This week marks the beginning of the blessed month of Ramadan, a month which has been identified as a time to gain taqwa – God-consciousness. This month invites Muslims to attain nearness to Allah (SWT).
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ ٱلصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ ١٨٣
O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may attain taqwa, Qu’ran, 2:183
However, Ramadan is more than the individual forms of worship. Ramadan embodies a sense of community. A time of gathering in the mosque; of sharing meals; of engaging in acts of kindness, compassion and empathy towards the creation of Allah (SWT). Ramadan is a time to embody acts that uphold the sacred trust and responsibility of khalifah towards the Earth. To consciously honour and uphold the dignity of every creation of this Earth, which Allah (SWT) has created.
وَهُوَ ٱلَّذِى جَعَلَكُمْ خَلَـٰٓئِفَ ٱلْأَرْضِ
And it is He who has made you successors upon the earth, Qur’an, 6:165
This week also, simultaneously marks the release of the new UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report which indicates that humanity has reached “a critical moment in history,” as per IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee. As UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has put it, the report presents an Acceleration Agenda and is a massive call to action by every nation and sector to act with a sense of immediacy and urgency, a moment for humanity to join efforts, and be part of the solution.
For Muslims, as we step into the blessed days of Ramadan, this report should be a call for us to pay special attention towards the Earth, and divine creation of Allah (SWT). How can we focus on attaining nearness to Allah (SWT), and ignore the suffering and damage that is happening to His Creation? Islam provides Muslims with a very unique framework for connecting with and upholding the well-being of the Earth. One that is connected to a divine connection to Allah (SWT).
Within the Qur’an itself, Allah (SWT) has explained that all of creation is united in a single bond of worship and glorification of the Lord.
تُسَبِّحُ لَهُ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتُ ٱلسَّبْعُ وَٱلْأَرْضُ وَمَن فِيهِنَّ ۚ وَإِن مِّن شَىْءٍ إِلَّا يُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِهِۦ وَلَـٰكِن لَّا تَفْقَهُونَ تَسْبِيحَهُمْ ۗ إِنَّهُۥ كَانَ حَلِيمًا غَفُورًۭا ٤٤
The seven heavens, the earth, and all those in them glorify Him. There is not a single thing that does not glorify His praises—but you ˹simply˺ cannot comprehend their glorification. He is indeed Most Forbearing, All-Forgiving., Qur’an, 17:44
The loss of species, the damage to the Earth is in fact a damage to the very entities that are engaged in worship and glorification of The Creator. We have to question, how do our actions become accomplices in the destruction of this sacred Earth? In the words of Guterres, “We have never been better equipped to solve the climate challenge, but we must move into warp speed climate action now. We don’t have a moment to lose.” So the question to ourselves as an ummah is, how did we react when this news reached us? How did Ramadan transform us inwardly, and how did we manifest this outwardly through our actions on this Earth?
Amidst the reality of the rapidly degrading state of the Earth through the climate change crisis, Muslims have also been equipped with a framework that enables us to act with a balance of hope and meaningful action, rather than despair of loss.
As found in the hadith:
Anas ibn Malik reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said,
“If the Final Hour comes while you have a shoot of a plant in your hands and it is possible to plant it before the Hour comes, you should plant it.”
For a Muslim, there is a sense of finding hope and grounding oneself in knowing that Allah (SWT) has knowledge over all things and is the Protector of all. Thus, acting with calm consistency and recognizing one’s individual responsibility to simply act without attachment to the outcome is the very act of building hope for a Muslim.
May this Ramadan be a time of attaining nearness to Allah (SWT) and meaningful action which embodies a commitment towards responding to the critical state of the Earth, InshaAllah.