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By : Nina Nurmila, PhD.


The exegesis (tafsir) on environmental issues is a new subject considering many classical exegeses which influenced in the Muslim life were written in the 8th and 9th century. At that time, human populations were not many and human didn’t familiar with technology, so that environmental problems have not been widely discussed because it may not be considered as important thing. But, since the Industrial Revolution in Europe in the last 18th century, some people, especially the capitalist groups, explore and even exploite the earth for the purpose of improving welfare and convenience of their life without considering to its preservation. 

Considering that the preservation of the earth balance is very important for the welfare of all human beings, also for future generations, so the interpretation (Tafsir) on environmental rescue is a very important requirement. Women, which number is about half of the world’s population, indeed have a very important role in the maintenance and saving the environmental. 

Women and Efforts to Save the Environmental 

Women in Indonesia or all over the world, are mostly constructed to conduct reproductive activities. What is meant by reproductive activities are not merely limited to human reproduction such as pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding, but also covers the activities carried out repeatedly, but the results are not too visible. For example, completing household occupation such as sweeping, cleaning the floor, washing dishes, washing clothes, taking care of the children, and cooking where the result only appears for a while and then disappear because the clean clothes will be dirty again after they are used, the food will be completely consumed, and the clean dishes also will be dirty again. Although those reproductive activities can also be done by male and female, but in general, men are more constructed to conduct production activities, rather than reproduction, such as working outside of home with an income and an obvious career path. 

Considering those reproductive activities are generally carried out by women, so the women’s role in the efforts to save the environment are very significant. Especially when they play a role as a mother who are expected to be educators and role models for their children. The children will be easier to imitate and follow what their parents do. To maintain this environment should start from small things in our daily life, for the purpose of the earth rescue in the long term.  

There is a proverb in the effort of environmental rescue, that is: think big, start small and act now (think about the big thing, such as the world rescue, starting from small thing and act now). For example, considering the limited water (think big), so we should economize in using the water, by closing the water tap if it is not used (start small) and do it now, do not put it off (act now). Also by not throwing trash in the river because it will make the river to be shallow and the gutter will be clogged, turning off the electricity when it is not used because there are the other people who need it. Considering that electricity is a limited energy, so not switch it off when we do not use is the same as we take the rights of our children and grandchildren to enjoy it.

Qur’anic Verses about  Saving the Environment 

Islam as rahmatan lil-‘alamin (blessing for the universe) care about preservation and saving the environment as well as prohibits doing destruction on earth that can give bad effect for human life itself. Here we will discuss about the Quranic verses about saving the environment, which are surely not only addressed to women, but to both male and female.

The first, Quran Surah Shad (38): 27-28 explains that Allah created the earth, the sky and and everything well. The creation of the universe has been designed in such a way so that people can utilize and enjoy it maximally. Only unbelievers (Kufr) denied the favors of Allah, who prejudiced against what was created by Allah so that Allah was angry and swore to put them into the Hell. Meanwhile the believers (Mukmin) who commit a good deed and the righteous people will be treated differently from the unbeliever. That is they will go to convenient heaven because of the justice of Allah.

And We did not create the heaven and the earth and that between them aimlessly. That is the assumption of those who disbelieve, so woe to those who disbelieve from the Fire. Or should we treat those who believe and do righteous deeds like corrupters in the land? Or should We treat those who fear Allah like the wicked? “(QS. Shad 27-28) 

From the aforesaid verse, it can be derived a lesson that we should be positive thinking, no prejudice to Allah, for everything he has created on earth. That is Allah has created this universe for human conveniences and welfare. So we must believe in Allah and commit a good deed on earth. A good deed in this case is like planting the trees, enjoying the results but not exploiting it excessively. 

Besides, we should not prejudice to Allah for what He has created. If there are people who prejudice to Allah for what He has created, then Allah will be angry and regards those people as unbelievers or unthankful (Kufr), with the hell as their reward. Naudzubillahi min dzalik.

The next verse is Surah Al-Baqarah (2): 60 that also emphasizes that Allah gives sustenance to all human beings and human are prohibited to make destruction on earth: 

And [recall] when Moses prayed for water for his people, so We said, “Strike with your staff the stone.” And there gushed forth from it twelve springs, and every people knew its watering place. “Eat and drink from the provision of Allah, and do not commit abuse on the earth, spreading corruption.”  (QS. Al Baqarah : 60) 

From the aforementioned verses, it can be understood that Allah gives sustenance for human that is supplied by Allah on this earth. Humans only need to find out how to take advantages of what are on this earth to fulfill their need by condition that humans will not destruct it, just take advantage and preserve it. 

