Is there any hadith or Quranic verse that tell us to take care of nature, to protect it. In short, I mean does Islam tell us to be an Environmentalist?
Allah tells us in Qur'an that he has placed us as vicegerents of this world and cautions us regarding what we do with it.
The Messenger of Allah (salallahu alayhi wassalam) said:
"Verily, this world is sweet and appealing, and Allah placed you as vicegerents therein; He will see what you will do. So, be careful of [what you do in] this world and [what you do to/with] women, for the first test of the children of Israel was in women!" [sahih Muslim]
And Allah says in Qur'an:
"And remember when He made you successors after the 'Aad and settled you in the land, [and] you take for yourselves palaces from its plains and carve from the mountains, homes. Then remember the favors of Allah and do not commit abuse on the earth, spreading corruption." [Surat Al-'A`rāf 7:74]
Then We made you successors in the land after them so that We may observe how you will do. [Surat Yūnus 10:14]
So there are several ayah where Allah tells us that he made us vicegerents of this world and everything in it. He also cautions us that he will observe what we do with it. This applies to plants, animals and the whole environment.
He also says he has made everything else in this world for use to human beings.
"And He has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth: behold, in that there are Signs indeed for those who reflect." [Surah Al-Jāthiyah 45:13]
"Do you not see that God has subjected to your (use) all things in the heavens and on earth. And has made His bounties flow to you in exceeding measure, (both) seen and unseen?" [Surah Luqman 31:20]
And it is He who subjected the sea for you to eat from it tender meat and to extract from it ornaments which you wear. And you see the ships plowing through it, and [He subjected it] that you may seek of His bounty; and perhaps you will be grateful.[Surah An-Nahl 16:14]
So, the first thing is that Allah has made us vicegerents of the earth and made available everything for us and so we should first fulfill our basic role i.e. to Worship Allah alone. Second thing is "I'mar" i.e. In habitation on earth justly. We should consume, dwell and prosper on earth in a balanced way neither falling into excess or deficiency.
Similarly there are many narrations which caution us against being unjust to the plants and animals and encourage us being good to them and protect environment.
In, Islam there is a prohibition on Smoking not only because it kills you but it harms others as well.
And spend in the way of Allah and do not throw [yourselves] with your [own] hands into destruction [by refraining]. And do good; indeed, Allah loves the doers of good. [Surah Baqarah 2:195]
Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land - it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one - it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors. [Surah Al-Ma'idah 5:32]
So Allah warns us against killing lives unjustly.
The messenger of Allah (salallahu alayhi wassalam) asks us to take care of animals in several narrations and be kind to them and give them their right.
Abdullah Ibn Amr reported that the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wassalam) said:
“No human being kills a sparrow or [something] larger without right, except that God will ask him about it on the Day of Judgment.” It was said: “O Prophet of God! What is its right?” He said: “Its right is that you slaughter it and eat it, not that you decapitate it and throw it away!” [Narrated by An-Nasa'i and Al-Hakim who stated that it has sound chain of narrators. His statement was approved by Al-Mundhiri and Al-Dahabi]
Shaddad Ibn Aws reported that the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wassalam) said:
"...and excel in slaughtering; sharpen your blade (so you may) relief your slaughtered (animal)." [Muslim]
In a Hadith narrated by Abu Dawud, with a sound chain of narrators, that Ibn 'Abbas reported that the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wassalam) prohibited the killing of four creatures: "The ant, the bee, the hoopoe and the sparrow-hawk."
From Anas the Prophet -sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam- said:
‘There is no Muslim who plants a plant or a tree, or sows a seed and no bird, or human or animal eats from that except that it is a charity for that person.’ [Collected by Bukhari, Muslim & Ahmad]
Narrated Abdullah ibn Habashi:
The Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: If anyone cuts the lote-tree, Allah brings him headlong into Hell. [Sunan Abu Dawud]
Abu Dawud was asked about the meaning of this tradition. He said: This is a brief tradition. It means that if anyone cuts uselessly, unjustly and without any right a lote-tree under the shade of which travellers and beasts take shelter, Allah will bring him into Hell headlong. The lote-tree grows in the desert and it is very much needed in an area which has scarce vegetation.
From Jabir from the Prophet -sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam:
‘There is no Muslim who plants a plant or a tree, except that whatever is eaten from it is a charity for him. Whatever is stolen from that is a charity for him. Whatever is eaten from it by an animal is a charity for him. Whatever a bird eats is a charity for him, no one suffers a loss except that it will be a charity for him till the Day of Judgement.’ [Collected by Muslim]
From Anas -Radi Allaahu anhu- from the Prophet -sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam- said:
‘If the final hour comes and one of you has a small date-palm plant in his hand, and if you can plant it before you stand then plant it.’
Regarding using the land and protecting it from abuse, there are several ahadiths.
Abu Hurayrah reported the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wassalam) said:
"Beware of two (acts that bring) curses: relieving oneself in the path of people or in the shade (i.e. where they usually rest). [Narrated by Muslim, Ahmad and Abu Dawud]
When Abu Musa was sent to Al-Basrah as the new governor, he addressed the people saying:
"I was sent to you by Umar Ibn Al-Khattab in order to teach you the Book of your Lord [i.e. the Qur'an], the Sunnah (of your Prophet), and to clean your streets. [Narrated by Al-Darimi]
Rasool of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:
"Iman has 70 branches. And the highest of al-Iman is the statement "la illaha illallah" (It is the most sublime, the most magnificent and the most superior of all Iman). The lowest of the Iman is to remove some harmful thing from the street. And modesty is a part of al-Iman."
And we also have been advice to be just with our usage of water.
Narrated Anas - Allah's Messenger (salallahu alayhi wassalam) used only one mudd (600 grams) of water for ablution and one Sa' (little more than 2.5kg) to five mudd of water for his bath. [Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim]
On the whole, we can see that we are not prevented from using the resources Allah has provided us but we have been advised to be just with it and warned regarding abuse. Also, we have been encouraged to plant trees and keep our surroundings clean.
Source and More: Islam and Environment
One of the stories concerning the environment is the instruction by
Abu Bakr, the first Caliph (Khalif) of Islam to his armies. In addition to telling them not to harm women, children and the infirm, he ordered them not to harm animals, destroy crops or cut down trees.
There were two elements present in this decree: the first, to establish justice even as the Muslim armies fought, and the second, to recognize the value of nature.
Islam requires the environment to be productively used. There are numerous traditions of the Prophet which show his intense concern with these aspects. Here are some:
The Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said : “Whosoever plants a tree, he will be rewarded with as much reward as is relevant to its yields” (Bukhari).
On another occasion
The Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) said: “whosoever plants a tree, or grow crops, and a man, bird or an animal or a beast of prey eat its fruits, it is a charity for him” (Bukhari).
According to another Hadith, plantation is so important that even if doomsday starts and a person has a palm seedling or palm shoot in his hands he should plant it (Bukahri).
There is none amongst the believers who plants a tree, or sows a seed, and then a bird, or a person, or an animal eats thereof, but it is regarded as having given a charitable gift [for which there is great recompense]. [Al-Bukhari, III:513]
There are several hadiths of the Prophet stating the importance of protecting the environment and keeping it clean and fruitful.
This principle of cleanliness applies internally to the mind, physically to the body and externally to the environment.
In order to keep the environment free of pollution and therefore pleasant :
the Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) has said “Picking up a bone from the way is a Sadaqah (Charity)”. He further said “Removing a harmful and dangerous thing from the way is also Sadaqah.