KHAN MAMOON AHMED, QADIAN
Today the world is going through turbulent times. In the past few decades, many countries have been severely hit by natural disasters and untimely calamities. Dreadful earthquakes, tsunamis, floods and droughts have become common issues of the present world. Drastic fluctuations in temperature and dramatic changes in the weather cycle, where we experience huge rainfall in the winters and cold and chill weather during the summers, warn the world of a big trouble.
Global warming is regarded as one of the most serious environmental problems of our time. Many conferences have been held by experts and many articles have been published about the dire consequences of this issue. What experts say is that the rise in temperature is caused by the accumulation of gases in the atmosphere which is a direct result of toxic materials emitted from factories, power stations and automobiles. This has led to a rise in air temperature and ocean temperature, which threatens to melt the icecaps and glaciers in the northern and southern hemispheres. If these icecaps and glaciers in the two poles of our planet are to melt, it would cause a dramatic flooding of land and is expected to change the features of some countries completely and severely affect the climate of vast areas on earth.
Although there are many natural and non-human causes for the climate change, they do not in any way rule out the anthropogenic factors. Some scientists however argue that it is nature and not human activity that rules the climate. For them, natural causes such as the pattern of the earth’s rotation around the sun, volcanic explosions etc. are the only reasons responsible for this issue. Responding to a question from a Khadim (young member of the community), Hadrat Khalifatul Masih the Vth said,
Climate change is a natural process which occurs, but man’s actions have worked as a fan, speeding up the process.
Moreover, hundreds of researches conducted on this subject show that human activity is a dominating factor for today’s drastic climate change.
Man’s disrupting the natural balance of forests is a primary contributor to climate change. It has led to various problems which have affected him as well as other creatures on earth. Soil erosion, significant humus loss, temperature fluctuation, increased storm intensity, drought and increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere can all be resulted from deforestation. Moreover, the overuse of wood and the destroying of pasturelands can also eradicate magnitudes of earth’s vegetation. All of these factors play a vital role in increasing the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and raising the earth’s absorption of sunlight resulting in a drastic increase in temperature.
Furthermore, jeopardizing the Ozone Layer also contributes to dramatic climate changes. The exhausts of planes flying in high altitudes, gases and fumes expelled from nitrogenous fertilizers and atmospheric pollution from factories damage this protective layer above us.
In addition, the overexploitation of energy and careless and excessive consumption of natural resources are also adversely affecting the environment. The overuse of non-renewable resources such as oil, coal and natural gas leads to a continuous increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which, in turn, raises the temperature. Mass migration towards urban regions and concentration of populations to a limited area also affects the balanced usage of natural resources such as water, oil, fuel, sea etc. This can create a marked disturbance in the existing natural balance.
All of the above mentioned anthropogenic factors are causing alteration of climate on a global scale, destroying dense forests, reducing agricultural output and killing and endangering many species. There is no doubt that our approach towards our environment is extremely dangerous. It is a disaster waiting to happen; rather it has already started manifesting its horrific results. There are many instances in human history when we have wounded our mother earth being blind in our quest of extravagance and efforts to feed our greed.
Foreseeing the situation which was likely to prevail in the future, Islam had admonished its believers to play their vital role in protecting the earth. The Holy Prophetsa of Islam instructed his followers saying,
The Earth is beautiful and verdant, and verily God, the Exalted, has appointed you His stewards in it and He sees how you acquit yourselves.
It is clear from the above narration that the role of human beings, particularly Muslims, in this world, is that of caretakers. Apart from the instinctive and natural love a person feels for nature, preserving our environment is the religious obligation of a Muslim which he is bound to fulfill at all costs. How then is it possible for us to disregard this responsibility which God Himself has entrusted upon us? We should follow the example of the Holy Prophetsa who was a conservationist. On one occasion, upon seeing one of his companions performing ablution, Prophetsa cautioned him against wastage of water and instructed him to use only that much water which is required. The companion was astounded and asked if ablution, which normally requires a very small amount of water, can cause wastage. The Prophetsa replied:
Yes. (You should not waste water) Even if you were at a running stream.
Hence, the availability of a resource in excess does not mean that you are permitted to overexploit it. As Muslims, we have to act upon this golden principle and set example for others. Do not take long showers; do not brush your teeth with the faucets running. We should always remember that there is limited amount of resources on this earth. As believers, we have a responsibility to preserve our planet. We can no longer play a passive role in the fight against climate change.
The current situation may be a repercussion of the atrocities we have committed against the nature. However, the pandemic has given us great environmental advantages: cleaner air, lower emission of poisonous gases into the atmosphere and lesser pollution. Hence, even now, if we restrain ourselves from all these heinous acts and understand the natural phenomena, we will still be able to save the world.
 Sahih Muslim
 Sunan Ibn Maja Kitab al Tahara