discussion for too long. We have allowed these people to enjoy a cultural dictatorship, a “tyranny of moral busybodies,” as the Christian writer C.S. Lewis so eloquently said.

We have allowed them to become cultural arbiters. And the results? A world without joy or beauty. A world where those men and women who wish to share the talents given to them by God are told their gifts are sins. What madness is this? Truly, a world in which there is no appreciation of beauty and aesthetics is little more than a manifestation of Hell itself.

There is nothing from the Qur’an that prohibits music or the arts. It is mistaken to say, “The Qur’an prohibits music!” This is bid`ah, or heresy, and those who introduce such things are committing a sin. As it says in the Qur’an:

Say, “Do you see that which God has provided for you – you make some of it unlawful (haram) and some of it lawful?” Say, “Did God allow you to do this, or do you tell lies about God?” (Yunus 10:59)

Our Prophet (peace be upon him) was a man of fine appearance and attribute, and he had an aesthetic appreciation for beauty. He used to grow roses around his house, and in a desert environment growing almost anything is a difficult task.

At that time there existed a fragrant oil and our Prophet used to use olive oil as well as that oil mixed with a beautiful smelling rose extract; he used to wear this in his hair as a brilliantine, and it made him appear more youthful. It is said his clothes, his frock and shirt were white and always kept clean and in good repair. His teeth (owing to the use of a miswak, a natural toothbrush) were white and clean.

All of these descriptions of his appearance come from the hadiths. All these descriptions are notably different from what we so often see, and all are notably different from what we see in Muslim extremists as well.

So to my fellow Muslims, please do not allow yourselves to fall into the trap of thinking that by looking shabby and scowling, that this makes you a more devout Muslim. Do not fall prey to the notion that forbidding music or art or beauty is somehow the commandment of God.

Do not think for one moment that by treating your wife as an object of scorn or contempt, or as your occasional beast of burden when you go to the shops, that you are living the truth of Islam. You are not. You are behaving in an ugly and boorish manner, and this behavior is fodder for those who seek to portray Muslims as savages.

And above all, do not fall into that trap of utopian nonsense which says that if the Muslims were simply to go back to the life of the seventh century A.D., then all would be well in the world, and we would all live in perfect contentment forevermore. This rejection of the modern world is not only profoundly silly and highly reactionary, it is dangerous.

And for the Western reader, I ask you not to fall into the trap of thinking that unkempt, unclean and loutish individuals who spout distorted religious speculations mixed with their own superstitions and cultural peculiarities as being wholly representative of Islam. They are not; overall, they are a minority. They get the attention they do simply because they manage to talk over everyone else.

And do not fall into the trap of the anti-Muslim bigots; while they like to claim they are only opposed to “extremists” and “radicals”, they portray this vocal and extremist minority as representative of the entirety of Islam, when in fact the opposite is true. Extremists speak only for themselves; they are a majority only in their fevered delusions.

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Source: huffingtonpost.com 

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The Reason Why Pork Is Forbidden

The Reason Why Pork Is Forbidden

Eating of pork can cause no less than seventy different types of diseases.

Eating of pork can cause no less than seventy different types of diseases.

Why is the eating of pork forbidden in Islam?

The fact that consumption of pork is prohibited in Islam is well known. The following points explain various aspects of this prohibition:

1. Pork Prohibited in Qur’an

The Qur’an prohibits the consumption of pork in no less than 4 different places. It is prohibited in 2:173, 5:3, 6:145 and 16:115.

Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which hath been invoked the name of other than Allah. (Al-Ma’idah 5:3)

The above verses of the Qur’an are sufficient to satisfy a Muslim as to why pork is forbidden.

2. Pork Prohibited in the Bible

The Christian is likely to be convinced by his religious scriptures. The Bible prohibits the consumption of pork, in the book of Leviticus:

“And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be cloven footed, yet he chews not the cud; he is unclean to you.”

“Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcass shall ye not touch, they are unclean to you.” (Leviticus 11:7-8)

Pork is also prohibited in the Bible in the book of Deuteronomy:

“And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet chewethnot the cud, it is unclean unto you. Ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcass.” (Deuteronomy 14:8)

A similar prohibition is repeated in the Bible in the book of Isaiah chapter 65, verse 2-5.

3. Consumption of Pork Causes Several Diseases

The other non-Muslims and atheists will agree only if convinced through reason, logic and science. Eating of pork can cause no less than seventy different types of diseases. A person can have various helminthes like roundworm, pinworm, hookworm, etc.

