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Mohidem, N.A.; Hashim, Z. Integrating Environment with Health. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 14 June 2024).
Mohidem NA, Hashim Z. Integrating Environment with Health. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed June 14, 2024.
Mohidem, Nur Adibah, Zailina Hashim. "Integrating Environment with Health" Encyclopedia, (accessed June 14, 2024).
Mohidem, N.A., & Hashim, Z. (2023, August 17). Integrating Environment with Health. In Encyclopedia.
Mohidem, Nur Adibah and Zailina Hashim. "Integrating Environment with Health." Encyclopedia. Web. 17 August, 2023.
Integrating Environment with Health

With the increasing challenge of addressing environmental health issues, various approaches have been proposed to reduce environmental problems. For Muslims all over the world, the Qur’an, Hadith, and Sunnah are recognised as the authoritative messages for spiritual and behavioural guidance on how humans can react to protect the environment and health.

environment health Hadith Islam Sunnah

1. Introduction

The World Health Organization (WHO 2006) defines the environment as “the interwoven complex relationships of physical, chemical, and biological factors that affect human and non-human beings in our behavioural response to those factors”. On the other hand, environmental health is the science and practice of preventing human injury, illness, and promoting well-being by identifying and evaluating environmental sources of hazardous agents as well as limiting exposures. These hazardous physical, chemical, and biological agents in water, air, soil, food, and other environmental settings or media are potentially harmful to human health (NEHA 2013). From the perspective of Islam, the concept of the environment is comprehensive, encompassing air, water, and land as well as their interactions with all living things, including the motivations, emotions, and instincts of human beings (Saputra et al. 2021). Allah created the environment. Its protection and preservation are obligatory, as shown in the verse from the Qur’an. If a man believes that the only reason for protecting the environment is to benefit from it, he may misuse or destroy it (Masoumbeigi et al. 2021). Environmental preservation is a public duty because current and future generations have the right to a protected and preserved environment.
Religion plays a significant part in raising people’s awareness of the environment and the need to maintain sustainability and reduce health impacts. Therefore, contemporary environmental issues continue to play a crucial and prominent role in a wide range of religious discourses. Contemporary theologians of various religions have explained their respective faiths’ previous attitudes towards the environment and accepted their faiths’ responsibilities and complicity in the current environmental crises (Gottlieb 2009). Environmental degradation is a grave offence against the Divine, in addition to posing a planetary threat, economic disaster, and aesthetic blight (Gottlieb 2011). When religions are recognised as strong influences on value systems and beliefs, they influence the decisions, behaviours, and attitudes of individuals and communities towards environmental science and health. This perspective tends to be the reason why reviewing Islamic authoritative texts that correspond to the environment and nature could help in solving the global environmental and health crises.
Islamic education is based on life lessons that can be found in the Qur’an, Hadith, and Sunnah, which include the importance of preserving a healthy environment (Ismail et al. 2021). The goal of Islamic teaching is to encourage the Muslim community and individuals to have good relationships with Allah, other humans, and the universe. When people are capable of maximising their potential, they will continue to be intertwined with the universe. The concept of Rahmatan Lil ‘Alamin is an interpretation of Islamic practice for learning more about environmental health. The community is obligated to uphold cleanliness at all times, beginning with maintaining personal hygiene, as well as keeping the home, workplace, and surrounding environment clean. The environment is a responsibility assigned by Allah to every believer (Masoumbeigi et al. 2021). Hence, it is the responsibility of humans to take care of the environment to which they have been entrusted by Allah.
The Qur’an is considered by Muslims as the Divine’s word and as the spiritual and behavioural authoritative text for Muslims worldwide. It consists of 114 chapters (surahs) and 6236 verses (ayahs) and is deemed to be the primary essence and final authority of the Islamic way of life. Previous studies have discovered that the Qur’an has the potential to promote cardiovascular health, mental health, maternal and child health, dietary patterns and healthy nutrition, as well as environmental related diseases (Taheri and Bakouei 2019; Masruri et al. 2022; Abdekhoda and Ranjbaran 2022; Mir Husseini Niri 2021). The Hadith and Sunnah, which correspond to the Prophet Muhammad’s sayings and deeds, are secondary sources of guidance for Muslims. Many Hadith touch on plants, trees, irrigation, land production, water allocation, irrigation, grains, cattle, hunting, and animal care. The Sunnah also contains a number of important ecological guidelines. Therefore, environmental behaviour with an in-depth understanding of the Qur’an, Hadith, and Sunnah in relation to environmental health and education is needed.

