Environment & Ecology in Islam - TAM article collection - updated 4/19/12

Environment & Ecology in Islam - article collection

collected by Sheila Musaji


“And We created from water every living thing.”  Qur’an 21:30

“Make not mischief on the earth” Qur’an 2:11

“Mischief has appeared on land and sea because of (the meed) that the hands of men have earned, that (God) may give them a taste of some of their deeds: in order that they may turn back (from evil).”  Qur’an 30:41

“There is not a moving creature on earth, or a bird that flies with its wings, but they are communities like you (humans).  We have neglected nothing in the Book; then unto their Lord they shall (all) be gathered.” Qur’n 6:38


Muslims are instructed to look after the environment and not to damage it:

Devote thyself single-mindedly to the Faith, and thus follow the nature designed by Allah, the nature according to which He has fashioned mankind. There is no altering the creation of Allah.
Qur’an 30:30

This is part of a Muslims responsibility to God:

Allah is He Who raised up the heavens without any pillars that you can see. Then He settled Himself on the Throne, and constrained the sun and the moon; each one pursues its course during an appointed term. He regulates it all and explains the Signs in detail, that you may have firm belief in the meeting with your Lord. He it is Who spread out the earth and made thereon firmly fixed mountains and rivers, and of fruits of every kind He has made pairs. He causes the night to cover the day. In all this, verily, are signs for a people who reflect.  Qur’an 13:2-3


In 1986, at a meeting held in Assisi by WWF-International and stemming from an idea by HRH the Prince Philip, five leaders of the five major world religions – Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism – were invited to come and discuss how their faiths could help save the natural world. This is the Muslim declaration on Nature, taken from the original Assisi Declarations on Nature.  The statement was drafted byHis Excellency Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef, secretary general of the Muslim World League.

The essence of Islamic teaching is that the entire universe is Allah’s creation. Allah makes the waters flos upon the earth, upholds the heavens, makes the rain fall and keeps the boundaries between day and night. The whole of the rich and wonderful universe belongs to Allah, its Maker. It is Allah who created the plants and the animals in their pairs and gave them the means to multiply. Then Allah created mankind - a very special creation because mankind alone was created with reason and the power to think and even the means to turn against his Creator. Mankind has the potential to acquire a status higher than that of the angels or sink lower than the lowest of the beasts.

The word ‘Islam’ has the dual meaning of submission and peace. Mankind is special, a very particular creation of Allah. But still we are Allah’s creation and we can only properly understand ourselves when we recognise that our proper condition is one of submission to Allah who made us.

And only when we submit to the Will of Allah can we find peace: peace within us as individuals, peace between man and man, and peace between man and nature. When we submit to the Will of Allah, we become aware of the sublime fact that all our powers, potentials, skills and knowledge are granted to us by Allah. We are His servants and when we are conscious of that, when we realise that all our achievements derive from the Mercy of Allah, and when we return proper thanks and respect and worship to Allah for our nature and creation, then we become free. Our freedom is that of being sensible, aware, responsible trustees of Allah’s gifts and bounty.

For the Muslim, mankind’s role on earth is that of a Khalifah - vicegerent or trustee of Allah. We are Allah’s stewards and agents on Earth. We are not masters of this Earth; it does not belong to us to do what we wish. It belongs to Allah and He has entrusted us with its safekeeping. Our function as vicegerents, Khalifahs of Allah, is only to oversee the trust. The khalifah is answerable for his/her actions, for the way in which he/she uses or abuses the trust of Allah.

Islam teaches us that we have been created by Allah, that we will return to Allah for Judgement, and that we are accountable for our deeds as well as our omissions. The khalifah will have to render an account of how he treated the trust of Allah on the Day of Reckoning. The notion that describes the accountability of the khalifah is akhirah (the Hereafter). Islam is the guidance of how to live today so that we can face the akhirah: it is the Message which informs us of what will be involved in that reckoning.

The central concept of Islam is Tawhid - the Unity of Allah. Allah is Unity and His Unity is also reflected in the unity of mankind, and the unity of man and nature. His trustees are responsible for maintaining the unity of His creation, the integrity of the Earth, its flora and fauna, its wildlife and natural environment. Unity cannot be had by discord, by setting one need against another; it is maintained by balance and harmony. Therefore, Muslims say that Islam is the middle path and we will be answerable for how we have walked this path and how we have maintained balance and harmony in the whole of creation around us.

So unity, trusteeship and accountability, that is tawhid, khalifah and akhirah, the three central concepts of Islam, are also the pilars of the environmental ethics of Islam. they constitute the basic values taught by the Qur’an. it is these values which led Muhammad, (peace be upon him), the Prophet of Islam, to say: ‘Whosoever plants a tree and diligently looks after it until it matures and bears fruit is rewarded’, and ‘If a Muslim plants a tree or sows a field and men and beats and birds eat from it, all of it is a charity on his part’, and again, ‘The world is green and beautiful, and Allah has appointed you as His stewards over it.’ Environmental consciousness is born when such values are adopted and become an intrinsic part of our mental and physical make-up.

