The Prophetic Way of Treating the Earth

Habeeba Husain

Muslims try to emanate the Prophet Muhammad (may the blessings and peace of God be upon him) in all aspects of their life. As the person who achieved the strongest relationship with God, he became a natural role model for those who embark on the same journey. From worship to attire to dealings with people, the ways of the final messenger (may the blessings and peace of God be upon him) heavily impact a practicing Muslim. His habits even in the realm of nature are documented, and as a result, caring for the earth also becomes a part of the prophetic way by which Muslims try to abide.

The Prophet (may the blessings and peace of God be upon him) said: “If you show mercy to those who are on the earth, He who is in the heaven will show mercy to you” (Sunan Abi Dawud). Who does not want to be on the receiving end of God’s mercy? From this narration we learn a simple way to do so: be kind to those on earth. This can apply to fellow human beings of course, but it can be taken a step further to also apply to animals, plants, water, and the environment to name just a few. Muslims are taught to honor creation, not disregard it.

God mentions His various creations from nature as signs in the Quran. They serve a purpose to not only help humans reflect on the true state of their selves and the reality of this world, but they also praise God in whatever way is possible for them. The Quran states, “Do you not see that Allah is exalted by whomever is within the heavens and the earth and [by] the birds with wings spread [in flight]? Each [of them] has known his [means of] prayer and exalting [Him], and Allah is Knowing of what they do.” (Q. 24:41)

I remember when I visited the sacred Islamic sites in Makkah and Madinah. Inside the mosque, I saw birds and even cats enjoying the spaces. Not one of the thousands of human worshipers seemed to be bothered by the animals’ presence, and I could only conclude that the creatures, too, were praising God in those moments.

Muslims also believe animals have a certain right upon us. Mistreatment is completely out of the question. Even in a situation of war, the Prophet (may the blessings and peace of God be upon him) told the warriors to refrain from hurting trees and animals unless it was needed for food. On one occasion, the Prophet (may the blessings and peace of God be upon him) saw a camel weeping. The Prophet (may the blessings and peace of God be upon him) approached the camel and then called for its master. When the master came to him, the Prophet (may the blessings and peace of God be upon him) said, “Don’t you fear Allah about this beast which Allah has given in your possession? It has complained to me that you keep it hungry and load it heavily which fatigues it” (Sunan Abi Dawud).

From this story, we learn Muslims are encouraged to uphold the rights of animals. This simple act can even turn around the future for a sinner. In a famous narration the Prophet (may the blessings and peace of God be upon him) said, “A prostitute saw a dog moving around a well on a hot day and hanging out its tongue because of thirst. She drew water for it in her shoe and she was pardoned” (Muslim). Such a simple act of kindness for a dog led to the forgiveness for a woman taking part in activities that are completely prohibited in Islam. She showed mercy to the animal, and in return, God showed her mercy as is promised in the narration mentioned earlier in this post.

Additionally, Muslims are taught to never be wasteful. Even if resources are abundant, Islam emphasizes conservation. In America, many Muslims are blessed with ample running water that they use to perform ablution. However, scholars recommend to minimize the time the water pours out of the faucet because the Prophet (may the blessings and peace of God be upon him) himself was mindful about his consumption.

One narration states: “The Messenger of Allah (may the blessings and peace of God be upon him), passed by Sa’d (one of his companions) while he was performing ablution. The Prophet (may the blessings and peace of God be upon him) said, “What is this extravagance?” Sa’d said, “Is there extravagance with water in ablution?” The Prophet (may the blessings and peace of God be upon him) said, “Yes, even if you were on the banks of a flowing river.”(Sunan Ibn Maja). Although the circumstances of the Prophet (may the blessings and peace of God be upon him) differed from those of us in the present-day United States, Muslims still try to adhere to his way of life all in an attempt to be like God’s most beloved.

With Earth Day around the corner, remember your fellow Muslim neighbors and colleagues are likely trying to make the globe a better place to live just like you. After all, their Islamic faith and way of the Prophet (may the blessings and peace of God be upon him) emphasized environmentally conscious living for over 1400 years. In an effort to follow the footsteps of their Prophet Muhammad (may the blessings and peace of God be upon him), Muslims try to show all of creation honor, respect, and mercy and they hope to receive the same.

2018-05-03T15:51:14+00:00 April 2nd, 2018|Uncategorized|