2. Integrating Environmental Health with Islamic Perspective

The term ‘environment’ refers to all of the things and humans that surround each individual. The two environmental dimensions are the natural and social environments (Tan et al. 2022). The natural environment is described as everything in the universe as God’s creation, which includes living and non-living things. The social environment is a group of people who live and interact with one another. Humans may have the same or different cultures, traditions, behaviours, religions, and ways of life. People form relationships with one another in a social environment based on their ideas, needs, and targets, which are guided by values, laws, and roles (Levy et al. 2021). Even though the natural environment is broader than the social environment, they are interconnected in such a way that each has an impact on the other (Scalsky et al. 2022) (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Diagram of the relationship between environmental dimensions.
When it comes to the relationship between environmental balance and sustainability and human well-being and safety, there are growing concerns about the lack of health security. There has been a substantial increase in the number of people looking for solutions to environmental and health risks caused by pollutants and mismanagement of natural resources. There are societal concerns and fears derived from a failure to consider security, prosperity, stability, and tranquillity in this relationship (Muharrem and Olcay Kaplan 2019). One of the solutions is to improve the understanding of the impact of environmental issues on health, which relates to people’s relationship with Allah.
The five dimensions of health are wellness, disease, intellectual health, transcendence, and Qalbe Salim. Intellectual health enables humans to benefit from any situation in life and eventually achieve Qalbe Salim, which is defined as the attainment of ultimate wellness through transcendence and occurs through obedience to Allah’s words. In Qalbe Salim, humans are at their healthiest and most peaceful (Sadat Hoseini 2019). The dichotomy of wellness and disease in the human life cycle leads to intellectual health, with its dimensions of intellect and wisdom leading to transcendence and Qalbe Salim, that is, ultimate wellness (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Diagram of the relationship between health dimensions.
A sufficient understanding of themselves, seeking Allah’s assistance, and adhering to Islamic thought based on the Qur’an, Hadith, and Sunnah are necessary for humans to enjoy a healthy environment. These situations counteract the ignorance, egoism, selfishness, and other negative temptations that contribute to both internal and external environmental degradation. These deeds uproot human greed, arrogance, and extravagance. Therefore, Allah commands people to maintain the earth, protect it from harm, refrain from excess, and safeguard justice. People who know that their actions and environmental degradation factors are at odds with nature have their roots in some of the inner and outer dimensions of the human personality. Then, they will consciously value sustained development and environmental preservation. As a result of their behaviours, their own environmental anomalies will decrease (Masoumbeigi et al. 2021).
Environmental factors that have an impact on a person’s health, quality of life, and way of life are under Allah’s authority. A person who has the most treasured Divine blessing, namely intellect and authority, has a heavy duty and must exercise caution not to use it against Allah’s will. A wise person should show honourable behaviour worthy of the best creature’s dignity by gaining the necessary awareness and changing his or her attitude, that is, by being a protector and lover of environmental health. In Islam, such behaviour is expected of Allah’s obedient and upright servants (Salman and Ahmed 2021).
The Qur’an emphasises the importance of purifying ourselves, as well as practising a healthy lifestyle in a clean environment (Figure 3). There are three types of cleanliness in Islam: (i) purification from impurity (i.e., achieving purity or cleanliness by taking a bath ghusl or performing ablution wudu’ in conditions where a bath or ablution is required or desirable under Islamic Law; (ii) cleaning our body, dress, or surroundings of impurity or filth; and (iii) removing dirt from different parts of the body, including cleaning the teeth and nostrils, nail trimming, as well as armpit and pubic hair removal (Abd Rahim et al. 2018).
Figure 3. Health aspect in relation to the environment, as mentioned in the Qur’an.
Therefore, health and the environment are attributed in such a way that both the social and natural environments affect attainment of Qalbe Salim. The environment can either cause disease or promote a healthy lifestyle. The Qur’an, Hadith, and Sunnah guide human behaviour in terms of environmental conservation and preservation. Three principles made up of unity, balance, and responsibility can be used to describe the attitudes of people towards the environment (Figure 4).
Figure 4. Principles that describe the attitude of people towards the environment.
Firstly, there is the principle of unity. The Qur’an demonstrates that nature is a whole, i.e., a complete system in which the parts support each other. The order and regular operation of the entire natural system are disturbed if even one component is affected (Cutter 2021; Kapsar et al. 2022). About 1300 years prior to the emergence of the academic concept of holism, the Qur’an encouraged a comprehensive perspective of the environment (55:7–8). Nature itself is one. Its components are interrelated to create a whole. Mankind has been provided with all of the resources it requires to survive. He/she has no right to mistreat them and must use them wisely (20:53–54) (Perry 2018). The same principle is synthesised in the 164th verse of Surah Al-Baqarah and in the 10th verse of Surah Ar-Rahman. In order to better understand and respect nature, people have to use its gifts wisely while also learning about its components, processes, and roles (Patil et al. 2022).
