Biodiversity in Islam
"The absolute destruction of any species of animals or plant by man cannot be justified; nor should any be harvested at a rate in excess of its natural regeneration."
- Environmental Protection in Islam (part 5 of 7)
lslam is the second largest religion often termed as Deen-e-Abrahami (Religion of Abraham) started by Prophet Mohammed in 6th century AD. Arabic word “slam” wear peace & submission. To live peacefully and progressively, the mankind needs healthy environment with ample natural resources. Islamic teachings and philosophy are intricately close to the concept of biodiversity conservation. There is no denying the importance of plants and animals as living resources of enormous bene t, without which neither man nor other species could survive. God has not made any of His creatures worthless: every single form of life is special and intricate and each warrants special respect. Every form of life is genetic resource, each species and variety is unique and irreplaceable - once lost, is lost for ever.
It has repeatedly been mentioned in Holy Quran through various versus to maintain the balance of nature. It has also warned time and again not to be wasteful to maintain peace and harmony with all other creations. Protection, preservation and compassion for God’s creation other than the human beings can be regarded as “Haqqual Makhloof” (rights of animals/Plants etc) which is the third most important obligation in Islamic doctrine after “Haqqual-Allah” (rights of God) and “Haqqual-Ibad” (rights of humans). There is hardly any chapter of Islamic “Fiqa, Ijima or Qiyas” (by-laws) that does not deal with animals and their habitat.
By virtue of their unique function of producing food from the energy of the sun, plants constitute the basic source of sustenance for animal and human life on earth. Planting trees and cultivating land instead of leaving it barren and unfruitful is an integral part of Islam. The Prophet Mohammad told his followers that they would be rewarded by God for taking care of the earth. God has said:
“Then let man consider his nourishment: that We pour down the rain in showers, and We split the earth in fragments, and therein make the grain to grow, and vines and herbs, and olives and palms, and gardens of dense foliage, and fruits and fodder - provision for you and your cattle.” (Quran 80:24-32)
Islam has urged humanity to be kind to nature and not to abuse the trust that has been placed on the shoulders of man. In fact, to be kind to animals is an integral part of Islam for Muslims. In addition to their importance as nourishment, plants enrich the soil and protect it from erosion by wind and water. They also conserve water by detaining its runo ; moderate the climate and produce oxygen which we breathe. They are also of immense value as medicines, oils, perfumes, waxes, bers, timber, and fuel. God has said in the Glorious Quran:
“Have you seen the re you kindle? Was it you who grew its timber or did We grow it? We have made it a reminder, and a comfort for the desert dwellers.” (Quran 56:71-73)
Animals in turn provide sustenance for plants, for one another, and for man. Their dung and their bodies enrich the soil and the seas. They contribute to the atmosphere by respiration and by their movements and migrations contribute to the distribution of plants. They provide food for one another
and provide mankind with leather, hair and wool, medicines and perfumes, and means of conveyance, as well as meat, milk, and honey. And for their highly developed senses and perceptions and their social interrelationships, animals are accorded special regard in Islam. For God considers them living societies exactly like mankind. God has declared in the Glorious Quran:
“There is not an animal on the earth or any being that wings its ight, but are a people like unto you...” (Quran 6:38)
The Glorious Quran mentions the aesthetic functions of these creatures as objects of beauty in addition to their other functions. God has made in plants and animals that which excites wonder and joy in man’s soul. It also mentions other functions which these creatures perform and which man may not perceive. God has said, “Do you not see that to God bow down in worship all things that are in the heavens and on the earth - the sun, the moon, the stars, the mountains, the trees, the animals...” (Quran 22:18)
According to Muslim belief, the earth is a sanctuary in which mankind was made to dwell in comfort. The vast oceans, forests, and mountains that make up the bountiful planet have been subdued by God for our enjoyment and productive use. Further, God compels Muslims in the Qur’an to respect and revere the environment when he says, “Greater indeed than the creation of man is the creation of the heavens and the earth (40 : 57)
Islam emphasizes all measures for the survival and perpetuation of these creatures so that they can fully perform the functions assigned to them. Love for nature and its conservation has been strongly backed in teachings of many Islamic Su s, poets and philosophers. The absolute destruction of any species of animals or plant by man cannot be justi ed; nor should any be harvested at a rate in excess of its natural regeneration. This applies to hunting and shing, forestry and wood-cutting for timber and fuel, grazing, and all other utilization of resources. It is imperative that the genetic diversity of living beings be preserved - both for their own sake and for the good of mankind and all other creatures as is re ected in the following lines of Qur’an (31 : 10)
He created the heavens without any pillars that you can see;
He sat on the earth- mountains standing rm lest it should shake with you He scattered through it beasts of all kinds, we send down rain from the sky And produce on earth every kind of creature, in pairs.