One of the most dangerous is Taenia Solium, which is in lay man’s terminology called tapeworm. It harbours in the intestine and is very long. Its ova i.e. eggs, enter the blood stream and can reach almost all the organs of the body. If it enters the brain, it can cause memory loss. If it enters the heart, it can cause heart attack. If it enters the eye, it can cause blindness. If it enters the liver, it can cause liver damage. It can damage almost all the organs of the body.

Another dangerous helminthes is Trichura Tichurasis.

A common misconception about pork is that if it is cooked well, these ova die. In a research project undertaken in America, it was found that out of twenty-four people suffering from Trichura Tichurasis, twenty two had cooked the pork very well. This indicates that the ova present in the pork do not die under normal cooking temperature.

4. Pork Has Fat Building Material

Pork has very little muscle building material and contains excess of fat. This fat gets deposited in the vessels and can cause hypertension and heart attack. It is not surprising that over 50% of Americans suffer from hypertension.

5. Pig is One of the Filthiest Animals on Earth

The pig is one of the filthiest animals on earth. It lives and thrives on muck, faeces and dirt. It is the best scavenger that I know that God has produced. In the villages they don’t have modern toilets and the villagers excrete in the open air. Very often, excreta is cleared by pigs.

Some may argue that in advanced countries like Australia, pigs are bred in very clean and hygienic conditions. Even in these hygienic conditions the pigs are kept together in sties. No matter how hard you try to keep them clean they are filthy by nature. They eat and enjoy their own as well as their neighbour’s excreta.

6. Pig is the Most Shameless Animal

The pig is the most shameless animal on the face of the earth. It is the only animal that invites its friends to have sex with its mate.

In America, most people consume pork. Many times after dance parties, they have swapping of wives; i.e. many say ‘you sleep with my wife and I will sleep with your wife.’ If you eat pigs then you behave like pigs. We Indians look upon America to be very advanced and sophisticated. Whatever they do, we follow after a few years. According to an article in Island magazine, this practice of swapping wives has become common in the affluent circles of Bombay.

Joel Osteen, an American preacher, televangelist, author, and the Senior Pastor of Lakewood Church, talks about the true nature of pig/pork here…

httpv://youtu.be/avKpsVD_1jI

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Source: Da`wah Skills

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Islam and the HIV/AIDS Pandemic

Islam and the HIV/AIDS Pandemic

AIDS/HIV

There is an Islamic teaching in the Qur’an discouraging adultery, which can be a predisposing factor for HIV transmission

With worldwide concern over HIV/AIDS with global campaigns dedicated to raising awareness about it, and with a growing number of people falling victim to the pandemic, Islam has a critical say in the matter.

So, the operational definition of the Islamic approach to HIV/AIDS includes the following:

1- Believing in Allah and Prophet Muhammad

This is the first pillar of Islam indicating that an individual recognizes that there is an invisible God Who has power over all creation, Who is the Most Gracious and Most Merciful and Who has given guidance to mankind on how to live on this earth and in the Hereafter.

This guidance includes Islamic teachings that promote HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, stigma reduction, and life skills utilization. Some of the verses in the Qur’an which support this include the following:

Certainly your Lord is Allah, who created the heavens and the earth in six days and He established Himself on the throne of authority regulating and governing all things. No intercessor can plead with Him except after His leave has been obtained. This is Allah your Lord; therefore, serve Him. Will you not receive this reminder? (Yunus 10:3)

2- Acquiring scientific knowledge about HIV/AIDS

Eliminating or reducing risk of infection requires learning about and understanding the scientific facts about HIV prevention and risk avoidance, and about treatment, care and support of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA).

Allah’s guidance to believers is to read and learn in order to acquire knowledge and education:

Read! In the Name of your Lord who has created all that exists. He has created man from a clot. Read! And your Lord is the most generous who has taught by the pen. He has taught man that which he knew not. (Al-`Alaq 96:1-5)

Also, Anas ibn Malik relates from the Prophet (peace be upon him) when he addressed the issue of knowledge in the hadith where he said: “Seeking knowledge is compulsory upon every Muslim and Muslim.” (Ibn Majah)

3- Making use of relevant Islamic teachings and practices

For example, there is an Islamic teaching in the Qur’an discouraging adultery, which can be a predisposing factor for HIV transmission:

Do not come near to adultery. For it is a shameful deed and an evil, opening the road to other evils. (Al-Israa’ 17:32)

This means that people should not indulge in activities that stimulate their sexual desires, which could then lead them to commit adultery. Adultery is a shameful behaviour that may increase risk of HIV infection. Marriage is encouraged but people must have the means to marry including testing for HIV infection.

