Thanks to Dr.Imam Sajid for his contribution.

Qur’an and Sunnah

Water is the basic component of each and every living organism the concept of its balance in the environment is the important point to think. For a Muslim water is the basic necessity for the ritual washing for each prayer and do to mandatory cleaning of the body. It is also necessary before recitation of the Holy Qur’an.

Certain old secular concepts and divine revelations are as follows:

Secular Concepts:

1. “Water could have come from the infiltration of precipitations in the soil.” ?

2. Under the effect of winds oceans water were drive towards the interior of the continents. ?

3. According to Aristotle water vapour from the soil condensed in cool mountain cave and formed underground reservoir that fed fountains.?4. In the year 1580 Palissy clarified the concept of water cycle he claimed that underground water came from rain water infiltrating into the soil, this is the most acceptable and confirmed concept.

Qur’anic concepts:

“ We (Allah) send down water from the sky in measure an lodged it in the ground and we certainly are able to withdraw it “ (Sura 23, 18-19 Verses) the above verses are explaining the complete water cycle i.e., water fall, penetration of water in the soil and evaporation phenomenon.

“ Allah is the one who sends forth the winds which rised up the clouds he spreads them in the sky as he wills and breaks them into the fragments then thou seest raindrops issuing from within them (Sura 30, Verse 48) "

  The above verses clarify the processes of evaporation, condensation, fragmentation and rain-cycle.

  “ We send for the winds that fecundate. We cause the water to descend from the sky we provide you with the water you could not be the guardian of its reserves (Sura 15, 22 Verse) “
  The above Ayat gives two possible interpretations, fecundating winds may be wind pollination to fertilize the plants or role of winds which convert non-rain carrying cloud into shower of rain. With the help of above verses 18,19 and 48 we could conclude the following imaginary water cycle. (This cycle is based on verses 18,19 and 48)

The Ayyat 18 & 22 of Sura 23 and Sura 15 respectively states that the water in the form of rain collects on earth and penetrates into the soil. We (Allah) certainly are able to withdraw it, here withdraw means evaporation of water and formation of clouds with the processes of condensation, this is carried out by winds, further water is fragmented into rain drops. With this dead land converts into living green plants. We (Allah) cause pure water to descend in order to revive a dead land (Sura 25, 48 & 49 Ayyat).

Allah has set two examples in the beginning of Surat Al-Baqarah (chapter 2) about the hypocrites, one using fire and another using water. Allah said,

(Their likeness is as the likeness of one who kindled a fire; then, when it illuminated all around him.) ?2:17? then He said,

(Or like a rainstorm in the sky, bringing darkness, thunder, and lightning.) ?2:19? Allah also has set two parables for the disbelievers in Surat An-Nur (chapter 24), one of them is,

(As for those who disbelieved, their deeds are like a mirage in a desert.)?24:39? The mirage occurs during intense heat. It is recorded in the Two Sahihs that the Messenger of Allah said,

(It will be said to the Jews on the Day of Resurrection, "What do you desire'' They will reply, "We need to drink, for we have become thirsty, O our Lord!'' It will be said, "Will you then proceed to drink,'' and they will head towards the Fire, which will appear as a mirage, its various parts consuming the other parts.'') Allah said in the second parable (in Surat An-Nur);

(Or is like the darkness in a vast deep sea.)?24:40? In the Two Sahihs it is recorded that Abu Musa Al-Ash`ari said that the Messenger of Allah said,

(The example of guidance and knowledge with which Allah has sent me is like abundant rain falling on the earth, some of which was fertile soil that absorbed the rain water and brought forth vegetation and grass in abundance. And another portion of it was hard, it held the rain water and Allah benefited the people with it and they utilized it for drinking, grazing, making their animals drink from it and for irrigation purposes. And another portion of it fell on barren land, which could neither hold the water nor bring forth vegetation. The first is the example of the person who comprehends Allah's religion and gets benefit, as well as benefiting others (from the knowledge and guidance) which Allah has revealed through me and learns and then teaches others. The last example is that of a person who does not care for it and does not embrace Allah's guidance revealed through me.) This parable uses water in it. In another Hadith that Imam Ahmad collected, Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Messenger of Allah said,

(My example and the example of you is like that of a person who lit a fire. When the fire illuminated his surroundings, butterflies and insects started falling into it, as they usually do, and he started swatting at them to prevent them from falling; but they overwhelmed him and kept falling into the fire. This is the parable of me and you, I am holding you by the waist trying to save you from the Fire, saying, "Go away from the Fire,'' yet you overwhelm me and fall into it.) The Two Sahihs also collected this Hadith. This is a parable using fire.

