This article is taken 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 second article in the series.
Just as everything in the universe glorifies Allah, is submissive to Him, and runs in a precise way, Allah made for human beings a precise path. A way to live our lives without being remiss or without doing too much and being wasteful.
The believer is distinguished from others. His oversight is an internal oversight. He knows that Allah watches him, even when he is all alone.
وَنَعۡلَمُ مَا تُوَسۡوِسُ بِهِۦ نَفۡسُهُۥۖ
“While We know all the ill thoughts his mind urges him” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 50:16]
Allah also says:
فَمَن یَعۡمَلۡ مِثۡقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَیۡرا یَرَهُۥ
وَمَن یَعۡمَلۡ مِثۡقَالَ ذَرَّة شَرّا یَرَهُۥ
“So whoever works the weight of a speck of dust of good shall see it;
And whoever works the weight of a speck of dust of evil shall see it! [Keller, The Quran Beheld 99:7-8]
Whoever does the slightest amount of good shall see it in the next life and whoever does the slightest amount of evil shall see it in the next life.
The believer knows that Allah is watching over him which results in an internal oversight, coming from himself over his actions. He knows he should not spread corruption. Corruption here means spoiling, polluting, turning something upside down and spreading disorder.
Allah does not love the spreading of corruption on earth, spoiling the earth or destruction of the earth. Allah says:
وَٱللَّهُ لَا یُحِبُّ ٱلۡمُفۡسِدِینَ
“And Allah loves not those who corrupt” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 5:64]
The believer tries to set things right and straight. He fears even killing an ant. He knows the angels are watching over him, recording all that he does. Leading him to conduct his actions in a way that benefits human beings.
As the non-believer, he is only motivated by secular laws bereft of internal oversight. They require external oversight.
Such a person will only act in a way that is for the benefit of other people and he will avoid spreading corruption on the earth when he is being watched by some other person or a camera. But, when no person is watching him then he has no motivation to avoid spreading corruption.
The Significance of Belief and Worship
The civilization that leads and influences the world today has spread tremendous corruption on the earth. Wars are widespread, there is chemical pollution in our food and environment, waters are polluted and cancerous hormones are given to animals that we, in turn, eat resulting in various kinds of diseases.
Nothing is safe from this contemporary civilization. It is led by people who do not believe in Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace).
The air is not safe, the ozone layer is not safe, the rivers are not safe, the seas are not safe and neither are forests. There is overfishing and overhunting which leads to the extinction of animals.
The reason for the above is that contemporary civilization is not based on the worship of Allah. It has been nurtured on the love of itself whereas the Quran teaches us that human beings should be raised based on fearing Allah.
This kind of upbringing and spiritual raising teaches us that the most beloved of creation to Allah are those who are of most benefit to people and to what Allah has created.
There is no way to reach a solution to these problems without following the way that Allah has laid out for us. We find in the first two pages of The Quran that Allah says:
وَإِذَا قِیلَ لَهُمۡ لَا تُفۡسِدُوا۟ فِی ٱلۡأَرۡضِ قَالُوۤا۟ إِنَّمَا نَحۡنُ مُصۡلِحُونَ
“And whenever they are told, ‘Work not corruption across the earth,’ they say, ‘We are but putting things right.’” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 2:11]
The first corruption on earth is disbelief in Allah. What follows is transgressing against other people and things.
Within the first three pages of The Quran, we see what the the angels asked Allah:
وَإِذۡ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلۡمَلَـٰۤىِٕكَةِ إِنِّی جَاعِل فِی ٱلۡأَرۡضِ خَلِیفَة قَالُوۤا۟ أَتَجۡعَلُ فِیهَا مَن یُفۡسِدُ فِیهَا وَیَسۡفِكُ ٱلدِّمَاۤءَ وَنَحۡنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمۡدِكَ وَنُقَدِّسُ لَكَۖ
“And remind them when your Lord said to the angels: ‘I shall place a noble reigning deputy on earth.’ They said, ‘Will You place in it one who will wreak corruption in it again and again, and spill much innocent blood; While we extoll Your infinite glory in praise, and Your exalted pure perfection?’” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 2:30]
Then Allah says:
قَالَ إِنِّیۤ أَعۡلَمُ مَا لَا تَعۡلَمُونَ
“He said, ‘Verily I well know what you know not.’”[2:30]
In these two verses, Allah describes the awfulness of spreading corruption on earth. We learn from the latter verse however, there will be among the creation those who will worship Allah, believe in Him and who will not spread corruption.
In the same chapter, Allah says:
وَمِنَ ٱلنَّاسِ مَن یُعۡجِبُكَ قَوۡلُهُۥ فِی ٱلۡحَیَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنۡیَا وَیُشۡهِدُ ٱللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا فِی قَلۡبِهِۦ وَهُوَ أَلَدُّ ٱلۡخِصَامِ
وَإِذَا تَوَلَّىٰ سَعَىٰ فِی ٱلۡأَرۡضِ لِیُفۡسِدَ فِیهَا وَیُهۡلِكَ ٱلۡحَرۡثَ وَٱلنَّسۡلَۚ وَٱللَّهُ لَا یُحِبُّ ٱلۡفَسَادَ
“And of men is actually he whose words please you in this life, and he invokes Allah to witness what is in his heart, while he is the bitterest of arguers.
And when he turns away, he strives his utmost across the earth to wreak baleful corruption and destroy tillage and herds flourishing with offspring, and Allah loves not corruption.” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 2:204-205]
In another verse, Allah says:
وَلَا تُفۡسِدُوا۟ فِی ٱلۡأَرۡضِ بَعۡدَ إِصۡلَـٰحِهَا
“And work not corruption on earth after it has been set right” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 7:56]
Allah created the universe in a way that is naturally set right. He created it in a state of order.