HUMAN greed and unabashed materialism have begotten a monster which is ready to devour us. Excessive pollution from consuming fossil fuels is disturbing the balance of our ecosystem and threatening to destroy life on the planet.
The spectre of climate change looms large but nobody seems to notice it. Turn on prime time TV in Pakistan and there is hardly a mention of it. Those on the pulpit debate vociferously about trivial matters but this fire which is raging to engulf saints and sinners alike is hardly a cause of concern for them. Rulers plan economic growth but do not say what use it will be when the planet is no more. Businessmen ignore the environment, seeking interim profit failing to realise that our actions are like a boomerang. They eventually come back to haunt us one day.
Global warming should be taken very seriously. It is a very real danger that threatens our existence. For the sorry state of the planet, we have no one but ourselves to blame. Each one of us individually is responsible for if we do not fall in the category of mass producers responsible for carbon emissions that harm the earth’s atmosphere, we definitely are among the mass consumers who drive such mindless economics.
Many of us also fail to realise that looking after the environment is equally the remit of those who believe in God. Polluting the air, poisoning the rivers, cutting trees, destroying flora and fauna will not only have repercussions in this world but also have an impact on the afterlife of the perpetrators. The Quranic description, “When he turns his back, his aim everywhere is to spread mischief (yufsida) through the earth and destroy crops and cattle. But Allah loveth not mischief (fasaad)” (2:205) warns that destroying the environment is an act of fasaad (disorder, mischief) and is disapproved by God.
The Quran says that destroying the environment is an act of mischief.
Going against the divine edict to reduce waste, “...[W]aste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters” (7:31), we over-procure, over-consume and waste profusely.
In contrast to the injunction “...Allah ... loves those who keep themselves pure and clean” (2:222), our towns have a reputation for garbage-littered streets and overflowing sewage. Not to mention the havoc created during Eidul Azha, when the gory mess left on the streets is actually a blatant affront to Quranic injunctions emphasising cleanliness.
Who can forget the choking suffocation caused to the elderly and those with respiratory disorders by the smoke enveloping the entire neighbourhood when residents set fire to their rubbish? Or the agony caused by loud music during a celebration in the middle of the night? Or that of a preacher’s unsolicited sermon from a loudspeaker? It appears that the divine imperative “...[A]nd do good to ... neighbours who are near, neighbours who are strangers. ...” (4:36) has fallen on deaf ears.
The water we are supplied is unclean, the air we breathe is polluted, the food we eat is adulterated, the sounds we hear are agonising. Parks and green spaces are disappearing. Shopping has become a weekly ritual for shopaholics seen stuffing groceries in plastic bags rushing to and fro from supermarkets, causing excruciating traffic jams and nervous breakdowns with their mad rush.
Take a look at our society; when it comes to managing the environment at a personal level, let us admit we have totally failed. We defy the rule revealed in the divine writ, “In order that ye may not transgress (due) balance” (55:8) with our imbalances while shamelessly flaunting our empty religiosity at every juncture.
This is our life in which we are ever ready to worship materialism. What is it that we have but a mere empty claim to piety and godliness? We need to be educated about green living and how it impacts our future, for without having a proper understanding we cannot take action.
We need to make incremental changes in our everyday life. Actions like aiming to plant trees, keeping possessions to the minimum, recycling materials at home and at work, reduction of waste, and keeping the environment clean on a regular basis need to be a priority.
A commitment to walking for errands instead of driving, opening up windows to make the best use of natural sunlight during the day instead of using electricity, and a lot more can be easily done and should be done. Standards and procedures for sustainability at home or at work need to be written down and put into action.
Study the Quran, and one will discover that care for the environment and welfare of all living beings is a quintessential part of an Islamic lifestyle. Where prayer, fasting and pilgrimage are an Islamic obligation, so are frugal living and an eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle.
The writer is a freelance contributor with an interest in religion.
Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2016