Abhorrence For Wastefulness And Exhortation For Moderation In The Qur’an

The non-enviro approach of mainstream politico milieu  and unbridled profiteering agenda of economic agencies of the world have brought the world on the brink of irreversible ecological damages, to a stage where we beg  for basics such as clean air, potable water, pure soil, healthy sun light.

Bigger panic though is that the climate breakdown issue is being sidelined, because,  acknowledging it as an emergency and crisis, would mean lesser-lavishness for the embarrassingly rich, countries and people.   That it may be some solace to the desperately poor and vulnerable seems a non-issue.

However, it is imperative that gravity and scope of  ‘existential extinction’ be scientifically deliberated threadbare in order to strategize its solutions with the required honesty, transparency and commitment.

A common narration among the group of scientists and thought leaders is the concern for wastefullness in production and extravaganza in consumption.  A lack of responsible development and judicious investment at the political level, with no goal posts for equitable society,  in spite of glaring unequal distribution of wealth and basic accessabilities ,is alarming.

16 year old Global Climate Activist:

Science and education if not for application on life and societal  issues then its no longer a pursuit of truth.

It would be most appropriate to mention here 16-year old school student Greta Thenberg, more known as Friday school striker, the young climate activist from Sweden, questioned and rightly rebuked the elders of the world when addressing the UK Parliament and the United Nations, in 2018-19.  She is appealing the world to listen to science on climate.


School children are required to attend school. But with the worsening Climate Destruction this goal of going to school begins to be pointless.
—Why study for a future, which may not be there?
—Why spend a lot of effort to become educated, when our governments are not listening to the educated?

She emphasized  that ‘we need to actually talk about it (climate change) as if it were an existential crisis, which it is’ and that  ‘ Avoiding climate breakdown needs cathedral thinking’. 

Greta inspired over million march across the globe on 15 march 2019.  Scottish government and Welsh government have thus far declared ‘climate emergency’ and hope this would trigger more action.

A. Science:

  1. Earth Overshoot Days:

The irresponsible attitude with which humanity plundered, wasted and polluted without bothering to replenish the environment and its natural resources reflects in the statement that Earth overshoot day of the world fell on August 1 in 2018.  Year 2019’s Earth Overshoot Day would be declared on 22 June 2019 the

The dates of past Earth Overshoot Days, as calculated with the National Footprint Accounts 2018 Edition, are:


Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity has exhausted nature’s budget for the year. For the rest of the year, we are maintaining our ecological deficit by drawing down local resource stocks and accumulating carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. It marks the day when human’s use of resources for that year reaches unsustainable levels. The use of resources after this a burden on the planet.’

In 2000, Earth Overshoot day fell in late September and in 2017 it fell on August 2nd.


2.  Ecological Footprint of World:

So, we are now struggling for basics, such as clean breathable air, potable water, productive soil, and healthy sun-rays.  Every one talks of yester years when we had clean air, clean flowing waters and good soil and healthy sun rays.

Recently held meeting begun on 29 april 2019 of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform, of 130 nations, on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is processing  a draft document, to assess status of nature vis-a-vis ‘rescue plan for life on earth’.

UN biodiversity chief Robert Watson said, ‘We have a closing window of opportunity to act, and narrowing options.””Up to now, we have talked about the importance of biodiversity mostly from an environmental perspective,” Mr Watson said, ahead of the Paris meeting.

“Now we are saying that nature is crucial for food production, for pure water, for medicines and even social cohesion.”

There are currently over 7.4 billion people on Earth, but humans only make up about 0.01 percent of all life on the planet. Around ‘82 percent of all living things on Earth are plants.’These findings were published on May 21, 2018 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Yet, mankind, through their non-enviro hegemonistic approach inter-species and  in pursuit of financial success intra-species,  appropriated natural resources more than in proportion to their number and need. They consumed more than they could replenish, generated waste and pollution more than the absorption capacity of nature, oblivious of the ecological footprint.

ecological footprint

As per Footprint network figures  it takes  5.2 earths for the world to lead life the USA life style, 1.75 earths for the average world’s life style, and 8.5 earths to lead Qatar lifestyle.  2.4 earths for China lifestyle.