(18. For those who answered their Lord's call is Al-Husna. But those who answered not His call, if they had all that is in the earth together with its like, they would offer it in order to save themselves. For them there will be the terrible reckoning. Their dwelling place will be Hell; and worst indeed is that place for rest.)

The Holy Qur’an concerning water as the gift of god for all

1. “Water could have come from the infiltration of precipitations in the soil.” ?

2. Under the effect of winds oceans water were drive towards the interior of the continents. ?

3. According to Aristotle water vapour from the soil condensed in cool mountain cave and formed underground reservoir that fed fountains.?4. In the year 1580 Palissy clarified the concept of water cycle he claimed that underground water came from rain water infiltrating into the soil, this is the most acceptable and confirmed concept.


It is considered that surahs (chapters) of the Quran (114 surahs) were conveyed to Prophet Muhammad by the archangel Gabriel or directly by Allah during 23 years – since 610 until 632 (the year of Muhammad’s death). Each surah consists of three or more ayahs (verses).

The longest surah is known as “Al-Baqarah: The Cow” and consists of 286 ayahs. There are 10,640 ayahs in the Quran (however, some ayahs are marked by two or even three serial numbers). According to chronology, all surahs are distributed between two periods: the Meccan Period (90 surahs) and the Medinan Period (24 surahs). The Medina Period has started in 622, just in that year Muhammad together with his followers emigrated to Medina, where he established the caliphate. His emigration became known as the Hegira (Arabic hijrah) and marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar. When Muhammad was alive, he did not agree to write down surahs and ayahs and to compile them in a single book. He himself and his companions have recited surahs and ayahs, and he required the same from others.?There were special reciters of the Quran – Karies. Shortly after the Prophet’s death, the first caliph Abu Bakr (Islamic political leader) who was alarmed by the fact that the number of reciters of the Quran was decreasing due to numerous wars gave instructions to Abu Zaid, the secretary and assistant of Muhammad, to collect and write down the texts of surahs and ayahs. In such a way, the first variant of the Quran (the term Quran means “recitation”) that is known as “the Pages of Abu Bakr” has appeared (surahs and ayahs were written down on camels’ skins, papyrus or simply on flat stones). Then compiling the texts was continued. According to instructions of the second caliph Hazrat Umar, the group of experts under the direction of Abu Zaid has rewritten the texts of surahs and ayahs in the form of separate pages, and in a such form was put on the headstone in the sepulcher of the Prophet by the wife of Muhammad personally (she was the daughter of Uthman).

Muslims generally believe that the authorized version of the Quran in the form of a book derives its text and the number and order of the chapters from the work of a commission appointed by the third caliph, Uthman ibn Affan, during the second half of his reign, roughly 20 years after Muhammad’s death. 4 (or 7) copies of the Quran were made and sent to different ends of the Caliphate in order to prevent disputes and alternative versions in the process of reciting surahs and ayahs. At the same time, the Caliph gave instructions to annihilate or incinerate all other written texts of surahs and ayahs including “the Pages of Abu Bakr”. During the last 14 centuries, a substance of surahs and ayahs were not corrected and edited anymore, and came to our time without changes. Surahs in the Quran are placed based on their volume – the longest surahs were arranged in the beginning of the book and further in descending order according to the number of ayahs rather than according to their chronology and a place of origin.

There is a remarkable fact. In surahs and ayahs devoted to a biography of known and unknown prophets, Muhammad is the last among them, it is emphasized that all prophets are messengers of Allah and each of them is a link of the single chain. He granted the holy books (to Moses – the Old Testament, to Jesus Christ – the New Testament, and to Muhammad – the Quran) containing words of God. Each of them as selected by Allah as His messenger from amongst any nation (tribe, clan) in order to bring his own people the word of God and to direct them towards the way of the truth.

