Monday, April 28, 2014 8:48 Dra. Nyai Hj. Badriyah Fayumi, Lc

The living environment has always been an integral part of the principal teachings of Islam; faith, sharia, and moral. Unfortunately, so far the traditions of religiosity of the Muslims do not integrate the obligation of environmental preservation into religious practices, ritual and social as well. 


A. Theology of the Universe


Various concepts on the Islamic faith are established in regard to the universe as its focus and orientation. Tauhid Rububiyah that is developed from the Shurah al-Fatihah: 2 (Alhamdulillahi rabbil alamin) associates divinity with the creation, preservation and the control of the universe. 

The messengerhood of Muhammad explicitly stated in the Shurah al-Anbiya’ (QS: 21/107) was solely addressed to be the mercy for the universe. It could be said that the universe (read: the living environment) occupies a central position in the basic teaching of religion, though such position is still not a mainstream in the realm of thought of Islamic faith. 

The verses that invite people to concern and think about the universe are countless. From thinking (tafakkur) and pondering (tadabbur) of the nature, humans are able to strengthen their faith (al-Anbiya’/ 21: 30), make it as the object of teaching (’raf / 7: 57), to be the servants of God and the righteous caliphs who were entitled to be the inheritors of the earth (Surah al-Anbiya ‘/ 21: 105), and prepare to be resurrected after the death (Surat az-Zukhruf / 43: 11). Pondering (Tadabbur) of the nature also makes humans to be grateful for the gift of Allah (Surah an-Nahl / 16: 14), because God has provided all mercies of the nature to use as the sources of food for human and animal’s consumption (Surah Abasa / 80: 24-32).

On the contrary, making destruction in the earth that causes mankind suffering is considered as killing all humankinds. So that to those who do it, they may be subjected to severe punishment such as to be executed until imprisoned and exiled from the earth (Shurah al-Maidah / 5: 32- 33). Destructing the nature also belongs to the signs of a hypocrite. It is clearly mentioned that among the signs of hypocrisy is when a person / group of people are destructing the nature, even in the name of development. They regard as building, but essentially destructing (Surah al-Baqarah / 2: 11-12). This hypocrisy behavior that can be done by individuals, corporations, and the government is the door for any destruction at the sea and on the earth which then invites disaster. If it is so, God will make disasters in order that humans get the impact of their actions, and then go back to the harmonious, conformable and  balanced life with the universe (Surat ar-Rum / 30: 41). 

The description on the end of the earth and human resurrection in the Day of Judgment is also identical to the natural damage and destruction; the sun is rolled, the stars fall, the sea heats up, the mountain destroys, devastating earthquake, and so on. Shurah at-Takwir, al-Infithar, al-Insyiqaq, al-Waqi’ah, al-Qaria, az-Zalzalah are some Shurah that clearly illustrate it. All theories on the world destruction are confirmed in the verses of the Qur’an, and nowadays the time of the earth destructions is getting closer.

After the resurrection, the beauty of paradise in the Quran is also full with the exposure of beautiful, comfortable, and sustainable environment. The paradise physically is portrayed by the trees which are shady, beneath it the rivers flow, the fruits that are different though looks similar in shape ( / 2: 25). There are also the rivers of brackish water, rivers of milk, rivers of wine that does not intoxicate, and pure honey (Surah Muhammad / 47: 15).

Tawhid (oneness of god), messengerhood, the verses of existing things (kauniyah) and Islamic eschatology which are not separated from this universe should make every Muslim realizes that maintaining, preserving, and not destroying the living environment, even in the name of development, are religious obligation directly decreed by Allah, the Creator of the universe.

B. Living Environment in the Perspective of Hadith

Rasulullah saw, as the religious leader and the state has conveyed important teachings related to the environment, both in the context of religion and the state. The prophet teaching on the environment is found in various topics, including faith, worship, human relation, moral, until about the battle.


a. Living Environment in Islamic Faith 


In the treasury of hadith we find that preserving the environment is regarded as worship. Who do it there will be a reward from God and so on the contrary. Planting trees is highly recommended.

