The Holy Quran indicates that Allah (God) has created man as His deputy on earth to enjoy and protect God’s creation. Behold, thy Lord said to the angels; “I will create a vicegerent on earth” (Quran, 2:30); “It is He who hath made you the inheritors of the earth” (Quran, 6:165).
In Islam, the earth and its resources belong to Allah, and moslems are obligated to protect these resources for future generations. Consequently, Islamic norms will not allow one to benefit from these resources and impose cost on others. A complete application of Islamic norms will eliminate the problem of negative externalities and provide a safeguard for environmental protection.
It is important to remember that Islamic economics is of a normative form. Thus, the use of these resources is subject to Islamic norms of moderation and avoidance of wastefulness. The earth and its resources must be protected for all generations to come. In a few words, Islamic social justice demands intergenerational equity as well. This suggests that while we are allowed to use these resources for our own benefits, we must also protect them for our progeny. Consequently, Islamic economics could resolve a major problem that has preoccupied Western economists for a long time, namely, the problem of negative externalities and its impact on the environment.
In Islam, ownership in an absolute sense belongs to Allah. The earth and its natural resources are Allah’s blessings that He has mercifully made available to mankind for his/her sustenance. Allah said: (1) “To Allah belongs al that the heavens and earth contain” (Quran, 2:284); “Do you not see how He has subdued to you all that is in the earth?” (Quran, 22:65); “He has subjected to you what the heavens and the earth contain; all is from Him” (Quran, 45:13).
We have already established that absolute ownership belongs to Allah, and human beings are His trustees and care takers who have the right to use and enjoy the earth and its resources and yet they must protect and preserve it for future generations. Therefore, one can argue that Islam has pragmatically established the limited right of private ownership as a system of rewards and incentives to motivate individuals in their trusteeship function. Then, private ownership is God’s reward for those who fulfill their obligations.