Environmental education in the Quran – Kashmir Reader


The study of the Koran clearly shows that it is the duty of man to respect the environment, and also to understand that all the components of the universe fulfill their role as man does.

As argued and demonstrated in other columns of this series, the Quran is the word of Allah Almighty, whose sole purpose is the building of a human being who is in harmony with the commandments of the Lord and of course , with the whole universe. The Qur’an preaches peace, stability, harmony, kindness, kindness and beauty in the literal and metaphorical sense; in other words, the Quran teaches “ihsan” (beauty) and develops it through an education system which includes: 1) nourishment of soul and spirit through various daily obligatory actions and prayers; 2) nurture human conduct and behavior through a codal procedure that prevents human actions from crossing certain borders; 3) the development of a vision of the world which teaches the concern for the rights and duties vis-à-vis other human beings and other living organisms; and 4) initiation into a beautiful path of life where the soul is in total submission to Allah.
By putting man (and woman) on the path of discovering the purpose of life, Allah instructs, guides and teaches through different internal and external sources: Books, Prophets, Consciousness, Natural phenomenon, etc. In today’s column, I will invoke certain ayats from the Quran who teach and guide humans to the right path in all aspects of life, including in relation to the natural environment. In these ayats, Allah invokes natural objects and phenomena and demonstrates through them the essence and fundamental meaning of human life, which humans willfully or unwittingly ignore most of the time.
As every student of the Quran is well aware, the Quranic text has two types of chapters: Makkan and Madani. The chapters / ayats of Makkan were revealed to Prophet Mohammad (SAW) when he was in Mecca. Most of Makkan’s chapters are reflective and contemplative in nature. The method of teaching, remembering, recalling and instructing in most of these chapters / ayats is both deductive and inductive. The contemplative and reflective nature of these chapters / ayats, therefore, seeks the attention of readers / target audience towards the internal and external phenomena of human life / universe, hence the patterns of invoking nature over and over again with reference to themes of tawheed, the messenger or the afterlife.
The invocation of nature for teaching and instruction in the Meccan chapters may be based on the reason that while the ayats were being revealed over the Prophet, the Arabs as a whole lived in deserts. In desert areas, people are generally reflective and contemplative; the reason being that the people of the desert would look at the stars without the intervention of the spotlights of the towns and villages; they would travel in the deserts by letting themselves be guided by the road from the starry sky; the same would happen when they set out on a voyage in the oceans; therefore, such adventures in deserts and oceans would make them reflexive and contemplative. Allah, when he began to reveal the Quran on Mohammad (SAW) in the cave of Hira in Mecca, chose the same style of reflective and contemplative address. In addition, the Meccans at this time were known for their poetry and mastery of the language; therefore, Allah chose the same poetically powerful language and style to free them from the clutches of the slavery of false gods and from the desires and lusts of their own making. Therefore, there is a different style of language and address in the Mecca Ayat set.
Needless to say, all of these ayats, like other parts of the Quran, are geared towards education, emancipation, and uplifting of the human soul by addressing issues that derive their significance from the world of nature and its phenomena. There are, according to one estimate, around 750 ayat in the Quran where nature in its various aspects has been invoked by God to convey one or the other message to mankind.
After studying the Holy Quran, what we can conclude is that it builds a holistic approach to education on the basis of three very important principles: The Principle of Unity, The Principle of Balance and The Principle of Responsibility. All of these principles aim to develop moderation in human conduct and behavior, within and among themselves and with other forms of life under the sun.
What the Unity Principle shows is that “nature is a whole, complete and complex system, the components of which support and protect each other. If one of the components is affected, it disrupts the order and the formal function of the whole system of nature ”, argue Valentina-Mariana Manouiu, Madani Azzezddine and Ertan Duzgunes in their article“ Education for environment in the Koran ”(2016). They further contend that “the billions of galaxies in the universe, the billions of creatures on Earth, everything that has ever been created, from the smallest particle of the atom to the largest of galaxies, they are all a part. of a perfectly created system where all the elements are interdependent, influence each other in a positive or negative way. Each being has its predestined function, which must remain intact and respected…. The Universe exists in perfect balance and proportion, both qualitatively and quantitatively ”.
In this regard, the following ayats of the Qur’an serve as guiding principles and beacons of light. Allah says: “Eat and drink from the food provided by Allah, and do not act wickedly on earth, sowing evil” (2: 60); in another place it is said: “And to Midyan we sent their brother Shoaib who exhorted them: O my people! Serve Allah, you have no other deity than Him. Indeed, clear proof has come to you from your Lord. Therefore just give weight and measure, and do not diminish men’s affairs and do no harm on the earth after it has been put in order ”(7:85); at another place in the Qur’an, Allah says: “And know that we did not create the heavens, the earth and all that is in them for sport” (21:16); and, He said, “Believe in Allah and His Messenger and spend what He has entrusted to you …” (57: 7).
The study of the Koran clearly shows that it is the duty of man to respect the environment, and also to understand that all the components of the universe fulfill their role as man does. Man, according to the Qur’an, must act as a wise user of all things and must also play the role of a protector; otherwise, his actions would lead to imbalance and disaster on earth. Allah has, in fact, time and again shown and spoken of the balance with which all natural objects in the universe perform their functions; there are dozens of ayats that show natural objects as witnesses to Allah’s creative power and the balanced and systematic way of dealing with the universe. It is for this purpose that Allah says: “The Sun is witness and the way in which it swallows up the world with light” and many other ayats in this category.
Man is not the master of the material and immaterial resources present in the world, he is supposed to use the materials available on earth in a responsible manner and with respect for the principle of balance, simply because his Creator and the ultimate Master of these resources command it. It would be in accordance with the Koranic teachings to affirm that the man does not live in the world but rather lives with the world. There are ayats who ask man to be righteous, compassionate, and not to be a transgressor, oppressor, or agent of lawlessness. Such ayats are applicable to the socio-economic and political aspects of human life and also applicable to the conservation / preservation of the environment and its responsible use.
It will not be out of place to recall once again that the Koran is a book whose sole purpose is the education and emancipation of the human soul. The moment one begins to read the Quran from this point of view, each ayat becomes light, guide and source of liberation. As the Qur’an calls man Allah’s deputy on earth, this status demands more responsible conduct and behavior on the part of man, not only among other human beings, but also with other organisms. living. The deputy ruler of Allah cannot act as a colonizer of human beings and other life forms as has been the trend with the huge scientific developments and inventions. Man as the deputy manager of Allah should behave with the whole environment with compassion and moderation, which the Qur’an emphasizes again and again in different contexts and situations.
As references to natural objects and phenomena abound in the Quran, this simply indicates that the Quran sees life in its various forms as a whole and demands from man a responsible and compassionate attitude towards all things. Allah says to man, “wa la tuksirul mizan” which means “do not disturb the principle of balance”. He further instructs “wa waza’l mizan”, which means “He has put the system of balance in him. In the upcoming column, an attempt will be made to talk about the specifics of the Koranic approach to nature and the environment.

To conclude …

Note: This article is a summary of an article titled “Quran: An Ecocritical Reading” that this author presented at a three-day international seminar organized by the Department of English at the University of Kashmir in 2018 on literature and environmental studies.

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