Nowadays, we hear every day that our earth is becoming more and more polluted and that a day will come that our life on this planet will be no longer possible. This is undoubtedly the result of our negligence toward the blessing that God had granted us, the blessing of nature and a clean environment: “It is He who created for you all that is in the earth…” (2:29). We are responsible for whatever is going on in our surroundings and at the same time dependent upon it to be able to live.
It is important to note that at the time of the emergence of Islam, people did not face such complex environmental issues and thus this matter has not been dealt with in depth in Islam. Nevertheless, Islam has emphasized the significance of preserving the environment and provided us with guidelines that help us find solutions for such complexities through the narrations and actions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) as well as the twelve infallible leaders (AS). This article is an attempt to summarize these matters for you briefly.
The answer is quite simple, and it reveals the direct correlation between human beings and their surroundings. Preserving the environment equals our own physical and mental wellbeing. Our immediate surrounding is where we are always in touch with, and its quality will inevitably affect our mind and soul. Moreover, we are the ones who make use of the environment to fulfill our needs, and the way we use it will ultimately determine our condition of life.
On the other hand, Allah has made this world in perfect equilibrium and human’s excessive exploitation of natural resources will result in damaging this balance: “And We spread out the earth and cast in it firm mountains, and We grew in it every kind of balanced thing” (15:19). When the balance is disturbed, the result will be the many environmental crises that we are faced with nowadays. These include pollution, global warming, natural resource depletion, waste disposal, climate change, loss of biodiversity, deforestation, ocean acidification, ozone layer depletion, acid rain, water pollution, etc. .
The problems mentioned above are the result of our irresponsibility toward the blessing of the environment, and this is we that should compensate for it. What follows are some Islamic guidelines for us to observe in our treatment of the environment:
When you make excessive use of natural resources such as water or what is produced by water such as electricity, the paper that is made through cutting trees, fossil fuels, etc., you put the environment in danger and threaten its durability. Quran also emphasizes the necessity to be moderate in using God’s blessings in this world: “… Eat and drink, but do not waste; indeed, He does not like the wasteful” (7:31).
Moreover, our environment is not restricted to our use only but is a public possession from which every human being has the right to benefit. Therefore, we should be careful not to violate other people’s rights in having a share in the environment through our extravagant exploitation of its resources.
There is a general rule in Islam that bids Muslims not to “cause harm or return harm” , meaning that they should act in a way that neither brings inconvenience for others nor undermines their situation. Through wastefulness we bring injustice to both ourselves and other human beings; we consume their share in the environment and damage God’s blessing that was given to us to sustain our livelihood. So, respect yourself as well as your fellow human beings through respecting your surroundings.
Think about the environment as your home and keep it clean as you like your home to be neat and tidy. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) says in a narration that: “Allah is pure and likes purity and cleanliness… therefore, keep where you live in clean” . As it was mentioned above, pollution is one of the most pervasive environmental issues in today’s world; this includes air pollution, water pollution, as well as the excessive amount of waste produced on a daily basis.
Those who have faith in Allah and consider His satisfaction in every instance of their lives must be much more cautious regarding their own or their environment’s cleanliness since as Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) puts: “Cleanliness roots in one’s faith” .
Air, water, and soil are the three elements that are the source of life on the earth, which has been mentioned in the Quran as well as narrations [i]&[ii]. It is all the matter of your choice. Keep the air you breathe in clean by choosing to take a walk or public transportation instead of using your car. Preserve the water fresh and pure by avoiding throwing waste in the water, urinating in it, and producing waste water excessively; Imam Ali (AS) emphasizes that water has some inhabitants, so we should not harm them through polluting it .
Even at the time of war, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) forbade his soldiers to pollute or poison their adversary’s city . So, let the soil from which your food is provided remain unpolluted by not throwing waste, especially those that do not dissolve in the environment such as plastic waste, etc.
Plant a tree or bring awareness to people about the environment and the natural crisis that is threatening the earth and its inhabitants. There are many narrations from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) that highlight the necessity of planting trees. For instance, he says: “If a Muslim plants a tree and a bird, human or another creature eats its fruit, it will be considered as an act of charity from him [by Allah]” .
Also, Imam Sadiq (AS) considers planting trees and agriculture as the occupations which bring lawful (Halal) earning for the person performing them . When your surrounding is green, your life will become lively and energetic [iii], and you will become more efficient in your performance.
Finally, it all depends on you and how you want your future to be like. A green and lively environment is the result of our endeavors to preserve it and to give our posterity the opportunity to enjoy the blessing of God. The message of Islam in this matter is again that of moderation and responsibility which guides human beings to live in perfect equilibrium with the environment.
