Ecological living is about protecting and preserving the environment of planet Earth, through recognizing the uniqueness of its various eco-systems and species. Every individual habitat supports all manner of life. Awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgement and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only we can hear the language of other beings as we can understand the generosity of the earth and learning to give our own gifts in return.
Earth was given as a gift for humanity and the human being was created and established on this earth as vicegerent. My heart pains to see that earth has become a commodity, land or real estate, or capital of natural resources, in today’s material world. What we are witnessing in our world is the failure of humanity to maintain the balance.
The Holy Quran declares:
“Corruption has appeared on the land and in the sea because of what the hands of humans have earned” (Ar-Room 30:41).
The Essence of Interdependence
Interdependence is a fundamental feature of all living creatures. This universal law or sunnah gives meaning to life as all living things are, in essence, a synthesis of relationships with all other living things. Life in the absence of such communities is void of meaning and in all cases impossible. Islam nurtures and regulates the intricate web of relations that life depends on for the general welfare of all.
The ultimate accountability of every being or nafs is closely associated with its role, behavior and contribution to the preservation and advancement of these relations. As creatures endowed with choice, the Quran exhorts us to recognize that all creatures form communities similar to ours so that our regard for communal relations is not limited to the human realm.
Protecting the environment must include an appreciation of the relationships within and among communities of other living creatures and the dependence of human welfare on understanding this universal law.
And there is no treading creature in the earth or a flying creature that flies with its wings except that form communities like yours; We have not overlooked anything in the Book, then to their Lord shall they be gathered (Al-Anaam 6:38)
The Importance and Value of Creation
The Quran is comprehensive and its teachings draw our attention to the importance and value of all creation. In this verse we are clearly reminded that the earth was established for all living things, not just humans. Humans are situated among a magnificent web of life, elevated but not necessarily at the top. Other creation is valuable in and of itself in the divine scheme; not in relation to human needs but as communities that know and worship their Creator.
The earth is a repose for all of us, human and non-human. Our ability to benefit from animals in various ways does not negate their intrinsic value in the divine scheme. The Quran urges us to recognize the rights of other creation thereby respecting and preserving the balance that enables all of creation to live in peace and plenty.
The theme of balance in the Quran is critical for the establishment of mercy, equity, justice, beauty, and all other values that are necessarily impacted by the prevalence of balance. Balance must therefore be understood both literally and figuratively.
People are exhorted to explore, understand and respect the qualitative and quantitative measures that give balance to all forms of life with its communal character and inseparability from nature. They are also commanded to be equitable in weighing, as a balance compares the mass of two or more different elements. Diminishing the value of any element upsets the natural balance, which in turn has negative consequences, not only for the perpetrator of such an injustice, but more broadly for the balance that sustains all of our lives.
That you not transgress the Balance. And establish measure with equity and do not negatively alter the Balance (Ar-Rahman 55:8-9)
The Earth Demands Respect and Nourishment
The Quran exhorts people not to corrupt the earth. It is notable that in the Arabic language there is no “it”; everything has a form which is either masculine or feminine. The earth is a “she” – a feminine form. This linguistic device not only maintains the autonomous character of all creation, it infuses each element no matter how minute or massive with a spiritual and sacred dimension. The earth is not an “it”, she is Allah’s creation, beautiful, decorated, autonomous, yielding only to Allah’s command.
We are commanded to take care of her, to respect her and to protect her from vice and destruction. But with our limited knowledge and shortsightedness, we can only turn to Allah in fear and hope; our fear that we are not adequately fulfilling this trust or demonstrating our worth as inhabitants on her lands and consumers of her riches; our hope that Allah will guide and forgive us and that He will preserve her for us and for generations to come. He is the Merciful.
The Way Forward
Having created us, and then through the institution of religion oriented us towards Him, our Creator then situated us in a delicate, intricate system where our success, and indeed the perpetuation of that system, rests in maintaining a balance between all things.
Do not disrupt the balance of Nature holding the Earth together. Do not be wasteful and excessive in enjoying its bounties. Always consider and accommodate the other creatures we share this home with. Finally, always, and forever shower praise upon the owner who so graciously allows us to enjoy it, while thanking Him profusely for His generosity.
Note: This article has been written from the excerpts of my book Our Earth: Embracing All Communities which is a humble effort to amplify awareness of the imbalance that humans have created in nature, and to encourage people to care for the Earth and live in harmony with other living things.
Visit http:s//www.salmaarastu.com/ to know more about my book and my artistic journey.