Will you please give information about the duties of man regarding the environment?

Details of the Question

Will you please give information about the duties of man regarding the environment?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Man has certain duties regarding the environment.

The precautions and applications of the Prophet regarding the environment

After mentioning the Islamic understanding of the environment, it will be useful to mention some actual precautions in the sunnah of the Prophet regarding the protection of the environment.   

1- Precautions related to the immediate environment: When we say the immediate environment, we can understand the trio of the body, clothes and dwelling. For, man is spirit in essence. His body is his closest environment and wrapping. His personality becomes integrated with his immediate environment. The acceptance of the prayer he performs depends on the cleanliness of his immediate environment; his body and clothes have to be materially and spiritually clean like the place where he performs prayers.    

Then, the cleanliness of the immediate environment is essential and it is a necessity of belief. Those who have a real and accepted belief have to represent such an understanding. Therefore, the hadith "Cleanliness is a part of faith/belief" expresses a lofty truth and it becomes realized with the cleanliness of the immediate environment.

Hz. Prophet stated that angels would not enter a place where stink and especially the stink of urine existed (1), expressing the importance of the cleanliness of the immediate environment: "Purify yourselves of urine because the torture in the grave is due to urine." (2) Because of impurities, (3) it is forbidden to perform prayers on garbage dump, in slaughterhouses, public baths, etc. (4) The statement that angels would not enter a house where there was urine for a long time (5) and that one should not urinate where he took a bath (6) are precautions related to the cleanliness of the immediate environment.

There is a warning from the Prophet about the cleanliness of the yard, which is regarded as the extension of a house, and the empty area around the house and keeping them clean, without accumulating garbage there: “Allah is clean and elegant; He likes purity and cleanliness. He is openhanded and generous. He likes generosity. Then, keep your yards and open areas clean. Do not resemble Jews. They keep their garbage at home.” (7)

2- The cleanliness of the distant environment: We can remind you the warning of the Prophet about picnic places regarding the issue. He warned people many times not to dirty the places where people rest, pass by or wait. Once he said, "Beware of being one of those who were cursed." His Companions asked, "O Messenger of Allah! Who are they?" He said, "Those who urinate where people pass by and rest." (8)

In some narrations, it was forbidden to urinate under fruit trees. (9) The scholars who explained the hadith said, “What is meant by the places that are forbidden to dirty are not only the places under the trees, but any shade where people can sit in order to rest even if it is the shade of a rock.” (10) Besides, to interpret dirtying as urinating or emptying the bowels would be to narrow down the meaning of the hadith. Today, tin cans, plastic and glass bottles, food wastes and other things that disturb people should be included in this prohibition.

We can include the countryside and roads in the distant environment. The Prophet described removing things that disturb people from the roads as "a part of belief/faith". (11) The Prophet gave a man who cut off a tree branch that disturbed passers-by as an example of those who deserve Paradise. (12) He also said the following: “All of the good and bad deeds of my ummah were shown to me. I saw removing something that disturbs people from the road among good deeds. I saw saliva spat on the road among bad deeds.” (13) ”Those who disturb Muslims on the road are cursed by them.” (14)

Similarly, the prohibition of urinating in the holes of wild animals and insects in the countryside and near the roads (15) can also be mentioned among the precautions of protecting the environment. “For, roads are passes for animals and shelters for snakes and others.” (16)

There are more narrations regarding the issue; we have mentioned some of them. (17)

3- Protection of Waters: Hz. Prophet took measures to protect water and gave instructions to protect the cleanliness of water. The issue of water is dealt with in separate chapters in fiqh books in detail. We will mention the interest of the Prophet in the issue here; we will not go into particulars:

1- In many narrations, the Prophet prohibited emptying the bowels in water resources (18), and next to rivers and streams (19).
2- In a narration reported by Hz. Jabir, the Prophet also prohibited urinating in rivers and streams. (20)
3- Urinating in still waters is also among the prohibitions. Some narrations include the phrase ”to be used” (21) but others prohibit urinating in still waters directly without mentioning that phrase. (22)
4- Hz. Prophet took care of water wells too; he introduced some principles to protect them from pollution. He introduced the prohibition of not building anything in an area of fifty ziras in diameter (one zira is about 64 cm) around old water wells and twenty-five ziras around new water wells. (23). He also ordered that animal pens and sheds be at least forty ziras away from water wells. (24)
Those precautions were taken against the pollutants of that period. Today, the precautions need to be taken against the pollutants of this age based on the figures introduced by scientists.

4- Encouraging to plant trees: One of the best factors that protect the soil and water is trees. Therefore, the Prophet gave great importance to planting trees: “Even if you know that Doomsday will struck tomorrow, plant the sapling you have.” (25) The order of the hadith above becomes more significant when the following hadith is read: “If any Muslim plants any plant and a human being or an animal eats the fruit of it, he will be rewarded as if he had given that much in charity. Anything benefitted from it will be sadaqah for him." (26 (27) A person may make use of a tree by using its wood, leaves and shade. This benefitting may be "by any creature of Allah" (28) (a person who buys it, a thief, a dealer or a traveler, a wild or domestic animal). Then, all of them are regarded as charity (sadaqah) for the person who planted it and it will be regarded as a continuous charity for that person as long as that tree lives.