And these are not remote, other-wordly notions, they concern us here and now. If you were to ask me what the notion of the Hereafter has to do with here and now, my answer might surprise you. I would say nuclear power and biotechnology. Both of these are very present here-and-now issues. Both have benefits and costs. Both have implications for the health and well being of mankind and nature. If I sincerely intend to be Allah’s khalifah, His steward on Earth, then I must have an opinion about them and prepare myself to make chioces about them, because I will be accountable for what mankind has wrought with these devices in the Hereafter.

Islam is a very practical world view. It seeks, in all its principles and injunctions, to give pragmatic shapes to its concepts and values. Indeed, the notion of tawhid and khalifah have been translated into practical injunctions in the Shari’ah (Islamic Law). Surah Shari’ah institutions as haram zones, inviolate areas within which development is prohibited to protect natural resources, and hima, reserves established soley for the conservation of wildlife and forests, form the core of the environmental legislation of Islam.

The classical muslim jurist, Izzad-Din Ibn Abdas-Salam, used these aspects of the Shari’ah when he formulated the bill of legal rights of animals in the thirteenth century. Similarly, numerous other jurists and scholars developed legislations to safeguard water resources, prevent over-grazing, conserve forests, limit the growth of cities, protect cultural property, and so on. Islam’s environmental ethics then are not limited to metaphysical notions; they provide a practical guide as well.

Muslims need to turn to this nexus of values, this way of understanding themselves and their environment. The notions of unity, trusteeship and accountability should not be reduced to matters of personal piety; they must guide all aspects of their life and work. Shari’ah should not be relegated just to issues of crime and punishment, it must also become the vanguard for environmental legislation.

We often say that Islam is a complete way of life, by which it is meant that our ethical system provides the bearings for all our actions. Yet our actions often undermine the very values we cherish. Often while working as scientists or technologists, economists or politicians, we act contrary to the environmental dictates of Islam. We must imbibe these values into our very being. We must judge our actions by them. They furnish us with a world-view which enables us to ask environmentally appropriate questions, to draw up the right balance sheet of posibilities, and to properly weigh the environmental costs and benefits of what we want, what we can do within the ethical boundries established by Allah, without violating the rights of His other creations.

If we use the same values, the same understanding in our work as scientist or technologist, economist or politician, as we do to know ourselves as Muslims - those who submit themselves to the Will of Allah - then, I believe, we will create a caring and practical way of being, doing and knowing; a true Islamic alternative to the environmentally destructive thought and actions which dominates the world today.

 


RESOURCES

ARTICLES

A Different Jihad, Asghar Ali Engineer http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/a_different_jihad/

A General Introduction to Islam’s Attitude Toward the Universe, Natural Resources, and the Relation Between Man and Nature http://www.islamset.com/env/section1.html

Advancing Islamic environmental law: a collaborative exploration conference http://www.islamset.com/env/islamic_env/islam_env.html 

American Lifestyle As a Threat to Life Itself, Stan Moore http://usa.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/30054

Animals in Islam, al-Hafiz B.A. Masri, http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Academy/7368/an1.htm

Bediuzzaman Said Nursi’s Approach to the Environment, Irahim Idemir http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/bediuzzaman_said_nursis_approach_to_the_environment/

Book Review: Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet (Ibrahim Abdul Matin)  http://www.soundvision.com/info/masjidtoday/greendeen.asp

Broad Lines of the Islamic Approach to Environment Protection, Muhammad Yunus http://www.isesco.org.ma/pub/ISTD/Eng/20/P7.htm

The City Of Boughzoul – Algerian Model Low-Carbon City,  Moshe Terdiman http://muslimenvironment.wordpress.com/category/articles/the-city-of-boughzoul-%e2%80%93-algerian-model-low-carbon-city/
 
Climate Change at Crisis Level http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/opinion/16319129.htm?template=contentModules/printstory.jsp

Climate Expert Says NASA Tried to Silence Him http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/29/science/earth/29climate.html?ei=5090&en=51c46d7689bee520&ex=1296190800&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss&pagewanted=all

The Coming Resource Wars , Michael T. Klare http://www.tompaine.com/articles/2006/03/07/the_coming_resource_wars.php

The Coming Water Crisis, Habib Siddiqui,  http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/the_coming_water_crisis

Eco Islam Hits Zanzibar Fishermen http://thetruereligion.org/modules/wfsection/article.php?articleid=287

