by Imran H. Khan

Water was not what I had in mind this early in my read of Quran, but with so much going on related to it, I decided to discuss it earlier than later. Water as we know it is the source of life. When NASA sends its probes to different heavenly bodies, one of the key pieces of information is the presence of water. Indeed one of the key recent discoveries recently have been the presence of water on the poles of the Moon and the possibility of it on Mars. So it is not surprising to find multiple references to water in different contexts in Quran.

“We have made every living thing out of water.” (Sura 21 The Prophets, ayat 30).

The Quranic account of the forming of the Cosmos places great emphasis on water, as demonstrated in other ayat in the preceding sura which on the one hand lists heaven, earth, the moon, the sun, night, day etc. as natural factors in the creation of the universe and, on the other, speaks of a single element that infuses life into the universe: water. The Quran immediately asserts, however, that water fills the entire inanimate universe with life: “He is the One Who created Heaven and Earth in six days. His Throne rises over the water”. For certain commentators, this means in effect that water was the origin for both heaven and earth and that Allah drew from it the natural elements as well as all living creatures. Thus every life on earth owes its existence to the element of water: “Among His signs He sends water down from the sky so He may revive the earth with it following its death.” (Sura 30 The Romans, ayat 24). The vivifying property of water is repeated in many ayat: “He sends the winds to bring news so He may let you taste some of His mercy (sura 30, ayat 46)… And any water God sends down from the sky with which to revive the earth following its death and to scatter every kind of animal throughout it. We give it in due measure as a sign to those who are wise” or again “We have sent down blessed water from the sky and We grow gardens with it as well as grain to be harvested and soaring palms which have compact clusters as sustenance for worshipers. We have revived a dead countryside with it; thus will (your) reappearance be”.

The Quran calls for proper governance of water and the equitable sharing of this vital resources when it says: “Announce to them how water must be shared among them; each will have his own special time to drink “ (sura 54 The Moon, ayat 28).

Proper management of water resources is going to be essential for nations to live in harmony with one another. The the climate changes and population increases happening around us, certain regions will gain more rainfall and others less. The glaciers that used to hold water and release them slowly are rapidly diminishing, thereby taking away the natural water retention mechanisms.  Water related issues will be most magnified in the poorer countries. “People in developing countries understand the absence of it,” says John Briscoe, newly appointed Professor of the Practice of Environmental Health at HSPH.  If it doesn’t rain, women who haul water for their families must walk vast distances to fetch it. Without rain, the lights go out in hydro-powered locales. Lack of sanitary facilities in schools deters girls from an education. Indian farmers unable to drill into dwindling aquifers even commit suicide. “Water is not taken for granted,” Briscoe says. “People live with insecurity at every turn.”

South Asia is particularly water challenged region of the world. Northern India’s underground water supply is being pumped and consumed by human activities — principally to irrigate cropland — faster than the aquifers can be replenished by natural processes. This data was published in the August 20 issue of Nature based on observations from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE).

On the other hand recent floods in Pakistan could be the result of global climate change that has already resulted rapid reduction in the size of glaciers in the Himalayas. The combined results of floods, glaciers and lowered water tables require that the nations of the region address the problem of water storage and usage in an equitable manner. John Briscoe warns of potential conflicts in the region should these nations fail to work together in his article titled “War or Peace on the Indus”.

It is quite evident by now that the developed world is not ready to change its habits any time soon in order to reverse the effects of global climate change. The bulk of impact will be on the developing world. They will need to adjust the economic priorities to address the water issues and all ramifications on food and health in a manner that does not effect the adjacent countries.


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Comments

One Response to “Ramadan: Day 4, Water”

  1. Fatima Khan on August 14th, 2010 9:06 pm

    I did a case study on water bondage around the world, I will email that to you. Research showed that in Lahore, the water table has fallen between 5-65 feet in the last five years.

    An ayat warning us about the diminishing water table in Sura Mulk, states:
    67.30
    YUSUFALI: Say: “See ye?- If your stream be some morning lost (in the underground earth), who then can supply you with clear-flowing water?”
    PICKTHAL: Say: Have ye thought: If (all) your water were to disappear into the earth, who then could bring you gushing water?
    SHAKIR: Say: Have you considered if your water should go down, who is it then that will bring you flowing water?

    [Reply]

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