4- Forming partnerships with and making use of religious leaders and their administrative structures

The mosque imams are the major pillars in this partnership. They can deliver AIDS education and counseling to grassroots communities. Islamic guidance in the Qur’an encourages people to form partnerships for promoting good behaviors.

Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong. They are the ones to attain success. (Aal `Imran 3:104)

AIDS apademic

The jihad on AIDS is about each person’s individual struggle to control their own personal behaviour for the welfare of themselves and their families

5- Making use of the concept of Jihad An-Nafs (struggle of the soul against temptation) by each individual to combat AIDS

In this context, the jihad on AIDS is about each person’s individual struggle to control their own personal behaviour for the welfare of themselves and their families, as well as each community’s struggle to address the broader context of preventing HIV transmission and to provide care and support to those coping with HIV infection.

All Muslims were advised to participate in this Jihad An-Nafs by Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him). He called it the biggest Jihad because it is not easy for anyone to control the tempting desires of his or her soul.

Implementation of the first four components of the Islamic approach to HIV/AIDS above is likely to have a limited impact at the community level until a significant proportion of individuals participate in this jihad.

It is narrated that some troops came back from an expedition and went to see the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). He said:  “You have come for the best, from al-jihad al-asghar (the smaller jihad) to al-jihad al-akbar (the greater jihad)”.  Someone said: “What is the greater jihad?”  The Prophet replied: “The servant’s struggle against his lust”.  (Al-Bayhaqi)

The enemy in this Jihad is shaitan (Satan) and Allah provides guidance on how to handle this enemy. Allah says:

If a suggestion from Satan Assail your (mind), seek refuge with Allah: For He hears and knows (all things). Those who fear Allah, When a thought of evil from Satan assaults them, bring Allah to remembrance, when lo! They see (aright)! But their brethren (the evil ones) plunge them deeper into error, and never relax (their efforts). If you bring them not a revelation, they say: “Why have you not got it together”? Say: “I but follow what is revealed to me from my Lord: This is (nothing but) lights from your Lord, and guidance, and mercy, for any who have faith.” When the Qur’an is read, listen to it with attention, and hold your peace: That you may receive Mercy. And do you (O reader!) Bring your Lord to remembrance in your (very) soul, with humility and remember without loudness in words, in the mornings and evenings; and be not you of those who are unheedful. Those who are near to your Lord disdain not to worship Him: They glorify Him and prostrate before Him. (Al-A`araf 7:200-206)

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The article is an excerpt from the paper: “The Islamic Approach to HIV/AIDs: Enhancing the Community Response”. It was derived from discussions at the International Muslim Leaders’ Consultation on HIV/AIDS, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 23–27 July 2007, organized by the Islamic Medical Association of Uganda in conjunction with the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council, sponsored by USAID Health Policy Initiative. 

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Coexistence in Islam: Between Concept & Practice

Coexistence in Islam: Between Concept & Practice

We know that Islam secures freedom of belief. This is clear from many Qur’anic verses, but did Prophet Muhammad really force people to become Muslims? If not, then why did he fight non-Muslims? Is the principle of coexistence practically manifested in Islam?

coexistence in Islam

Allah commands Muslims to treat other people kindly provided they do not manifestly declare malice towards them.

The principle of coexistence underlying the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims is coexistence.

Allah commands Muslims to treat other people kindly provided they do not manifestly declare malice towards them and to think well of all of people alike. A person who thoroughly explores the verses of the Noble Qur`an will find that, in its entirety, it presents an integrated Qur’anic methodology concerning the treatment of non-Muslims.

It is noteworthy to mention that the variation in the manner of treating non-Muslims does not stem from a methodological inconsistency; rather, it depends on the different attitudes of the people we deal with.

People are different (with respect to behavior) and thus they must not be judged alike. It is considered a methodical injustice to generalize what has been made specific or to specify what has been left general in legal texts.

Just as there are individuals who accept Muslims’ beliefs, there are others who differ with them. Among this latter group, there are some who merely present their opinions or beliefs and those who go as far as to attack those who differ with them. Therefore, both groups are treated differently.

