The Conscientious, Halal Consumer
Biodegradable, fair-trade certified, environmentally friendly, organic, sustainable. Each time you open a magazine or switch the TV on, chances are you’ll be reminded that you too can save the planet. Your options range from switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs to buying a hybrid car. The Quran beckons us to be vigilant against mistreating the earth and the environment. We are vicegerents on the earth (2:30), and it is our responsibility to take care of it and not abuse it. “The true, absolute owner of the world’s riches is their creator and their bestower, God (To Whom be ascribed all Perfection and Majesty). He’s the one who has submitted (these riches), like the other forces and treasures of nature to the use of man, to use as creatures made by God, rather than as expendable slaves to be heartlessly exploited,” writes Dr. Mohammad Ammara, in his paper titled, “The Vicegerency of Man”.
The Quran (25:63) also describes believing men and women as those who “walk on the Earth in humility”. Scholars have interpreted this verse, and others like it, to mean that Muslims are to protect nature’s many bounties given to them by the Almighty. Being environmentally conscious is therefore a commandment from God. There are more than 700 verses in the Quran that exhort believers to reflect on nature. The Quran (32:4) clearly states that “It is Allah Who has created the heavens and the earth and all between them”. So it behooves Muslims to show their love of God by looking after His creatures and the world around them. Further, when mentioning all the creatures on the earth, the Quran (21:20) says, “They celebrate His praises night and day, nor do they ever flag or intermit”. It’s not humans alone who are capable of prayer and worthy of God’s care. When thinking of the environment, the trees, the birds and the fish in the sea, we need to remember that these creations too worship God Almighty. As British writer Idris Tawfiq asks, “if we really believe that it is God’s earth, then how could we not be in favor of looking after it? How could we waste water or use things that harm the soil? If, instead of using the term “environment,” we think about the glorious “creation” of Almighty God, it makes so much sense that Muslims should be the ones who guard that creation with the greatest care.”
If you’re already recycling, you switch lights off when you leave the room, or turn the tap off as you brush your teeth and are driving less than you used to, it is time to go a step further. Buy fair trade coffee, chocolate, decor (www.tenthousandvillages.com) and even clothing (www.globalgirlfriend.com). For your laundry, choose bio-degradable, natural, fragrance-free, smaller size bottles of concentrated detergent. New condensed formulas are more eco-friendly, require less packaging, less plastic, less water, less gas to ship. When cleaning, use products labeled 100 percent biodegradable that are free of chlorine, antimicrobials, phosphate, dyes or artificial fragrances. Save trees by opting out of catalogs with a service that keeps you off mailing lists (www.greendimes.com). For more ideas, check out http://www.ecocycle.org/junkmail/index.cfm. Finally, if you’re building a new home or remodeling, The Chicago Green Home Remodeling Series (www.cityofchicago.org) has great “green” advice!
Mohammad Ammara, The Vicegerency of Man, 13 Islam TODAY 59, 62 (1995). “Caring for the Earth: It Belongs to Allah” www.Islamonline.net
Quran Translation by Yusuf Ali