Rethinking Sustainability: Islamic Perspectives

The 21st century is characterized by a number of global environmental challenges that shaped and defined the discourse and agenda of the West with respect to the developing world, specifically the Islamic world. Islam provides new sustainability perspectives for discovering and explaining the root causes for the current environmental, economic and social crises as manifested in climate change, HIV, poverty and human security. For example, the Islamic perspective on climate change is that the root cause of this global issue is the absence or lack of human stewardship and is an indication of market failures. Pitfalls of the Western Model … Continue reading

Water in Islamic Culture

The great cultural bloom that took place during the al-Andalus period was made possible from a material and social viewpoint thanks, among other factors, to the wise water management at those times. Countryside, cities, public bathhouses and fountains, mosques and gardens honoured the element of water. However, this water culture emerged from a distinctively Islamic conception which is briefly summarized in the following paragraphs. Water in the Holy Quran In Islam, life and knowledge originated from water, a divine gift that symbolises profound wisdom, the drink that quenches the soul’s thirst. But it is also science. Thus, the word al-ma’a – water … Continue reading

The Holy Quran: A New Ecological Paradigm

Among the world scriptures, the Holy Quran provides a unique resource for building a new ecological paradigm. Grounded in the Abrahamic tradition, it presents a harmonious view of nature reminiscent of the Far East. In the Quran, “whatsoever is the heavens and on the earth glorifies God” (59:1; 61:1; 62:1; 64:1). “The stars and the trees prostrate” (55:6), “the thunder hymns His praise” (13:13), and “unto God prostrates whosoever is in the heavens and whosoever is on the earth, the sun, the moon, the stars, the mountains, the trees, and the beasts” (22:18). In these and many other verses, the … Continue reading

Islamic Principles on Sustainable Development

A huge number of verses in Qura’n and several sayings of the Prophet Muhammad indicate the great importance that has been given to environmental concerns and the responsibility of man to the environment. The concept of sustainable development in Islam can be defined as “The balanced and simultaneous realization of consumer welfare, economic efficiency, attainment of social justice, and ecological balance in the framework of a evolutionary knowledge-based, socially interactive model defining the Shuratic process”. The Shuratic process is the consultation or participatory ruling principle of Islam. The over arching principle in the use of nature is derived from the prophetic … 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

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

Muslims and the Environment: A Mischance

The detachment of the modern-day man from the environment can be attributed to the desacralization of nature, and the modernist destitution of the inner state of the soul which, according to the scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr in ‘Man and Nature’, accounts for the phenomenon of the ‘prostitution of nature’: “For modern man, nature has become like a prostitute ─to be benefited from without any sense of obligation and responsibility toward her.” Eradication of Natural World Mankind has surrounded itself with square walls and barren concrete structures for the sake of creating this artificial industrial world. Its constant need to feed … Continue reading

Rediscovering the Natural World – The Islamic Approach

Today more than half the world’s population live in cities. Our increasingly urban lives have ensured an almost total disconnection from the natural world to the extent that it is not uncommon to meet children who believe that milk originates in plastic supermarket cartons. It is as well to be conscious of this as much is left out in their education, both religious and secular, to the extent that we are continuing to cause irreparable harm to the Earth. Muslims are no exception to this, having also adopted urban lifestyles and modern modes of living that reveal an almost complete … Continue reading

Environmental Sustainability in Islam

Islamic beliefs, traditions and values provide an effective and comprehensive solution to the current environmental challenges faced by the human race. Islam has a rich tradition of highlighting the importance of environmental protection and conservation of natural resources. According to Islamic law, the basic elements of nature – land, water, fire, forest, and light – belong to all living things, not just human beings. The Holy Qur’an and Sunnah are a guiding light to promote sustainable development in Islamic countries as well as around the world. Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala) commands human beings to avoid doing mischief and wasting resources … Continue reading

Islamic Principles on Waste Minimization

Since the beginning of time, waste has been an environmental issue for humans. Waste is often equated with trash, but even before the existence of trash, there was waste. Understanding the various forms of waste can help us identify ways to avoid and reduce it. Muslims have had lessons on avoiding and reducing waste for over 1,400 years and we can all benefit from the guidance offered in Islam through Quranic injuctions and Prophet’s Sunnah. The Holy Quran says: It is He Who has brought into being gardens, the cultivated and the wild, and date-palms, and fields with produce of all … 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

Framework for IWRM: An Islamic Perspective

The Islamic perspective on Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) framework provides a holistic approach to look at the entire spectrum of water management components, i.e, water resources, uses, treatment and resue. Islam provides policies and principles that address all elements of the framework for Integrated Water Resources Management. At the resource level, Islam teaches that the Universe and humans are created by God. And the source of water is from God, the creator, however, Islam believes in the rational and pragmatic explanations of science. The first verse in Quran is “Read” and there are many references in Quran that urge humans to … Continue reading