Reverent Attitude Towards nature as a Creation of God

Hadits feeding animalsThe Indians called the white settlers, “the long knives” on account of their notorious reputation for cutting down trees and whole forests. In many parts of the old World, the same land which has been continuously cultivated by farmers for thousands of years is still fertile today but when the white colonists settled in America, the virgin soil was so badly abused that within less than a decade, it would become sterile, the pioneer would simply abandon it without any regrets and move on. In constrast, the primitive man, and especially the American Indian, had a tremendous reverence for the natural world as sacred which is why the white man found the New World an unspoiled and virgin content. Not only primitive man, but the higher religions also share this same reverence for the natural world. Islam means literally “peace”, not only between men but also includes peace with animals and plants. The Qur’an reminds believers that “every animal of the earth and every creature flying on two wings are like peoples unto you and then unto Allah they shall be gathered.” Once a man carelessly plucked some leaves from a tree and the Prophet Muhammad rebuked him saying: “Every leaf glorifies Allah.” Another follower came to the Prophet Muhammad and confessed that he had burnt down an ant-hill because one of the ants had stung him. The Prophet Muhammad scolded him, saying that he had destroyed a community which glorifies Allah. To the modern mind this may seem sentimental but such a reverent attitude towards nature as a creation of God—not arbitrary legislation imposed from above—is the only remedy to stop air and water pollution by greedy industrialists who seek short-term commercial profit at the expense of long-range public welfare.

(Islam and Western Society, Maryam Jameelah, Adam Publishers, New Delhi, 1982, p. 95-96)

Hazrat Rabi’a bin Haisham was a slave. After having been set free, he engaged himself in acquiring knowledge and in the course of time became the Imam and leader of the Muslims of Basra where he had settled. He used to undertake work only for the sake of Allah. One day he asked his wife to prepare a special dish. Since he was not in the habit of making demands for himself, his wife prepared the dish with great care and attention. Hazrat Rabi’a took the food when ready to a neighbor who was insane and not in possession of his senses and fed him with his own hands. The saliva was dripping profusely from the mouth of the afflicted man but Hazrat Rabi’a continued to feed him with pleasure. When Hazrat Rabi’a returned home, his wife complained bitterly that he had given the food which she had prepared with so much labour to a person who did not know at all what it was. Hazrat Rab’a replied, “But Almighty Allah knows it full well and that is all I care for.”

(“Picture of Loyalty to Faith,” Yaqeen International, Karachi, February 7 & 22, 1974, p. 228; in “Islam and Western Society,” M. Jameelah, p. 310)