Fatwa against forest fires


A top Muslim cleric in Indonesia issued an important fatwa on Wednesday describing the break out of intentional forest fires as ‘Haram’ and contrary to Islamic laws – something that could be used to fight the issue of environmental degradation.
While welcoming the very spirit of the fatwa, we expect that other religious scholars as well as those in Pakistan will also follow the suit for the protection of the environment, which is already at greater risk due to global warming caused by deforestation and industrial emissions. The edict of Indonesian cleric is in line with Islamic injunctions as our great religion gives great importance to nature. Islam recommends to take care of the environmental issues and calls for cleanliness and un-polluted nature and natural environment. Coming back to Pakistan, intentional forest fires is a curse, which we witness throughout the country and Azad Kashmir including Margallah hills, which has turned many areas into barren and has inhibited growth of new trees. Most of the forest fires here are manmade and triggered by vested interests for getting short term benefits from the fires. Our country is regarded as the most vulnerable to climate change and is grappling with a number of environmental issues such as floods, glacial melting, tropical cyclones, heat waves, droughts etc. We can better cope with these challenges by enhancing our forests which are fast disappearing. Even poor Himalyan countries like Bhutan have a remarkable forest cover of seventy two percent while Nepal has 39.6 percent but we lag far behind them. Though the Federal and Provincial governments launch regular tree plantation campaigns in every season but these have not produced the visible results as there is yet no mechanism for the protection of forests and confront the powerful timber mafia. While taking a clue from the edict of Indonesian cleric, we expect that our governments would also take on board the Ulema in order to ensure protection of forests and environment.