عَنْ جَابِرٍ مَرْفُؤعًا مَامِنْ مُسْلِمِ يَغْرُسُ غَرْسًااِلاَّمَااُكِلَ مِنْهُ لَهُ صَدَقَةٌ وَمَاسُرِقْ مِنْهُ لَهُ صَدَقَةٌ , وَمَااَكَلَتِ الطَّيْرُ فَهُوَلَهُ صَدَقَةٌ ، وَلاَيَرْزَءُؤهُ – اَى يَنْقُصُهُ وَيَأْخُذُمِنْهُ – اَحدْ اِلاَّ كَانَ لَهُ صَدَقَةٌ . – اِلى يَؤمِ الْقِيَامَةِ

Rasulullah said,” A Muslim does not plant crops except what he plants will be his charity. What was stolen from the crop also will be his charity. What was eaten by the wild animal will be his charity. What was eaten by the birds will be his charity. And it is not someone else who takes the benefit (from the crop) except will be his charity for the planter……. .. “(HR. Muslim from Ibn Numair). 

This Hadith emphasizes the importance of planting, not only to enjoy the fruit. The planters are the givers with flowing reward, consciously or not. 

In addition, based on the hadith of the prophet, Imam as-Suyuthi composed a poem about 10 charities that the reward will keep flowing to the dead person, those are: knowledge which is disseminated, the prayer of righteous child, planting tree, giving charities, inheriting Quran, building a place for the poor, digging wells / flowing water, making shelters, building place for thinking (zikr) , and teaching Quran. 

Of those 10 charities, the activities of environmental preservation that are regarded as perpetual charity are planting trees and providing needed water. This poem is certainly not to be understood that those are the only human perpetual charity, because everything that has positive and beneficial impact on the long term is essentially regarded as charity which the reward continues to flow (perpetual).

The day of the world destruction (as-sa’ah)  is also directly related to the natural  damage. There are so many Hadith of the prophet that inform the signs of world destruction and the Day of Judgment (resurrection) with a natural phenomenon that goes extraordinarily. One of them is the hadith narrated by Muslim from Abu Khaitsamah which explains the ten signs of as-Sa’ah that are coming soon i.e. ad-dukhan (thick smoke), the Dajjal, the giant reptiles come out from the ocean, the sun rises from the west, the Prophet Isa comes down, Ya’juj Ma’juj, a lunar eclipse in 3 different places those are in the East, in the West, and in the Arabian Peninsula, and the fire comes out from Yemen.

While in another hadith, it is also stated that:

إِنْ قَامَتْ السَّاعَةُ وَبِيَدِ أَحَدِكُمْ فَسِيلَةٌ فَإِنْ اسْتَطَاعَ أَنْ لَا يَقُومَ حَتَّى يَغْرِسَهَا فَلْيَفْ

When the Day of Judgment (Qiyamat) has been upright, while in the hand of one of you there is a palm tree seed; if he is able to not stand up until he plans it, then do it” 

Based on those verses and hadith of the prophet, it can be stated that the destruction of the living environment which continues to occur uncontrollable becomes the direct cause of the earth destruction.


b. Living Environment in Worship


The topic of Hajj (pilgrimage) and thaharah (cleanliness) are strongly dealing with environmental conservation. In thaharah, water gets attention very much. Berwudhu (ritual ablution), compulsory bath, istinja’ (cleansing) and purify unclean objects requires sacred and purifying water. 

The use of water use in worshipping becomes serious concern of the prophet. He strongly emphasized to use water efficiently. In the hadith of al-Bukhari and Muslim from Anas r.a., narrated that the prophet used to use 1 mud water (equal to 6 ounces, less than one liter) for ablution and 1 sha’ (equal to 2.4 kg, approximately 5 liters) for bathing. So he was very frugal, not futile (tabzir) and not redundant (israf). The prophet realized that water is a gift of god that must be used properly and wisely in accordance with the guidance of the Bestower (Allah). 

Since water is a gift of God, then every Muslim should remember Allah before using it. Every time when we want to drink, take ablution and take a bath, it should be started by saying “bismillahirrahmanirrahiim” (in the name of Allah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful). Because it will be a virtue and have spiritual dimension since saying basmalah is the link between human actions and Allah. The Prophet has taught and given example in this case. 

In thaharah, it is also clearly regulated which places are prohibited for shitting. All of these teachings are for cleanliness, health, comfort and living environmental sustainability. Water, soil, and air must be free from any pollution. In some hadith, the prophet prohibited to defecate and urinate in the street, in the shady place, under the tree that has fruit, in the source of water, in the meeting point of water, in the riverside, in the ground holes where the animals live, and in the quiet water. Rasulullah said that shitting everywhere is regarded as condemned deed. In the hadith narrated by Abu Hurairah r.a., the prophet said:

لَا يَبُولَنَّ أَحَدُكُمْ فِي الْمَاءِ الدَّائِم الَّذِي لَا يَجْرِي ثُمَّ يَغْتَسِلُ فِيهِ

“Do not let anyone of you urinating in the quiet water, which does not flow, then taking a bath from it.”  

