Humans as Caretakers – Khalifa of the Planet Earth! (part 1)

This article was originally published by Worldwide Quran Thinkers.

In light of Animal Rights

The State Of Global Warming & Impacts Of Humanity On Earth

As per the article published in May, 2022 ‘Are the Effects of Global Warming Really that Bad? Short answer: Yes’ 1

Five and a half degrees Fahrenheit may not sound like much—perhaps the difference between wearing a sweater and not wearing one on an early-spring day. But for the world in which we live—which climate experts project will be at least 5.7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer by 2100, relative to pre-industrial levels (1850–1900), should global emissions continue on their current path—this small rise will have grave consequences. These impacts are already becoming apparent for every ecosystem and living thing, including us. Evidence shows that the 2010s were hotter than any other decade on record—and every decade since the 1960s has averaged hotter than the previous one. This warming is altering the earth’s climate system, including its land, atmosphere, oceans, and ice, in far-reaching ways. Human influences are the number one cause of global warming.

We, as humanity, are destroying with our own hands, the only place we call home. In the Article ‘Why Humanity Must Save Nature To Save Itself, by Ms. Beate Trankmann of UNDP 2, she highlights

Our planet – the only home we have – is at breaking point. Two thirds of our earth’s oceans and three quarters of its land have been damaged by humans. One million species could vanish by 2050 – accelerating the global extinction rate potentially hundreds of times faster than over the last 10 million years. One fifth of all nations could see their ecosystems collapse completely, according to insurer Swiss Re, due to destruction of wildlife and their habitats – on which we ourselves depend. Our earth can only continue to sustain us if we protect its biodiversity: the individual, yet interconnected chain of plant and animal species that hold our world together. Every life form, however tiny, is essential to the whole. As Sir David Attenborough put it: “Every breath of air we take, every mouthful of food that we take, comes from the natural world. And if we damage the natural world, we damage ourselves.”

The costs produced by our broken relationship with nature are rising every day. The ongoing destruction of the planet’s biodiversity also quickens climate change and makes us even more vulnerable to it. This is because the ecosystems – such as forests – providing habitats to other species also absorb our greenhouse gases. Climate change in turn, also harms biodiversity, making these two challenges two sides of the same coin. To make matters worse, damage to our ecosystems also threatens human health, by diminishing our sources of food, medicine, water and even oxygen. By encroaching into wild habitats and exploiting the creatures within them, we also risk new diseases jumping from animals to humans, as COVID-19 did.

How Are We Destroying The Planet — The Major Causes?

The leading cause of destruction of the planet earth is our inhumane approach towards animals primarily accorded to them due to our ‘love of meat and dairy products’ in our diets- leading to the demand for fishing industry, poultry and animal farming and the slaughterhouses. In her June 2021 Article ‘Beyond the Factory Farm: How Slaughterhouses Are Polluting the Planet’ 3 Sara Farr highlights

Nobody wants to talk about slaughterhouses. Even people used to discussing the disgusting conditions where animals are raised on factory farms, are reluctant to delve into in-depth discussions of the conditions in slaughterhouses, but they are a crucial component of the factory farm system. As factory farms have consolidated into fewer companies, these companies have obtained more power within the industry; this results in slaughterhouses that must meet the demands of these companies. Moving at a fast pace often leads to dangerous conditions such as food contamination from fecal matter, mad cow disease, and worker injury due to the high speeds demanded; workers can be expected to kill up to 400 cows an hour. In addition, slaughterhouses are cleaned using strong chemicals and water, contributing to the pollution problem, and wastewater contamination. The problems of slaughterhouses clearly go beyond killing innocent animals.

An article ‘Five ways the meat on your plate is killing the planet’ 4, mentions

When we hear about the horrors of industrial livestock farming – the pollution, the waste, the miserable lives of billions of animals – it is hard not to feel a twinge of guilt and conclude that we should eat less meat. Over the next year, more than 50 billion land animals will be raised and slaughtered for food around the world. Most of them will be reared in conditions that cause them to suffer unnecessarily while also harming people and the environment in significant ways. This raises serious ethical problems. We’ve compiled a list of arguments against eating meat to help you decide for yourself what to put on your plate.

