Believers have an obligation to all of creation

The religion of Islam teaches that every believer should be a responsible person towards all around him or her — not only humans but animals, birds, insects, trees and all the environment.

The closer you are to someone or something, the more you are responsible for their well-being.

The Quran and the directions of Prophet Muhammad are specific and clear about taking care of our parents, children, spouse, relatives, neighbors, poor, needy, homeless, jobless, patients, prisoners and handicapped, irrespective of their religion, race or color.

In the religion of Islam, taking care of all these people is not an option, it is obligation. Failing to perform this obligation because of carelessness or arrogance is a crime in this life and a punishable sin on the day of judgment. Prophet Muhammad has beautifully said that if you have eaten and your neighbor has slept hungry, none of your worship and prayers are accepted by God.

Prophet Muhammad was not only a champion of human rights — including, women, children and slaves — he was a pioneer of animal rights as well. His directions to believers about animal care are on the record: “Be careful about these animals as they cannot speak their complaints” (Abu-Dawud). “Cursed is the one who brands animals by burning them” (Ahmed).

Environmental care is also very important in Islamic teachings. Planting trees is a rewardable act, and cutting trees without a valid reason is not allowed. Pollution of the air, water and ground is forbidden. Even loud noises are forbidden in Islam.

— Muhammad Haq, Anniston Islamic Center

The cosmos is God’s. This planet is God’s.

In the New Testament, these words are found in the letter to the Colossians: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers — all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

All of creation — every quark, atom and molecule — has been created through and for God. No matter the process of its creation, the cosmos is God’s. This planet is God’s. Therefore, as people of faith, those who claim to follow God, our responsibility to the rest of creation is found in caring for it. Unfortunately, like so many truths which were once taken for granted by people of faith, caring for creation has become a politically divisive issue.

Nevertheless, if we worship the God of creation, if we as Christians worship the One who is called “the firstborn of all creation,” we are called to care for this creation, to not take it for granted, to understand that we are connected to each other by the very ground upon which we walk.

We are connected to each other through creation, through the ground, the sky, the stars, the air, the water — all of creation.

Whenever I think of our call to care for creation, I am reminded of the words of St. Francis of Assisi: If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.

— Chris Thomas, First Baptist Church of Williams, Jacksonville