Caring for God’s creation: An Islamic obligation

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter examines the human obligation to care for the environment from the perspective of Islamic theology and law. It first argues the case for an Islamic theology of the environment in order to illustrate that the environment is an extremely valuable artifact that displays the infinite creativity of God: everything in the natural world worships God in a unique way, and animal species with the ecosystems they create form communities and have a right to live independently of humans. Hence, life on Earth must be preserved as an extremely valuable artifact. Second, it examines the human relationship with the environment and sought to show that human interaction with the environment is one way. In a physical sense, humans only take from the environment but give nothing back. The best humans can do is to use the resources of the planet in a sustainable way to preserve the environment and not irreversibly upset its natural balance. Although humans are given right of usage of what Earth provides, they do not own the Earth. It is entrusted to them by God and they have to return it undamaged. Humans are accountable at the court of God for betrayal of trust if they damage the Earth irreversibly. Third, the chapter proceeds to build a case that caring for the environment is an Islamic religious obligation (fard) as collective human activity on Earth is harming not only life on Earth but the entire planet (Anthropocene). Hence Islam’s overriding principle of preventing harm before acquisition of benefit applies. The obligation applies not only to every individual Muslim, but to Islamic organisations and the governments of Muslim majority countries. Caring for the environment is fard al-‘ayn (individual obligation) and fard al-kifaya (collective obligation) at the same time.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnacting a public theology
EditorsClive Pearson
Place of PublicationStellenbosch, South Africa
PublisherSUN MeDIA
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781928314684
ISBN (Print)9781928314677
Publication statusPublished - 24 Dec 2019


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