Truth Exposed

Islam, The Only Solution For Humanity!


 Much is perhaps unknown or unappreciated about the Islamic rulings and rights given to animals and to the environment. People might consider pollution, environmental damage, and animal’s rights as new modern issues. With concerns such as Global Warming, Climate Change, Flooding, Famine etc resulting from misuse and exploitation of the Earth and its natural resources. However, the proper care and use of animals and the environment is already mentioned in the Qur'an and prophetic traditions many hundreds of years ago. This is another sign that Islam is the True religion for all of humanity, and for all times. The idea of Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم‎ as a pioneer of environmentalism will initially strike many as strange or a surprise, indeed, the term 'environment' and related concepts such as 'ecology' and 'sustainability' are perceived as modern day inventions. Terms that were formulated in the face of the growing concerns about the contemporary state of the natural world around us.

 A closer look at the life of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم‎ will reveal that He was a staunch advocate of environmental protection. One could say He was a pioneer in the domain of conservation, sustainable development and resource management, and one who constantly sought to maintain a harmonious balance between man and nature. From all accounts of His life and deeds, we read that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم‎ had a profound respect for fauna and flora, as well as an almost visceral connection to the four elements, earth, water, fire and air. He was a strong proponent of the sustainable use and cultivation of land and water, proper treatment of animals, plants, the environment and the equal rights to users of them.

 "There is none amongst the believers who plants a tree, or sows a seed and then a bird, or a person, or an animal eats thereof, but it is regarded as having a charitable gift (for which there is great recompense)." (Al-Bukhari: 513)

 "Whoever plants a tree and diligently looks after it until it matures and bears fruit, Allah will count as charity for him anything for which its fruits are used." (Ahmad)

 In this context the modernity of the Prophet's views of the environment and the concept He introduced to His followers is particularly striking; certain Hadith could easily be mistaken as being created in current times and discussing contemporary environmental issues. The Prophet's environment philosophy is first of all holistic: it assumes a fundamental link and interdependency between the natural elements and bases its teachings on the premise that if man abuses or exhausts one element, that natural world will suffer as a consequence. This is a underlying principle that forms the foundation of all the Prophet's actions and words.

 The three important principles of the Prophet's philosophy of nature are based on the Qur'anic teachings and the concepts of Tawhid (Unity), Khalifa (Stewardship) and Amana (Trust). Tawhid, the Oneness of Allah, is a cornerstone of the Islamic faith. It recognises the fact that there is one absolute creator and that man is responsible to Him for all his actions, therefore abusing one of His creations, whether a living being or natural resource is a sin. Therefore animals, land, forests, watercourses etc all have rights in Islam. The concept of Khalifa (stewardship) and Amana (Trust) emerge from the principle of Tawhid. The Qur'an explains that mankind holds a privileged position among Allah's creations on Earth. He is chosen as 'vice-regent' and carries the responsibility of caring for Allah's Earthly creations. Each individual is given this task and privilege in the form of Allah's trust. But the Qur'an repeatedly warns believers against arrogance:

 "No creature is there on Earth nor a bird flying with its wings but they are nations like you." (Qur'an 6:38)

 "Surely the creation of the heavens and the Earth is greater than the creation of man; but most people know not." (Qur'an 40:57)

 The prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم‎ recognised man's responsibility to God and always maintained humility. Thus He said: "When doomsday comes, if someone has a palm shoot in his hand, he should plant it." suggesting that even when all hope is lost for mankind, one should sustain nature's growth. While Islam allows land ownership, it has limitations: an owner can for example only own land if he uses it, once he ceases to use it, he has to part with his possession. Similarly, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم‎ incited believers to share the Earth's resources. He said: "Muslims share alike in three things - water, herbage and fire," and He considered it a sin to withhold water from the thirsty. "No one can refuse surplus water without sinning against Allah and against man." (Mishkat al Masabih). The Holy Prophet's attitude towards sustainable use of land, conservation of water and the treatment of animals is a further illustration of the humility of His environmental philosophy.