[i] (25:54), (23:12), (24:45), (30:24), (21:30)
[ii] Imam Sadeq (AS) said: “life in a land where is devoid of these three essential factors is highly difficult and challenging: clean air, fresh and plentiful water, as well as fertile ground” .
[iii] Imam Ali (AS) said: “looking at the green nature causes freshness, liveliness and vitality” .
- Shaikh al-Hur al-Aamili , Wasail Al-shia , vol. 18, p.32
- Muhammad ibn Hassan Sheibani, Al-Jame Al-Saghir, vol.1, p.267
- Muhammad Baqir Majlisi ,Bihar al-Anvar, vol.59, p. 291
- Ibn Shu'ba al-Harrani, Tuhaf al-Ughul, p.320
- Muhammad ibn Ali Al-Ehsaei, Avali al-Leali, vol.2, p. 187.
- Mirza Hussain Tabarsi , Mustadrak al-Wasail, vol. 13, p.26.
- Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni al-Razi , Usul al-Kafi, vol.5, p.260
- Shaykh as-Saduq,Uyun Akhbar ar-Reza (AS), vol.2, p. 40
The Holy Quran is replete with examples of men who stood for the truth and those who opposed it. The former sacrificed everything they had to defend the truth and the latter was ready to destroy everything around them to satiate their greed and selfishness.
The Book of Allah invites us to reflect upon personalities, nations, and events of the past. Whether it is pure men like Prophet Ibrahim (AS), Prophet Musa (AS) and Prophet Isa (AS) or evil men who opposed them and their mission like Nimrood, Firon (Pharoah), or Bani Israil, all of them have a lesson for us. These are not just stories to read and move on, they contain messages for our lives. And rightly so, we read in the Holy Quran:
"There is certainly a moral in their accounts for those who possess intellect. This [Quran] is not a fabricated discourse; rather, it is a confirmation of what was [revealed] before it, and an elaboration of all things, and a guidance and mercy for a people who have faith. (12:111)
Similarly, Imam Ali (AS) says: Learn lessons from past events for future events, because they are similar to one another. (Nahjul Balagha Letter 69)
One such incident of the past that changed the history of Islam forever, is the event of Karbala. No mention of Karbala is complete without Hurr ibn Yazid Ar-Riyahi. He is an example for those who reflect upon his journey, his actions and his martyrdom. He encourages, inspires and motivates the believers through his actions in Karbala.
Hurr literally means a freeman in Arabic, and truly so he lived up to his name.
Hurr Ibn Yazid Ar-Riyahi was the general of the Ummayad army dispatched from Kufa, (Iraq) to intercept Imam Al-Hussain (AS), the third infallible Imam. Ubaydullah ibn Ziyad, the newly appointed governor of Kufa issued the command to guard all entrances and exits to Kufa in order to intercept al-Hussain for an oath of allegiance to Yazid. Hurr was ordered along with his 1,000 soldiers to intercept Imam Hussain(AS) and his followers before they reached Kufa.
When he intercepted Imam Hussain (AS) at Dhu Hussam, Hurr and his men had ran out of water. The Imam(AS) ordered his companions to satiate Hurr and his army, including the cavalry. Hurr and his men offered their prayers with the Imam and listened to his sermons. However, on subsequent orders from the tyrant governor of Kufa, Ubaidullah Ibn Ziyad, Imam Hussain and his family were forced to encamp in Karbala. Hurr was of the notion that the Imam (AS) will not be killed in Karbala, he would somehow persuade him to go elsewhere. But he was perturbed when he realized that Umar Ibn Sa'ad who was sent by Ubaidullah had come with orders to kill Imam Hussain. On one hand was his position, family and wealth and on the other hand was the grandson of the Holy Prophet(PBUH&HP) and the son of Imam Ali (AS) and Lady Fatima (SA), supporting whom meant a certain death. These were the two options left for Hurr, just as the Holy Quran says:
"Indeed We have guided him to the way, be he grateful or ungrateful." (76:3).
Despite all odds, Hurr left the Army of Yazid, joined Imam Hussain (AS) and won the honor of being the first martyr of Karbala. All the glitter of the world, his power, rank, wealth and children did not stop him from joining his master Hussain(AS).
Ashura and Karbala were not be bound by time or geographical location. Almost 14 centuries have passes by but human beings from different parts of the world, belonging to different races and religions continue to mourn for Imam Hussain(AS) and take inspiration from him and his mission.