Secondly, as the principle of balance, the universe is in perfect balance and proportion at both qualitative and quantitative levels (Llibre 2022). As a consequence, man has a responsibility to protect the environment, which is mentioned in the 40th verse of Surah Al-Hadid. Every element of the universe has a specific purpose, for which man is responsible as a wise user and protector of the environment. Failure to fulfil this responsibility will result in an imbalance (Wiryomartono 2022). The environment in which we live is a network of connections that influence each other in such a way that every imbalance experienced by one has a negative impact on all others. This viewpoint has recently been confirmed by science. Despite the fact that the theory of ecological balance is relatively new, having been introduced in the late 20th century by the United Nations (1997), it is mentioned in numerous verses of the Qur’an (Agboola et al. 2022).
Thirdly, there is the principle of responsibility. Man is not the leader of nature and the universe. Man is the gardener of the earth and he is responsible for his behaviour (Wajda 2017). Man must understand his role as a temporary administrator, a beneficiary rather than an owner of this planet. The Qur’an advocates for the preservation of all natural aspects of the environment in the 6th verse of Surah Sad, stating that humans are not superior to any other species (Febriani and Tamam 2020). The Qur’an makes reference to the close connection between human behaviour and environmental conditions in the 7th Surah Al-ʻAlaq and in the 11th verse of Surah At-Tur. The Qur’an makes it very clear that we should protect the environment and treat it well because we are not its real owners. In addition, the Qur’an forbids the abuse of animals and birds. Man has a responsibility to ensure the welfare of all creations. In other words, the Islamic religion shows a positive attitude toward the environment and natural resources, emphasising development and protection while rejecting all forms of exploitation and destruction (Ramlan 2020). Verse 61 of the Surah Hud discusses preserving and restoring the lands through farming, cultivation, and construction.
Therefore, the right to use natural resources implies humanity’s commitment to preserving them in a sustainable manner, ensuring that future generations will also benefit from them, acknowledge their beauty, and use them to design their homes, all of which must be done in a moderate and compassionate manner. The ideology of Islamic environmentalism is based on environmental protection and conservation of nature (Gulzar et al. 2021; Muhamad et al. 2020). Accordingly, the Islamic approach to environmental health should focus on teaching the concept that the natural environment is neutral and good in and of itself. However, man’s attitude towards natural resources, as well as irresponsible and careless behaviours and attitudes, may result in an unhealthy environment.
The Islamic view on a country’s development recognises economic growth as a way of achieving human happiness and well-being, in which a balance between people’s right to prosperity, community rights to social equity and fairness, the environment, and health is maintained (Bsoul et al. 2022). Therefore, organisations put the idea of “green Islam” into practice by promoting eco-theology and increasing Muslim involvement in sustainable living and environmental management.
Religious organisations such as Ummah for Earth and Islamic Relief Worldwide focus on modern Muslim societies that are committed to protecting the environment and vulnerable communities that align with Islamic tradition. In addition to their role in distributing religious values, the idea of ummah or community also refers to a more resilient future. Everyone would receive the benefits of a clean, liveable planet, thus protecting their health from environmental pollution (Chapra 2016; Petersen 2016). When used to establish and promote environmentally sustainable living, the ummah concept offers a powerful and effective connection-building tool for the Muslim community. The ummah’s goal should be to promote the root causes of environmental protection, environmental literacy, and problem-solving for urgent issues, including environment-related diseases.
Islamic Relief Worldwide is a non-profit development and humanitarian organisation dedicated to assisting and empowering the world’s weakest and most vulnerable people. Along with GreenFaith and the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences, Islamic Relief launched the Islamic Declaration on Climate Change (The Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences 2016). It urged Muslim communities to actively participate in local, national, and international climate action. Global Muslim leaders supported the Declaration, which makes the case for environmental protection within the context of the Islamic faith and the role of health.
Islamic faith-based organisations employ a variety of strategies when advocating for the environment, specifically for specified countries. For example, in Indonesia, using the organisational network of pesantrens, schools, and kyais to expand their campaign on eco-theology, these organisations use technologies of power to self-govern. This is reflected in the concept of eco-spiritual governmentality, an initiative that Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama have taken through pre-teaching (dakwah). Muhammadiyah organises a variety of volunteer programmes, such as the establishment of Mubaligh Lingkungan, to educate people about eco-theology (environmental preacher). In order to stop illegal logging and deforestation in Central Java, they have called for a jihad, which is an Arabic term for “struggle” (Dewayanti and Saat 2020). The expression shows a strong desire to put an end to what is thought to be an irresponsible act towards the environmental damage that affects human health.
As a solution, non-religious regulatory and non-regulatory organisations can cooperate with Islamic regulatory organisations to apply coercive Muslim principles or Shariah compliance by implementing environmental health values and practices. For instance, the Green Building Index Organization’s rating can be used as a standard to classify respective organisations as Shariah-compliant (Nasir et al. 2021). With this ruling in place, organisations may be under pressure to achieve GBI accreditation as well as Shariah compliance.