1. The environmental impact is huge

Livestock farming has a vast environmental footprint. It contributes to land and water degradation, biodiversity loss, acid rain, coral reef degeneration and deforestation. Nowhere is this impact more apparent than climate change – livestock farming contributes 18% of human produced greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. This is more than all emissions from ships, planes, trucks, cars and all other transport put together. Climate change alone poses multiple risks to health and well-being through increased risk of extreme weather events – such as floods, droughts and heatwaves – and has been described as the greatest threat to human health in the 21st century. Reducing consumption of animal products is essential if we are to meet global greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets – which are necessary to mitigate the worst effects of climate change.

2. It requires masses of grain, water and land

Meat production is highly inefficient – this is particularly true when it comes to red meat. To produce one kilogram of beef requires 25 kilograms of grain – to feed the animal – and roughly 15,000 litres of water. Pork is a little less intensive and chicken less still. The scale of the problem can also be seen in land use: around 30% of the earth’s land surface is currently used for livestock farming. Since food, water and land are scarce in many parts of the world, this represents an inefficient use of resources.

3. It hurts the global poor

Feeding grain to livestock increases global demand and drives up grain prices, making it harder for the world’s poor to feed themselves. Grain could instead be used to feed people, and water used to irrigate crops. If all grain were fed to humans instead of animals, we could feed an extra 3.5 billion people. In short, industrial livestock farming is not only inefficient but also not equitable. Livestock production may have a bigger impact on the planet than anything else.

4. It causes unnecessary animal suffering

If we accept, as many people do, that animals are sentient creatures whose needs and interests matter, then we should ensure these needs and interests are at least minimally met and that we do not cause them to suffer unnecessarily. Industrial livestock farming falls well short of this minimal standard. Most meat, dairy and eggs are produced in ways that largely or completely ignore animal welfare – failing to provide sufficient space to move around, contact with other animals, and access to the outdoors. In short, industrial farming causes animals to suffer without good justification.

5. It is making us ill

At the production level, industrial livestock farming relies heavily on antibiotic use to accelerate weight gain and control infection – in the US, 80% of all antibiotics are consumed by the livestock industry. This contributes to the growing public health problem of antibiotic resistance. Already, more than 23,000 people are estimated to die every year in the US alone from resistant bacteria. As this figure continues to rise, it becomes hard to overstate the threat of this emerging crisis. The meat industry also poses a threat to global food security. High meat consumption – especially of red and processed meat – typical of most rich industrialized countries is linked with poor health outcomes, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and various cancers. These diseases represent a major portion of the global disease burden so reducing consumption could offer substantial public health benefits. Switching to a more plant-based diet could save up to 8m lives a year worldwide by 2050 and lead to healthcare related savings and avoided climate change damages of up to $1.5 trillion.

6. Ultimately, it’s unethical

Most people agree that as a basic rule an action that promotes the overall happiness of others is morally good, while an action that causes harm or suffering without good justification is morally wrong. Meat eating is wrong not because there is something special about pigs or chickens or dogs or cats, but because of the harm it causes, whether that harm is caused to animals, humans, or the wider environment.

Love animals, don’t eat them. And if our nutritional needs can now be met by consuming foods that are less harmful, then we ought to choose these over foods that are known to cause more harm. Eating less meat and animal products is one of the easiest things we can do to live more ethically.

Logical Learning From Animals

We all know God has created all the life forms on earth and other then humans, GOD has imbedded basic survival instinct in all animals, because of which an animal would only kill another either as a defense mechanism or in order to survive. God want us to learn through animals’ nature as well, since we humans have been given the ability to learn and adopt various aspects and features through animals. This is a well-known fact in animals that they do not kill if they do not need to eat for survival, then how is it possible that God will ask Humans to kill animals without any requirement of food for survival. It is not possible at all, logically, ethically and definitely not for the sake of God’s pleasure.

The Divine Message (Qur’an) — Our Duty As Khalifa On Earth

We, as humanity in general and Muslims in particular, have been given a divine solution through the Quran, which has given us a responsibility to be Khalifa, the caretakers of the earth and all its inhabitants. Through the following Ayahs of the Quran (2:30-34), a metaphoric discussion between Allah and Allah’s Malaik, our creator has assigned the duties to us:

When your Rabb said to Malaik, “I am making Khalifa (caretaker) on earth,” they said, “Will You make someone who cause corruption and shed blood, whereas we strive persistently with your praise and sanctify You?” Allah Said, “I know what you do not know.” And taught Adam the names of all of them, then presented them to the Malaik and said, “Inform Me the names of these, if you are truthful.” They said, “We strive with our whole beings based on what you have commanded for us! We have no knowledge except what You have taught us. Indeed! You are the All-knowing, the All-wise” Said, “O Adam, inform them the names of these” And when Adam informed them the names, said, “Did I not tell you that I know the hidden secrets of the Skies and the Earth and that I give you knowledge what you would reveal and what you would conceal?” And when We said to the Malaik, “Do Sajda (follow the laws in humbly submissive manner) to Adam,” they all did Sajda, except for Iblees….”