Coexistence in the Qur’an

There are many verses in the Qur’an, whether those revealed in Makkah or Madinah, that urge Muslims to be tolerant towards others and to treat them kindly. These include:

So pardon and overlook until Allah delivers His command. Indeed, Allah is over all things competent. (Al-Baqarah 2:109)

There shall be no compulsion in (acceptance of) the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong. So whoever disbelieves in Taghut (false deities) and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing. (Al-Baqarah 2:256)

Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly. (Al-Mumtahanah 60:8)

The above verses from Surat Al-Baqarah and Al-Mumtahanah were revealed in Madinah and all of them exhort Muslims to be kind and merciful to their fellow men.

As for the legal texts, Qur’an and Sunnah, that command Muslims to be harsh towards some people, they can be compared to the previous verses as two integrated methodologies that deal with two different types of people:

The first methodology, which is the general case, enjoins Muslims to treat all people with kindness through dialogue and respect of freedom (of faith). This is the correct basis for inviting others to Islam; this does not abrogate a Qur’anic verse nor has it been abrogated though some jurists claim the contrary. Allah says:

And speak to people good (words) and establish prayer and give zakah. (Al-Baqarah 2:83)

In another verse, Allah instructs those who call others to His way on how they should invite others according to the different types of people:

Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is (rightly) guided. (An-Nahl 16:125)

Allah says about the People of the Book:

And do not argue with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is best, except for those who commit injustice among them, and say, “We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you. And our God and your God is one; and we are Muslims (in submission) to Him. (Al-`Ankabut 29:46)

The second methodology is concerned with those who attack Muslims, in which case it is necessary to defend oneself even in a harsh manner. Allah Almighty says:

(Fighting in) the sacred month is for (aggression committed in) the sacred month, and for (all) violations is legal retribution. So whoever has assaulted you, then assault him in the same way that he has assaulted you. And fear Allah and know that Allah is with those who fear Him. (Al-Baqarah 2:194)

No Compulsion

Unlike the policy followed by some countries, Muslims do not treat others based on whether they are with or against them. Rather, Islam teaches its followers that people are different and must therefore be treated accordingly with respect to time and type of person.

Based on the above, one can understand the hadith which exhorts fighting non-Muslims until they testify that there is no god but Allah as fighting the aggressors who attack Muslims and not people in general. It also means that Muslims must merely deliver the message of Islam to them and not compel them to embrace the faith as per the words of Allah Almighty Who says:

Fight them until there is no (more) temptation (fitnah) and (until) worship is (acknowledged to be) for Allah. But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors. (Al-Baqarah 2:193)

In the hadith mentioned above, the Prophet (peace be upon him) refers to the apostates led by Musailamah who attempted to destroy the Islamic state and deviate from its general order. This was clearly a case of high treason, a charge that carries the death penalty according to penal codes and international laws.

The same applies to the above noble verse which speaks about a group of oppressors who share the same abominable characteristics. At that time, the Romans started to mobilize armies to fight the Prophet. The Muslims did not fight them except after they learned that the Romans wanted to abolish the Islamic state.

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Source: ali-gomaa.com.

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Between Man and Environment in Islam

Between Man and Environment in Islam

The degradation of the environment and distort its intrinsic suitability for human life and settlement.

The universe and its various elements fulfill human welfare and are evidence of the Creator’s greatness

God has created everything in this universe in due proportion and measure both quantitatively and qualitatively. God has declared in the an:

Verily, all things have We created by measure.(Al-Qamar 54:49)

Everything to Him is measured. (Ar-Ra`d 13:8)

And We have produced therein everything in balance. (Ar-Rahman 55:7)

In the universe there is enormous diversity and variety of form and function.  The universe and its various elements fulfill human welfare and are evidence of the Creator’s greatness; He it is Who determines and ordains all things, and there is not a thing He has created but celebrates and declares His praise.

Have you not seen that God is glorified by all in the heavens and on the earth – such as the birds with wings outspread?  Each knows its worship and glorification, and God is aware of what they do. (An-Nur 24:41)

Each thing that God has created is a wondrous sign, full of meaning; pointing beyond itself to the glory and greatness of its Creator, His wisdom and His purposes for it.

