The mufti of Perlis has reminded Muslims of a hadith that warns against rampant logging and tree-cutting as attention turns to illegal logging in the wake of the floods that have devastated several states, killing at least 48 and causing billions of ringgit in losses.
Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin cited a hadith in which Prophet Muhammad said, “He who cuts a lote-tree, Allah will send him to hellfire.”
The tree species native to the Arabian peninsula and desert areas is traditionally mentioned in holy books, with nearly every part having benefits including being used for shade by travellers of old.
Asri said the lote tree was singled out by the Prophet as it signifies protection for man and animals.
“The lote tree grows in the desert. It can withstand dry and hot weather. People take shelter under it, and when needed its fruits can be eaten.
“Maintaining a functioning lote tree is to maintain the balance and roles of God’s creation. Destroying it destroys an essential element in the security of human life,” he said.
“As such, anyone who destroys without any justification the shelter for humans and animals when it is most needed, must be among those who are very evil.”
He said based on this logic, the warning also applies to those whose act of felling trees causes disasters that destroy lives and property.
“If even cutting down a lote tree condemns a person to hell, what more carrying out logging that causes thousands of people to suffer and die!” Asri said in a commentary published on his official website.
His remarks come amid growing concerns that the floods which ravaged several parts of Pahang during the current monsoon season were caused by rampant logging.
It was also alleged that the wood debris in Sungai Telemong in Bentong was due to land clearing activities for the illegal planting of the lucrative Musang King durian.
On Monday, the Pahang forestry department issued a temporary stop-work order for timber logging in the state.
Pahang, along with Selangor, was badly hit by the floods which began last month after days of continuous heavy rain.
The number of flood victims forced to evacuate to temporary relief centres in the state was still on the rise last night, with just over 2,300 people recorded at 8pm compared to some 2,200 earlier in the evening.
The water levels of Sungai Pahang in Kuala Sungai Chini, Pekan and Sungai Serting in Padang Gudang, Bera, meanwhile were still above danger levels.
Asri said the rampant felling of trees was a crime “both in this world and the hereafter”.
“Regardless of who the perpetrators are, whether lowly citizens or aristocrats, politicians or businessmen, upon them shall be the people’s curse.
“The Prophet warned that the curse would befall them. They will face the consequences in this life and the hereafter,” he said.