The Quran became not only the holy book for believers but also the?major book of an incipient state – caliphate. Questions concerning the property naturally arise in any human society. A thought that the heavens and the earth and all between them or on them are the property of Allah and He created them is emphasized in the Quran (more exact in 132 ayahs of 52 surahs out of 114, and in some surahs it is repeated in three, four, and more ayahs). An issue of the ownership of land is solved in this context. Ayah 7:128 (7 is a serial number of the surah, and 128 is a serial number of the ayah in this surah) said about the following: “7:128 And Moses said unto his people: Seek help in Allah and endure. Lo! the earth is Allah’s. He giveth it for an inheritance to whom He will…” Non-arable and unused land is called as “dead earth” in the Quran. A man does not receive the ownership of land for no particular reason, he should make it arable and for this purpose, he irrigates his land and equips with necessary facilities. Only after these actions, land can be his ownership. Islamic legal experts (faqihs) later studied such interrelated chains of legal situations, and laws and norms of the Shariah (the Islamic lawmaking) were formulated on this base. In such a way, the special science of the law – usul al fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) has emerged.

The matters concerning the waters and water use are described in the Quran from other positions. The provision that all living things were created on the Earth thanks to water was mentioned already in the Bible (the Old Testament) and further developed in the Quran. “Water for all and for general welfare” – this basic idea is set forth in a number of ayahs.

21:30 “Have not those who disbelieve known that the heavens and the earth were of one piece, then We parted them, and we made every living thing of water? Will they not then believe?”

56:68, 69, 70 ”Have ye observed the water which ye drink ? Is it ye who shed it from the raincloud, or are We the Shedder? If We willed We verily could make it bitter. Why then, give ye not thanks?” Since the transition of the earth from the category “dead” into the category “arable” is caused by irrigation and other measures (for example, soil protection), the matters related to the earth and waters, as a rule, are considered as interrelated.

2:164 “Lo! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the difference of night and day, and the ships which run upon the sea with that which is of use to men, and the water which Allah sendeth down from the sky, thereby reviving the earth after its death, and dispersing all kinds of beasts therein, and (in) the ordinance of the winds, and the clouds obedient between heaven and earth: are signs (of Allah’s Sovereignty) for people who have sense.”

In other words, a man possessing reason should understand and rates highly all things that were created and are being done by Allah including reclaiming “dead earth” by the precipitation in the form of rain, snow etc. All these things are made for the welfare of a human being, for all people without their differentiation.

14:32 “Allah is He Who created the heavens and the earth, and causeth water to descend from the sky, thereby producing fruits as food for you, and maketh the ships to be of service unto you, that they may run upon the sea at His command, and hath made of service unto you the rivers, (33) And maketh the sun and the moon, constant in their courses, to be of service unto you, and hath made of service unto you the night and the day. (34) And He giveth you of all ye ask of Him, and if ye would count the bounty of Allah ye cannot reckon it. Lo! man is verily a wrong-doer, an ingrate.”

A meaning of this ayah, especially a reproach or even the accusation addressed to a man, becomes understandable in our enlightened century, when a man having enough knowledge and experience, demonstrates his behavior with respect to nature, especially to water resources, as unwise and wasteful, and sometimes “inhuman.”

The next ayah (6:142) is peculiar and contains direct directions: “He it is Who produceth gardens trellised and untrellised, and the datepalm, and crops of divers flavour, and the olive and the pomegranate, like and unlike. Eat ye of the fruit thereof when it fruiteth, and pay the due thereof upon the harvest day, and be not prodigal. Lo! Allah loveth not the prodigals.”

We have quoted some ayahs that concern only such subjects as land, water, and land use. It is traditionally reckoned that the civil status of a person – the family, marriage, divorce, inheritance and other interpersonal attitudes, and moral and ethic norms and behavioral rules of Muslims in their day-to-day life, in private life, and with respect to umma (Muslim community) and the State is mainly considered together with religious dogmas, rites etc.

As it was set forth in some ayahs (for example, 3:187), the Quran is, first of all, the appeal to go along the righteous way stated by Allah, clarifications how to reach this way and how to go along this way, the warning to people who select a wrong way about expected “the doom of Fire” at the Judgment Day… At the same time and along with this, a certain base was fixed using some “bricks” presented with laws, judgments, moral and ethic norms, behavioral rules, which afterwards become transformed to the written Shariah laws. When Islam has formed as the self-dependent religion, the “building” of belief as a whole was built on this foundation. Two out of numerous “bricks” that are the base for belief represent the attitude of Islam to fundamental issues of any developing society – to water and land.