He Who has spread out the earth for you and threaded roads for you therein and has sent down water from the sky: With it have We brought forth diverse kinds of vegetation.  Eat and pasture your cattle; verily, in this are signs for men endued with understanding. (Ta-Ha 20:53-54)

God has not created anything in this universe in vain, without wisdom, value and purpose. God says:

We have not created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them carelessly.  We have not created them but for truth. (Ad-Dukhan 44:38-39)

Thus, the Islamic vision revealed in the Qur’an is of a universe imbued with value. All things in the universe are created to serve the One Lord Who sustains them all by means of one another, and Who controls the miraculous cycles of life and death:

God it is that splits the seed and the date stone, brings the living from the dead and the dead from the living: That is your God – how are you turned away? (Al-An`am 6:95)

Life and death are created by God so that He might be served by means of good works.

Blessed is He in Whose Hand is dominion, and He has power over every thing: He Who has created death and life to try you, which of you work the most good. (Al-Mulk 67:1-2)

Between Man and the Environment

All created beings are created to serve the Lord of all beings and, in performing their ordained roles in a cohesively designed society; they best benefit themselves and each other in this world and the next.

This leads to a cosmic symbiosis (takaful). The universal common good is a principle that pervades the universe, and an important implication of God’s Oneness, for one can serve the Lord of all beings only by working for the common good of all.

Man is part of this universe, the elements of which are complementary to one another in an integrated whole indeed, man is a distinct part of the universe and it has a special position among its other parts.

The relation between man and the universe, as defined and clarified in the Qur’an and the Prophetic teachings, is as follows:-

– A relationship of meditation, consideration, and contemplation of the universe and what it contains.

– A relationship of sustainable utilization, development, and employment for man’s benefit and for the fulfillment of his interests.

– A relationship of care and nurture for man’s good works are not limited to the benefit of the human species, but rather extend to the benefit of all created beings; and “there is a reward in doing good to every living thing.” (Al-Bukhari)

God’s wisdom has ordained stewardship (khilafah) on the earth to human beings.  Therefore, in addition to being part of the earth and part of the universe, man is also the executor of God’s injunctions and commands. He is only a manager of the earth and not a proprietor; a beneficiary and not a disposer or ordainer.

Heaven and earth and all that they contain belong to God alone. Man has been granted stewardship to manage the earth in accordance with the purposes intended by its Creator; to utilize it for his own benefit and the benefit of other created beings, and for the fulfillment of his interests and of theirs.

He is thus entrusted with its maintenance and care, and must use it as a trustee, within the limits dictated by his trust. The Prophet declared,

“The world is beautiful and verdant, and verily God, be He exalted, has made you His stewards in it, and He sees how you acquit yourselves.” (Muslim)

Equal Partnership

All of the resources upon which life depends have been created by God as a trust in our care. He has ordained sustenance for all people and for all living beings.

And He has set within it mountains standing firm, and blessed it, and ordained in it its diverse sustenance in four days, alike for all that seek. (Fussilat 41:10)

Thus, in Islam the utilization of these resources is the right and privilege of all people and all species.  Hence, man should take every precaution to ensure the interests and rights of all others since they are equal partners on earth. Similarly, he should not regard such as restricted to one generation above all other generations.

Each thing and every creature in the universe performs two major functions: a religious and a social.

It is, rather, a joint responsibility in which each generation uses and makes the best use of nature, according to its need, without disrupting or adversely affecting the interests of future generations.

Therefore, man should not abuse, misuse, or distort the natural resources as each generation is entitled to benefit from them but is not entitled to “own” them in an absolute sense.

The right to utilize and harness natural resources, which God has granted man, necessarily involves an obligation on man’s part to conserve them both quantitatively and qualitatively. God has created all the sources of life for man and all resources of nature that he requires, so that he may realize objectives such as contemplation and worship, inhabitation and construction, sustainable utilization, and enjoyment and appreciation of beauty.

It follows that man has no right to cause the degradation of the environment and distort its intrinsic suitability for human life and settlement. Nor has he the right to exploit or use natural resources unwisely in such a way as to spoil the food bases and other sources of subsistence for living beings, or expose them to destruction and defilement.

