Every human being has a right to enjoy a clean and healthy environment. The most crucial aspect in the long-drawn fight against environmental pollution is environmental justice. Environmental justice is of great importance for marginalized, low-income and remote communities as such groups bear disproportionate burden of industrial pollution.
Traditionally, grassroot campaigns led by people of color and low-income groups have been the hallmarks of environmental justice movement around the world. Environmental justice has the potential to provide protection in the equitable distribution of environmental benefits to all sections of the society.
In the last few decades, the distribution of environmental benefits, such as green spaces, clean air, pollution abatement and clean water, has assumed greater significance for all city-dwellers. As a result, environmental justice has now transformed into a fundamental outcome of environmental regulations, including public access to environmental data, improvement in quality of life through equal access to environmental goods and, most importantly, conservation of natural resources for the coming generations.
Environmental justice is inherently embedded in Islamic teachings on environmental sustainability. Infact, a Muslim is a steward for all creations, and has a special responsibility towards environmental care. According to Shariah, the elements of nature, such as land, water, sunlight and forests, belong to all living things, not just homo sapiens. The mankind has been given the liberty to exploit natural resources on a guardianship basis with the promise that it will not be overexploited, damaged or destroyed.
Islamic principles on environmental justice highlights equitable distribution of environmental goods (air, water, biodiversity, forests etc.) among all communities and groups, irrespective of religion, race, social groups and region.
In Islam, each human being is a custodian of nature, and must live in harmony with other creatures. This implies that every Muslim must respect, nurture and care for the environment, and should desist from overconsumption of environmental goods and recklessly damaging the elements of nature, including forests, water bodies, soil and air.
Islam dislikes corruption of all kinds, including environmental corruption, such as industrial pollution, environmental damage and reckless use of natural resources. For Muslims, environmental justice is not only a religious duty but also a social obligation.
Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) gave high degree of importance towards environmental hygiene, sustainable cultivation of land, waste minimization, humane treatment of animals, preservation of forests and protection of wildlife. He discouraged overconsumption, lavishness and encouraged moderation in all walks of life.
To conclude, the concept of environmental justice is an integral part of Islamic beliefs. As environmental stewards of Planet Earth, we should use Allah’s Bounties in an equitable and sustainable manner to ensure its availability for the coming generations. We are custodians of all of Allah’s creation, including land, air, water, animals and trees, and bear full responsibility for its sustainable consumption and preservation.
The Holy Quran, Islamic law and Hadith emphasizes climate justice for everybody, and to build and maintain a healthy and clean environment which is free from all kinds of corruption, include human-induced environmental degradation.