Contemporary and Social Issues The Environment

The Amazon Rainforest – A Blessing Being Depleted


Usama Mubarak, UK

فَبِاَیِّ اٰلَآءِ رَبِّکُمَا تُکَذِّبَانِ

‘Which, then, of the favours of your Lord will you twain deny, O men and Jinn?’ [1]

One of the innumerable favours of God is that of the Amazon rainforest. It indisputably stands as one of the greatest repositories of ecological services to our planet. But, as we delve deeper into the 21st century, it becomes apparent that the rates of forests burning has undoubtedly worsened and global warming has become more and more alarming. The ramifications of environmental degradation continue to gradually undo the ecological advancements that have been developing naturally for over millions of years.

The Holy Qur’an: A Prophecy Fulfilled

With no prior knowledge of the ins and outs of the operations of the Amazon rainforest, some people rashly dismiss the idea that the Amazon rainforest is of any significance in proportion to the Earth. In fact, many people may wonder why the Amazon rainforest should concern us at all. 1,400 years ago, the Holy Qur’an alluded our attention to our own imminent vices, which we now see fulfilled:

ظَھَرَ الۡفَسَادُ فِی الۡبَرِّ وَالۡبَحۡرِ بِمَا کَسَبَتۡ اَیۡدِی النَّاسِ

‘Corruption has spread on land and sea because of what men’s hands have wrought’ [2]

One of the interpretations from the above verse of the Holy Qur’an is the environmental pollution caused by man. There is no denying that mankind at large is responsible for climate change and global warming, having intuitively produced high volumes of CO2 through excessive energy use, non-eco-friendly transport and industry fumes, but in this case, more specifically due to deforestation, land use changes and burning fossil fuels.

Forest Fires: Who is at Fault?

According to the WWF (World Wildlife Fund), scientific research from the last two decades has shed light on the severe ties that link the health of rainforests to the rest of the world and to human life. Now, to assume that forest fires are caused by mother nature would be a far-fetched assumption according to Alberto Setzer, a senior scientist at INPE, who says that 99% of forest fires are a result of human actions, ‘either on purpose or by accident.’ [3]

To better understand the scale of these activities, consider this: The Amazon rainforest is an estimated 23 times larger than the United Kingdom which means that human activity such as farming, mining and logging are responsible for three football pitches-worth of deforestation per minute. [4]

The Science Behind Climate Change and Global Warming

Before we examine the empirical consequences of global warming, it is important to first understand how CO2 contributes to climate change. In short, CO2 is amongst the 5 major greenhousegases and it has an ability to absorb heat emitted from our planet’s surface, keeping it from escaping out to space, whilst also at times returning to earth’s surface, keeping it warmer than it would be otherwise.

Though CO2 makes up less than 1% of the earth’s atmosphere, human activities are responsible for 76% [5] of that amount- such is the impact of what our hands have wrought, so much so that mankind has increased atmospheric CO2 concentration by almost 50% since the Industrial Revolution began. [6]

‘How does the Amazon rainforest fit into the equation of CO2 emissions and global warming?’ you may ask. This rainforest is known as the ‘Lungs of The Earth’ for a reason. It absorbs two billion tons of CO2 per ear, making it a vital means of preventing and stabilising climate change. As of now, the Amazon rainforest has a natural stockpile of carbon reserves from 90 to 140 billion tons of carbon. To grasp the enormity of such a number is truly beyond most of us. [7]

Guidance on Climate Change

On 23rd January, 2021, the worldwide head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Communuity, the Fifth Caliph, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba) held a virtual conference with a delegation from Indonesia. During this online meeting, a question was raised regarding climate change and how it can be tackled. His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad(aba) responded in the following words:

Climate change is a problem everywhere, all across the world. Especially in the third world countries where the population is increasing disproportionately. Just to accommodate the increased population, nations are developing new residential areas and because of this, forests are being cut and this deforestation is a major cause of climate change. So, you have to be very particular that whenever one tree is cut, two trees should be planted in return.’ [8]

The blessings attained of planting a tree are that of giving sadaqah (charity). We also find that the process of reforestation was minimal in the early 1900s and only gained momentum in the 1950s when the rates of deforestation became more perilous. Islam provided a partial solution 1,400 years ago, to a problem that would arise in centuries to come.

What Do We Gain from the Amazon Rainforest?

