How You Can Save The Planet
Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said, “The world is green and beautiful and God has appointed you as His stewards over it. He sees how you acquit yourselves…” (Muslim).
Allah tells us in numerous verses of the Quran, that He has created everything on Earth—animals, rain, plants, oceans, stars, the sun, the moon—for the benefit of humans. With these favours comes the role of Khalifah, or guardianship. The Quran tells us,
“He it is Who has placed you as viceroys of the earth and has exalted some of you in rank above others, that He may try you by (the test of) that which He has given you” (6:165).
Today the planet is in a mess. Deforestation, desertification, water pollution, air pollution, soil erosion, extinction of species and the dwindling of resources indicate that humans are not fulfilling their role of Khalifah adequately. What can we do to fulfill our responsibility to protect the Earth? Here are seven small, but effective steps each of us can take to begin the process:
Buy less, consume less, waste less
On average, an individual in a developed nation consumes twice as much grain, twice as much fish, three times as much meat, nine times as much paper, and eleven times as much gasoline as an individual in a developing nation.
Yet, shopping malls, TV commercials, flyers, billboards, and the fashion industry continually tell us we don’t have enough and we need to buy more. The 12 percent of the world’s population that lives in North America and Western Europe accounts for 60 percent of the world’s private consumption spending. The Quran correctly describes our materialistic society in the verse, “The mutual rivalry for piling up (the good things of this world) diverts you (from the more serious things) until you visit the graves” (102:1-2).
While North Americans squander wealth and waste it in luxuries, 825 million people in the world are undernourished, 2.4 billion live without basic sanitation, and one billion lack adequate shelter. Destruction of forests, desertification of grasslands, water pollution, depletion of fossil fuels, and the collapse of fisheries around the world warn us that the world’s resources are limited—certainly not enough to support the lifestyle habits of an average North American. In the Quran, God warns us not to take more than our share of the world’s resources: “…Do not squander (your wealth) wastefully. Surely the squanderers are the fellows of the Devils” (17:26).
In a world of limited resources, we have an obligation to resist consumer culture and squelch the urge to buy, consume, and eventually waste. The words of the Prophet (pbuh) are a beautiful example of how to live: “Be in the world as if you were a stranger or a traveller along a path” (Bukhari). “The best livelihood is the bare minimum” (Ahmad).
The Quran reminds us that we will be accountable for every item we own and resource we use: “Then (on the day of judgement) you will certainly be questioned about all the favours you enjoyed” (102:8).
Next time you’re in line at the cash register, ask yourself if you really need what you’re buying or if you can live without it.