We can only carry out these duties as caretaker of the planet and its inhabitants with the help of and after getting the knowledge of all the laws of nature, all powers and possessors of natural phenomenon in the universe, referred in Quran as the ‘Malaik’. Then and only then we are in the position to use these Malaik (natural laws, powers, elements, matters, etc.) for the benefit of humanity and in order to carry out our duties, because based on this knowledge we are able to have these Malaik subservient to us and have them obey our laws- the concept of Malaik doing Sajda to humanity. Thus, when the Quran uses the phrase for us, the humanity, as ‘Bani Adam’ it’s communicating to us our roles and responsibilities as caretakers of the planet earth and all its inhabitants, with the help and use of our knowledge of the laws of nature and natural phenomenon and our ability to make use of these natural treasures, the phenomenon and the forces of nature for the benefit of us, humanity and for every inhabitant of the planet. For instance, refer the following Ayahs 17:70

We have Karamna (privileged & honored) the Bani Adam, and as carriers of land and sea, and bestowed Rizq (all ways and means of nourishment, personality & character development) of the Tayyibaat (what’s pleasant and acceptable to us), and greatly favored them over many of those We created.

Thus, with us being the caretakers, and with the help of our knowledge of the Malaik and our intelligence, we, as humanity, are able to utilize and use all that is good for us, pleasant and acceptable to us, from all the sources of nourishment provided in the nature by our creator. This distinction of us, being made Khalifa- the caretakers of earth and all its inhabitants has given us a distinct preference over all the other creations of Allah. But we must never lose sight of the basis of this distinction, which is our duty as caretakers, first and foremost.

Do Not Abuse, Go Against Or Kill A Soul, Incl. Animals (Quran)

Not only that Quran tells us that since the basic duty of us as humanity is to be caretakers of earth, if we suppress, kill either metaphorically or allegorically any soul, it’s like going against the whole humanity- refer Ayah 5:32,

….the person who Qatal (suppress, abuse, literally or allegorically kill) a soul Baghair (without, contradicting, going against) a soul or to cause destruction, corruption on the earth—then, it is as the person has Qatal (metaphorically or literally kill) the humanity all together, as a whole; and whoever gives life, saves, rescues a soul—then, it is as if the person has saved the humanity all together, as a whole….

This is a very crystal clear message applicable for all souls, be it animals or humans, giving us a direct divine instructions while communicating the divine wisdom of the fact that if we go against, suppress, abuse, or kill either literally or allegorically any soul, be it of an animal or a human, which is against the due right of it, in terms of Qatal of it without any reason or that leads to causing destruction or corruption on the earth, then that is equivalent to the destruction of the whole of humanity, as it directly contradicts our basic duty of caretaker of the planet earth and all its inhabitants.

Part 2 (Next week): The Concept Of Animal Slaughtering On Eid-Al-Adha

Acknowledgement & References

DISLCAIMER: Please note that ONLY the relevant sections of the following articles, posts or books are mentioned in this article by WQT- Worldwide Quran Thinkers as reference only. By mentioning these relevant sections or the following as acknowledgements here, does not in any case mean that WQT- Worldwide Quran Thinkers agrees with any of the view or the opinions of these authors on an overall basis or their any other work, or any other part of their publications.

  1. Are the Effects of Global Warming Really that Bad? Short answer: Yes. Even a seemingly slight average temperature rise is enough to cause a dramatic transformation of our planet- by Melissa Denchak, May 23, 2022[]
  2. Why Humanity Must Save Nature To Save Itself, by Ms. Beate Trankmann- Resident Representative of UNDP[]
  3. Beyond the Factory Farm: How Slaughterhouses Are Polluting the Planet, June 2021, By Sara Farr[]
  4. Five ways the meat on your plate is killing the planet- Published: April 26, 2017 in the Conversation & the Business Standard and various other magazines[]

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