We often fail to realise how much we have been relying on the Amazon’s resources for food and medicine. Apart from being known as the ‘Lungs of the Planet’, the Amazon rainforest also receives the title of ‘The World’s Largest Medicine Cabinet.’ Hundreds of prescription drugs have been directly extracted from the Amazon rainforest; from herbal remedies to full-fledged cancer-fighting drugs which have been classified as essential by the World Health Organisation. Despite all positively reinforced research stating how beneficial these resources are, we are still oblivious to a lot of, what could be, potentially useful resources. Scientists estimate that they have studied less than 5% of plants in the rainforests for potential medicinal benefits. [9] Who knows what else is yet to be found? Allah the Almighty states in the Holy Qur’an:

وَاِنۡ تَعُدُّوۡا نِعۡمَۃَ اللّٰہِ لَا تُحۡصُوۡھَاۤ

‘And if you try to count the favours of Allah, you will not be able to number them’ [10]

Human Life at Stake

In 2016, when just 0.2% of the Amazon Rainforest went up in flames, it released 30 million tonnes of CO2. [11] Looking at the bigger picture, John Vidal, a Guardian’s Environment Editor, was of the belief that the Amazon rainforest could vanish altogether in just a matter of 100 years. [12]

We seem to forget that the Amazon Rainforest is home to some 30 million people and 30% of the planet’s species. All living species, including 400 indigenous tribes [13], many of whom have never been in contact with civilisation for almost 500 years are wholly dependent on the ecosystem’s services such as water availability, clean air, food, and building materials for the sustenance of their lives. So, if deforestation does not cease, logging of trees is not halted, rivers continue to become polluted and their flow is restricted, inhabitants are bound to suffer having to manage with scarce provisions.

The Holy Prophet(sa) emphasised the preservation of nature many times and explained how doing so would be considered beneficial for both humans and animals. At one instance, the Holy Prophet(sa) said:

‘There is none amongst the Muslims who plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, but is regarded as a charitable gift for him.’ [14]

God’s Creation

Not only are Amazonians dependant on the operations of the Amazon rainforest for their livelihood, but so is the rest of the world. Even if mankind at large tried to replicate a system like that of the Amazon rainforest, it would come to no avail. It is a phenomenon brought into existence by none other than God Almighty. Allah states in the Holy Qur’an:

‘Who created the heavens and the earth, and Who sent down water for you from the sky wherewith We cause to grow beautiful orchards? You could not cause their trees to grow. Is there a God besides Allah?’ [15]


Man alone could never grow trees, let alone cultivate crops out of nothingness. It was God Almighty who caused trillions of trees to grow which have ever since, proven to be an element of sustenance for the world. Man can only partake in this divine process but cannot initiate it without the provisions provided by God Almighty. Allah the Almighty gives mention to animals or natural phenomena in 750 verses of the Holy Qur’an. Thus, we cannot, even for a minute neglect all that which is within the environs of the Amazon rainforest, including the Amazonian tribes, the indigenous people of Brazil and all kinds of species in the rainforest. It goes without saying that the existence of the Amazon rainforest does in fact concern us.

God Almighty also explains how all things He has created, whether animate or inanimate, have to obey Him and that they all submit to the laws He has fixed for them i.e., they cannot live independently of God for a moment. This is expounded in the following verse:

‘Hast thou not seen that to Allah submits whosoever is in the heavens and whosoever is in the earth, and the sun, and the moon, and the stars, and the mountains, and the trees, and the beasts, and many of mankind?’ [16]

Showing Graditude

Every creation of God Almighty serves a purpose in this world. The Amazon rainforest is a symbol of God’s attribute of Divine Grace and Mercy(Rahmaniyyat) – nothing but a pure favour on us. The Promised Messiah(as) elucidated this concept in the following words:

‘Rahman means the one who gives without any efforts having been made and without having asked and who gives to everybody without any distinction of the believer and the non-believer.’ [17]

This phenomenon of His, though not fully discovered yet, has been a means of attaining bountiful blessings that man has reaped without the input of effort or prayers. Upon recognising this favour of God, it becomes incumbent upon us to attempt to resolve that which our hands have wrought.

About the Author: Usama Mubarak is a 6th year student at the Ahmadiyya Institute of Theology and Modern Languages in the UK.


  1. The Holy Qur’an, 55:14.
  • The Holy Qur’an, 30:42.
  1. The Holy Qur’an, 16:19.
  1. Sahih al-Bukhari – Hadith No. 2320, Book 41, Hadith 1.
  1. The Holy Qur’an, 27:61.
  1. The Holy Qur’an, 22:19.
  1. Malfuzat Vol. II, p. 135.