Direct API Link:

ecological footprint2


api link


  1. Conspicuous Consumption: Criminal waste –

It would be timely to recollect here american economist Thorstein Veblen (who I also profiled in my Ph.D thesis) who refers to ‘Conspicuous Consumption’ in his 1899 book of ‘The Theory of the Leisure Class’, which applies now every bit.  The luxury buying that Veblen coined, does not match with prinicples of cost, wherein,  the goods meant for embarrassingly rich increase in demand when the price  goes up.

Competitive display of consumption and the vaingloriousness of the ability to squander for one-up manship is the characteristic of conspicuous consumption.  This is a criminal waste of the natural resources that went into its production.  The amount of waste and pollution generated in its production is a sheer affront on the increasingly frail environment and vulnerable poor.  Veblen strongly condemned ‘luxury consumption’.

Lack of socialist-enviro approach and lack of respect for natural resources and co-living beings of all species has driven us to a contrast world of social inequities and degrading environment, which has brought us to the brink of existential threat.

B. Qur’an:

  1. Abhorrence For Wastefulness And Exhortation For Moderation In Qur’an

Qur’an a communication from God to mankind, and a book holy for the muslims is a 1439 year old book, originally in arabic and translated in almost all languages of the world.

In Qur’an, at various chapters we find a clear guidance for moderation and exhortation for the same, termed as a good human quality.  On the other hand, there is clear abhorrence for wastefulness and extravaganza.

The responsible approach to be adopted by humans towards environment and natural resources as ordained in Islam can be found explained in Qur’an and Hadeeth(Narrations of prophet muhammad’s sayings).

According to the Quranic phenomenology commons are to be held by humanity as trust.  As humanity did not create them but have them free for use.

Verse no. 141 from chapter 6 titled An’aam emphasizes on the true owner and creator of natural resources and expresses abhorrence for wastefullness and extravaganza.

وَهُوَ الَّذِي أَنشَأَ جَنَّاتٍ مَّعْرُوشَاتٍ وَغَيْرَ مَعْرُوشَاتٍ وَالنَّخْلَ وَالزَّرْعَ مُخْتَلِفًا أُكُلُهُ وَالزَّيْتُونَ وَالرُّمَّانَ مُتَشَابِهًا وَغَيْرَ مُتَشَابِهٍ كُلُواْ مِن ثَمَرِهِ إِذَا أَثْمَرَ وَآتُواْ حَقَّهُ يَوْمَ حَصَادِهِ وَلاَ تُسْرِفُواْ إِنَّهُ لاَ يُحِبُّ الْمُسْرِفِينَ

6:141 (Asad) For it is He who has brought into being gardens-[both] the cultivated ones and those growing wild [127] -and the date-palm, and fields bearing multiform produce, and the olive tree, and the pomegranate: [all] resembling one another and yet so different! [128] Eat of their fruit when it comes to fruition, and give [unto the poor] their due on harvest day. And do not waste [God’s bounties]: verily, He does not love the wasteful!

The term ‘israaf’ mentioned in above verse and at various pages in Qur’an, carries both the connotations of wastefulness and extravaganza.

Similarly, in verse no. 31 chapter no. 7 titled Isra ‘Laa yuhihbbul musrifoon’ is mentioned.  Laa means negation; yuhibbul meaning love; musrifoon means those who do israaf(waste)

يَا بَنِي آدَمَ خُذُواْ زِينَتَكُمْ عِندَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍ وكُلُواْ وَاشْرَبُواْ وَلاَ تُسْرِفُواْ إِنَّهُ لاَ يُحِبُّ الْمُسْرِفِينَ

7:31 O CHILDREN of Adam! [Adorn yourselves [23] at every masjid[for every act of worship], and eat and drink [freely], but do not waste [be excessive]: verily, He does not love the wasteful![or those who commit excess].

Further in verse number 43 of chapter no. 40 titled Ghafir the abhorrence of wastefullness thru extravagant consumption or display is expressed through a threat that such would be ‘inmates of fire’.

وَأَنَّ الْمُسْرِفِينَ هُمْ أَصْحَابُ النَّارِ

“…the extravagant are the inmates of the fire.” (Surah Ghāfir, 40:43)

Again, in Chapter 17 titled Isra in verse number 26-27, squanderers are equalled to shaitan or squandering to an evil act.

