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for the way we use or abuse it (40:64; 21:47; 31:16; 36:12). How sad it is that humans abuse what God gave us (39:7).
God gave us only one habitable planet (15:20; 43:10) with great biodiversity (26:7; 41:10). Giving thanks is not a lip service (9:105; 25:63; 36:45-47). If we damage the planet and knowingly contribute to the ever-increasing loss of biodiversity, we are not only endangering our physical well-being and that of generations to come, but also our souls because we are violating God’s commandment of not corrupting the earth (7:56; 10:23; 25:63; 30:41; 31:18). Today, plant and animal species are becoming extinct at a rate of one every 20 seconds mainly because of human actions. What price will we pay for usurping God’s power to bestow life and death on a whole species of creatures? Do we need to be asking if creating genetically modified organisms by inserting genes from totally unrelated species, is dangerously tampering with God’s creation?
In the past, we may have damaged the environment out of ignorance as with the production of carbon dioxide during the early industrial revolution, but we don’t have that excuse today. Our actions are more often due to greed and personal interest than to ignorance (4:17-18; 68:13; 74:14-15). Rainforest lands are burned to open fields for agriculture. A number of plant and animal species have been driven to the brink of extinction due to improper or overfishing and killing animals merely for trophies (7:56; 10:23; 30:41).
Scientists have shown temperatures are rising. Weather extremes are becoming more common. God is saying that nature is a great teacher (3:191). Why aren’t we listening? We share this planet with so many special plants and animals that He has made (6:38; 55:10); so much beauty and life He has given us (26:7). We should give thanks to Him for His gifts by caring for them. Instead, we take what He has given, and often damage or destroy it (30:41; 7:56).
“That may be true,” you might say, “for global leaders and large businesses, but I am not responsible. I can’t change the world. I am only one small person.”
But you may think differently when you hear the story of the boy and the starfish. Early one morning a boy was picking up starfish, stranded on the shore by low tide and destined to die in the hot summer sun. One by one he was throwing them back out to sea when a passerby commented,
“There are thousands of starfish on this beach and it’s getting hot very quickly. You can’t save them all, so how can you possibly make a difference?” The boy picked up another starfish, smiled, and said, as he threw the creature into the sea, “I can make a difference to this one.”
Each of us can find our own “starfish;” our own way of giving thanks to God by helping to save this world He gave us (31:16). We can conserve energy by turning off lights, appliances, TVs, and computers when we are not using them (6:141). We can conserve water by planting drought tolerant plants, taking shorter showers and not watering as frequently. We can reduce waste by preparing only the amount of food we know we will eat, eating moderately (7:31), and by consuming non-endangered species. We can also reduce the amount of fossil fuels we use and thereby the amount of carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere by combining as many errands as possible into one trip, or even better by walking or biking shorter distances instead of driving. We can compost vegetable waste and shredded paper, which enriches the soil and reduces the amount of waste going to landfill sites. We can participate in coastal clean up days or Earth days. Even such minor actions as picking up trash from the ground and putting it in a trash bin can make a difference (31:16; 36:12). We can lead by example, by showing our children how to conserve or by listening to them when they tell us how to show thanks by showing concern for God’s gift of this planet. If we want to be able to share with our children and future generations that peaceful spot in nature where we can listen to the sounds of nature and give thanks, we all must take care of it now (27:60; 55:6; 56:72).
God reminds: He is the One who made the earth habitable for you, and created for you roads therein, that you may follow the right way (43:10). The right way is the way to take care of the earth to keep it habitable as God meant it for not just human but all living creatures (55:10). A true worshiper of God will tread the earth gently (25:63; 31:18). Remember, everything we do, “even the equivalent of a mustard seed will be accounted for” (21:47; 36:12).
If one boy can make a small difference, imagine how much more we can do as a group. Imagine how many “starfish” we can save if we work alone and together to make a difference. We appreciate God and His creations, and in doing so grow our souls, protect our environment and our future.
Practicing conservation and avoiding wasteful practices go hand in hand with giving thanks to God.
SOME OF GOD’S PROVISIONS: 16:65-69
In Sura 16, God gives many beautiful examples of His provisions to us and verse 18 says: If you count GOD's blessings, you cannot possibly encompass them. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.
I want to concentrate on one small section in Sura 16, just five verses, but they illustrate His blessings in a wonderful way. 16:65-69 tell us about some of His provisions, and when we look at just these specific ones, we can see how much God has blessed us with.
[16:65] GOD sends down from the sky water to revive the land after it had died. This should be (sufficient) proof for people who hear.
Water is essential for all life. We know that all living things are made from water (21:30, 24:45), and we can survive for only a short while without water. God created the system which provides us with water (25:53, 35:12). The water is there for us to drink and to clean ourselves (8:11); it allows the plants to grow (2:22, 14:32, 20:53, 35:27 and many more); and God is the One who provides it and keeps it pure (18:41, 23:18, 25:48, 67:30). Even in the desert where we never feel we get enough rain, I know that we get exactly what we need. And when it rains, after a long drought, it’s so easy to be thankful and appreciative of this blessing.
[16:66] And in the livestock there is a lesson for you: we provide you with a drink from their bellies. From the midst of digested food and blood, you get pure milk, delicious for the drinkers.
All of the livestock, and the many ways we enjoy them, are blessings from God. We ride horses, raise chickens for eggs, shear sheep for their wool. God subdued them for us so that we can have meat, hides and transportation (6:142, 16:5, 20:54, 36:71-3). And then there’s milk.
The description in verse 66 is so apt. Trying
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