 "The Earth has been created for me as a mosque and as a means of purification." (Al-Bukhari I:331)

 "The whole Earth has been created a place of worship, pure and clean." (Muslim)

 With these words the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم‎ emphasized the sacred nature of the Earth or soil, not only as a pure entity but also as a purifying agent. This reverence towards soil is also demonstrated in the ritual of tayammum, or dry ablution which permits the use dust in the performance of ritual purification before prayer when water is not available. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم‎ saw Earth as a subservient to man, but recognised that it should not be overexploited or abused, and that it as mentioned, had rights. In order to protect land, forests and wildlife, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم‎ created inviolable zones, knows as Hima and Haram, in which resources were left untouched, which you might have thought were modern innovations. Both Hima and Haram zones are in use today, Haram areas are often drawn up around wells and waters sources to protect groundwater table from over-pumping. While Hima applies particularly to wildlife and forestry and usually designates an area of land where grazing and woodcutting are restricted, or where animal species are protected. This sounds a lot like modern conservation methods and sites of special scientific interests used today.

 The Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم‎ not only encouraged the sustainable use of fertile land, He also told his followers of the benefits of making unused land productive: planting a tree, sowing a seed and irrigating dry land were all regarded as charitable deeds for which there is great reward. "Whoever brings a dead land to life, that is cultivated wasteland, for him is a reward therein." Thus any person who irrigates a plot of dead or desert land becomes its rightful owner. To be 'green' means to care for the environment, the world in which we live, both on the intimate and local level, and in the wider sense of caring for the well-being of the planet. Both aims are specifically a part of Islam, for Allah required His created humans to be His Khalifas (rulers for Him), in looking after the planet and using it in the best possible way.

 "It is He who has made you custodians, inheritors or the Earth." (Qur'an 6:165)

 After many centuries of neglect and exploitation by people who simply saw the planet's resources as a free gift to be exploited so that they could get rich quick, it has now become fashionable to be green, and to worry about what has happened. Muslims are required to care for the planet, and not to waste, damage, pollute or destroy it. On the Day of Judgement we will be asked about our responsibility towards the Earth and its creatures.

 "The world is beautiful and verdant, and verily Allah, be He exalted, has made you His stewards in it, and He sees how you aquit yourselves." (Muslim)

 "Eat of their fruit in their season, but render the dues that are proper on the day that the harvest is gathered. But waste not by excess: for Allah loveth not the wasters." (Qur'an 6:141)

 It is repeatedly mentioned in the Qur'an, that wasting is not good and forbidding from spoiling the Earth after Allah (Exalted and Almighty) has created it suitable and well prepared for the successive human generations. It is said that Allah does not like spoiling or those who spoil in life, this includes spoiling the environment, polluting or being aggressive with it. Also it is forbidden to abuse it in any way that would make it deviate from the purpose that Allah created it or. This would be like showing ingratitude to Allah, which would also cause vengeance from Allah and becomes a warning to those who perpetrated this. Severe penalty will almost come upon them as what happened before them to the 'Perished Nations'.

 "(All) these transgressed beyond bounds in the lands, And heaped therein mischief (on mischief). Therefore did thy Lord pour on them a scourge of diverse chastisements: Lo! thy Lord is ever watchful." (Qur'an 89:11-14)

 This is a punishment that came upon the ones who did not appreciate the bounties that Allah gave them; the fertile land, the fresh pure water, the sweet-smelling gardens and they showed reluctance, neglected the land and wasted their source of bounty. Allah (Exalted and Almighty) said:

 "There was, for Saba, aforetime, a Sign in their home-land - two Gardens to the right and to the left.”Eat of the Sustenance (provided) by your Lord, and be grateful to Him: a territory fair and happy, and a Lord Oft-Forgiving! But they turned away (from Allah, and We sent against them the Flood (released) from the dams, and We converted their two garden (rows) into "gardens" producing bitter fruit, and tamarisks, and some few (stunted) Lote-trees. That was the Requital We gave them because they ungratefully rejected Faith: and never do We give (such) requital except to such as are ungrateful rejecters." (Qur'an 34:15-17)

 The conservation of the natural environment is an imperative commanded by God, the Lord and sustainer of all beings. It is a matter of utmost importance to man, who is its subject, its end and its means. For protection of the natural environment from abuse by man leads to the welfare of man himself together with the welfare of all other beings created by God. The need to protect the natural environment with all its biological components from harmful activities has existed as long as history has been recorded. However, the problem has been magnified enormously within this century, as man's capacity to affect it has expanded with tremendous speed, while with respect to his responsibility of stewardship on Earth remains unjust and foolish. Now more than ever before, we witness in the accelerating degradation of our environment God's warning, should we fail to return to the responsible and sustainable use of the Earth, we may expect the fate of others who caused corruption on the land, Allah Almighty has declared:

 "Corruption has appeared in the land and sea for that which the hands of men have earned, that He may make them taste some part of what they have wrought, in order that they may return." (Qur’an 30:41)

 “And how many towns We destroyed, which exulted in their life (of ease and plenty)! Now those habitations of theirs, after them, are deserted,- all but a few! and We are their heirs!”    (Qur’an 28:58)

 "How many were the gardens and springs that they left behind, the fields and noble sites, and the pleasant things in which they took delight! So it was- and We made it an inheritable for other folk. Not heaven nor Earth did weep for them, nor were they reprieved."   (Qur’an 44:25-29)

 The remedy lies in the direction and guidance of man and society, their values, laws, institutions and actions. Short-sighted materialism with its focus on narrow short-term interests is at the root of our afflictions. For technological progress should never be achieved at the expense of man's health, happiness or livelihood. Similarly, we should never sacrifice the coming generations to achieve any material or economic benefit with uncertain consequences, for the sake of the contemporary generation's gain. Likewise, we should never extirpate any species of God's creatures from the face of the Earth, or wreck irreparable damage to the life-sustaining ecosystems of the planet.


 Animals also have been given vast amounts of rights in Islam. Since Allah loves every creature He has made, the principles of mercy and compassion should be extended to every living creature. It is forbidden to be cruel or even inconsiderate to the animals that live and work amongst us. All domestic animals (whether pets or farm livestock) should be properly fed, housed and looked after. Beasts of burden should not be made to carry or pull loads too heavy for them, or to labour until they are exhausted, or their flesh has raw patches and sores.

 "All creatures are Allah's children, and those dearest to Allah are those who treat His children kindly."                                                                                                            (Baihaqi)

 These words reflect the great reverence, respect and love that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم‎ always showed towards animals. He believed that as part of God's creation, animals should be treated with dignity, and the hadith contains a large collection of traditions, admonitions and stories about his relationship with animals. He had a particular consideration for horses and camels: to him they were valiant companions during journey and battle, and He found solace and wisdom in their presence as the following tradition reveals: "In the forehead of horses are tied up welfare and bliss until the Day of Resurrection."

 "While a man was walking he felt thirsty and went down a well, and drank water from it. On coming out of it, he saw a dog panting and eating mud because of excessive thirst. The man said, 'This (dog) is suffering from the same problem as that of mine.' So, he (went down the well), filled his shoe with water, caught hold of it with his teeth and climbed up and watered the dog. Allah thanked him for his (good) deed and forgave him.'' The people asked ``O Allah's Apostle! Is there a reward for us in serving (the) animals?'' He replied: ``Yes, there is a reward for serving any animate (living being).''    (Narrated by Abu Huraira, Volume 3, Book 40, Number 551)


 Islam rejects hunting and killing for sport or amusement; one may take the life of animals only for food or other genuinely useful purpose.

 "If anyone wrongfully kills even a sparrow, let alone anything greater, he will face God's interrogation."                                                                                (Mishkat al Masabih)

 "If someone kills (even) a sparrow for sport, the sparrow will cry out on the Day of Judgement: "O Lord! That person killed me for nothing! He did not kill me for any useful purpose!""                                                                                                 (al-Nisai, Ibn Hibban)

The Luxury Trade & Sport

 Any sport which involved goading one animal to fight another is forbidden in Islam. This includes dog fights and cock fights. All sports involving hunting and killing animals for fun are forbidden, such as fox-hunting, badger, bear or dog bating and bullfighting. Deliberate cruelty is never ecouraged, animals used for hunting should be well trained, under control and not be clumsy or savage. If animals are hunted with weapons, they must not be blunt (like clubs for bludgeoning), but efficient and able to pierce the animals (such as a spear, sword or bullet) and not such as would club or throttle it. Any destruction of animal life simply to satisfy the vanity of wealthy individuals is abhorrent in Islam. No Muslim could condone the clubbing of baby seals or the hunting of beautiful animals to extinction for their fur, horn or tusks. However, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم‎ did not approve of waste and if an animal died or was killed for food, Muslims were encouraged to use its skin, horn, bones, hair or hide for various purposes. Any experimentation solely for reasons of luxury goods and vanity is forbidden in Islam. Muslims should enquire carefully whether the products they buy have been produced by halal methods that do not inflict suffering or cruelty to the animals.