The Messenger of Allah planted 500 dates in order to pay an important debt, setting an example and an actual sunnah full of grace and bounties to his ummah. (29) Those who think of only limited things like beard, mustache, turban and misvak when sunnah is mentioned should take lessons from it.

5- Establishing a forest: The Prophet set an example through a forest, too. A narration by Balazuri is as follows: Ibnu Juduba and Abu Mansur narrate: While returning from the Expedition of Zuqard, the people of Banu Haritha said near the place called Zuraybut-Tawil: “O Messenger of Allah! This place is where our camels graze and women go for a picnic.” They meant the place of al-Ghaba with those words. Thereupon, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said,
— Anyone who cuts down a tree from this place should plant a new tree in return for it. Thereupon, trees were planted and a forest was established there.”(30)

As it is seen, an old wood was transformed into a forest thanks to the care and interest of the Messenger of Allah and he imposed a rule: “To permit cutting down a tree from the forest if a new tree is planted”

6- Establishing a green belt: We see that the Prophet also established a green belt. That is, he declared an area of 36 kilometers in diameter around Madinah as a protected area and prohibited hunting, cutting down trees and weeding there. There are several narrations regarding the issue. According to the narration from Hz. Anas, while returning from Khaybar, the Prophet pointed to the city when they approached Madinah and said, “O Lord! I rendered Madinah haram (forbidden) just like Hz. Ibrahim rendered Makkah haram. The part of it between two rocky places is haram; the trees cannot be cut down; the animals cannot be hunted; the weeds cannot be picked and the leaves cannot be shaken off the trees there. (31)

This precaution is the first example of the application called the green belt, which was set up in the modern age. However, it is not the first application. As the Messenger of Allah puts it, the first application was carried out by Hz. Ibrahim when he rendered the area around Makkah haram.

The Prophet imposed some rules to check this prohibition. If a person violates this prohibition, his tools like scythe, axe, rope etc will be confiscated, his clothes will be taken off and he will be beaten. (32)

Hz. Umar appointed a ward to protect this area. (33)

The Messenger of Allah stated the following in order to settle this prohibition in the minds of people: “Madinah is a haram area between Mount Air and Thawr. May the curse of Allah, angels and all people be on a person who commits a haram deed there or protects a person who commits a haram deed there! May Allah not accept his repentance, fidyah, fards nafilahs of that person!” (34)

Hz. Prophet marked the forbidden area by appointing special people. (35)
He also gave permission to some tribes like Taif, Tay and Banu Juraysh who wanted to establish haram areas like that in other cities. (36)

1) Muslim, Masajid 72.
2) Mundhiri, Targhib 1, 139; Haythami, Majmauz-Zawaid 1,207.
3) Sindi, Hashiya Ala Suna-i Ibni Majah 1, 252.
4) Ibn Majah, Masajid 4.
5) Haythami ibid. 1, 104.
6) Ibn Majah, Taharah 12, Abu Dawud, Taharah 15.
7) See Ibnu Qayyim, at-Tibbun-Nabawi, p. 216.
8) Muslim, Taharah 68.
9) Haythami, ibid. 1, 204.
10) Azimabadi, Awnul-Mabud 1, 48; Sindi, Hashiya Ala Ibni Majah 1, 138-139.
11) Muslim, Iman 58; Bukhari, Hiba 35; Abu Dawud, Adab 160; Tirmidhi, Iman 6.
12) Muslim, Birr 128-130; Ibn Majah, Adab 7.
13) Ibn Majah, Adab 7.
14)Haythami, ibid. 1.
15) Ibnu Maja, Taharah 21; Usdul-Ghaba 5, 227.
16) Shafii, al-Umm 4, 258-259; Jamius-Saghir 6, 182.
17) For details, see the book called Çevre Ahlakı. p. 109-124.
18) Abu Dawud, Taharah 14; Ibn Majah, Taharah 21.
19) Haythami, ibid. 1, 204.
20) ibid, the same page.
21) Muslim, Taharah 94, 95, 96; Bukhari, Wudu 71.
22) Usdul-Ghaba 1, 422.
23) Hakim, Mustadrak 4, 97-98.
24) Ibn Majah, Ruhun 22; Ahmad, Musnad 2, 494.
25) Buhari, al-Adabul-Mufrad p. 168, Haythami, ibid. 4,, 63. Munawi, Faydul-Qadir 3, 30.
26) Muslim, Musakat 10, Bukhari, Adab 27.
27) Muslim, Musakat 7, 8.
28) al-Muttaqi, Kanzul-Ummal, 3, 896.
29) Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Musnad 5, 354, 440.
30) Balazuri, ibid. 1, 17.
31) Abu Dawud, Manasik 96. 32) ibid, the same page.
33) Balazuri, ibid. 1, 15.
34) For details, see the book called Çevre Ahlakı. p. 72-80.
35) Samhudi, ibid. 1, 97.
36) For details, see the book called Çevre Ahlakı. p. 78-80.

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