4. Differences between Islamic and Western Views on Environmental Responsibility

In Islam, nature was created for people to study the environment in order to discover God and should be used for their benefit. This viewpoint is an extension of the concept that man has been placed on Earth to serve as God’s representative (Faruqi 2006; Zaidi 1991; Said 1989). The environment can be used to provide food, and its bounty should be distributed equally among communities. All activities that harm mankind and thus destroy the natural balance is prohibited. For example, unnecessarily killing animals or removing vegetation can lead to starvation due to a lack of food. Therefore, Islam holds people responsible for any harm they cause to the planet, so it is important for them to preserve natural resources.
Islam emphasises that environmental protection is the only way to preserve the delicate balance of life and emphasises common interests, in contrast to Western concepts that view it as a reaction to outside factors and the pursuit of particular interests. The main difference between Western and Islamic views is the source of knowledge. The Western view is based on their own ideas and research on the subject, whereas the Islamic view is based on Divine revelation from the Qur’an, Hadith, and Sunnah from the Prophet Muhammad SAW (Nasir et al. 2021). The interaction between man and the environment is accompanied by a powerful desire to please Allah (Aral and López-Sintas 2022). The Qur’anic verses in Figure 5 demonstrate the relationship between nature and man, and this relationship inspires Muslim scholars to explore natural phenomena in order to better understand God (Wersal 1995).
Figure 5. Verses in the Qur’an that mention the whole universe.
After the Scientific Revolution, the Western view was that no footprints of the Divine could be identified in the environment (Peters 2003). Moreover, any similarities that existed between Western and Islamic views were torn apart by the rise of modern science (Nasr 1996). An analysis of the principles of religion and nature by Seyyed Hossein Nasr (1996) found that there was a significant shift that played a central role in the emergence of modern science from the idea of cosmic order and laws created by God.
This situation was applicable to people and the environment because of the idea of ‘the laws of the environment’, which were discovered by people, associated with mathematical laws, and segregated from ethical and spiritual laws. Although later theologians attempted to ‘christianise’ the seventeenth-century scientific concept of the laws of nature, this new idea also eclipsed the earlier Christian understanding of the topic. Surprisingly, such a situation did not occur in other civilisations with long scientific traditions, such as Chinese, Indian, and Islamic civilisations. As a consequence, this situation had implications for the division between the modern West and other civilisations in terms of understanding the order of nature and its religious significance.
Europe appears to have decided to transform mediaeval science, which had been influenced by Islamic scientific traditions. Plato succeeded Aristotle, and mathematics became the new scientific tool. With contributions from Nicholas Copernicus (1473–1543), Galileo Galilei (1564–1642), and Johannes Kepler (1571–1630), mediaeval science ended with the biological sciences and Charles Darwin’s The Origins of Life, which had philosophical implications. According to Koyré (1892–1964), a respected French historian of science (Iqbal 2002), the founders of modern science did not refine or improve what they had inherited, but actually destroyed one world and replaced it with another. They reshaped the intellectual framework, restated and reformed its concepts, and developed an entirely novel approach to concepts of the human being and the environment. The differences between Islamic and Western views on the relationship between man and the environment are presented in Figure 6.
Figure 6. Islamic and Western views on the relationship between man and the environment.
Islamic and Western views are also diverse in terms of society’s institutions or companies. Hence, companies should protect and preserve the environment, even if doing so will affect their own interests. The Islamic view is superior to the Western view, which reflects that companies should protect the environment as part of protecting their environmental interests. These interests vary in the Western view. For instance, companies protect the environment to attract customers, avoid complaints and fines, or generate wealth (Lin 2020; Prisandani 2022).
