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NASFAT FRIDAY WEEKLY SERMON FOR SHAWWAL 4, 1440 (JUNE 7, 2019)

TOPIC: ISLAMIC VIEW ON THE PROTECTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT

Audhu billah minash shaytanir rajeem Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem. Alhamdu lil laahi Rabbil aalameen. Was salatu was salamu ala nabiyyillah Muhammad al Mab’uthi rahmatan lil aalameen

One of the pointers to the uniqueness of the Qur’an is the reference to the things in our environment. Allah linked us with the sky, moon, sun, earth, etc. This shows the comprehensive nature of what Islam is all about, a religion that leaves no aspect of the human life untouched.

“By the sun and his splendor. By the moon as it follows him. By the day as it shows up (the sun’s) glory. By the night as it conceals it. By the firmament and its structure. By the earth and its expanse.”(Ash-Shams: verses 1-6)

“By the night as it conceals (the light). By the day as it appears in glory. By the creation of male and female. “(Al-Lail: verses 1-3)

“I call to witness the siting of the stars. And that is indeed a mighty adjuration if you but-knew, That this is indeed a Quran most honorable. “(Al-Waqi`ah: verse 75-77)

Such verses show the comprehensiveness of the teachings of Islam.

Every June 5 is the United Nations World Environment Day and given the importance Islam attach to the environment, it would be instructive for us to use our minbar this Friday to discuss the issue of the Environment.

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines an environment as the air, water, and land in or on which people, animals, and plants live.

Environmental pollution is one of the most serious problems facing humanity and other life forms on our planet today and it is defined as “the contamination of the physical and biological components of the earth/atmosphere system to such an extent that normal environmental processes are adversely affected.” Pollutants can be naturally occurring substances or energies, but they are considered contaminants when in excess of natural levels. Any use of natural resources at a rate higher than nature’s capacity to restore itself can result in pollution of air, water, and land.

There are different types of pollution and these include: Noise, Water, Soil and Air, The theme of this year’s World Environment Day is Air Pollution and our sermon will be focused on it.

Air pollution is a mixture of natural and man-made substances in the air we breathe. It is typically separated into two categories: outdoor air pollution and indoor air pollution.

Statistics show that: 92 per cent of people worldwide do not breathe clean air;

Air pollution costs the global economy $5 trillion every year in welfare costs;

Ground-level ozone pollution is expected to reduce staple crop yields by 26 per cent by 2030.

Furthermore, approximately 7 million people worldwide die prematurely each year from air pollution. The World Environment Day 2019 is aimed at urging governments, industries, communities, and individuals to come together to explore renewable energy and green technologies, and improve air quality in cities and regions across the world. Muslims should not be left out in this campaign.

The Environmental Defense Fund says that: Air pollution is one of the world’s largest killers, responsible for 6.4 million deaths per year (1 in 9 deaths), of which 600,000 are children. This is more than the number of deaths from AIDS, Malaria and tuberculosis combined. The World Health Organization estimates that 2 billion children live in areas where outdoor air pollution exceeds international limits and 300 million children live in areas where outdoor air pollution exceeds 6 times international limits

More than 90% of the world’s children breathe toxic air every day
Every day around 93% of the world’s children under the age of 15 years (1.8 billion children) breathe air that i…

As regards the reduction of air pollution, the following tips given by the United States Environmental Protection Agency are very relevant:

· Conserve energy – at home, at work, everywhere.

· Look for the ENERGY STAR label when buying home or office equipment.

· Carpool, use public transportation, bike, or walk whenever possible.

· Follow gasoline refueling instructions for efficient vapor recovery, being careful not to spill fuel and always tightening your gas cap securely.

· Consider purchasing portable gasoline containers labeled “spill-proof,” where available.

· Keep car, boat, and other engines properly tuned.

· Be sure your tires are properly inflated.

· Use environmentally safe paints and cleaning products whenever possible.

· Mulch or compost leaves and yard waste.