- The Earth is the property of Allah, He gives it to the worthy out of His slaves for use;

- The water is the sacred gift of Allah to all living things and, first of all, to a man; water is for the common good, and people have to use water wisely and justly.

These fundamental ideas set forth in many surahs and ayahs of the Quran later were fixed in Hadiths and the Shariah laws.

From Book on Water and Ethics :Thoughts of Professional and Citizen written by Abrar Kadirov

In the process of expansion and strengthening of the Muslim Society, the amount of questions related to various aspects of life of citizens and the state system was growing like an avalanche. If earlier, Muslims and their supporters / assistants had addressed to Muhammad with such questions then after his death, caliphs, who had ruled the state, could not so confidently solve the arisen problems any more. Then the necessity has arisen to address to experience of life and activity of the Prophet – what he did, what he spoke or approvingly kept silent, or did not kept silent etc. in similar cases, situations etc. Inasmuch as, during his life, many people communicated with him and worked under his leadership, the great number of hadiths has appeared. It is known that our ancestor the Imam Al-Bukhari the Great (810 – 870) has collected during his life in such Moslem centers as Mecca, Medina, Baghdad, Damascus etc. about 600,000 hadiths (the oral traditions of the Prophet Muhammad), he knew by heart about 300,000 hadiths, and he compiled 7,275 of them in Al-Sahih (The Genuine) and has presented them in 4 volumes*.?Hadiths traditionally consist of 2 parts: the first part is demonstrative one, where it is underlined who is a storyteller or transmitter a hadith, from whom he has learned this story – directly from the Prophet or from his following, relatives or companions, who heard, saw, and knew what Muhammad did or spoke once upon a time. In some hadiths, there are two and more transmitting links between the Prophet and a storyteller of hadiths.

The second part is the basic text of hadith where words, actions,?explanations are described, for example, according to surahs and ayahs of the Koran compiled by the Prophet himself.

In “Sahih Bukhari” hadiths that are dedicated water resources and water use are not so many. Such hadiths are compiled in Volume II under the name «The Book of Wisdom on Water» (the edition of 1997, pp. 79-85) and Volume III under the name «Drinking Water» (the edition of 1994, pp. 538-552). Other hadiths concerning water are scattered over all volumes of this collection.

The name of the second chapter of «The Book of Wisdom on Water» is characteristic: «The second chapter (again) on water. Who considered rationally handing over the water as gift or inheritance regardless of the fact that it was allocated or not? » The text of this hadith is translated as follows:?“(While Allah’s Apostle, Peace Be Upon Him, came in Medina, here there was not another source of water except the Ruma Well), and He said, “For anyone who will purchase the Ruma Well and use its water jointly with other Muslims a wonderful place in the Garden of Eden will be prepared. Then Uthman, may Allah forgives him, bought it (the well)”. It is obvious that Uthman has bought the well and given it to Muslims of Medina for use. However, the significance of this hadith consists in the fact that afterwards it became the legal base for developing a diversity of Shariah’s laws.

Chapter 7 was titled as “Damming of River Waters.” A hadith narrated by Urwa bin Az-Zubair: “Az-Zubair told me that he quarreled with an Ansari man who had participated in (the battle of) Badr in front of Allah’s Apostle about a water stream which both of them used for irrigation. Allah’s Apostle said to Az-Zubair, “O Zubair! Irrigate (your garden) first, and then let the water flow to your neighbor.” The Ansari became angry and said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Is it because he is your cousin?” On that the complexion of Allah’s Apostle changed (because of anger) and said (to Az-Zubair), “I irrigate (your garden) and then withhold the water till it reaches the walls (surrounding the palms).” So, Allah’s Apostle gave Az-Zubair his full right. Before that Allah’s Apostle had given a generous judgment beneficial for Az-Zubair and the Ansari, but when the Ansan irritated Allah’s Apostle he gave Az-Zubair his full right according to the evident law. Az-Zubair said, “By Allah! I think the following Verse was revealed concerning that case: “But no by your Lord They can have No faith Until they make you judge In all disputes between them.” (4.65). Apparently, Ansari himself asked the Prophet to be the judge for this dispute, and when he uttered his opinion regarding the dispute Ansari has shown his displeasure to Allah’s Apostle. Afterwards this hadith also became the legal base for some Shariah’s laws. For example, a queue of water applications in the fields located along an irrigation canal from its head to its end – first, the fields closer to water along the head section of the canal are irrigated and then sequentially other fields. At the same time, when dozens of water users take water from a single water source, water availability in the source may be insufficient to meet water demands of all water users at once, and in this case, it is necessary to put the water rotation method into practice. This hadith was the fundamental one under introducing the water rotation method known to our ancestors from time immemorial.

