Understanding the Earth Better
A) Why was the Earth created?
The Holy Qur'an in Surat TA-HA (20:53) says: "He who appointed the earth to be a cradle for you."
Allamah Tabataba'i in his Al-Mizan says: Thus Allah stationed man in the earth to live an earthly life, so that he may earn a provision for his heavenly and exalted life, in the manner that a baby is stationed in the cradle, and is brought up for a more sacred and developed life..." (Vol. 14, pg. 171)
From this we come to realize that the earth was created as a preparing ground & means for human perfection and the purity of the heart. Sadly, however, many a people, instead of maintaining it for a good Hereafter, tend to destroy it for selfish gains.
B) Do the human beings employ the earth for the purpose it was created?
The Holy Qur'an in Surat AL-ROOM (30:41) clearly talks of a people who instead of practically thanking Allah (swt) by utilizing the earth for its sacred purpose cause mischief therein and subsequently face its evil consequences: "Corruption has appeared in the land and sea, for that men's own hands have earned, that He may let them taste some of that which they have done, that haply so they may return."
And in Surat AL-ARAF (7:10), Almighty Allah says: "Indeed We made you live in the earth and made therein for you the means of livelihood; little is it that you thank."
In this verse, "little is it that you thank" should not merely taken as "verbal thanks," for the reality of "shukr" is to use the gift for the purpose it was created.
C) What is our duty towards the Earth today?
From the above discussion the answer is evident: Because the earth was created for achieving human perfection, we should make a firm resolve to utilize it solely for that. This however should not mean that we stop scientific advancements, for such ventures are also a means to help the creation of the earth. But making a resolve in utilizing the earth as a means for achieving human perfection requires us to have a good understanding of how to go about utilizing the earth and its resources properly. Revelation is the best source for guiding us here.
We should first try to study the elements that are responsible for mischief both in the physical as well as the spiritual world. So long as we have not searched for the root problem, our resolve to change, however firm it may be, would be futile. And as we make a firm resolve we should humbly pray to Allah (swt) to enable us maintain our resolve so that we have done our duty and removed ourselves from the group that is responsible for the earth crisis.
THE ROOT CAUSE:
Different seminars and discussions on the issue of the earth crisis have been, are being, and will be held in different parts of the world. Days like "the Earth day" is also celebrated to make the people realize the dangers facing the earth. The earth lovers mention several problems. The brevity of this speech however does not allow me to enumerate all. Some of the problems they cite are:
1. The depletion of the ozone layer [which acts like a sunscreen shielding the earth from harmful ultra violet radiation]. This is due to the usage of goods that contain CFC gases. Some dangers of ozone depletion are: skin cancers, eye disorders, global warming, etc.
2. The contamination of water. This is due to throwing industrial wastes in the water bodies. The Capitalistic and egoistic attitudes of the producers & manufacturers have no concern about the health risks of those using the waters. It is evident that using contaminated water has great health risks and dangers.
3. The contamination of air through Industrial wastes and other factors. Those who would like to know the details of the environmental problems may look at encyclopedias and the Internet.
But, we ask a fundamental question to ourselves: What is the ROOT CAUSE of the senseless attitude towards environmental pollution? If we answer that, we would then be able to respect the earth and lessen and perhaps even eradicate the ecological crisis that transpires in this oppressed earth.
The fundamental reason for such a crisis is an incorrect world-view or a narrow outlook towards this world. So long as the human being has not understood the meaning of this life, the purpose of his creation, the link between the Creator and the creation, he would never be merciful to himself, let alone the earth. The earth is merely a means for the aim of creation, which is the nearness and proximity of Allah (swt). It is due to ignorance of this fact or the lack of obedience on the part of us that causes the chaos in this transient earth. In fact why should the activists that struggle for bettering the physical environment forget the spiritual environment? The spiritual pollution is more grave than the physical one. Rather, the spiritual pollution is the cause of the physical pollution. In conclusion, two reasons may therefore contribute to the chaos that exists in the earth:
1. A wrong outlook towards the reality: disbelief in God, Revelation, the Hereafters, or having a concocted belief that is against the innate nature of the human being. These kinds of trends are followed by wrong judgments, which come about as a result of ignorance of the correct method of getting to the truth. And when one has a wrong outlook, and does not know the meaning of life, he would do whatever his ego wants. He would tend to forget the serenity of others.
2. Disobedience on the part of the believer: If a believer who has convictions about his true faith remains steadfast in following what Allah (swt) commands, the earth would be a place of serenity. Contrarily if he allows his desires to rule over his intellect, and is lax in his belief, he would cause great dangers not only for man, but the entire creation that lives on this earth.