Eco-friendly = Islamic = Ethical = Profitable

Posted on April 9, 2007


Source: Jamal Badawi and Rafik Beekun

Mar. 30 – Islam has from the beginning stressed the role of man in protecting the environment. As Allah’s vicegerents on earth and as suggested by the Prophet (s), we need to take good care of our environment.

As indicated by Jamal Badawi, the Prophet of Islam was keenly aware of ecology and the sustainability of resources for the benefit of future generations. He taught that if the Day of Judgment begins while one is planting a tree, he should complete his task first if he could. One may wonder as to what is the point of planting something that cannot immediately benefit the planter, and why plant a tree whose fruits may never be reaped? It is probably the inculcation of the attitude of working on the basis of a longer scale of time, consideration of future generations, and above all the anticipation of Divine reward. He also taught that if one plants a tree of which a human, and animal or bird eats, he/she will get a perpetual reward for all who benefit from it.

Sustainability and prudent use of natural resources was exemplified by the Prophet’s critical reaction to a companion who was using an excessive amount of water to make his ablution in preparation for prayers.   When the companion responded “Is there excess in the use of water?”,  the Prophet replied,  “Yes, even if you’re [making ablution] from a running river.” The Prophet also forbade his followers from polluting rivers, stagnant water, roads and areas used as shades.

Using the Islamic legal principle of analogy (Qiyas), legitimate reasonable restrictions on methods of production may be imposed in the interest of environmental protection.  Contemporary examples of these restrictions include the requirement of exhaust control devices in automobiles, sewage treatment regulations and restriction of dumping waste, especially chemical and nuclear waste.  The later issue has become a global one, not only because of the interdependence of all nations, but also because of the attempt by some technologically advanced nations to dump dangerous waste in other less developed countries.  Whatever payments are made in return for accessibility to dumping sites in these countries are far outweighed by the human costs, especially those relating to health problems.

Recently, eco-friendly entrepreneurs are starting ethical businesses in the U.K., and Reuters Chris Burns interviews one entrepreneur who is engaged in a profitable, ethical business.

Please click here and watch the video clip (it may take a couple of minutes to load).

Please also click here to read how Islam encourages kindness to animals.

1. Beekun, Rafik. Islamic Business Ethics. Herndon, VA: IIIT. This book is available from the store on this blog.
2. Beekun, R. & Badawi, J. Balancing ethical responsibility among multiple stakeholders: The Islamic perspective. Journal of Business Ethics, 2005, Vol. 60, pp. 131-145.