Most of hadiths contain the matters concerning a way of life, the family, marriage, interpersonal relations etc. They provided the ethical and legal base for forming the norms for settling legislative issues as well as moral and behavioral rules defining people’s behavior in society and the family. From this point of view, the collection of hadiths concerning moral and ethics of people is of special interest**. This collection contains 688 hadiths, and they were selected from collections compiled by well-known authors such as the Imam Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu-Dawud, at-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’I, Ibn Majah, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Tabornya, and others. These hadiths do not concern directly water resources and water relations, though they clearly represent the components of moral and ethic requirements to Muslim imposed by society, and describe the general ethic environment of the faithful. Ultimately, this environment was also used under considering water relations. It is necessary to note that in the process of representing hadiths their demonstrative part was missed; in addition, the texts of hadiths are presented in modern Uzbek language. Here are some citations from the collection that were selected according to the specific principle (the author has translated them into Russian language).

5. At rendering material aid (naphaq and sadaq) start with yourselves. If something remained, give members of your family. If something remained else, give your relatives. Then, the remained part, you may give other people.

5. Beware of “harom” (behavior and deeds not permitted by Allah), and you will be more faithful among people. Be satisfied with things that Allah gives you, and you will be richer. Assist your neighbor for conscience’ sake. Wish others what you like, and you will be healthy. Do not laugh much; laughter beyond all measure weakens your soul.

105. Apply punishments established by Allah equally for both relatives and strangers. Compassion should be with you under all your actions for the sake of Allah (this hadith is addressed to those who by virtue of their duties have the right to punish people for their blasphemous deeds such as judges, the Imams, etc.).

205. If any person earns riches by fair means and spends a part of riches for satisfying needs of other slaves of God in meal and clothes, all these deeds will be registered in his records submitted at the Judgment Day.

305. The best of you are those who for the sake of the present day do not forget about the other world, for the sake of the other world do not refuse from worldly activity, and do not do anything to be burdensome to others.

405. There are two kinds of Shariah judges: some of them deserve the punishment of hell, and others deserve to be awarded by the good of paradise. The judges who bring in a wrong verdict knowing the truth, or, bring in a verdict at their own discretion being illiterate are those infernal ones.

505. Gained knowledge without their use for training other people are equivalent to riches buried under the ground surface.

500. Good upbringing and morals are the best inheritance that a?father can leave to his children.

It is possible to find hadiths as an example for all occasions of our life in this collection (with rare exception). Pearls of folk wisdom, reflecting ideas and expectations of many generations of our ancestors and sanctified by provisions of the Islam, are shining in them. For short, I would like to point the citation from the book of S. Dzhabbarov who used information presented by N.S. Lykoshin***.

«The author, making reference to Hadith and Hidayah, gives the summary of moral rights and duties of Uzbek who observes them in his daily life on the basis of Shariah’s norms. According to his description, the settled population of Turkistan, in particular, Uzbeks aspired to develop the following personal peculiarities: self-restraint, leniency with respect to other people, as well as humility, charity, respect of another person or his position. It is necessary to wish others the same that suits you, to show obligingness especially with respect to the poor, to forgive insults, to be generous, to avoid, and to be ashamed bad deeds, to be truthful and fair, always to keep the promises, to consider other people better than himself. In general, it is necessary to avoid lie and injustice, do not speak bad things in somebody’s absence (i.e. do not be a talebearer), do not offend or grieve another person, do not use violence. Parents aspired to impart these highly humanistic principles stated in norms of the Shariah and in customary laws, to their children at an early age in each Uzbek family» (Page 108).