Sustainability

While the attitude of Islam to the environment, the sources of life, and the resources of nature is based in part on prohibition of abuse, it is also based on construction and sustainable development. This integration of the development and conservation of natural resources is clear in the idea of bringing life to the land and causing it to flourish through agriculture, cultivation, and construction.  God says:

It is He Who has produced you from the earth and settled you therein. (Hud 11:61)

The Prophet declared:

“If any Muslim plants a tree or sows a field, and a human, bird or animal eats from it, it shall be reckoned as charity from him.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

“If anyone plants a tree, neither human being nor any of God’s creatures will eat from it without its being reckoned as charity from him.” (Ahmad and At-Tabarani)

“If the day of resurrection comes upon anyone of you while he has a seedling in hand, let him plant it.” (Ahmad, Al-Bukhari and Abu Dawud)

The approach of Islam toward the use and development of the earth’s resources was put thus by `Ali ibn Abi Talib, the fourth Caliph, to a man who had developed and reclaimed abandoned land:

“Partake of it gladly, so long as you are a benefactor, not a despoiler; a cultivator, not a destroyer.”

God’s wisdom has ordained that His creatures shall be of service to one another.

This positive attitude involves taking measures to improve all aspects of life: health, nutrition, and the psychological and spiritual dimensions, for man’s benefit and the maintenance of his welfare, as well as for the betterment of life for all future generations.

As is shown in the Prophetic declarations above, the aim of both the conservation and development of the environment in Islam is for the universal good of all created beings.

Throughout the universe, the divine care for all things and all-pervading wisdom in the elements of creation may be perceived, attesting to the All-Wise Creator.

Religious-Social

The Qur’an has made it clear that each thing and every creature in the universe, whether known to man or not, performs two major functions: a religious function in so far as it evidences the Maker’s presence and infinite wisdom, power, and grace; and a social function in the service of man and other created beings.

God’s wisdom has ordained that His creatures shall be of service to one another. The divinely appointed measurement and distribution of all elements and creatures, each performing its ordained role and all of them valuable, makes up the dynamic balance by which the creation is maintained.

Over exploitation, abuse, misuse, destruction, and pollution of natural resources are all transgressions against the divine scheme. Because narrow-sighted self-interest is always likely to tempt men to disrupt the dynamic equilibrium set by God, the protection of all natural resources from abuse is a mandatory duty.

In the divine scheme by which all creatures are made to be of service to one another, God’s wisdom has made all things of service to mankind. But nowhere has God indicated that they are created only to serve human beings.

On the contrary, Muslim legal scholars have maintained that the service of man is not the only purpose for which they have been created. With regard to God’s saying:

And He has made the ships to be of service unto you, that they may sail the sea by His command, and the rivers He has made of service unto you. And He has made the sun and the moon, constant in their courses, to be of service unto you, and He has made of service unto you the night and day. And He gives you all you seek of Him: If you would count the bounty of God, you could never reckon it. (Ibrahim 14:32-34)

…and similar verses in which God declares that He created His creations for the children of Adam; it is well known that God in His great wisdom has exalted purposes in them other than the service of man, and greater than the service of man. However, He makes clear to the children of Adam what benefits there are in these creatures and what bounty He has bestowed upon mankind.” (Ibn Taymiyah)

The primary function of all created beings as signs of their Creator constitutes the soundest legal basis for conservation of the environment.

God’s Wisdom

Even though the societal functions of all things are vitally important, the primary function of all created beings as signs of their Creator constitutes the soundest legal basis for conservation of the environment. It is not possible to base the protection of our environment on our need for its services alone, since these services are only of supporting value and reason.

Because we cannot be aware of all the beneficial functions of all things, to base our efforts at conservation solely on the environmental benefits to man would lead inevitably to the distortion of the dynamic equilibrium set by God and the misuse of His creation, thereby impairing these same environmental benefits.

However, when we base the conservation and protection of the environment on its value as the sign of its Creator, we cannot omit anything from it. Every element and species has its individual and unique role to play in glorifying God, and in bringing man to know and understand his Creator by showing him, through their being and uses, God’s infinite power, wisdom, and mercy.

It is impossible to countenance the willful ruin and loss of any of the basic elements and species of the creation, or to think that the continued existence of the remainder is sufficient to lead us to contemplate the glory, wisdom, and might of God in all the aspects that are intended. Indeed, because species differ in their special qualities, and each evidences God’s glory in ways unique to it alone.

Furthermore, all human beings and, indeed, livestock and wildlife as well, enjoy the right to share in the resources of the earth. Man’s abuse of any resource, such as water, air, land, and soil as well as other living creatures such as plants and animals is forbidden, and the best use of all resources, both living and lifeless, is prescribed.

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By Dr. A. Bagader, Dr. A. El-Sabbagh, Dr. M. Al-Glayand, and Dr. M. Samarrai

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