وَآتِ ذَا الْقُرْبَى حَقَّهُ وَالْمِسْكِينَ وَابْنَ السَّبِيلِ وَلاَ تُبَذِّرْ تَبْذِيرًا

إِنَّ الْمُبَذِّرِينَ كَانُواْ إِخْوَانَ الشَّيَاطِينِ وَكَانَ الشَّيْطَانُ لِرَبِّهِ كَفُورًا (17:27

“…and do not squander wastefully, surely the squanderers are the followers of the shaitans and the Shaitan is ever ungrateful to his Lord.” (Surah al-‘Isrā’, 17:26-27)

Further at many contexts in the Quran there is an exhortation towards moderation.  One such verse is as below:

“And they who when they spend, are neither extravagant nor parsimonious, and (keep) between these the just mean.” (Surah al-Furqān 25:67)

  1. Responsible Usage Of Natural Resources:

Further in the Qur’an we find warnings to those who deface earth, cause mischief by disrupting the natural orders, abuse earth that is for common use, who do not respect the perfect balance in nature and cause harm to nature.

Below are few of the verses from Qur’an:

In verse 55-56 of chapter 7 titled Isra any disruption to the natural orders is warned as most unloveable act for God.

وَلاَ تُفْسِدُواْ فِي الأَرْضِ بَعْدَ إِصْلاَحِهَا وَادْعُوهُ خَوْفًا وَطَمَعًا إِنَّ رَحْمَتَ اللّهِ قَرِيبٌ مِّنَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

“Allah surely loves not those who transgress the bounds of what is right. Do not cause any disruption on earth after it has been so well ordered.” [Qur’an 7:55-56]

Similarly, earth and its resources and its produces are in due balance and with sustenance for all living beings according to verse 19 and 20 of chapter 15 titled Al-Hijr:

وَالأَرْضَ مَدَدْنَاهَا وَأَلْقَيْنَا فِيهَا رَوَاسِيَ وَأَنبَتْنَا فِيهَا مِن كُلِّ شَيْءٍ مَّوْزُونٍ

“And the earth We have spread out; set thereon mountains firm and immovable; and produced therein all kinds of things in due balance.” [Qur’an 15:19

وَجَعَلْنَا لَكُمْ فِيهَا مَعَايِشَ وَمَن لَّسْتُمْ لَهُ بِرَازِقِينَ

and provided thereon means of livelihood for you [O men] as well as for all

[living beings] whose sustenance does not depend on you.

So also in, verse 13 of chapter 45 titled Al-Jathiya, all natural resources are available for use and not for abuse or misuse.

وَسَخَّرَ لَكُم مَّا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ جَمِيعًا مِّنْهُ إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لَّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

The earth is made available for human use, without abuse or misuse.  Subjected/ of service to humanity is whatever is in the celestial spheres and the earth; Surely, in all these, there are signs for those who reflect [Q45:13].

An irresponsible attitude and approach has led to such devastation of our water bodies, air, ground aquifiers, soil, so much so that sun rays that are vital for life is not healthy.

And all this in the name of development.  Does development mean more financial figures for fewer people?

Today development should mean, ensuring pollution free air for all, chemical free and adulteration free food for all, Pollution free and encroachment free water bodies,  regenerative and productive soil and healthy sun rays free from harmful ultraviolet rays.

3-  Water and Its Judicious Use:

Prophet Muhammad

  • advised the Muslim armies that even when in enemy territory, not to pollute the water
  • performed ablution washing each part no more than three times] and said: “Whoever increases more than three he does excess and wrong.” This in keeping with the Quranic injunction, so necessary for water preservation
  • The Prophet (peace be upon him) has famously instructed not to waste water even on the bank of a flowing river and that too for ablution. He also guided Muslims to use only one Mudd of water for each ablution, which is less than a liter.

4-  Importance of Planting a sapling:

Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “If the Resurrection were established upon one of you while he has in his hand a sapling, then let him plant it.”

Source: Musnad Aḥmad 12491

C. ‘Islamic’ countries and muslims vis-a-vis the Qur’an:

While Qur’an exhorts each one to prevent corruption of earth, and corruption on earth, and calls for judicious use of the natural resources and to not disturb the balance of the nature; we scarcely find the ‘Islamic’ countries with any policy on maintaining of the ecological balance.