Speaking about roots of ethic upbringing of Moslem, it is pertinently to recollect that words-concepts could be often met in ayahs of the Koran and Hadith, which, at first sight, have especially religious substance, but practically not only are a part of informal conversation of the local population but also they influence on acts and behavior of people, irrespective of whether they believers or not. These words mostly are of the Arabic origin, but were included in vocabularies of all Turkic-speaking peoples in Central Asia.

“Savob” means deeds, actions and words that deserve rewards or praises of Allah;

“Gunoh” means deeds, actions and the words that are forbidden or not favored by Allah and holy books of Moslems;

“Halol” does mean not only meal or foodstuffs permitted by holy books for the use by Moslems, but also deeds, actions, acts, words, etc. that do not contain moments or elements reprehensible for Moslems.

“Haram” means food products forbidden for meal, first of all, meat of some animals (pork, dog, donkey, and some other animals), and also alcoholic drinks strongly influencing mind of a person, as well as deeds, actions and words forbidden for a Moslem in his ordinary life and in public activity.

There are also other words and concepts, such as “hirrom” (a dishonest act or deed), “insoph” (it means fairness, pliability, etc.), “yahshilik” (good), “emonlik” (evil), “isrof” and other words, which play also an essential role in ethic upbringing of people that profess the Islam. In private life ethical and moral features of a Moslem are formed within these definitions, and a truly believing or simply decent person tries to make only charitable deeds and actions (savob) and to be always fair, hardworking, honest etc. (i.e. “halol”).

Here, it is pertinently to recollect one popular definition “uzbekchilik” which is perceived by some people, often by representatives of other nationalities, as a reprehensible feature, almost as bootlicking, subservience, etc. Actually, “uzbekchilik”, if it is shown without immoderation and appropriately, is behavior of a person who has been brought up in the spirit of high moral principles concerning to other people whom they would not be, with respect and without prejudice.

It is known that our ancestors who had lived in the Central Asian region from time immemorial, especially after repealing use of slave labor in public works, could carry out large-scale and labor-intensive irrigation works (excavating of canals of tens and hundreds of kilometers long, their annual cleaning and repair, construction and repair of various structures using local materials etc.) jointly and by common efforts and means (by arranging hashar works). Undoubtedly, such works can be organized only if their participants well understand the generality of interests, are disciplined, precisely and fast carry out instructions of managers of works (aryk-aksakals, mirabs, and tuganchis), etc. Specific human qualities such as decency, diligence, self-discipline, call of duty, comradeship etc. had to be inherent in ordinary peasants and their servants as they were major participants of “hashar works.”

Therefore, upbringing of people since the early childhood in the spirit of norms of the Shariah and Adat served or promoted not only to settling common and interpersonal relations but also organization of people for performance of socially significant works (irrigation works, emergency works, defensive works and military actions, collection of taxes etc.).

A story about a role and a place of hadiths in upbringing of Moslems, in particular of the youth, will be incomplete if we shall not recollect that just ethical and moral people brought up in the Islamic spirit could think up such sayings and proverbs and to follow them in their daily life: «To pollute water is a great sin, and Allah will punish», «Those who spits into a water well will ache with vitiligo (the incurable skin illness)», «If water will turn round seven times along its way, it becomes pure», «Allah does not like prodigal people (in meal, drink etc.)”, “Be afraid of the spontaneity of fire and water”, “Those who brought water in a jug live in poverty, and those who broken a jug live in honor”, “Deep water slowly flows”, “Even if your father is a high-ranking water manager, it is better to have the land plot at the beginning of irrigation canal”, “A drop (if it drips for a long time) makes a hole through a stone”, “Do not give your daughter to the one who lives in the tail of irrigation canal”, “Those who has polluted water, would experience the big need for it» etc.

Undoubtedly, a cult of water, which arisen in times of the sacred “Avesta” and exists in certain forms until now, has played a specific role in occurrence of such sayings and proverbs.

Facts and figures about water and cultural world heritage

UNESCO seeks to encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity. This is embodied in an international treaty called the Convention for the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage, adopted by UNESCO in 1972. What makes the concept of World Heritage exceptional is its universal application. World Heritage sites belong to all the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located.