Just as Karbala continues to inspire us, the magnanimous personality of Hurr continues to inspire and guide us. Hurr chose good over bad, truth over falsehood, hereafter over the transient world. If we claim to be followers and lovers of Imam Hussain(AS) we need to turn towards the Hussain of our time and follow the teachings of Imam Hussain(AS). Imam Hussain(AS) gave everything he had to protect and preserve the teachings of Islam and by helping Hussain(AS) in his cause, Hurr achieved this lofty position of being Imam Hussain's(AS) helper. Thus, if Hurr truly motivates us, we need to mend our ways and make ourselves capable of helping Imam Mahdi (AJ) the true inheritor of Imam Hussain's (AS) legacy.
The Hurr of Karbala teaches us that true love is incomplete without sacrifice.
But, is the Hurr inside us ready to listen?
- A Probe into the History of Ashura, Ibrahim Ayati
Generosity is such an important virtue in the religion of Islam that the holy Quran says with regard to it: “You will never attain piety until you spend out of what you hold dear, and whatever you may spend of anything, Allah indeed knows it” (3:92).
As perfect exemplars of this great ethical virtue, the holy prophet (PBUH&HP) and infallible Imams (AS) always recommended their followers to be unconditionally kind and bountiful with people. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) stated: “A generous person is closer to Allah, to the people and heaven” 
Allah says in the Holy Quran:
“As for him who gives and is Godwary, and confirms the best promise, We will surely ease him toward facility” (92:5-7)
Generosity is one of the qualities of the soul which Allah bestows upon His beloved ones, who are not concerned about material wealth and willingly give to others to make the world a better place and reach God’s satisfaction.
In return, The Bountiful Allah has promised to provide the generous with ease and facility both in this world and the hereafter. Under God’s promise to generous people in the verse above, scientific studies also confirm the ease and happiness generosity would bring about. “A huge review of 40 studies on the effect of volunteering on general health and happiness was published in the journal BMC Public Health. The results? Volunteering not only improves well-being and life satisfaction, but it is also linked with decreased depression and a lower risk of dying early” .
One of the most eminent characteristics of the holy infallible Imams was their generosity. It has been narrated that Imam Hassan (AS) granted his whole wealth twice in his lifetime to win Allah’s satisfaction and improve the life of his fellow human beings. He also divided his property with the poor three times, granting half his wealth to the poor altogether, including his own shoes . Money was only a means for him to help the needy. “Once, he was asked: ‘We do not see you disappoint a beggar. Why?’
He replied: ‘I am asking Allah for His favors, and I love to be near Him. I am ashamed, as I am myself in need of Allah, to repulse a beggar. Allah got me used to a habit; to shower me with His bounties, and I get Him used to me showering His bounties on the people. I fear that should I stop my habit, He may stop His habit.’” 
This implies the verse of the holy Quran that says:
“Be good [to others] just as Allah has been good to you” (28:77)
It is noteworthy, however, that the infallible Imams never sought excessive asceticism. Neither did they ordain absolute abstinence from worldly delights [i]. Although they were sometimes rich, they willingly wanted to lead the life of the poorest people in the society. So that they could sympathize with them, and show the nothingness of the perishable earthly wealth compared with other eternal values.
But does it mean that Muslims have to give all their wealth away generously like their leaders? In fact, this kind of behavior mostly suits the leaders of a community. What Islam expects from the rest of the people is moderation in generosity.
Along with the social and individual benefits of the generosity in Islam for the giver proven by the researchers, ranging from a better outlook on life to having a lower risk of early death, the Quranic verses also name some more spiritual effects of this act of benevolence:
Generosity and charity make us receive the unlimited, immeasurable blessings and mercy of God:
“Those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah and then do not follow up what they have spent with reproaches and affronts, they shall have their reward near their Lord, and they will have no fear, nor will they grieve” (2:262)
God has guaranteed multiplied reward as the replacement of donation and generosity in this world and the hereafter:
“… and He will repay whatever you may spend, and He is the best of providers’” (34:39)
“The parable of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is that of a grain which grows seven ears, in every ear a hundred grains. Allah enhances several fold whomever He wishes, and Allah is all-bounteous, all-knowing” (2:261)
God showers his endless blessings upon generous people. He makes it easy for them to follow the path of obedience and charity until they are granted a life free from any fears or difficulties:
“Those who give their wealth by night and day, secretly and openly, they shall have their reward near their Lord, and they will have no fear, nor will they grieve” (2:274)
“Indeed, those who recite the Book of Allah and maintain the prayer, and spend secretly and openly out of what We have provided them, expect a commerce that will never go bankrupt” (35:29)
“Those who are patient for the sake of their Lord’s pleasure, maintain the prayer, and spend secretly and openly out of what We have provided them, and repel evil [conduct] with good. For such will be the reward of the [ultimate] abode” (13:22)
In the next part of this article, we will introduce 6 Etiquettes of Generosity and Almsgiving.
[i] Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) says: “there is no monasticism in Islam” .