Water is one of the essentialities of life. Apart from oxygen, it is most important for sustaining life. Life without water cannot be imagined; not only for the human beings but also for every other form of life. Allah Most High says about this:
…………and we made every living thing of water. Surah Al-Ambiya (21:30)
Global warming is increasing day by day. Due to this, paucity of water is being felt in cities and villages alike. This is not the case only with India, but every country of the world faces the same problem. To create awareness about potable water, under the auspices of the UNCED (United Nations Conference on Environment and Development) every year March 22 is observed as “World Water Day.” On this occasion, the UN conducts seminars/conferences and camps at various levels in various countries to create awareness about the paucity of water; various techniques about saving and using water judiciously are also taught and demonstrated.
What we have to see is what the Shariah/Islamic Law says about this? And what should be done from the Islamic point to prevent paucity of water?
Islam is a universal religion and has the solution for every problem of mankind in its Law. Like other necessities of life, Islam accords great importance to water too. The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) has urged the Ummah to save water and not to waste it. Accordingly, there is a Hadith in Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol. 1, Pg No: 34 and in Musnad Imam Ahmed:
Translation: It has been narrated on the authority of Hadhrat ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar (May Allah be well pleased with both of them), that the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) passed by Hadhrat Sa’ad (May Allah be well pleased with him) when he was performing Wudhu. He (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: What wastage is this? Hadhrat Sa’ad said: Is there wastage in Wudhu also? The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: Yes, even if you are at a flowing river.
Again in Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol. 1, Pg No: 34, there is another Hadith:
Translation: It has been narrated on the authority of Hadhrat ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar (May Allah be well pleased with both of them), that the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) passed by a person performing Wudhu. He (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said: Do not waste (water), do not use more water than you need it.
In the light of these and such Hadith of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) , wasting water and using it more than necessary has been declared Undesirable (Makruh), as given in Haashiya Al Tahtahawi, Pg No: 80
Abridged translation: Using more water than what is reasonable is Undesirable.
When water is available, it is thought that since so much of water is available, one person’s wastage will not affect it. Every person’s wastage of water in this manner depletes the stock of water in a subtle way and gradually paucity of water tightens its grip.
In regard to water, the Islamic system says that whether water is available in plenty or in mere drops, conservation of water is to be the maxim all the time. This is not the responsibility of a single nation or group, but it is the responsibility of each and every person of this planet. The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) has not only ordered all of us to conserve water, but He (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) has ordered us to abstain from dirtying water. As given in a Hadith in Sahih Muslim, Vol. 1, Pg No: 138:
Translation: Hadhrat Jabir (May Allah be well pleased with him) relates that the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) ordered not to urinate/defecate in stationary water. Again in Majma ‘Uz Zawaaid, there is prohibition against doing so in flowing water. (Majma ‘Uz Zawaaid, Vol. 1, Pg No: 482, Hadith No: 996)
Even in exceptional circumstances like war, Islam orders that water along with other necessities of life should be saved and not harmed in any way. The way, the educational institutions, places of worship, hospitals and noncombatants of the antagonist country should not be targeted, in the same way sources of water and other necessities of life should not be targeted. Apart from what has been said, there are various Hadith and rules of Islam which reveal the importance of necessities of life and natural resources in Islam. If all the guidelines of Islam are followed and every person fulfills his/her responsibility, then even on the global level, paucity of water can be combated and overcome as well.