The UNESCO’s World Heritage List includes 812 properties forming part of the cultural and natural heritage which the World Heritage Committee considers as having outstanding universal value. These include 628 cultural, 160 natural and 24 mixed properties in 137 countries.

The ‘Quebrada de Humahuaca’ in Argentina was added to the World Heritage List in 2003. It follows the line of a major cultural route, the Camino Inca, along the spectacular valley of the Rio Grande, from its source in the cold high desert plateau of the High Andean lands to its confluence with the Rio Leone some 150 km to the south. The valley shows substantial evidence of its use as a major trade route over the past 10,000 years.

Xochimilco, lying 28 km south of Mexico City, Mexico, was added to the World Heritage List in 1987 along with Mexico City’s historic centre. With its network of canals and artificial islands, it testifies to the efforts of the Aztec people to build a habitat in the midst of an unfavourable environment. This site is the only reminder of the lacustrine landscape of the Aztec capital, ‘the Venice of the New World’.

The City of Bath in Avon, England, was added to the World Heritage List in 1987. Its hot bath, Aqua Sulis, constructed some 20 years after the Roman Conquest in 60-70 A.D., continues, under the name of Bath, to be a renowned spa. Its spring, which yields over 1,200,000 litres of water daily at more than 46oC, explains the lasting success of the small town of Avon.
The Gard bridge in France is a Roman aqueduct which was added to the World Heritage List in 1985. The Gard bridge was built shortly before the Christian era to allow the aqueduct of Nimes (which is almost 50 km long) to cross the Gard river. The Roman architects and hydraulic engineers who designed this bridge, which stands almost 50 m high and is on three levels – the longest measuring 275 m – created a technical as well as an artistic masterpiece.

Set in the dense forests of the Kii Mountains in Japan overlooking the Pacific Ocean, 3 sacred sites – Yoshino and Omine, Kumano Sanzan, and Koyasan – linked by pilgrimage routes to the ancient capital cities of Nara and Kyoto, reflect the fusion of Shinto, rooted in the ancient tradition of nature worship in Japan, and Buddhism, which was introduced to Japan from China and the Korean peninsula. The sites (495.3 ha) and their surrounding forest landscape reflect a persistent and extraordinarily well-documented tradition of sacred mountains over 1,200 years. The area, with its abundance of streams, rivers and waterfalls, is still part of the living culture of Japan and is much visited for ritual purposes and hiking, with up to 15 million visitors annually. These 3 sites were added to the World Heritage List in 2004.

The Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordilleras in the Philippines were inscribed to the World Heritage List in 1995. For 2,000 years, the high rice fields of the Ifugao have followed the contours of the mountains, they have helped to create a beautiful landscape that expresses the harmony between humankind and the environment.

James Island and related sites on the River Gambia (Gambia) provide exceptional testimony to the different facets of the African-European encounter, from the 15th to the 20th centuries. The River Gambia formed the first trade route into the interior of Africa and became an early corridor for the slave trade. This site has been on the World Heritage List since 2003.

The ancient city of Ashur, in Iraq, is located on the Tigris River in northern Mesopotamia in a specific geo-ecological zone, at the borderline between rain-fed and irrigation agriculture. The city dates back to the 3rd millennium B.C. From the 14th to the 9th centuries B.C. it was the first capital of the Assyrian Empire, a city-state and trading platform of international importance. It also served as the religious capital of the Assyrians, associated with the god Ashur. This city was added to the World Heritage List in 2003.

Information from:?the World Heritage Centre website Source: UNESCO Water Portal, January 2006


Facts and figures about water and international law

The history of international water treaties dates as far back as 2500 BC, when the two Sumerian city-states of Lagash and Umma crafted an agreement ending a water dispute along the Tigris River.

There are more than 3600 international water treaties dating from 805 AD to 1984 AD.

The UN Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses was adopted May 21, 1997 after 27 years of development. The Global Convention sets out the basis rights and obligations between States relating to the management of international watercourses.

While the ten-year anniversary of the Watercourses Convention passed in May 2007, only 16 nations have ratified the Convention. For the Convention to enter into force, 35 are needed.

The primary substantive rule of international law is that States must utilize their international watercourses in an equitable and reasonable way.

In the 20th century, only seven minor skirmishes took place between nations over shared water resources while over 145 treaties were signed during the same period of time.