There is no particular proposal emanating from any of the ‘Islamic’ country, or Organization of Islamic Countries (who swear by the Qur’an),  to curtail emissions, cutting COand methane emissions atleast by half by 2030,  restore nature, and curb climate breakdown.

Nor, did the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries consisting of mostly ‘Islamic’ countries brain storm on alternating their economy from petroleum-based to eco-friendly economy.  Although, Oman and other countries did try to do so for economic alternative reasons.

While Qatar is leading the world in carbon foot print, which means that we need 7.2 earths if each one leads Qatari lifestyle.  Saudi Arabia, home to Makkah the largest muslim pilgrimage centre, is actively engaged in a war, butchering rights voice, and is one of largest importers of arms from USA and Israel. Effect on environment and health caused by war industry need be condemned and sanctioned against.  Devastation caused by Saudi Arabia and its friendly ‘Islamic’ countries is totally against the Qur’an which is their country’s acknowledged super and supreme authority.

It is only Bangladesh, that uniquely has introduced Green Banking Policy which means that every bank loan is tied up to the loanee project being environmentally compliant.

When did we hear of a masjid using its platform to sensitize the friday gathering about the environmental challenges and consumption wastefulness vis a vis the Quranic exhortation on moderation in consumption and admonition against wasteful expenditure.  Which Masjid conducted sessions and admonished on felling of trees and encouraged planting of trees as advised by Prophet Muhammad?

Do the Masaajid(mosques) and madrasas(study hubs) try to handle wadhu(ablution) waters by channelling into a water harvesting pit?   Wadhu waters are least polluted waters but they are piped into the sewage drains.

Until Qur’an is brought out of the formal holy status onto its experiential study and comprehension, it is no use swearing by the Qur’an – – which implies that we shall never deface nature and shall always uphold its balance — and on the contrary never even spare a thought for the spirit and word of the Qur’an.

Episteme of Qur’an is Tauheed(Oneness of God) this pervading characteristic of oneness also embedded in the intricately and intriguingly  interwoven natural world systems that are functional as a whole.  While Qur’an admonishes people not to disturb this balance Muslims who swear by This Book seem especially oblivious of this responsibility.

Masjids were community centres during time of Prophet Muhammad and issues of people in the vicinity of masjid were handled in the masjid.

Similarly Qur’an mandates Shoora (mutual consultation) as a platform to discuss and resolve issues.  In which case, masjids across the world should have been discussing climate breakdown, air-water-soil pollution, global warming, extinction crisis, etc. which is not the case.

The reason that also carries the solution for unmindfulness of interaction with the Qur’an being, Qur’an is treated by most of muslims as ‘holy book’ and not as ‘Book of Guidance’, ‘Criterion’, ‘Book of best narrations(life lessons)’ as self-referenced in the Qur’an.


1-   a) The Noble Qur’an in the english language by Dr Muhammad Taqiuddin AlHilali & Dr Muhammad Muhsin Khan

b)  The Qur’an Arabic text with corresponding english meanings – Saheeh International, Riyadh Abul Qasim Publishing House 1997

c)  https://www.islamicity.org/QuranSearch/

2-   https://fridaysforfuture.org/)

3-  https://www.overshootday.org/newsroom/past-earth-overshoot-days/

4-  https://www.straitstimes.com/world/un-report-stresses-urgent-need-for-nature-rescue-plan

5-  https://www.techtimes.com/articles/228195/20180521/humans-are-0-01-percent-of-life-on-earth-and-there-are-7-500-plants-for-each-human.htm

6-  https://api.footprintnetwork.org/v1/data/100,5001,179,231/2016/earth

7-   https://www.pnas.org/content/115/25/6506

8-  https://twitter.com/GretaThunberg

Dr Lubna Sarwath Ph.D Islamic Economics, Trisakti University, Jakarta, Indonesia

Member, Editorial Board, International Journal of Ethics and Systems, Emerald Publications, UK

General Secretary-Telangana, Socialsit Party(India), Hyderabad

ex-convenor, Save Our Urban Lakes, Hyderabad

Founder-Secretary, Shausaa’ Foundation, Hyderabad

​Contested candidate for Karwan MLA, Telangana Assembly December 2018
Contested candiddate for Hyderabad MP, Parliament of India April 2014,


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