Islam and the Environment


The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) emphasised the Quranic decree of treating the earth as a trust, and humankind its guardians. Likening our planet to a sacred place of prayer, “All of the earth has been made to me as a mosque,” the prophet (peace be upon him) promoted respect and responsibility towards the environment amongst his companions. He encouraged water conservation, instructing them not to be wasteful even if they were next to a flowing river, and stipulated the importance of keeping public places tidy: “One of the branches of faith is to remove litter from the street,” he said.

Today, we are encouraged to recycle, conserve, and care for the world around us. If the prophet (peace be upon him) was here today, he would echo the same ecological concerns that he did over 1,430 years ago. Current ‘plant a tree’ campaigns sit well with the prophet’s (peace be upon him) credentials. He organised the planting of trees and date groves, and turned forests into conservation areas called  ‘hima’ or sanctuaries for thriving ecosystems.

His example pioneered acts of environmentalism throughout history: Ottoman ministers advised sultans on both societal and environmental matters. An innovative engineer and architect living in the Ottoman Empire, Sinan, created a sixteenth century recycling method: the smoke choking out from a multitude of candles and oil lamps in the Suleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul was channelled into a separate chamber and the soot used as writing ink. In Islamic Spain, water conservation was routine, where rainwater would be collected from ceramic-tiled roofs and would pass though a system of pipes to underground cisterns for storage.

Muslims continue to follow the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) example in protecting the environment through projects like eco-mosques and organic farming and by supporting the development of climate policy, sustainable working and a greener Hajj.

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