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

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

Reflecting Upon Signs of God: Call to Climate Action

As over a billion Muslims celebrate Ramadan, the month of the Qur’an, it behooves us to reflect upon all the āyāt – verses or signs – of God. God enjoins us over and again to contemplate every āyah (verse) of the Holy Writ, as in Surah Muhammad: ‘Do they not contemplate the Qur’an? Or do hearts have their locks upon them?’ (47:24). In Surat al-Mu’minūn, He says: ‘Have they not contemplated the Word, or has there come unto them that which came not unto their forefathers?’ (23:68). In Surat al-Baqarah we are told: ‘Thus does God make clear unto you the signs (āyāt), that … Continue reading

Islamic Discourse on Climate Change

Global ecological trends show that we face the risk of tipping points and irreversible changes in the environment and in its capacity to support and sustain human life in all its dimensions.  This state of imbalance and pollution is referred to as “fassad” in Islam which is attributed to human-made actions. Transforming society and the world’s economy to a sustainable basis presents the most significant challenge to the 21st century. It is inspiring to harness local knowledge and culture to inform sustainability. Islam as a worldview and a way of life can provide a fresh outlook to human-environmental in a … Continue reading

Islamic Perspectives on COP

It is a ripe time to reflect briefly on the upcoming COP from an Islamic perspective. By now everyone is well aware of the cause of severe climatic disturbances which affect us all and the poorest and most vulnerable in particular: sheer greed and unbridled, reckless, consumption. Islam has always provided the keys to a harmonious life in which humans refuse to take more from nature than they need for their sustenance and enjoyment. Islam has repeatedly warned about the imbalances and inequalities that would arise if one were not to follow its recommendations. God created the world in balance … Continue reading

Environmental and Spiritual Benefits of Ramadan Fasting

Our environment is more than trees, water, land, and air. It is a sense of peace, an understanding of our place in our society. It sustains our satisfaction in life and our interest in caring for the life around us. Recognizing the sustaining forces that make up our environment sometimes requires a time of deep introspection. Few practices in the human repertoire can guide us to deep introspection like the profound practice of fasting in the holy month of Ramadan. For one full month in every year, fasting is required for Muslims all over the world. The day-long fasting process in … Continue reading

Towards a Green Hajj

Despite the spiritual perfection of the rites of the Hajj pilgrimage, there are some deep issues with its practical implementation. In a journey where one is meant to recalibrate one's consciousness of the one true Creator, it seems paradoxical that such an excursion should lead to environmental harm (or destruction). Why is it then that I walk the street of the Haram (sacred land) and find them littered with boxes of chicken and rice, strewn on the curb in front of beggars who offer to pray for you in exchange of spare change? Deluge of Waste In 7:31, the Holy … 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

Guide to Green Hajj

The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and is an annual pilgrimage to Makkah. It is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims which must be carried out at least once in lifetime by every adult Muslim who is physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey. The Hajj gathering is considered to be the largest gathering of people in the world whereby Muslims from many countries converge to do the religious rites.  Nearly three million Muslims perform Hajj each year. Making necessary arrangements each year for the growing number of pilgrims poses a gigantic logistic challenge for the Saudi Government and respective Authorities, as housing, transportation, sanitation, food and … 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

Food Waste, Ramadan and the Middle East

With the holy month of Ramadan only a few days away, huge food wastage in the Middle East is again hogging limelight. It is a widely acccepted fact that almost half of the municipal solid waste stream in the Middle East is comprised of food wastes and associated matter. The increasing amount of food waste in the Middle East urgently demands a strong food waste management strategy to ensure its minimization and eco-friendly disposal.  Food Waste in Ramadan Middle East nations are acknowleded as being the world’s top food wasters, and during Ramadan the situation takes a turn for the worse. In 2012, the Dubai Municipality … Continue reading

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