Information from:?the Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database (TFDD) at Oregon State University

Source: UNESCO Water Portal, July 2007


Facts and figures about water and culture

Culture is defined by the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity as the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of society or a social group, [...] it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, ways of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs.

Okeanos was, in Greek Mythology, the titan and protogonos (primeval god) of the great Earth-encircling river Okeanos, the source of all the Earth’s freshwater, including rivers, wells, springs and rain clouds. His wife was the Earth goddess Tethys, who distributed his flow to the Earth via subterranean caverns. She gave birth to their Potamos sons (rivers) and Okeanis daughters (springs and fountains).

The southwest United States and northwest Mexico are in a rain shadow cast by mountain ranges to the west. Rainfall is light and unreliable. The indigenous people who live here welcome rain into their lives and land, praying for the blessing of rain through a variety of ceremonies and creative expressions. Some of these are permanent, such as embroidered figures on their ceremonial garment. Others are intended to be ephemeral, such as ceremonial body painting or sand paintings. They can also take the form of music, song, oration, poetry and prayer.?Tlaloc was the Aztec rain god; his name means He Who Makes Things Sprout. During Aztec times (14th to 16th centuries), Tlaloc’s cult was extremely important and spread throughout Mexico. He was greatly feared. He could send out the rain or provoke drought and hunger. He hurled lightning upon the earth and unleashed devastating hurricanes.

In striking contrast to the early Indus civilization and those of Sumer, Akkad, Babylonia, and Assyria in Mesopotamia, the great Egyptian civilization in the Nile River valley sustained itself during some 5,000 years without interruption. It lasted through warfare and conquests by the Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, and Turks, as well as through outbreaks of pandemic disease that devastated its population. Yet its agricultural foundation remained intact. The sustainability of Egyptian agriculture has come into question only recently. In response to a 20-fold population increase over the last two centuries – from 3 million in the early 1800s to 66 million today – Egypt replaced its time-tested agriculture based on the Nile’s natural flow rhythms with more intensified irrigation and flood management that required complete control of the river.

During a stop on El Hierro Island (Canarias) on his way to the Americas, Bartolom? de las Casas took interest in the aborigine Bimbachos’ culture, which was already disappearing in the 16th century. The Bimbachos devoted a cult to a tree, the Garoe (Ocotea foetens), which supplied them with abundant fresh water. This ‘holy tree’ was capable of capturing the water held in the mist and drizzle, which allowed for agriculture in an area with very low rainfall. The Garoe was uprooted by a hurricane in 1610. Curiously, its disappearance coincided with that of the Bimbachos culture on El Hierro Island.

According to Andean religion the Creator emerged from Lake Titicaca to shape the Earth and the first people. Because of its sacred nature, the lake’s shores are ringed with the ruins of small shrines and temples, some dating as far back as 700 BC. Researchers believe that the ancient city of Tiwanaku was originally one of these small religious centres.


Water plays a central role in many religions and beliefs around the world.

A source of life, it represents birth and rebirth. Water cleans the body, and by extension purifies it, and these two main qualities confer a highly symbolic – even sacred – status to water. Water is therefore a key element in ceremonies and religious rites.

Leonardo da Vinci described water as ‘the vehicle of nature’ (‘vetturale di natura’), believing water to be to the world what blood is to our bodies. He was also terrified by water’s destructive capacity, having witnessed great storms, and conducted numerous studies of the motion of water. Leonardo also studied water to learn to control it. Throughout his life, Leonardo was obsessed with a fear of a great water cataclysm. In his drawings and in his writings he describes terrible floods and great storms.

Information from:?the Water and Culture section of the UNESCO’s ‘Sound of our Water project’ website?the Rain in the Southwest section of the United States’ Heard Museum website?the Tlaloc – Rain God section of the Four Gods of the Elements website?the Egypt’s Nile Valley Basin Irrigation of the Water History website?the Okeanos section of the Theoi Project


* Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn-Ismail al-Bukhari. Hadih, Tashkent, Volume I, II, III, and IV, 1993-1994.?
** “Ahlokh – odobga oyd hadis namunalari” Tashkent. «Fan», 1990, pp.170 (in Uzbek language).?
*** Likoshin N.S. A Half of Life in Turkistan. Feature story of the way of life of the native population.