· Consider using gas logs instead of wood.

God has created everything in this universe in due proportion and measure both quantitatively and qualitatively. God has declared in the Quran:“Verily, all things have We created by measure” (Quran 54:49); “…Everything to Him is measured.” (Quran 13:8); “And We have produced therein everything in balance.” (Quran 55:7)

In the universe there is enormous diversity and variety of form and function. The universe and its various elements fulfill human welfare and are evidence of the Creator’s greatness; He it is Who determines and ordains all things, and there is not a thing He has created but celebrates and declares His praise.“Have you not seen that God is glorified by all in the heavens and on the earth – such as the birds with wings outspread? Each knows its worship and glorification, and God is aware of what they do.” (Quran 24:41)

Each thing that God has created is a wondrous sign, full of meaning; pointing beyond itself to the glory and greatness of its Creator, His wisdom and His purposes for it. “He Who has spread out the earth for you and threaded roads for you therein and has sent down water from the sky: With it have We brought forth diverse kinds of vegetation. Eat and pasture your cattle; verily, in this are signs for men endued with understanding.” (Quran 20:53-54)

God has not created anything in this universe in vain, without wisdom, value and purpose. God says: “We have not created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them carelessly. We have not created them but for truth.” (Quran 44:38-39)

Thus, the Islamic vision revealed in the Quran is of a universe imbued with value. All things in the universe are created to serve the One Lord Who sustains them all by means of one another, and Who controls the miraculous cycles of life and death: “God it is that splits the seed and the date stone, brings the living from the dead and the dead from the living: That is your God – how are you turned away?” (Quran 6:95)

Life and death are created by God so that He might be served by means of good works. “Blessed is He in Whose Hand is dominion, and He has power over every thing: He Who has created death and life to try you, which of you work the most good.” (Quran 67:1-2)

Man is part of this universe, the elements of which are complementary to one another in an integrated whole indeed, man is a distinct part of the universe and it has a special position among its other parts. The relation between man and the universe, as defined and clarified in the Glorious Quran and the Prophetic teachings, is as follows:

· A relationship of meditation, consideration, and contemplation of the universe and what it contains.

· A relationship of sustainable utilization, development, and employment for man’s benefit and for the fulfillment of his interests.

· A relationship of care and nurture for man’s good works are not limited to the benefit of the human species, but rather extend to the benefit of all created beings; and “there is a reward in doing good to every living thing.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)

Therefore, man should not abuse, misuse, or distort the natural resources as each generation is entitled to benefit from them but is not entitled to “own” them in an absolute sense.

The right to utilize and harness natural resources, which God has granted man, necessarily involves an obligation on man’s part to conserve them both quantitatively and qualitatively. God has created all the sources of life for man and all resources of nature that he requires, so that he may realize objectives such as contemplation and worship, inhabitation and construction, sustainable utilization, and enjoyment and appreciation of beauty. It follows that man has no right to cause the degradation of the environment and distort its intrinsic suitability for human life and settlement. Nor has he the right to exploit or use natural resources unwisely in such a way as to spoil the food bases and other sources of subsistence for living beings, or expose them to destruction and defilement.

While the attitude of Islam to the environment, the sources of life, and the resources of nature is based in part on prohibition of abuse, it is also based on construction and sustainable development. This integration of the development and conservation of natural resources is clear in the idea of bringing life to the land and causing it to flourish through agriculture, cultivation, and construction. God says:

“…It is He Who has produced you from the earth and settled you therein…” (Quran 11:61)

The Prophet declared:

“If any Muslim plants a tree or sows a field, and a human, bird or animal eats from it, it shall be reckoned as charity from him.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim)

“If anyone plants a tree, neither human being nor any of God’s creatures will eat from it without its being reckoned as charity from him.”[1]

“If the day of resurrection comes upon anyone of you while he has a seedling in hand, let him plant it.”

We pray that Allah (SWT) will make it easy for us to fulfil our roles on this earth.

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