Rasulullah teaches that the trees and the animals also must be protected for the sustainability of the ecosystem. The protection symbol for both of them is very clearly taught in Hajj and Umrah. The pilgrim who kill animal in the time of Umrah has to pay a fine (al-Maidah / 5: 95) and similarly, the one who cuts trees that grow in the soil of Haram. The prophet preaching in the time of Fathu Makkah (the subjugation of Makkah) as narrated by Bukhari and Muslim from Abu Hurayrah became the postulate that cutting trees in the time of Ihram was prohibited and the pilgrim who violates it also must pay a fine.


c. Living Environment in Human Relation (Muamalah)


The use of land for the economic purpose without destroying it is recommended and gets special attention from Rasulullah saw. He prohibited the land excavation speculatively to get something, even if the land belongs to him. Instead, the prophet commanded that the land should be planted.

For the unused land without the owner, no water, no building, and no one has ever utilized it, it is recommended that it should be utilized by planting or using it with the permission from the authorities. In the books of hadith, it is called ihya’ul mawat (activating the unused land). The states are entitled to posses this land and make it as public property and the benefit is given to all people. But anybody who activates it is more entitled to possess. It is as stated in the hadith narrated by Bukhari from Urwah from Aishah r.a.

The caliph or the government has the right and authority to regulate the use and the utilization of land for the public interest and environmental sustainability. In the hadith, there are two terms that are commonly used, namely al-Hima and al-iqta’. By the classical Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh), al-Hima is defined as the unused land in which the head of state prohibits the people to shepherd there. The caliph Umar bin Khattab ever made the land of Syaraf and Ribdzah as the hima. In the present context, it can be interpreted as protected forest and conservation areas. While al-iqta’ is defined as a special right given by the head of state to his people to possess a piece of land for public interest in a certain period. The prophet ever gave the right of iqta’ to Wail in Hadramaut. In the current context, al-iqta’ can be analogized as the right of land / forest utilization. 

For the public welfare, the strategic resources which dominate people livelihood must not be possessed by individuals or commercialized by corporations. Rasulullah said, “human align in three things; water, fire (energy) and forest.” (Narrated by Ahmad and Abu Dawud). Based on this hadith, three natural resources given by God which are very vital and strategic belongs to the public and should be used for the benefit of all people. Indirectly, this hadith emphasizes that the state have to manage of those three natural resources so that the access of everyone can be guaranteed fairly. This hadith is suitable with the 1945 Constitution article 33 (3) which states that ) “The land and the waters as well as the natural riches therein are to be controlled by the state to be exploited to the greatest benefit of the people.” If heretofore, the constitutional mandate and the spirit of Islam have not realized yet, even tends to privatization, it is our challenge as Indonesian Muslim.


d. Living Environment in Morality


Islamic morality on the living environment shows high civilization. It must not only be maintained and taken advantage, but also must be protected and preserved in any situations, including in the situation of war, wherein the humans are generally not civilized, even cannibals.

This high morality was taught and practiced by the prophet who lived in the era where the battle at that time became a political tradition throughout the nation and tribes. At the time of the conquest of Makkah (fathul Makkah), there was no bloodshed. Even animals and trees were forbidden to kill and to destroy by the prophet. The prophet’s preaching firmly stated this command. If in the battle situation the living environment is preserved in such a way, how is it in the time of peace? The flora and fauna should be protected as the implementation of the Islamic morality which is the mercy to the entire universe.

C. Women’s Role 

Every person is obliged to take part in the effort of environmental preservation, including women. Therefore, the first step based on religion which is easily conducted is to build early awareness that environmental preservation in various activities is personal obligatory (fard ‘ayn). Those activities include, but are not limited to, using water in proportion, planting rooted trees on the ground, including homestead with a minimum width of 2.5 m2, not cutting down trees in the absorption areas and protected forests, not killing animals that become ecosystem protector, not littering everywhere, recycling materials and recycled trash, and not building or exploiting the earth except in harmony with natural sustainability.


a. As a mother and a teacher


Women have a very strategic role in implanting values ​​and awareness of environmental preservation because of their intense relationship with the children, both as a parent and a teacher. This position makes women have more opportunities to fill and to affect the brain and the heart of the children when they are in gold age in which they are ready to absorb anything implanted to them. 

