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6 climate lessons from the Qur’an and hadith

Climate change is devastating the planet, affecting plants, wildlife and communities across the globe.

At Islamic Relief, we recognise the importance of climate action as a key tenant of the Muslim faith. The Qur’an and the Hadith are full of references to the earth and our responsibility as khalifas (guardians) of this planet and its creatures.

That is why, in this blog, we’ve pulled together some meaningful lessons which exemplify what a climate-conscious Muslim should look like.

Here are six powerful climate-conscious lessons from the Qur’an and hadith. Take a look!

Lesson #1: Waste not from a flowing river

One day The Prophet (SAW) passed by Sa`d ibn Abi Waqas (RA) while he was performing wudu’.

The Prophet (SAW) asked Sa`d: “What is this wastage?” Sa`d replied: “Is there wastage in wudu also?”

The Prophet (SAW) said: “Yes, even if you are at a flowing river.” (Ibn Majah)

SubhanAllah, what a great reminder!

This hadith exemplifies the importance of not wasting vital resources, even when there is no supposed scarcity. As Muslims, it should simply be within our character to not be wasteful. 

Unfortunately in this day and age, we waste water when doing the laundry, washing the dishes, having long baths and of course, when making wudu.

Here in the UK, the energy used in water consumption accounts for 6% of all carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions.

Therefore, we mustn’t be wasteful when it comes to our water usage. This is especially important if we consider how many people across the world who do not have access to safe clean water and the impact that climate change is having in these communities.

 Lesson #2: Be like the honey bee

Be like the honey bee. Anything it eats is clean, anything it drops is sweet, and the branch it sits upon does not break. (Imam Ali (AS))

In previous blogs, we’ve spoken about the importance of walking “gently on the earth “.

This means leading a lifestyle that is in harmony with the planet and not against it – as is prescribed in Islam.

This metaphor by Imam Ali (AS) beautifully exemplifies what this looks like in practice. Put simply: humans should not be exploiting the earth.

Just like a honey bee, we should be climate-conscious in all that we do, taking heed to not harm Allah’s beautiful earth.

 Lesson #3: Animals have rights too

There is not an animal that lives on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but they form communities like you. Nothing have we omitted from the Book, and they all shall be gathered to their Lord in the end. (Qur’an 6:38)

This verse of the Qur’an demonstrates the rights of animals.

It acknowledges the importance of their place on earth. It also sends a stark reminder that just as humans have networks, communities and roots on earth; so too do animals.

Animals also have their own form of worship towards Allah (SWT). They will also speak of their treatment by humans here on earth as testimony to Allah (SWT).

It’s therefore vitally important that we, as Muslims, remember this and be mindful of our behaviour towards other creatures.

Lesson #4: The mercy of a tree

Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: “I am in this world like a rider who halts in the shade of a tree for a short time, and after taking some rest, resumes his journey leaving the tree behind.” (Ahmad, Tirmidhi)

This hadith has a very meaningful message for those who delve a little deeper.

Firstly, we pick up the importance and significance of a tree for the shade it provides in this dunya (mortal world).

However, the greater message is the understanding that although we are on the earth, this is temporary. It teaches us that as humans we are merely travellers on the earth.

After death, we move on to the afterlife, where we will be judged for our actions towards ourselves, each other and the planet.

The earth, and with it, the mercy of a tree should not be exploited by humans but rather nurtured and left for others to also enjoy.

Just because our presence on this Earth is temporary, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t nurture and maintain it for the following generations.

Lesson #5: Caring for animals brings rewards

According to Abu Huraira (may Allah be satisfied with him), the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “A man walking on the road got thirsty. He found a well, so he went down and drank of it.

After climbing back, he saw a dog panting and licking the wet ground because he was very thirsty. The man realised that this dog suffers from thirst the same way I did. He went back down and filled his shoe with water, then held it with his teeth to climb out the well.

The dog drank of it and Allah praised and forgave his sins. Prophet’s Companions asked: “O Messenger of Allah! Do we get a reward for our good deeds towards animals?”. He replied: “There is a reward for the one who do good to any living creature.” (Bukhari)

In this hadith, we learn of the importance Allah (SWT) places on animal welfare and care.

We learn how Allah (SWT) will show mercy on us if we show mercy to His creatures. This is a critically important lesson for us as Muslims.

By caring for Allah’s planet – including His creatures – He forgave the sins of this man. Just imagine how important caring for animals is in the eyes of Allah (SWT). SubhanAllah!

Lesson #6: Listen to the prayer of trees

The Prophet (SAW) used to ask the companions: ‘Who amongst you saw a dream last night that we could benefit from?’

A man stood up and said to The Prophet (SAW): ‘O Messenger of Allah! Last night I had a dream, a very strange dream’.

He said: ‘While I was sleeping, it was as if I was praying behind a tree. It was a tree which was my imam. I was praying and there was a tree in front of me. I prostrated and then the tree prostrated as well, and then I heard the tree make du’a.

The tree said: “O Allah, write for me a reward with you because of it and remove from me a sin because of it, and accept it for me as you accepted from your servant David upon him be blessings and peace.” (Tirmidhi)

SubhanAllah, this hadith reminds us that the whole of the natural world glorifies Allah (SWT).

It helps us understand that just like humans, trees and other plants also have their beloved place in this world and are in connection with Allah (SWT).

We therefore must strive to protect trees, other plants and animals as part of Allah’s miraculous Creation.

As Muslims, we are generally well-read and knowledgeable of many of these hadith and verses of the Qur’an.

However, it can be very difficult to embody the character or the message of the lessons in practice.

As Muslims, we’re called to remember our responsibility to the earth as decreed by Allah (SWT) in all that we do. And ultimately: this is a way of life.

That’s why it’s important that we incorporate climate-friendly practices into our regular routines. Whether that’s cutting down on our food waste, reflecting on our consumer choices, or incorporating behaviours that demonstrate our love for the planet

You can also choose to support our rightsholders to earn a sustainable source of living. This includes great practices such as beekeepingraspberry farming and tree planting.

You’ll therefore be helping communities to utilise (rather than exploit) Allah’s beautiful Creation.

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