Ecology and Environmental Justice: Spiritual Guidelines, Dr. Robert D. Crane http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/ecology_and_environmental_justice_spiritual_guidelines

Ecology in Islam: Protection of the Web of Life a Duty for Muslims, By Dr. Hasan Zillur Rahim http://www.wrmea.com/backissues/1091/9110065.htm

Environment and Values, S. Parvez Manzoor, http://www.islamonline.net/english/introducingislam/topic12.shtml

Environment in the eyes of Islam http://aquacool.blogspot.com/2003/12/environment-in-eyes-of-islam.html

Environmental Perspectives: Islam and Ecologism, Dr. Muzammal Hussain http://www.imase.org/content/view/55/35/

Environmental Ethics in Islam, By Abdur-Razzaq Lubis http://www.mandailing.org/Eng/envethicsislam.html

Environmental protection in Islam http://www.islamset.com/env/contenv.html

Environmental Responsibility Clear in Islamic Scriptures, Imam Zaid Shakir http://english.islammessage.com/articledetails.aspx?articleId=673
 
Filtering Out the Arsenic of Corruption, Hasan Zillur Rahim http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/filtering_out_the_arsenic_of_corruption/

Forever Interdependent: Man and Nature, Hwaa Irfan, http://www.islamonline.net/english/Science/2001/06/article2.shtml

Global Warming: Hotter, Faster, Worser John Atcheson http://www.countercurrents.org/cc-atcheson240206.htm

Green Khutbah across North America to mark Earth Day   http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/green-khutbah-across-north-america-to-mark-earth-day

Green Masjids in America, Aisha Qidwae http://www.soundvision.com/info/masjidtoday/greenmasjidsus.asp

‘Green Muslims,’ Eco-Islam and Evolving Climate Change Consciousness, John Wihbey http://www.yaleclimatemediaforum.org/2012/04/green-muslims-eco-islam-and-evolving-climate-change-consciousness/

Guardians of the Natural Order, Fazlun Khalid http://ifees.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=41&Itemid=56

Humans Are Trustees Of Allah’s Creation: Islam & The Environment, Matt McDermott http://www.treehugger.com/culture/humans-are-trustees-of-allahs-creation-islam-the-environment.html

In the Beginning of Creation Was Consciousness, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, http://www.hds.harvard.edu/news/bulletin/articles/nasr.html

Interfaith environmental group formed in Britain http://www.rferl.org/content/Religious_Leaders_Take_The_Lead_On_Environmental_Protection_/1869577.html

Is a Greener Islam Possible?, M. Aurangzeb Ahmed http://www.altmuslim.com/perm.php?id=P1893_0_24_0

Islam and Climate Change: Perspectives & Engagement, Dr Muzammal Hussain http://www.lineonweb.org.uk/Resources/reading.htm

Islam and Ecology, Frederick Denny, http://environment.harvard.edu/religion/religion/islam/  and http://ecologyandislam.wordpress.com/2010/01/03/islam-and-ecology-a-bestowed-trust-inviting-balanced-stewardship/

Islam and Ecology, Imam Tajuddin H. Alhilaly http://www.speednet.com.au/~keysar/ecology.htm

Islam and the Environment, Theory and Practice, Dr. Mawil Izzi Dien http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/islam_and_the_environment_theory_and_practice/

Islam and the environment, Hussein A. Amery http://www.idrc.ca/en/ev-93950-201-1-DO_TOPIC.html

Islam and the environment http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?pagename=IslamOnline-English-Ask_Scholar/FatwaE/FatwaE&cid=1119503544990

Islam and the Environment,  Gar Smith http://www.islamawareness.net/Nature/environment.html

Islam and the Environment, Fazlun Khalid, http://www.ifees.org/islamEnviroment.pdf

Islam and Environmental Conservation http://www.islamweb.net/ver2/Fatwa/ShowFatwa.php?lang=E&Id=2997&Option=FatwaId

Islam and Ecology, Marjorie Hope & James Young, http://www.crosscurrents.org/islamecology.htm

Islam and the planet http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/re/science/iscareofplanetrev2.shtml

Islam and the protection of the environment, Dr. Aminah Muhammad Nasir http://www.isesco.org.ma/english/publications/islamtoday/13/P5.php

Islam, Environment and Sustainability: “The Environmental Crisis is also a Spiritual Crisis”, Eren Güvercin http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/islam_environment_and_sustainability_the_environmental_crisis_is_also_a_spi/

Islamic Conceptual Framework, S. Parvez Manzoor http://www.islamonline.net/english/Contemporary/2002/05/Article23.shtml

Islamic Declaration on Sustainable Development, http://environment.harvard.edu/religion/publications/statements/islam_statement.pdf

