How Muslims Can Use Fiqh al-Bi’ah Principles to Combat the Climate Crisis

What is Fiqh al-Bi’ah, and how can it change the way we view the earth as Muslims?

What is Fiqh al-Bi’ah, and how can it change the way we view the earth as Muslims?

The climate crisis is a global issue that requires efforts from all parties, including Muslims. With the Muslim population reaching 2 billion, an Islamic-based approach can be one way to address this crisis. 

Islam itself warned Muslims thousands of years ago through the Quran not to cause damage to the Earth that can endanger life in various aspects, such as food production, business, the emergence of multiple diseases, and even the climate crisis.

Surah Al-A’raf verse 56 states, “And do not cause corruption on the Earth after (it has been) made good. And invoke Him with fear and hope. Indeed, the mercy of Allah SWT is near to the doers of good.”

According to the interpretation of Min Fathil Qadir by Sheikh Dr. Muhammad Sulaiman Al Asyqar, the damage referred to in this verse covers various fields, one of which is the environment. This is because Allah SWT has created the contents of the Earth, such as rivers, seas, forests, and others so that they can be used to the best by humans for their well-being. Therefore, in the interpretation of Ibn Kathir, Allah SWT forbids humans from causing damage to the Earth because it can endanger all living things. 

In addition, in Surah Ar-Rum verse 41, the Quran explicitly states, “The damage that occurs on land and sea is caused by human hands.”

The interpretation of Al-Misbah by Quraish Shihab explains that the lack of moral values and the great ambition of humans can indeed cause damage to the Earth. The interpretation of Ibn Kathir also explains something similar about this verse: the lack of crops and fruits is caused by human hands and various acts of disobedience. Both interpretations are very relevant to the current situation. The climate crisis and the depletion of natural resources come from the hands of humans and their sinful behavior. 

However, Islam addresses it through Fiqh al-Bi’ah (environmental fiqh). Fiqh is not limited to obligatory worship such as prayer, fasting, zakat, and hajj but includes environmental phenomena. Through Fiqh al-Bi’ah, humans are taught that all activities should be oriented towards individual, social, and environmental benefit. In addition, it must also be in line with the will of Allah SWT, who created the universe with all its balance and must maintain the preservation of nature, as a trust from Allah SWT that must be kept and preserved.

Fiqh al-Bi’ah, the Islamic environmental jurisprudence, is guided by three fundamental principles rooted in Islamic teachings and provides a comprehensive framework for addressing climate and environmental challenges while adhering to Islamic ethics. The principles of Fiqh al-Bi’ah can guide us in addressing the climate crisis. We can create a sustainable and enduring environment by studying and applying these principles. 

The first principle is called Mizan, which means balance. It emphasizes moderation and equilibrium in all aspects of life, including human interactions with the environment. This principle derives from the Quranic belief that everything has been created proportionally and harmoniously. Muslims are encouraged to lead balanced lives, avoiding excess and extravagance in their consumption patterns. Mizan guides individuals and communities to adopt sustainable practices that do not disturb the delicate balance of nature. It encourages responsible stewardship, ensuring that human activities contribute to the well-being of the Earth rather than causing harm. 

The second principle is known as Amanah, which means trust. It underlines that the Earth and its resources are a trust from Allah SWT to humanity. Muslims are considered vicegerents (Khalifah) entrusted with caring for the environment. This concept is deeply rooted in Islamic theology. It implies that humans will be held accountable for managing this trust. Fiqh al-Bi’ah calls Muslims to view environmental conservation as a moral and ethical duty. It encourages responsible resource management, biodiversity conservation, and ecological degradation prevention. Amanah serves as a constant reminder that humans are accountable for the impact of their actions on the environment and must fulfill their role as custodians of the Earth. 

The third principle is called Maslaha, which means public benefit. It emphasizes that actions and decisions should not only serve individual or community welfare. Still, it should also contribute to the broader benefit of society and the environment. In the context of the climate crisis and environmental issues, Maslaha encourages Muslims to consider the well-being of all living things. This principle aligns with the broader Islamic ethic of promoting the common good and social justice.

Fiqh al-Bi’ah thus guides Muslims to engage in activities that contribute positively to the environment, such as sustainable agriculture, responsible resource extraction, and eco-friendly practices. Maslaha also plays a crucial role in addressing collective challenges like the climate crisis, where the well-being of the entire planet is at stake.

As Muslims, we believe that we are the vicegerents or representatives of Allah SWT on Earth (Surah Al-An’am, verse 165). This means that we are entrusted with caring for the Earth and its resources in a way that pleases Allah SWT. As part of this responsibility, we must preserve biodiversity, conserve ecosystems, and use natural resources sustainably. We must be mindful of our environmental impact and actively seek ways to mitigate any harm caused by our activities. 

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “Even if the Resurrection were established upon one of you while he has in his hand a sapling, then let him plant it” (Musnad Ahmad 12491). This hadith, narrated by Anas ibn Malik, conveys a powerful message about taking action and creating hope and resilience in the face of adversity. We should not wait for the perfect moment to take action. Instead, we should seize every opportunity to do good deeds. 

The challenges we face today regarding the climate and environment require a collective and multi-faceted response. While Fiqh al-Bi’ah offers valuable guidance for Muslims, it is essential to recognize that environmental protection is a global effort that transcends religious boundaries.

According to Surah Al-Baqarah verse 2, Allah SWT is the One who created everything on the Earth for us. Ibn Athiyyah, in his book Al-Muharrar Al-Wajiz, interpreted the word “all” in the verse as emphasizing that God created everything on Earth for the benefit of humanity. This includes not only the physical necessities like food, water, and shelter but also the bounties and beauties of nature. Allah SWT’s providence and mercy are displayed through his immense love and care for humanity by creating everything on Earth for us to thrive and live a good life. 

Abu Sa’id Khudri reported that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) once said, “The world is sweet and green (alluring), and verily Allah is going to install you as vicegerent in it in order to see how you act” (Sahih Muslim 2742, Book 49, Hadith 12). Therefore, while Allah SWT has provided us with everything we need, we are responsible for using these resources wisely and sustainably. 

As guardians of the Earth, our responsibility is to protect our planet for present and future generations. Muslims must uphold the values of Fiqh al-Bi’ah and ensure the well-being of current and future generations while fulfilling their role as stewards of this precious planet entrusted to them by Allah SWT. This requires collaboration, innovation, and a commitment to sustainable practices across all sectors of society.