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Published onMar 24, 2022| Author DR. MUHAMMAD YASEEN GADA

Every year 21stMarch is the International Day of Forests, or the World Forest Day. It’s celebrated to raise awareness about the importance of forests/environment. It is relatively new in the wake of the environmental crisis created by the Industrial Revolution of the West. The environmental degradation began locally in the West but then became global due to man’s exploitative and egotistic activities in pursuit of economic benefits, consumerist lifestyle, and modern science and technology.


Humankind is at a critical point in history. As human activities have over the past century so affected the natural world that the environment on which life depends, it has altered the nature of our relationship to it. The ecological imbalances, the resource shortages and environmental pollution that led to these crises required immediate action to reverse and arrest the environmental degradation. Many people were concerned by the dark picture of their neighbor’s surroundings. This paved the way for the emergence of such an academic field and a social movement generally known as “environmentalism” or “environmental ethics”.


It is also true that modern environmental consciousness and awareness of nature began in the West. The West’s environmental discourse did not include any mention of Islamic ethics and moral teachings about the environment. The fact that Islamic texts have been inherited is a testament to the fact that they contain unique environmental guidelines, which if implemented and followed, would have made the current situation a lot more different. It is argued that no other religion mentions “nature” and “environment” related aspects more than that of Islamic texts. Also, Islam is inherently eco- or environmental.


There are many examples of environmental references throughout Islamic history. These include writings by prominent Muslim poets, scholars, and sufis. But, it wasn’t until the last quarter century that Muslim environmental discourse became a significant trend. Since then, environmental issues have grown to be a major concern for many Muslim majority countries, especially those in the oil-producing Arab countries. Because a green image is now a key indicator of global prestige, Muslim environmental activism is growing at all levels. Muslim environmental ethicists as well as political establishments have taken various initiatives to address the environmental crisis.



Contemporary Muslims’ rise of awareness and interest in environmental crisis, and its Islamic understanding is attributed to Seyyed Hussain Nasr (b. 1933) — Iranian American philosopher who believe that we do not need to create a new (eco)/theology to understand the Islamic position on environmental protection; instead we need to return and retrieve the fundamentals of Islam about man and nature relationship.


The Qur’an and the hadith form the basis of Shari’ahIslamic environmental ethics, which have been integrated into Islamic law. After the Prophetic Muhammad’s (SAW) period, Muslim scholars interpreted and integrated the basic sources in response to the needs of time from which emerged Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh). This jurisprudence developed a sub-discipline called Fiqh of Bi’ah (Jurisprudence of Environment) — a series of injunctions derived from the basic sources of Islam that regulates our behaviour to promote a conservationist approach.


Nearly all classic Islamic jurisprudence books contain a chapter or book on (Jurisprudence Of) Environment. This chapter deals with issues like management and ownership of land and pastures, fuel wood, water, and water. Islamic jurisprudence “contains regulations concerning the conservation allocation of scarce water resources; it has rules for the conservation of land with special zones [hima and haram] of graded use; and it has special rules for the establishment of rangelands, wetlands, green belts and also wildlife protection and conservation” (Md Saidul Islam, 2012). Hima and HaramIt could be defined as a wildlife sanctuary or conservation zone. A system of land grants and charitable endowments are also available.awqaf), office of public inspection (Muhtasib) were established for proper functioning of the environmental jurisprudence.


Historical environmental contribution can also be traced back to Muslim scholars such as sufi poets: Jalal al-din Rumi (1207–1273) and Farid ud-Din Attar (d. 1220) who praised nature through their “Nature poetry”. They had a high aesthetic sense of nature. Masnavi of Rum termed the entire God’s creation as alive. Similar, the Andalusian mystic Muhyi al-Din ibn ‘Arabi (1165–1240) promoted God’s creation as “unity of being” (wahdat al-wujud)—the idea which influenced many sufi’s throughout Islamic history. Theologians like Imam al- Ghazali (d. 1111) and historian and philosopher Ibn Khaldun (1332–1406) may also be considered on environmental norms. In his influential work, Ibn Khaldun visualizes. Muqaddimah,The impact of the physical environment on human history. He also described the climatic areas of the earth.


In Islamic history, environmental concerns like the welfare of animals were also explicitly addressed. There were some birds and animals that could live harmoniously with humans, according to Islamic culture. Muslim scholars were attracted to the inclusion of animals in scientific and literary writings. One can, for example, look at the book. The Island of AnimalsThis translation is from an Arabic treatise of a fairy tale that expounds on the human-animal relationship. Similarly, one of the best Arabic literary translated work “Kalila wa Dimna” Ibn Muqaffa, a well-known eight-century scholar (724-759), uses animals as literary devices to teach moral lessons to children and adults. Ibn Sina (981-1037), is better known in Medicine, Philosophy and Medicine for his extensive and encyclopedic works Kitab al-ShifaThe Book of Healing, which was less well-known in Earth Science, was the Book of Healing. In Kitab al-ShifaHe provided basic information and principles of Earth Science, including meteorology, mineralogy, geology, and meteorology. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a prominent Islamic scholar of the present, stated that “protection of natural environment is one objective ( b. 1926)—a contemporary prominent Islamic scholar—“protection of natural environment is one of the objectives (maqasid) of Sharia’ah”.


All of these instances show that Muslim scholars were concerned about the environment all through Islamic history. They were encouraged to preserve and conserve natural resources and protected it. Recently, Shah-i Hamadan Institute of Islamic Studies (SHIIS), University of Kashmir, successfully conducted a two-day national seminar on “Environmental Ethics: A Religious Perspective” on March 15-16, 2022 which is commendable.


Therefore, in the environmental discourse, it has often been argued that what is really needed to solve the present ecological crisis is the “environmental ethics”, Since the ethics is essentially based on intrinsic values and beliefs, religions have been getting more recognized to define proper environmental ethics mainly because they try to illuminate what possessed intrinsic value. Islam, as a complete way of life, provides efficient, holistic and comprehensive solutions—ethical principles—to mitigate the present environmental crisis.



Dr. Muhammad Yaseen Gada teaches religious Studies at Central University of Kashmir and can be reached at [email protected])

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