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This World and the Hereafter

According to the narration of Zaid b. Harise's wife, Ummu Mubessir, the Prophet said:

"Whoever plants a tree or sows grain that a human, animal or bird eats from, that will constitute charity for that person."

(Ahmed b. Hanbal, Musnad, 6/362)

Aimed at man's happiness in both worlds, the religion of Islam asks that Muslims make connections to both worlds. Together with indicating that the next world is more beneficial (Anam 32; Duha 4), it aims for people to spend a life of peace and happiness without forgetting the blessings of this world (Qasas 77). Construction of this world means man's making an effort to establish an environment in which he is in harmony and at peace with other animate and inanimate creatures, particularly his fellow man, and in which he can live in peace of mind and tranquility. It is using Allah's blessings in the proper measure and place without wasting, abusing or destroying them. It is contributing to the health and happiness of himself and his surroundings by improving his physical environment and keeping it clean.

On the other hand, things needed for the afterlife are faith and good works. Referring to every kind of action suitable to Allah's approval and beneficial to man, the concept of good works includes the construction of this world; consequently, the construction of the afterlife is related in one respect to the construction of this world. For that reason, it is doubtful that the person who cannot build this world will be able to build the next.

In order to build the world, it is not necessary to give your heart to it or give significance to it. Neither is wealth necessary. Giving order to our environment without spending too much money includes taking the care to protect and keep the natural environment clean. All the efforts we show in accordance with the direction pointed to by our feelings of beauty and esthetics are important steps for the construction of a developed world.

Because the Prophet (pbuh) did not perceive the world like an ascetic who has turned his back on it, he was an example for believers regarding the building of this life as well as the afterlife. As is known, in addition to it being forbidden since the time of Abraham to cut trees and plants or to kill living creatures in the Mecca region due to its being sacred and untouchable, Muhammad (pbuh) included the Medina area in this status and forbade the hunting of animals or cutting of trees there. Upon the request of the people of Taif, he put the Taif valley under protection and announced that he would have violators of this punished. Similar to the Turkish "sit" (protected) regions today, this practice is a model showing how people should act respectfully and sensitively to the environment. In addition, he encouraged people to utilize empty land and plant trees on it, and he said, "Whoever revives dead land will gain reward for this and new produce will be counted as charity from that person." Saying in another hadith, "Even if Doomsday has arrived, a person with a sapling in his hand should plant it," he gave man the message not to postpone good works regardless of whether or not he would benefit from them.

Saying that global warming has come to a dangerous level and that unless emergency measures are taken, irreversible harm will occur for all living things, today's scientists point to modern man's insatiable appetite and ambition as the cause of this. A solution is possible by means of approaching creatures and nature taking into consideration the teachings of the beloved Messenger who conveyed to us the message of Allah, the Creator of the universe and cosmic laws.  Being aware that using more than he needs is wasteful and forbidden, a Muslim should know that this world will be home to billions of people and other creatures that will live after him and act with the responsibility of leaving a good heritage to them.

Prof. I. Hakki Unal

 
Summary from Religious Affairs monthly magazine, edition 197/50-51
 

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