In terms of environmental preservation, companies have five levels of environmental responsibility (Salem et al. 2012). The first level is irresponsible, which represents an extreme behaviour of a company. In this case, the company shows no regard for the environment. Issues such as fraud, misrepresenting accounting statements, illegal disposal of toxic waste, and false advertisement illustrate irresponsibility by a company. The second level is minimalist, in which companies try to maximise profit and share value. The company complies with the minimum legal requirements. It may also take part in a few environmental activities. The third level is apathetic, in which companies adhere to the required ethical obligations and operate within the law. Doing what is right and avoiding harm can serve as representations of these obligations. Altruistic and philanthropic endeavours, as well as other social and environmental activities, are rarely carried out by the company. If such a company makes no strategic effort to engage in a corporate social responsibility scheme, it is referred to as apathetic. The fourth level is tactical, in which companies voluntarily fulfil their social responsibilities. This is advantageous both in the short- and long-term basis. When a company’s standing is raised, it eventually guarantees long-term profits. The fifth level is taqwa-centric, whereby Islamic values are applied by a company or institution. At this level, companies voluntarily engage in environmental activities, regardless of the financial implications, both positive as well as negative. At this point, religious duty serves as the key driver behind an environmental activity. Profit or company reputation is less significant than this religious obligation. Hence, the Islamic perspective on environmental responsibility is illustrated by this example. It outweighs all other theories (Figure 7).
Figure 7. Environmental responsibility levels.
While traditional corporate legitimacy demonstrates that companies should protect the environment as part of protecting their own interests (a win-win situation), ethical Islamic legitimacy prioritises the environment above other things and highlights public interests over individual interests. There are companies that comply with the five levels of environmental responsibility. For example, the Saudi government has paid SAR 35.5 billion to the owners of expropriated properties to make possible the expansion and modernisation of Makkah’s Grand Mosque, which will better serve over 6 million pilgrims (human beings—the centre of the natural environment) each year (Helfaya et al. 2018). Therefore, people are obligated to protect and preserve the environment, even if doing so jeopardises their specific interests.
One of the objectives of corporate social responsibility (CSR) is to improve the well-being of all stakeholders, including employees, shareholders, depositors, customers, society, and future generations. The mission of “business and khalifah” implies the essential need for companies to instil good CSR practices, such as encouraging good environmental practices, occupational safety, philanthropic contributions, and socially beneficial and harmless activities (Umar et al. 2022). Failure to do so is equivalent to disrespecting and offending Allah’s will, with all of the implications in this world and the Hereafter.
CSR disclosure by Islamic banks is commonly based on eight dimensions, one of which is the environment. For instance, full-fledged local Islamic banks in Malaysia include Bank Islam Malaysia (BIMB), Bank Kerjasama Rakyat Malaysia (BKRM), and Bank Muamalat Malaysia (BMM). The items are as follows: (i) the introduction of a green product glossary/definition of a green product; (ii) investment in a recycling bin project (recycling for nature) and other sustainable development projects; (iii) donations to environmental awareness causes; (iv) financing in any project that may cause environmental damage; (v) investment in sustainable development projects; and (vi) initiatives to mitigate environmental impacts of products and services, and the extent of impact mitigation (Darus et al. 2018).
Although there are differences in environmental responsibility between Western and Islamic theories, similarities exist among them. Paganism, for example, the 7th largest religion according to the UK census, would agree with Islamic theories on protecting the earth. Therefore, cooperation of devotees from these two theories would help to educate communities from various religious backgrounds on the importance of protecting the environment. Awareness programmes should be implemented to increase responsibility for environmental conservation and preservation, which will eventually minimise the impact of environmental degradation on health.


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Update Date: 17 Aug 2023
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