(The reaction is written in response to the conference paper presented by Atty Ronaldo Guttierez during the UNESCO World Philosophy day Conference “Power and Rights” held last 20 November at the Institute of Social Order Ateneo De Manila University.the article can be accessed at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/philophilippines/?yguid=333917463 )
The Holy Qur'an declares that man is the Vicegerent of God on Earth (khilafatul Ard) and that this trusteeship is divine in nature (amanah Ilahiyah). It is then in this context that this trusteeship is taken into the context of taking care of this divine piece of property so that the later generations (ummah) may benefit from it.
Sources from both the Qur'an and the Hadith express the divine injunctions of preserving the environment as part of a religious duty in the sense that if one does not take care of the environment, it appears that he has violated the divine injunctions for being God's trustee here on earth.
The context of protecting the environment in ensuring that future generations may enjoys it is of outmost importance that in the Islamic Rules on warfare written both in the Qur'an and the Traditions strictly prohibit any attacks made on the environment in the sense that the concept of warfare is directed at the opposing forces and that any other initiatives towards subjugation of the opposing force must be dealt with in a manner that may ensure that future generations may enjoy the fruits of a safe environment.
The fourth Caliph, Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (karamallahu wajhah) has said in one of his letters to his commander Malik Al-Ashtar, that; “in wars, we must ensure that it is only combatants we fight and no harm must be done to trees, to bodies of water or any physical resource that is of collective use of humanity. Since this collective resource is the property of the future suceeding generations.”
The Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu Alayhi wa alihi wa salam) even said, “The Physical resources we now have at our disposal is actually a loan from Allah (God) to be returned later for use of the later generations.”
Islam goes a level further, claiming that man in his original state exists in a way that adapts to nature and the nature of creation, meaning by nature Man should also follow self sustainability. However, due to his excessive greed he goes to the point of extracting much and forgettingthe later generations.
In a nutshell, the point from an islamic persepective on environmental rights can be summed up in a simple concise statement,
“We borrow the physical resources at our disposal from our later generations,we must then take care and utilize carefully so that they may use it for many generations.”
This is the context of Divine stewardship of the earth. KHILAFATUL ARD