ISLAM very distinctly holds the view and belief that God Almighty has not created anything in this universe in vain. Rather it is by His Divine wisdom, with great value and purpose that He has brought everything into existence.
In the universe there is enormous diversity and variety of form and function. The universe and its various elements fulfill human welfare and are evidence of the Creator’s greatness; it is He Who determines and ordains all things.
By His Divine plan, God Almighty has placed every element of the universe in a particular setting and every creature in a particular environment or habitat in order to maintain a balance and equilibrium.
Universal balance, equilibrium
He says in the Holy Qur’aan: “We have not created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them in vain. We have not created them but with a just measure (and reason).” (Ch 44:38-39) He further declares: “And We have produced therein everything in balance (due measure).” (Ch 55:7)
Thus everything in this universe has been created in due proportion and measure both quantitatively and qualitatively.
The Islamic vision revealed in the Holy Qur’aan is of a universe infused with value. All things in the universe are created to serve the One Lord Who sustains them all by means of one another, He has created a system of interdependency amongst His creatures and He controls the miraculous cycles of life and death.
“God it is who splits the seed and the date stone, brings the living from the dead and the dead from the living: That is your God – how is it that you then turn away?” (Ch 6: 95)
Man and the universe
Man is a distinct part of this universe – the elements of which are complementary to one another in an integrated whole indeed. The relation between man and the universe, as defined and clarified in the Holy Qur’aan and the teachings of Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him), is as follows:
A relationship of meditation, consideration, and contemplation of the universe and what it contains.
A relationship of sustainable utilisation, development, and employment for man’s benefit and for the fulfillment of his interests.
A relationship of care and nurture for man’s good works are not limited to the benefit of the human species, but rather extend to the benefit of all created beings; and “there is a reward in doing good to every living thing.”
Stewardship on Earth
Man has a special position amongst the creatures of God Almighty.
God’s wisdom has ordained stewardship (khilafah) on Earth to human beings.
In addition to being part of Earth (and universe), man is also the executor of God’s injunctions and commands. Man is only a manager of Earth and not a proprietor; a beneficiary and not a disposer or ordainer.
Heaven and Earth and all that they contain belong to God alone.
Man has been granted stewardship to manage Earth in accordance with the purposes intended by its Creator; to utilise it for his own benefit and the benefit of other created beings, and for the fulfillment of his interests and of theirs.
He is thus entrusted with its maintenance and care, and must use it as a trustee, within the limits dictated by Divine trust.
Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) declared, “The world is beautiful and lush, and verily God, The Exalted, has made you His stewards in it, and He sees how you acquit yourselves (therein).”
All of the resources upon which life depends have been created by God as a trust in our care. He has ordained sustenance for all people and for all living beings as affirmed in the Holy Qur’aan.
“And He has set within it (the earth) mountains rising above (standing firm), and bestowed blessings in it (the earth), and ordained in it its diverse sustenance (for all creatures)…” (Ch 41:10)
Thus, in Islam utilisation of these resources is the right and privilege of all people and all species.
Hence, man should take every precaution to ensure the interests and rights of fellow humans as well as that of all other creatures since they are equal partners on Earth.
Similarly, he should not regard such resources as restricted to one generation above all other generations. It is, rather, a joint responsibility in which each generation uses and makes the best use of nature, according to its need, without disrupting or adversely affecting the interests of future generations.
Therefore, man should not abuse, misuse, or distort the natural resources as each generation is entitled to benefit from them but is not entitled to “own” them in an absolute sense.
(To be continued)