Farming & Slaughter

 Unnatural or cruel methods of farming which deprive livestock of all enjoyment of life are forbidden in Islam, such as keeping them in cramped and dark conditions, force-feeding them unnatural foodstuffs in order to interfere with their natural flavour or fat content, and making them grow unnaturally quickly so that their natural life is unreasonably shortened. Islam enforces the proper treatment of animals in all situations. Animal slaughter should always be by halal methods, which is the kindest and most humane way. It should be done with a very sharp knife, and in an atmosphere that does not cause the animal panic or distress. Animals should not be killed in front of each other. It is also forbidden to deny food or drink to an animal on the grounds that it is just about to be killed. Even in the slaughter of animals, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم‎ showed great gentleness and sensitivity. The Hadith clearly shows that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم‎ was extremely sensitive to the suffering of animals, almost as though He shared their pain viscerally. Thus He recommends using a sharp knife and a good method so that the animal can die a quick death with as little as pain as possible. He also warned against slaughtering an animal in the presence of other animals, or letting the animals witness the sharpening of blades which He emphatically condemned such practices as abominable.

 Ibn Abbas once recorded that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم‎ saw a man who was sharpening his knife after laying down a sheep to be slaughtered. He rebuked him saying: "Do you intend to make it die two deaths? Why did you not sharpen your knife before laying it down?"  (al-Hakim)

 A study done by Professor Wilhelm Schulze et al. at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Germany concluded that "the slaughter in the form of ritual cut is, if carried out properly, painless in sheep and calves according to the EEG recordings and the missing defensive actions." This study is cited by the German Constitutional Court in its permitting of dhabiha slaughtering. In the traditional British methods of slaughter the animals are sometimes rendered physically immobile, although with full consciousness and sensation and then electrocuted or stunned. However, the application of a sharp knife to the throat, by contrast, ensures that very little pain is felt: the wound inflicted is clean, and the loss of blood causes the animal to lose consciousness within seconds.It is a sudden and quick haemorrhage. A quick loss of blood pressure and the brain is instantaneously starved of blood and there is no time to start feeling any pain.

Conservation of Water

 In the harsh desert environment where the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم‎ lived, water was synonymous to life, as it also is today. Water is a gift from God, the source of all life on Earth as is testified in the Qur'an:

 "We made from water every living thing."                                                      (Qur'an 21:30)

 The Qur'an constantly reminds believers that they are but the guardians of God's creation on Earth and that they should never take this creation for granted:

 "Consider the water which you drink. Was it you that brought it down the rain cloud or We? If we had pleased, We could make it bitter."                                 (Qur'an 56:68-70)

 Saving water and safeguarding its purity were two important issues for the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم‎ we have seen that His concern about the sustainable use of water led to the creation of haram zones in the vicinity of water sources. But even when water was abundant, He advocated thriftness: thus He recommended that believers perform wudu (ritual ablution) no more than three times even if they were near to a flowing spring or river. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم‎ also warned against water pollution by forbidding urination in stagnant water.


 "Partake of it gladly, so long as you are the benefactor, not a despoiler; a cultivator, not a destroyer." (Related by Yahya ibn Adam al-Qurashi in Kitab al-Kharaj on the authority of Sa’id ad-Dabbi)                     

 The all-inclusive approach of Islam to man, without any discrimination based on time, age, place or race; and Islam's all-inclusive approach to the universe, regarding the welfare of the whole without excluding from consideration any of its parts, is the essence of the ecological consciousness that is so sorely needed for our deliverance. Indeed the fundamental criterion for all development and conservation of the environment in Islam is to best serve the Creator by realising the greatest good to His creatures and creations. It is impossible to do justice to the full scope and significance of Prophet Muhammed's صلى الله عليه وسلم‎ philosophy in this short article. His holistic view of nature and His understanding of man's place within the natural world pioneered environmental awareness within the Muslim and even the entire world. Sadly, the harmony that the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم‎ advocated between man and his environment has today all too often been lost. As we face the effects of pollution, over exploitation, desertification, and water scarcity in some parts of the world, and floods and violent storms elsewhere, it is perhaps time for the world community as a whole to take a leaf out of the Prophet's صلى الله عليه وسلم‎ book and address the current environmental crisis seriously and wisely. In view of the aforementioned, the teachings of Islam promote all endeavors, whether local, regional, national or international in scope, and call for the joining of concerted efforts in fields to conserve, protect and rehabilitate our natural environment and resources. 


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