Word For Peace
Research Scholar, JMI New Delhi
March 22 is celebrated globally as the World Water Day. Water is the most precious blessing on the planet, and the most important necessity of human life since the world was created. It is an essential element for the continuation of life for all living creatures and plants. In fact, water is at the core of sustainable development and it is critical for socio-economic development, energy generation, food production, healthy ecosystems, and for human survival itself.
In Islam, therefore, water conservation is highly encouraged. In the holy Qur’an, the Arabic word for water, ma’a, is referenced exactly 63 times throughout the Holy Book. In a nutshell, the Qur’anic verses tell us that water gives and sustains life, and purifies humankind and the earth. There are several Prophetic Traditions (Hadith reports) which substantiate the same Islamic standpoint.
With the impact of climate change on the earth, we are seeing such extremes of weather throughout the world which require water conservation, but we never realize how much water we waste on a daily basis; we unnecessarily use water for washing our vehicles, taking long baths, flushing the toilet, excessive washing of dishes, brushing our teeth or spending extra time in the shower just because we feel comfortable, while a large number of people around the world do not have easy access to water or they simply struggle for it.
As we know that four things are considered among the basic elements of the universe and all other elements come under these. They are fire, earth, air, and water. These are divided into two major groups: living things and non-living objects. Apart from water, other three elements can only create non-living objects, but they can’t form living bodies. It is only the fourth element that is water which can form living bodies. If there is no water, this universe will have only and only inanimate objects and no living thing can be imagined, that is why it is rightly said that “Water is life.”
Significantly, Islam has attached paramount importance to water, as the Holy Qur’an states: “We created every living thing by water” (30: Al Anbiya).
Leonard da Vici said, “Water is the driving force for all nature.”
Water Crisis and Challenges:
2.2 billion people lack access to safely managed drinking-water services (WHO/UNICEF 2019)
Almost 2 billion people depend on health care facilities without basic water services (WHO/UNICEF 2020)
Over half of the global population or 4.2 billion people lack safely managed sanitation services. (WHO/UNICEF 2019)
297,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases due to poor sanitation, poor hygiene, or unsafe drinking water. (WHO/UNICEF 2019)
Now we need to ponder how much water we waste on a daily basis, while Islamic teachings pay special attention to preserving and using the water judiciously and, it strongly prohibits to waste or use anything excessively. The Almighty, Allah says in the Holy Qur’an, “And do not waste excessively, Allah does not love the wasters.” (31: Al ‘Aaraf).
A large number of communities that do not have access to clean water face unimaginable hardships, with women and children walking for hours to collect even a little water. Water scarcity has damaged the standard of living for inhabitants of the Middle East as well.
Islam encourages to give water as a charity. Because of desertification and water crisis the Arabian Peninsula is faced with a major problem which is also leading to huge environmental challenges. How important water is can be understood that once the Prophet was asked, “Which charity is the best?” He replied, “Water” (Abu Dawūd).
There is also a prophetic tradition that highlights the value of water. It goes like, “A little dog in need of water was given assistance by a man who descended to the bottom of a pit with great difficulties, held his shoe with his mouth to fill it with water and then made the little dog drink it. Because of this noble work, the man was awarded divine favour “Jannah”.
The charity of water saves lives, which is hugely appreciable, and it is considered a big charitable act in Islam to give water to other living things on earth. Such an act is greatly rewarded and it brings us closer to Almighty Allah. Talks about rain, fountains, and rivers pour through the pages of the Qur’an as a symbol of Allah’s benevolence to human beings. Allah says, “And whoever saves one life, it is as if he had saved all of mankind.” (32: Surah Al Maidah).
Imagine this every single time that the water you gifted saves someone’s life. It is as if you have saved all of mankind. Hence, this precious and most valuable natural resource must be used with respect and the highest degree of responsibility, and in an equitable manner both individually and collectively.