Environmental Initiatives in Middle East – Challenges and Remedies

Environmental protection has become an increasingly important item on the social and economic policy agenda of Middle East nations. As I read last week’s piece titled “Environmental Impacts of Plastic Bags” I was struck by the succinct summary of the main problems with the ongoing use of plastic bags and how their effects can be felt in many ways, some widely publicized and others not. The article prompted a series of reflections upon other environmental initiatives emerging in the Middle East and North Africa, especially in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. In this article, I wish to share my … Continue reading

Islamic Teachings on Animal Welfare

During the last few decades, agriculture and animal-rearing has become commercialized and industrialised. The breeding and slaughtering of farm animals in Muslim countries has become an unethical money-making business. In addition, the halal label  has lost its real meaning due to focus on maximum productivity and minimal compassion towards animals. The consumption of meat products  has increased manifolds in recent years which has led to significant increase in public health issues. Moreover, it is having harmful effects on the environment and on animal health as well. Animals and the Holy Quran Long before the emergence of the animal rights movement, … Continue reading

Animal Welfare: Guiding Principles in Islam

Survival and sustainability of animals are key principles in Islam. We are not their creator, only their caretakers, and have no right to engage in practices that will bring about their extinction or even their suffering. Animals have God-given roles to play on the earth and we are not entitled to stop or hinder them, except in the case of defending ourselves or our property from danger. We are not entitled to destroy the environments in which animals live, as this also impacts their ability to survive. Animals, humans, and plants all live together in an interrelated ecosystem, dependent on … Continue reading

Significance of Rural Culture in Islam

Rural culture developed magnificently during medieval times in the Islamic Mediterranean countries. It has left its mark on many aspects of daily life in the countryside, from Sicily and the Spanish Levant to the Maghreb and the Eastern regions. Al-Andalus was a perfect example. Not only are Arabic words present in every movement, skill and tradition throughout much of Spain, but the actual rural landscape forms part of this heritage. And the same can be said about age-old customs for the distribution and use of water, for sowing, grafting, harvesting and storing, and many of today’s extensive, organic farming methods. … Continue reading

Waste Management Awareness in Oman: A Pilot Study

The four Rs (reduce, reuse, repurpose, and recycle) of waste management have not yet entered the everyday discourse of Oman, but does this mean that they are not part of everyday life in Oman? We think the people of Oman can help us to answer this question. To get a first-hand understanding of the degree of waste management awareness in Oman, a pilot study was designed, a questionnaire was prepared, and in a series of interviews with individual Omanis we recorded their responses. Insights into the Survey The questionnaire covered household consumption habits, food waste and other household waste, and awareness of … Continue reading

Overpopulation, Overconsumption and Climate Change: An Islamic Perspective

Overpopulation- and incipient overconsumption- are the twin products of the capitalist system. Consumerism is characterized by the desire for material goods. It is the dominant ideology of our times and holds responsibility for the Climate Crisis. This is as consumerism is intimately linked with anthropocentrism, environmental destruction and global inequality Moreover, Islam can provide a thoroughgoing critique of the prevailing socio-economic system.  As such, it is necessary to develop a strong Islamic platform in order to work towards economic justice and sustainability. Overpopulation can be better understood through analysis of overconsumption and resource depletion. The scale of the problem can … Continue reading

Islam, Economics and a Blueprint for Sustainable Development

Islamic economic thought is heavily based on the concepts of fairness and justice. Trade is encouraged- but only within the guidelines of the Shariah (Islamic law). As a result, the Islamic economic system is largely value-driven and fits within the principles of sustainability. A key Islamic principle concerns how “everything belongs to God, and wealth is held by people in trust”. [1] This means that human beings have a God-given duty to care for the Earth. In turn, this links with the idea of Khilafa (stewardship).  The Holy Qur’an states, “Corruption has appeared in the land and the sea on … Continue reading

Water Conservation in Islamic Teachings

Water occupies a pivotal role in Islam, and is recognized by Muslims as a blessing that “gives and sustains life, and purifies humankind and the earth”. The Arabic word for water, ma’a, is referenced exactly 63 times throughout the Holy Qur’an and is a recurring topic in many of the sayings of the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him). Water is not only praised for its life providing and sustaining properties, but it is essential in the daily life of a Muslim. A follower is required to complete ablution prior to the performance of the prayer, five times a day. … Continue reading

Solid Waste Management in the Middle East – Major Challenges

Middle East is one of the most prolific waste generating regions of the world. Solid waste management in the Middle East is bogged down by major challenges like lavish lifestyles, ineffective legislation, infrastructural roadblocks, indifferent public attitude and lack of environmental awareness. High standards of living are contributing to more generation of waste which when coupled with lack of waste collection and disposal facilities have transformed ‘trash’ into a liability. Major Hurdles The general perception towards waste is that of indifference and apathy. Waste is treated as ‘waste’ rather than as a ‘resource’. There is an urgent need to increase … Continue reading

Islam and Animal Rights

All living beings – humans, birds, animals, insects etc – are worthy of consideration and respect. Islam has always viewed animals as a special part of God’s creation. Mankind is responsible for whatever it has at its disposal, including animals whose rights must be respected. The Holy Qur’an, the Hadith, and the history of Islamic civilization offer many examples of kindness, mercy, and compassion for animals. According to Islamic principles, animals have their own position in the creation hierarchy and humans are responsible for their well-being and food. Islam strongly asks Muslims to treat animals with compassion and not to abuse them. The Holy Qur’an states … Continue reading

Islam and Environment Protection

Environment protection is an important aspect of Islam. Being stewards of the Earth, it is the responsibility of Muslims to care for the environment in a proactive manner. There is a definite purpose behind the creation of different species, be it plants or animals. Muslims are encouraged to reflect on the relationship between living organisms and their environment and to maintain the ecological balance created by Allah. Protection of the environment is essential to Islamic beliefs and mankind has the responsibility to ensure safe custody of the environment. Environment Protection and Resource Conservation The Islamic perspective on environment protection reflects … Continue reading

Attitudes towards Waste Management – The Case in Oman

Responses to the Oman waste management questionnaire were interesting, enlightening, and often unexpected. The Omani interviewees gave thoughtful answers and additional insights and opinions that stemmed from their sociocultural backgrounds as well as from their individual experiences. Often, statements and assertions from these respondents were found to be corroborated by evidence from other types of research, such as the study on the composition of refuse found in dumpsites in Muscat, or the feeding habits of camels cited earlier. Food waste On the topic of food waste, respondents generally had a strong belief that such waste was immoral. When asked about … Continue reading