There are hundreds of verses throughout the Qur’an that describe the wonders of creation and nature and call upon humankind to reflect on them as signs of God.

God has not created anything in this universe in vain, without wisdom, value and purpose. God says:

“We have not created the heavens and the earth and all that is between them carelessly. We have not created them but for truth.” (Quran 44:38-39)

Humans are described as stewards over this earth (as is the case in Jewish and Christian scripture), entrusted with its oversight.

“And He has made the ships to be of service unto you, that they may sail the sea by His command, and the rivers He has made of service unto you. And He has made the sun and the moon, constant in their courses, to be of service unto you, and He has made of service unto you the night and day. And He gives you all you seek of Him: If you would count the bounty of God, you could never reckon it.” (Quran 14:32-34)

“The world is beautiful and verdant, and verily God, be He exalted, has made you His stewards in it, and He sees how you acquit yourselves.” (Saheeh Muslim)

There are also numerous Qur’anic as well as prophetic injunctions to avoid waste, excess, and harm to other forms of creation.

Extravagance in using water is forbidden; this applies to private use as well as public, and whether the water is scarce or abundant. It is related that the Prophet passed by his companion Sa’d, who was washing for prayer, and said:

“What is this wastage, O Sa’d?”

“Is there wastage even in washing for prayer?” asked Sa’d;

and he said, “Yes, even if you are by a flowing river!” (Ibn Majah)

Islam expects humankind to treat all animals (all living creatures – birds, sea creatures, and insects) with respect and dignity. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) continuously advised people to show kindness. He forbade the practice of cutting tails and manes of horses, of branding animals at any soft spot, and of keeping horses saddled unnecessarily. (Saheeh Muslim)

If the Prophet saw, any animal over-burdened or ill fed he would speak mildly to the owner and say, “Fear God in your treatment of animals.” (Abu Dawood)

However, refraining from physical cruelty is not enough; abstaining from mental cruelty is equally as important. Even a bird’s emotional distress should be treated seriously. One of Prophet Muhammad’s companions narrates, “We were on a journey and during the Prophet’s absence, we saw a bird with its two chicks; we took them. The mother bird was circling above us in the air, beating its wings in grief. When Prophet Muhammad returned he said, “Who has hurt the feelings of this bird by taking its chicks? Return them to her.” (Saheeh Muslim)

Living a balanced, moderate lifestyle is an important Islamic principle advocated by most Muslim scholars that applies to all aspects of life, including care of the earth and all of creation.