By Dr. Javed Jamil
We are living in world which is advanced in method but extremely poor in results. Thanks to the overpowering effect of Economic Fundamentalism, Earth has ceased to be a world of peace. Disturbance of Environmental poise is one of the serious problems caused by the so-called advancement.
The Holy Qur’an speaks of the universe as a grand State ruled by One Majestic King. This universal system survives due to an unbreakable discipline with every single particle following, without failing, the laws of the nature the Lord created and established. While the laws of nature control the universe as a whole, the planet Earth has biological laws too in place. In addition, mankind has been given spiritual and social laws to follow. While the laws of nature and Biological laws are beyond human control, social and spiritual laws are largely within the powers of human beings. The earth has a unique system in which mankind plays an extremely important role in the events that take place here.
Quran gives lengthy descriptions of how God has made the earth a secure place for its inhabitants and how its various constituents help in the survival of the creatures including human beings. But the man chose to misuse the components of the universe with the result that the equipoise present around him got disturbed causing huge impact on the life on earth.
Ozone layer was one huge protection provided by God to man. See the verses from Surah Rahman which describe about the creation of equipoise in the sphere around the earth and warns about not disturbing this equilibrium.
The Sun and the Moon function with mathematical precision. Further, the star and (its) tree* revolve glorifying Him. Further, We have raised the sky high and established perfect equilibrium in it; so that you are in no easy position to disturb the equilibrium. Further, you must maintain the balance and must not harm the perfect equilibrium. (55: 3-12)
Sky here appears to refer to the the gravitational sphere or more specifically the Hill Sphere of the Earth. ‘Meezaan’ in this verse appears to indicate the balance in the environment, which if disturbed can cause huge harm to the living beings on the earth. This is now very well known in Environmental Sciences.
Quran specifically appears to point towards the Ozone layer stating that the heaven above the earth has been made a protective roof for humankind.
It is He who has formed the Earth like a floor and the sky like a roof for you; (2: 22)
Just as the roof protects the inhabitants from the extremes of heat, cold, wind and other external dangers from above it, the Sky including its Ozone layer protects the Earth from the harmful rays and other things. It is important to note that (1) The ozone layer in the Earth’s atmosphere acts as a filter for the shorter wavelength and highly hazardous ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from the Sun, protecting life on Earth from its potentially harmful effects. The lower the ozone level, the higher is the solar UVR. Without this protection, survival of human beings would have become almost impossible; (2) Sky protects against steroids and Meteors. (3) It also protects us against intense cold. (4) Then there is another protection in the form of a Van Allen radiation belt.
Out of all these, Ozone layer is the most important protection.
Quran also warns in the 7th Century that future will see the disturbing of the horizon of the sky due to human faults in handling the provisions of God:
Now, if you persist in repudiating, how will you be alert (beforehand) about the day that will make boys look grey-haired? The (horizon of the) sky will be disturbed*. His forecast is sure to happen. (73: 17-18)
Here again, the disturbing of sky appears to mean the depletion of the ozone layer in the twentieth century onwards due to environmental pollution. Greying of hair is also becoming commoner in increasingly younger age.
Quran is warning about pollution in a big way.
Now, wait for the time when the sky will bring an unambiguous smoke enveloping the people; it will be a grievous torment. (44: 10-11)
This appears to mean the rapidly increasing pollution of air, which is already causing huge distress to the people in many parts of the world or may point to any specific event of huge size.
Whether natural disasters are manmade or not has been a topic of debate among environmentalists for decades. Qur’an had categorically declared it about 1500-years back that the disasters are often the result of man’s actions. Now the environmentalists too have finally accepted it. Only recently the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change formed by the UN has issued a report declaring that the global warming is human made.
While Covid-19 outbreak has caused huge pain to humankind, it has created some positive impact on environment. Let the world realise on this World Ozone Day that without preserving environment, mankind cannot maintain a healthy existence.