The ultimate objective of Islamic law is the universal common good of all created beings, encompassing both our immediate welfare in the present and our ultimate welfare in the hereafter.
This objective of the universal common good is a distinctive characteristic of Islamic law. It means that no species or generation may be excluded from consideration in the course of planning and administration, but that each individual Muslim as well as the Muslim community must honestly strive toward the welfare of the whole.
The Mandate of the Individual
The ultimate responsibility for right action lies with the individual who will be judged on the Day of Judgment for what he did with his life, regardless of what religious awareness and guidance in this field is necessary so that each individual may take part in the protection and development of the environment and natural resources.
Much environmental degradation is due to people’s ignorance of what their Creator requires of them. People should be made to realize that the conservation of the environment is a religious duty demanded by God. God has said:
Be good, even as God has been good to you, and do not pursue corruption in the earth. Verily God does not love corrupters. (Al-Qasas 28:77)
Eat and drink, but waste not by excess; Verily He loves not the excessive. (Al-A`raf 7:31)
And do not follow the bidding of the excessive, who cause corruption in the earth and do not work good. (Ash-Shu`araa’ 26:151, 152)
And do not cause corruption in the earth, when it has been set in order. (Al-A`raf 7:56)
Any deliberate damage to the natural environment and resources is a kind of corruption which is forbidden by Islam. It is indeed a kind of despicable foolishness which every Muslim should shun, and which every ruler and every individual should prohibit, especially if it leads to or results in general damage. God has said:
Let you be a nation that calls to all that is good, that establishes right and eradicates wrong. Such are they who shall prosper. (Aal `Imran 3:104)
Religious awareness and Islamic guidance should employ all possible means at all levels to call all individuals to commit themselves to Islamic ethics, morals, and manners in dealing with nature, the environment, and the natural resources for their sustainable use and development. All individuals should be reminded of the following religious obligations:
– No wastage or over-consumption of natural resources;
– No unlawful obstruction or destruction of any component of the natural resources;
– No damage, abuse, or distortion of the natural environment in any way;
– Sustainable development of the earth, its resources, elements, and phenomena through the enhancement of natural resources, the protection and conservation of them and of all existing forms of life, bringing new life to the land through its reclamation, and the rehabilitation and purification the governing authorities with their various administrative and municipal agencies and courts of law required of him.
Therefore the protection, conservation, and development of the environment and natural resources is a mandatory religious duty to which every Muslim should be committed. This commitment emanates from the individual’s responsibility before God to protect himself and his community of the soil, air, and water.