Many things can be done with enjoyable way, for example introducing the children any kind of plants and then involving them in planting and maintaining the trees, let them competing in taking care of their own plants, giving praise when turning off unused water taps, when being discipline in urinating, defecation, spitting, and throwing trash in its place, telling them when they are not discipline because of slipping on a banana skin they carelessly threw, always preparing a portable trash bag, enjoying the chirp of birds that perch in luxuriant plants. They also can be asked to learn witnessing the result of environmental damage, such as flooding due to deforestation, rivers silting, and people health disturbance of certain areas due to industrial waste. 

Usually in the beautiful and miserable times, the values ​​are usually easily internalized, including religious teachings about the importance of every person to involve in maintaining the balance of the universe. The children will know and experience that environmental preservation will make him happy, loved by the other people, and get reward on the side of Allah. On the contrary, destructing environment will directly harm themselves, the others and certainly sin before God. The sense of humanity and divinity are touched and implanted in balance so that human (insaniah) and divine (ilahiyah) awareness are firmly embedded.  


b. As part of the Community


Indonesia is rich with local wisdom which is in harmony with environmental sustainability and maintained hereditarily as the tradition of indigenous people. In Java, the people are forbidden to cut “pupus” leaf, the young leaf of the banana tree which is beautifully colored. If it is cut, the banana trees can not grow optimally. In Kalimantan, the people are prohibited to cut bamboo tree which is especially used to make flute during a full moon. This ban is in accordance with the scientific discovery that water absorption is much greater in the full moon than in the other time. And it causes the bamboo trees can not be made to be high-quality flute. In Halmahera, the fishermen are only able to hunt whales once every year.  Even, when hunting they are only allowed to kill one fish only. Because, hunting excessively will impact on themselves. Senayang Lingga people in Malay have restriction to throw the trash in the ocean. Even the Sakai tribes have certain times to harvest their forest products, from wood to resin, from honey to fruit. Such Local wisdom can be found in many different tribes and customs.

On the other hand, in the era of advanced information and communication right now, various communities are formed through social media. Associations, organizations and communities in the real life and cyberspace increase and concern in more specific field. 

Women who live in custom or modern society, certainly, become part of the tradition of the society. Through understanding, interpreting, maintaining and preserving local traditions which are wise to the nature and campaigning go green to the modern communities, and then transmitting to the next generation, the women truly have taken social role in environmental preservation. 


c. As Policy Maker


Women who have strategic position as policy makers, whether in executive, legislative, judicative, human rights institutions (HAM) or in civil society organizations (Ormas and NGO), actually are able to take a very important role in environmental preservation. Their daily experiences, especially how the women and children suffer when the environment is damaged, become the most authentic voices and arguments to encourage, formulate and stipulate pleasant environmental policies at various institutions. 

The women who have strategic position as policy maker will certainly have a big influence if it is conducted systematically, massively and continuously, especially if it is established based on the united spirit of humanity, nationality, and divinity.  

D. Conclusion

Environment conservation can not be separated from the faith of every Muslim. The doctrine of monotheism, messengerhood, hereafter life, worship, human relation (muamalah), and believer (mukmin) morality, is dealing with sustainable living environment. If heretofore, the environment is as if not an integral part of the principal teachings of Islam, it is because there is no effort to link it consciously, systematically and massively among Muslims. This linking effort becomes urgent to do in order that the effort of environmental preservation which has been agitating the whole human life gains the strength and theological legitimacy. And the “go green movement” will be faster and more effective if supported by religious understanding which has environmental perspective. 

In this whole process, women significantly need to involve, to engage and to be included, started from transforming its values till policy making. The women participation in living environmental preservation is part of the implementation of women nature as a successor and guardian of mankind sustainability, and as a caliph of god on the earth with men. Without good, balanced, healthy, and sustainable environment, women will bear heavier burden in conducting their reproductive functions, parenting, doing domestic tasks, and undertaking their tasks as the caliph on earth. The active role of women (and also men) personally and socially can be started from the simplest things, such as saving water, planting trees, throwing and sorting waste in the right place. Wallahu A’lam (Allah Knows Best). 

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