More than a year ago, the East Coast experienced a disaster – a big flood which was bigger than it usually was. And recently our country went through a bad haze, a man-made disaster. Both events had people blaming one particular activity as the reason for all this, that is deforestation to make way for oil palm plantations.
It made me wonder, why would palm oil industry be the sole blame, since people cut down trees in so many other places, for a multitude of reasons? To plant vegetables, and plants like soya, a lot of areas need to be sacrificed. People don’t plant cabbage under tropical forrest, do they?
So do people need homes to stay. Do they think the areas they are staying in now have always been barren lands? Are they aware that their housing estates were once forests, or plantation lands?
It all brought me to three of Prophet Muhammad (SAW)’s hadiths:
(1) Aishah RA said: “From the time they went to Madinah, the family of the Prophet (peace be upon him) never had their fill of wheat-based food for three continuous nights until he died.”
*This means that they did eat their fill on many occasions, just never three days in a row.
(2) The Prophet (peace be upon him) encouraged his people to be moderate in taking food. He said: “A person does not fill any vessel worse than his stomach. A few morsels to support him is enough for him. But if he is insisting on having more food, then he should allocate one third of his stomach for food, one third for drink, and one third for air.” [Musnad Ahmad and Sunan al-Tirmidhî]
(3) Once the Prophet (peace be upon him) asked a person, who was performing Wudhu (cleaning up before prayers): “Why are you wasting water?” The person enquired: “Is there Israaf (waste) even in Wudhu?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: “Yes indeed, (do not waste) even if you are at the bank of a river.” (Ibn Majah)
Let’s look at how the three concept relates to life as a whole; we could see that they prevent from greed, obesity and laziness, and saves the environment too. We should reflect deeper about these hadiths, they should make us stop and think before spending on something.
Hadith number (3) does not only apply on wudhu’. It is to be applied on many other areas in life – food, money, or other natural resources.
Just think about it.
Imagine that human beings eat 60% less than what we eat right now.
Imagine if all of us only eat to fill up a third of our stomachs for each meal.
Imagine if we only take small amount of water, petroleum, gas, trees and land to live our lives.
Wouldn’t we cut down less trees?
Is it not that less demand cause less supply?
Would anyone dare to open up more lands if they think they will not be able to sell more palm oil or vegetables?
Wouldn’t there be more cows, chicken and fish ALIVE now compared with if human beings consume with greed?
If human beings follow only these three habits and advice of Prophet Muhammad SAW, don’t you think the world would be more green? And that there would be less man-made disasters?
If there is less greed among human beings, would there be need for bigger houses, bigger cars, bigger kitchens, more money?
If we all live in less than moderation, there is no need to cut down that many trees or slaughter that many animals.
We wanted big houses and big cars and many options for food. We thought we need to fill up our stomachs six times per day, and for many Asian, being hungry is like a sin. As a consequence, we need to make more money to buy more food. Food industry thrives and they will need fresh produce. Where do fresh produce come from?
Think. Just think.
We need less.
We could settle for less.
Especially in an age where 15-20% of people are overweight, with diabetes, hypertension, heart and renal disease are increasing rampantly, man-made disasters occurring more frequently, we NEED to settle for less.
I know they say we need this much food and that much water to survive. But we know many people who thrived with less.
That’s the reason Allah SWT chose a human being as a messenger to guid mankind. Not an angel, not a special being. He is a human being who has needs for food and shelter like all of us.
He settled for less.
Can we do it for the sake of the environment?