This article is from Living Green: The Way of the Greatest Environmentalist (peace be upon him). Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Ali Hani, and Ustad Amjad Tarsin answer questions on care, responsibility and stewardship of the environment. This is the sixth article in the series.
There is a collective responsibility. Have concern for the environment, animals, and the well-being of everything. Promote and advocate concern for creation. This is from calling ourselves and others to God. This is the creation of Allah. It is a trust and no light matter.
In this sense of concern, we need to have partnerships with those who share that concern. Even if they are driven by other perspectives towards that concern.
Treatment of Animals
How will we actively promote these ethics of concern? Firstly, through our example, and also our work.
Care for every living thing. There is important and detailed guidance on how you slaughter an animal. Allah has decreed excellence in all things. If you slaughter an animal, then do it with excellence. Ensure the animal is at rest and let your blade be sharp.
The animal should not see the blade before it is slaughtered. The animal should not see animals ahead of it being slaughtered.
However, we don’t wonder how the animals we eat were slaughtered. The meat that most of us eat has many layers of disliked-ness. We need to have concern for every good being preserved for God’s creation and every harm being prevented.
Declawing animals, mutilating chickens and giving them growth hormones so they grow to full size in a third of the time is wrong. We do not accept any wrong in any way. We are culpable.
Read about the chocolate you eat. Most of it is dirty. It is stained by the blood of thousands of people being oppressed. With crops that are grown, there is also incredible injustice. Whether it be to other human beings, animals, or the environment. Consider even the state of clean water in native reserves.
Disbelief in the Creator and heedlessness result in so much harm in creation. We have to make that connection. Faith must drive us to preserve creation, promote good and prevent harm.
Creation has a spiritual purpose. What is the spiritual purpose of creation? Allah says:
إِنَّ فِی خَلۡقِ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَ ٰتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِ وَٱخۡتِلَـٰفِ ٱلَّیۡلِ وَٱلنَّهَارِ لَـَٔایَـٰت لِّأُو۟لِی ٱلۡأَلۡبَـٰبِ
“Verily in the creation of the heavens and earth and the alternation of night and day are a multitude of mighty signs for those of insight and mind” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 3:190]
Creation is a sign of its Creator. Concern for creation is out of recognition of the creator. Concern and mindfulness for the Creator entails concern and mindfulness for his creation.
The creation manifests the beauty, the majesty, and the perfection of its Creator. Have gratitude towards the Creator for having created you, for sustaining you at every moment. The reality of your servanthood to Allah entails the right response to creation.
For every choice that we make, consider, “Is this a good choice? Is there harm? Whether the harm is direct or otherwise.
Ethics and Work
See to it that your work is ethical. The righteous had a huge impact on the world. Islam spread across Africa and it spread to South Asia through traders. The reason they were trading was due to the way the marketplace was. There is a lot of unethical conduct in the marketplace.
If your work is permissible in itself, it is permissible for you to engage in it. Yet, seek sound ethical guidance about your work. There are numerous opportunities, particularly such as starting your own company or seeking more ethical career choices. At least plan to go towards sources of good that remove harm from the world that we live in.
Food and Drink
Look at the ethics of the food and drink that you have. Question every single item that you have in your fridge as to where it comes from and how it is produced.
Any food that has been touched by factories is questionable. Why does food not need to go through a factory? What happens to the food itself? What is happening there? Who is working?
There are many things that we take for granted yet they are the result of much harm to other human beings and the environment.
Dress and Ethical Consumption
If you do not know whether your clothing is ethically sourced, you can simply assume that it is not. The “great deals” are on the broken backs, blood and shattered bones of people all over the world.
It is the result of grave, grave destruction. It matters. When your purchase is the result of others being harmed, it is not directly sinful, but certainly, there is disliked-ness in it.
We are only responsible to the extent that we’re aware. Though, it is better to have a few items of clothing wholesomely sourced rather than plenty that are harmful to the environment and other people. Even dyes used for clothing are terrible chemical dyes so we ought to be conscious.
A solution to this issue is to buy quality items. Such items can also be handed over to the next generation.
If we consider the smartphone in our pocket there are all kinds of unethical parts within it. If one is to purchase the latest smartphone one could write to the company, “I purchased your phone. However, as a concerned citizen of this world, I am very troubled by…”
Encourage others also.
Look at how much you are wasting. How much can you reduce your consumption? How much food do you throw away? These are matters that the believer should be actively thinking of, as part of their moral duty.
Organization of Time
Ethical use of time relates to the sense of social responsibility. Is one actively spending hours watching sports games but pouring out excuses for taking a role in an ethical-related issue? Our Lord will question us about our time and how we spent it.
Are we directing our time and concern towards fulfilling our social responsibilities? Did you genuinely strive to fulfill what you could?
God does not make a soul responsible for more than it is able. Yet, you are responsible to the extent of your ability.
You must have ethical consciousness. Only through remembrance and mindfulness can you be aware that you must consciously make acceptable choices. Strive to make choices that are pleasing to Allah.
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is reported to have said, “It is the merciful who are shown mercy by the All-Merciful. Be merciful to all that is on earth and then the Lord of the heavens will be merciful to you.”