[The] first [point] is on the viewpoint of Islam about the Earth and this planet and this complex which is the cradle of human life and a place for his birth and growth, and then the center of his return [to the Afterworld]. [It is related to] the viewpoint of Islam about the Earth and everything that exists on the Earth. In one place, Quran says, “We have created the Earth – that is this earthly planet – for human beings; [so] it belongs to all of them. It does not belong to some of them; some people are not more entitled to [exploiting] it than others. It does not belong only to one generation. Today, it belongs to you and tomorrow, it will belong to your offspring, to your grandchildren, to your scion, and so forth, and this is true about the entire Earth. The Earth has been created for humans and belongs to all of them. In another verse, [the Quran] says: “He created for you everything that exists on Earth.” Everything that exists on Earth and belongs to Earth has been created for you, humans. Therefore, because they are yours, [and since they] are to your benefit and belong to you, you must not destroy them. Everything [on Earth] is valuable. There are things that an ordinary human being may see as valuable and there are things that may seem worthless to them, but they are all of them precious. Once upon a time, there were people in our very country who asked, “What is this odious substance good for?” They were talking about oil. Some people may love the green territories of the northern region of the country and do not like deserts. Now, go and talk to Dr. Kordavani and see what he has to say about the desert. They are all the same, they are all blessings, they are all bounties, [and] they all belong to you. You have no right to destroy them; neither gardens, nor plantations, nor forests, nor pastures and plains, nor the desert. They all belong to human beings and we must take advantage of them.
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In another verse [of the Quran, God] says, “[And God sent] you [to Earth] to build it.” The Almighty God, who has created this Earth and crated you, has obligated you to work for the development of the Earth; that is, you should activate the potentialities that exist on Earth. There are many potentialities that have not been known so far and will be known later and their importance and value will be understood later. This is your job; something that you should do. Even now that we think we are taking advantage of all the capacities of Earth, this is not the case. The water, the soil, the air as well as underground reserves and products that exist on the surface of Earth, of which you are currently taking advantage, can be probably used in a way which will be millions of times more efficient, but of which we are not aware now. Humans should continuously strive to find new capacities and to use those capacities to the benefit of human life. There is another verse in Quran about the “avowed enemy,” that is, the most obstinate, the most ominous, and the most stubborn of enemies, whose characteristics have been enumerated. One of their characteristics is that when they find power on Earth they foster corruption and kill people and products. They corrupt the product; that is, both the plant and human products, and destroy them.
Today, if you look at the world politics, you can find people who are doing this with all nations or with many nations; [that is], destruction of products and people. Almighty God considers this as corruption. Then He says, “And Allah does not like corruption.” These were just a few verses [of Quran] that I recited here. There are tens of traditions [hadith] with lofty content in Islam and in our religious texts about the Earth, [and] about our environment. These verses that I recited here are among those verses [of Quran] which refer to products of earth all of which belong to humanity and belong to you. The issue of environment is a very important issue. In short, this issue is important because it is about responsibility of humans vis-à-vis nature; they should feel that responsibility. Just in the same way that we feel responsibility with regard to human life, we must feel responsible with respect to the nature. Islam and other divine religions have wanted to preserve the equilibrium between humans and nature. This is the basis and main goal [of these religions]. Not preserving this equilibrium is the result of [a number of] factors, the most important of which is human complacency, thirst for power, and bullying nature of some of us, humans. When this does not happen – that is, the equilibrium is not preserved – then environmental crises take place; an environmental crisis will harm all the humanity and all generations [of human beings].
Today, this crisis is not special to us – of course, if “crisis” is the right word [but] to say the least it is a “major challenge.” This major challenge is not special to us. Today, this challenge can be seen all across the world and is the result of not feeling responsible – with regard to environment. You saw how in the case of Kyoto Protocol, the Americans stood [against the protocol] as a bullying government. I said this in Friday Prayers [sermon] a few years ago and talked about this. That is, a sort of bullying approach to a treaty, which is not related to one country or two countries and this and that corner of the world. It is related to the entire globe. The issue of greenhouse gas is not an issue, which is related to a single country and which damages a single group of people. No, it is related to the entire humanity. The issue of greenhouse gas is not something that may harm a country or a specific group of people; no, it pertains to all humanity. Nonetheless, the main problem with regard to environmental issues is that the consequences of destruction [of environment] are not observed in short term. [And] when they are observed, it takes a long time to make up for [environmental] damage and subsequent problems and in some cases it is impossible. [For example,] consider the melting of the polar ice, which can lead to elevated sea level and many other environmental problems. This is not something to be remedied by humans. Such problems cannot be made better within 10 years and 20 years and [even] 100 years; they will have lasting effects for humanity. I mean, when there are human beings who do not feel responsible [with regard to environment], have decided to convert public riches of the world into their own personal wealth, [and] take advantage of any opportunity to make themselves richer, this will be the result. Bullying [nature] of human beings, brazen disrespect for red lines, and bullying of human powers, powers with money and force, have created such effects and consequences in the world and across the globe.
Statements made in a meeting with Environmental Officials and Activists on March 8, 2015