One thing I’ve always loved about the life of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, was his clear love and respect for nature. At a time when more and more natural places are depleted and destroyed for industry, habitats are polluted by everyday living, and entire animals species are lost to violence, reviving the Sunnah or ways of the Prophet Muhammad in caring for and interacting with Allah’s creation, can not only help us be better stewards of this planet we call home but also come closer to the guidance that Allah, the Most High, has given us.
To get started, here are three nature-based Sunnahs the whole family can start living by.
Sunnah 1: Reflect on nature to remember Allah.
It’s no mistake that the Quran calls upon us to think deeply about our natural surroundings.
Whether it’s a verse discussing the creation of the heavens and earth (2:164), the purpose of mountains (31:10), the variety of vegetation (16:11), the communities of animals (6:38), or the placement of the sun (71:16), Allah wants us to pay attention to His creation!
The Prophet Muhammd, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
“Reflect deeply upon the creation, but do not reflect upon the essence of the Creator. Verily, His essence cannot be known other than to believe in it.”
(Hasan Hadith, Musnad al-Rabī’)
Pondering over the creation, its diversity, its color, and its growth, affirms our faith and certainty in Allah, inspires us to praise Him, and brings us closer to Him. Only Allah could have created all that we know and don’t yet know in the natural world around us.
It’s reported in Bayhaqi, that the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
“Verily, among the best servants of Allah are those who observe the sun, the moon, the stars, and the shades for the remembrance of Allah.”
The beautiful thing is that you don’t have to be in the wilderness to reflect upon nature. Whatever part of the world you live in, whatever type of city or town, nature can be found and you can reflect upon it. Maybe it’s watching a houseplant grow, caring for a beloved pet, watching the stars at night, or taking a walk to the local park.
The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, advised:
“Worship Allah as if you can see Him and prepare yourself for death. Remember Allah by every rock and tree [emphasis added]. If you commit a bad deed, accompany it with a good deed, secretly for a secret deed and publicly for a public deed.”
(Hasan hadith, Muṣannaf Ibn Abī Shaybah)
Sunnah 2: Show kindness to animals.
The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, was a staunch supporter of animal welfare. Kindness, consideration, and prevention of unnecessary harm to animals were all part of the Prophet’s Sunnah for his companions and for us.
Once a camel began crying and weeping to the Prophet, peace be upon him. The Prophet asked the people, “Who is the master of this camel? To whom does it belong?” A young man from the Ansar came and said, “This is mine, O Messenger of Allah.” The Prophet said, “Do you not fear Allah regarding this animal that Allah has put in your possession? Verily, she has complained to me that you keep her hungry and tired.”
(Sahih, Abu Dawud)
So concerned was the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, about animals being burdened, that even if a rider got upset with an animal and started cursing it, the Prophet would tell them to stop.
It’s narrated in Sahih Muslim, that during one of the journeys of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, a woman from the Ansar was on a camel. She disparaged it and cursed it. When the Prophet heard it, he said:
“Unload the camel and set it free, for it has been cursed.”
In another hadith, the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, passed by some people who were shooting arrows at a ram for target practice. The Prophet disapproved and told them:
“Do not mutilate your animals.”
Many of us today may not be riding camels or shooting targets with our bow, but are we keeping pets? If so, are we caring for them with kindness? Are we housing them appropriately for their species and size? Are we keeping them from harm?
If we don’t have pets and are maybe interacting with animals in the wild instead, are we respecting their habitats? Are we helping to ensure our hikes and park trips do not disturb their homes? Are we showing our children to be kind to the wildlife that they see and meet?
The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
“Whoever kills so much as a sparrow unjustly, it will plead to Allah on the Day of Resurrection, saying: O Lord, he killed me unjustly, and he did not kill me for any beneficial purpose.”
Sunnah 3: Plant what you can.
Another nature Sunnah of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, was to plant trees and sow seeds as much as possible. The Prophet said:
“No Muslim plants a tree or sows a seed and then a bird, or a human, or an animal eats from it but that it is charity for him.”
(Sahih Bukhari and Muslim)
The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, encouraged us to strive for this charity, even if our final moments are upon us. He said:
“If the Final Hour comes while you have a shoot of a plant in your hands and it is possible to plant it before the Hour comes, you should plant it.”
(Sahih, Adab al Mufrad)
Planting is one Sunnah easily revived by starting a family garden. You can plant indoors, or outdoors in a garden bed or series of pots. And you can keep planting season after season to keep getting those rewards, inshaAllah, God willing.
The Prophet Muhmmad’s respect for nature was abundant, peace and blessings be upon him. Celebrating his Sunnah means appreciating nature as a means of getting closer to Allah and treating all of Allah’s creation the way the Prophet did – with care, kindness, and compassion, wherever you and your family may find it.
Melissa Barreto is a home educating mother of five children and the Co-Founder of Wildflower Homeschool Collective, a home-school organization based in Northern New Jersey.