In addition, the emphasis about the prohibition of committing destruction on earth and the certainty that Allah will provide sustenance to people who commit a good deed and thank to Allah is described in the Qur’an Surah Al-A’raf (7): 56-58, as the following : 

And cause not corruption upon the earth after its reformation. And invoke Him in fear and aspiration. Indeed, the mercy of Allah is near to the doers of good. And it is He who sends the winds as good tidings before His mercy until, when they have carried heavy rainclouds, We drive them to a dead land and We send down rain therein and bring forth thereby [some] of all the fruits. Thus will We bring forth the dead; perhaps you may be reminded. And the good land – its vegetation emerges by permission of its Lord; but that which is bad – nothing emerges except sparsely, with difficulty. Thus do We diversify the signs for a people who are grateful.” (Surat al-A’raf 56-58) 

From the aforesaid verse, it can be understood that Allah has a big concern toward human welfare in this earth, for example, by giving rain, that enable the trees to grow and produce fruits that can be enjoyed by humans. With all these things, humans are expected to be grateful and pray expectantly to Allah, always maintain the gift of Allah and do not commit the damage. 

The simple examples of doing destruction at the present time are not turning off the electricity when it is not used (redundant), not closing the water tap when we go out from the bathroom so that the water is wasted useless, whereas to make the water out from the tap itself requires electrical energy, packing the goods excessively (overwrap) so that the trashes increase whereas they need a hundred years to destroy, prefer to use private transport though using a public transport will save more energy and money, and the greater impacts come from people who cut down the trees in the forest without reforestation or drilling without considering the impact on the surrounding people, like what happened in the case of a company in East Java. The desire to get profit abundantly makes someone does not think a lot about the environmental impact caused by illegal logging and drilling.  

The emphasis on the prohibition of destroying and exploiting nature without care to the preservation was also mentioned in the Qur’an Shurah ar-Rum (30): 41-42 as following:

 “Corruption has appeared throughout the land and sea by [reason of] what the hands of people have earned so He may let them taste part of [the consequence of] what they have done that perhaps they will return [to righteousness].   Say, [O Muhammad], “Travel through the land and observe how was the end of those before. Most of them were associators [of others with Allah].” (QS. Ar Rum 41-42) 

The above verse clearly states that any damages on earth are as the result of human activities and the effect will return to the humans itself. For example, now humans can feel the weather is getting warmer due to the excessive use of natural resources such as electricity for refrigerator or air conditioner / AC, that remains on in a day and night, whether it is used or not. Moreover the use of oil fuels for industry and transportation that emit smoke pollution which then the ozone layer that covers the earth is getting thin and thin. It causes the air temperature outside the room increases and the ice at the North and South Pole melt so that the sea water surface will increase and in the long term it could drown some of the islands on earth. All of these  are caused by human greediness.

If it is not stopped immediately, then the result of the damage will be felt to all the inhabitants of the earth without exception. A small example of the natural disaster in the present is the flood in Jakarta in the last thirteen years that befall anyone indiscriminately. Therefore, all people should think about how to save the environment, not just rely on the government. No matter how hard the governments try and think about the solutions, it will not be possible without the society’s support, for instance still throwing trash into rivers or excessive use of plastic. 

The Action of Saving the Nature 

Natural balance must be maintained, even if a smallest damage occurs in one part of the world, it will affect the other part. Everything is related to each other so that the rescue efforts of nature ideally are conducted simultaneously by all of the world’s population. However, as illustrated in the Quran, there are good and bad human. The good Humans are those who can take advantage of nature without destroying it, but preserving it. For instance, when cutting down a big tree, then previously it has been anticipated by planting trees with the same number. Meanwhile bad humans, they just think about the benefits gained from the tree without thinking to replant so that it can lead to flood and landslides that will harm for many people around it. Those who commit destruction on earth will be threatened by Allah by taking them to hell because they are regarded as unbeliever of the favors. 

How can we be regarded as those who believe and do a good deed, who are loved by Allah and will go to heaven as a reward? There are many ways to be grateful and enjoy the bless of Allah on the earth so that we do not belong to those who make destruction on earth such as promoting a simple life, not being redundant. For instance, as long as we can use a public transportation, it is better not to use personal vehicles.

In addition, the government’s slogan to do 3R (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) is good to follow. Reduce means to reduce consumption, which surely affect on the decrease of the trash quantity. While reuse means to reuse what we have already used, such as ex-shopping plastic bags can be used to wrap our clothes or our luggage, and then we use again to take out the trash. So even though the use of plastic bags is not good considering the effect on nature and takes a hundred years to destroy in the ground, at least one plastic bag can be used for three times usage. And the last, recycle means reuse goods that are already used to make other objects. For example, water bottles can be recycled into packing for non-food products such as shampoo, detergent, etc. or recycled to be a bucket. 

So both men and women, they can be friendly to the environment such as by sorting household trash: dry and wet trash. For wet trash, it is better to throw it in the hole that we make around the house so then it can be very useful to be used as compost for plants’ fertilizer, while the dry trash can be classified again into recycled and non-recycled trash. All these activities seem trivial, yet if it is done by women or men in the house, it will become a part of lifestyle that can easily be emulated by children, future generations, and be very useful both for maintanance and environment rescue around us. Certainly, we should also turn off the electricity and close water tap when it is not used. Let’s think big, start small and act now to save the environment because Allah loves those who commit a good deed. Allah knows best. {}

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