Islamic Environmental Ethics, Law, and Society, Mawil Y. Izzi Deen http://www.mbcru.com/Texas%20Tech%20Mypage/Conservation%20Biology/Assignment%202/IzziDeenIslamicEcol.pdf

Islamic Faith and the Environment, Hyder Ihsan Mahasneh http://www.arcworld.org/faiths.asp?pageID=75

Islamic Faith Statement from 1995 meeting of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation http://www.arcworld.org/faiths.asp?pageID=75

Man and Ecology, an Islamic Perspective,  Atiya and Irshaad Hussain http://www.islamfrominside.com/Pages/Articles/Ecology%20Environment%20and%20Islam.html

Man and Ecology: An Islamic Perspective, M. Terdman http://muslimenvironment.wordpress.com/2010/04/04/man-and-ecology-an-islamic-perspective/

Morocco’s National Charter for Environment and Sustainable Development, Moshe Terdman http://muslimenvironment.wordpress.com/moroccos-national-charter-for-environment-and-sustainable-development-moshe-terdman/

The Muslim Declaration on Nature - Assisi 1986, Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef, secretary general of the Muslim World League http://www.arcworld.org/faiths.asp?pageID=132 

Muslims embrace the environment http://muslimmedianetwork.com/mmn/?p=3499

Muslims Spearhead Environmental Efforts to Clean Up Cooks River in Sydney Australia http://muslimenvironment.wordpress.com/category/australia/muslims-spearhead-environmental-efforts-to-clean-up-cooks-river-in-sydney-australia/

New Approaches to Religions and the Environment, Muhammad Hyder Mahasneh, http://lnweb18.worldbank.org/ESSD/envext.nsf/48ByDocName/IslamicFaithStatementsonEcology/$FILE/FaithIslam2003Final.pdf

PRACTICAL ISLAMIC ENVIRONMENTALISM: THE APPLICATION OF ISLAMIC ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS TO PROMOTE MARINE CONSERVATION IN ZANZIBAR A CASE STUDY http://ifees.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=40&Itemid=55
Qur’an and the Environment, Karem Ghoneim, http://www.islamonline.net/english/Science/2000/4/article1.shtml

Roland Shirk Thinks Muslim Environmentalists Part of Sinister Plot to Colonize the West?, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/green_muslims

Significance of the environment in Islam, Akhtar Mahmood http://www.islamweb.net/ver2/archive/article.php?lang=E&id=46430

Spirituality and the Environment, Hasan Zillur Rahim http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/spirituality_and_the_environment/

Sufis Are Islam’s Eco Guardians http://muslimenvironment.wordpress.com/2010/04/04/sufis-are-islam%e2%80%99s-eco-guardians/

Sustenance and Accountability: Islam’s Views on the Environment, by Rahat Kurd http://www.perc.ca/PEN/1993-12-01/s-kurd.html

Thirst for Oil Threatens 1/5 of Earth’s Fresh Water http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,13509-2074838,00.html

Towards an Islamic Jurisprudence of the Environment, Mustafa Abu-Sway, http://www.islamonline.net/english/Contemporary/2002/08/Article02.shtml

Towards an Islamic Theory of the Environment, Ziauddin Sardar, http://www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Spa/3879/environ.html

VIDEO: Global Warming, the Denial Machine http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article17138.htm

VIDEO: Climate Chaos http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article13511.htm

VIDEO: Global Dimming http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article15809.htm

Warmer Seas Will Wipe Out Plankton http://www.countercurrents.org/cc-connor200106.htm

Water Wars May Be Looming http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/article348196.ece

What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet, Ibrahim Abdul-Matin http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ibrahim-abdulmatin/what-islam-teaches-about-_b_851781.html


ORGANIZATIONS & WEBSITES

A world of green Muslims:  Posting Green Messages from across the Muslim blogosphere http://aworldofgreenmuslims.wordpress.com/tag/green-muslims/
Alliance of religions and conservation http://www.arcworld.org/ — Islamic eco-news page http://www.arcworld.org/faiths.asp?pageID=112
The Eco Muslim http://www.theecomuslim.com/
Forum on Religion and Ecology http://environment.harvard.edu/religion/information/about/index.html
Green Muslims http://dcgreenmuslims.blogspot.com/
Green Sufi http://cyclewalabanda.blogspot.com/
Interfaith earth network http://www.interfaithearthnetwork.org/
Islamic Environmental Group of Wisconsin http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?fuseaction=join_change_the_world.showPledgeDriverDetails&cpd_id=7356
Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences http://www.ifees.org/
London Islamic Network for the Environment http://www.lineonweb.org.uk/Resources/reading.htm
Muslim Environment Watch http://muslimenvironment.wordpress.com/category/muslim-environmental-organizations/

 

 


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