Saturday, July 29, 2006

International Environmental Issues

                                INT’L 407   International Environmental Issues 
Winter Quarter 2006 
Tuesday, 12:00-12:50 p.m.      Kelly Engineering Building, Room 1003 

      JAN 17 – The Role of Forests and Forestry in Mitigating Global Climate Change

Dr. Olga Krankina, Forest Science

                                         JAN 24 – Grown Together:  Agro-forestry in South Africa.

B. Bishaw & J. Hino, Forest Science; M. McNamara, OIRD 

TODAY – Environmental Values in Islam. K. Hamdy, Foreign Languages & Literatures

                 A Good Question 

    Given that Islam provides an ecological outlook that is practical as well as ethical, how is it that, in terms of deforestation, air and water pollution,
soil erosion, wildlife extinction and even toxic waste management, Muslim nations are no better than the industrialized nations of the world?.


                    By importing inappropriate                    technology to solve indigenous problems, they uproot traditionally sound environmental
practices and create ecological perils that threaten their survival. Many Muslim states could be described as having reached "endangered nation" status. 

Where Islam Started

         Muslims and Arabs Today 

There are approximately one billion Muslims in the world
list of 2 items
• Muslims are not necessarily Arabs  
• Muslims may be Arabs, Turks, Persians, Indians, Pakistanis, Malaysians, Indonesians, Europeans, Africans, Americans, Chinese, or other nationalities
list end
list of 3 items
• There are about 200 million Arabs
• Arabs can be Muslim, Christian, Jewish, an atheist or a follower of another faith 
• Arab Muslims constitute only about 20% of the Muslim population of the world
list end  

Sources of Islam 

The legal sources of Islam are the
and the
. The Qur'an is the "exact word of God;" The Hadith is the report of the sayings, deeds and approvals of the Prophet Muhammad. Islam being declared valid
for all times and all places, interpretation [
] practices were later developed by religious scholars.

Principles of Islam 
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• Oneness of God Islam rejects the idea of multiple manifestations of Allah.
list end
Oneness of mankind People are created equal in the Law of God. There is no superiority of one race over another. 
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• Oneness of Messengers and the Message Muslims believe God sent different. messengers throughout the history of humanity. All came with the same message
and the same teachings, but some people misunderstood and misinterpreted them. The prophets and teachers of Christianity and Judaism are also the Prophets
of Islam: Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Ismail, Jacob, Moses, David, Jesus, and Muhammad.
list end
list of 1 items
• Angels and the Day of Judgment Muslims believe in unseen creatures created by God for special missions. Muslims also believe in a Day of Judgment when
all people of the world will be brought for "accounting, reward and punishment.’
list end
list of 1 items
• Innocence of Man at Birth Muslims believe people are born free of sin. Only after they reach puberty will they be accountable for sinful acts. Forgiveness
through true repentance is always available
list end


Practices of Islam 

God instructed Muslims to practice five pillars: 
list of 5 items
• Creed (Shahada): The verbal pledge that there is only One God, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God, is considered to be the Creed of Islam.
• Prayers (Salat): The performance of five daily prayers is required of Muslims.
• Fasting (Saum): Fasting is total abstinence from food, liquids and sexual relations from dawn to sunset during the entire month of Ramadan.
• Purifying Tax (Zakat): An annual payment of a certain percentage of a Muslim's property is distributed among the poor or other rightful beneficiaries.

• Pilgrimage (Hajj): A pilgrimage to Makkah is required once in a life time, if means are available. Hajj is, in part, done in memory of the trials and
tribulations of Abraham, his wife Hagar and his eldest son Ishmail.
list end


          Balance in Nature and Life 
"And the earth—we have spread it out wide, and placed on it mountains firm, and caused life of every kind to grow on it in a balanced manner, and provided
means of livelihood for you as well as for all living beings whose sustenance does not depend on you. " (15:19)  
          Stewardship and Responsibility 
Humans are only one of God's creations, existing side by side with other living beings. Human life depends on other lives and energies and processes in
an interwoven system of which he is only a part. Lest human arrogance lead to the believe that it represents the epitome of God's creation, the Qur'an
reminds humans that

“Greater indeed than the creation of man is the creation of the heavens and the earth." (40:57)

By stressing that humans are only a small part of the universe, the Qur'an’s points out the absurdity of the anthropocentric world-view.

     Potential for Misuse  

“We bestowed on you from on high the ability to make use of iron, in which there is awesome power as well as a source of benefits for man. " (57.25) 

The power inherent in natural elements, whether  they be iron or uranium or silicon can, if harnessed for destructive rather than beneficial ends, destroy
the sensitivity of humans towards other creatures. It is to warn humans of this danger that the Qur'an symbolically stresses the potential "evil" of iron
if put to wrong use.

Ethics & Knowledge 

Knowledge that gives humans a false sense of sovereignty over God's creation cannot be pursued or morally defended. Rational inquiry must be shaped by moral
and ethical considerations; knowledge is to be sought for glorifying God and for fulfilling the responsibility of humans towards the Trust given to them.

Reforestation &  
Land Reclamation 

In the sayings and practices of Prophet Muhammad, Muslims find the embodiment of Qur'anic guidance: 
list of 1 items
• Whoever plants a tree and diligently looks
list end

after it until it matures and bears fruit is rewarded. 
list of 1 items
• If a Muslim plants a tree or sows a field and men and beasts and birds eat from it, all of it is charity on his part.
list end
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• Whoever brings dead land to life, that is, cultivates wasteland, for him is a reward therein.
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Nature & Islamic Legislation 
The Qur'an and the sayings of Prophet Muhammad form the legislative basis of Islamic law. Over the centuries, Muslim scholars have developed legislation
regarding animal rights, bodies of water, forests, wildlife, land use, city growth, overgrazing and other aspects of earth's finite resources and their
management. Islamic law requires the establishment of areas within which development is prohibited to safeguard natural resources. These areas could border
canals, wells and rivers, to protect aquifers and water from pollution. Most forests are designated as wilderness areas where trees cannot be logged. Responsible
grazing is fundamental to Islamic environmental law. Pasture, woodland, wildlife and forests cannot be privately owned or monopolized. They are public
property, to be managed by the state for the common good of all.


     Pollution is Corruption 

Some Islamic environmental laws formulated at the height of Muslim civilization may now appear inadequate and simplistic. Human laws are time-bound, while
divine guidance is timeless. 

”Corruption has appeared on land and sea as an outcome of what men's hands have wrought: and so He will let them taste the evil of some of their doings,
so that they might return to the right path. (30:4 1) 

… destruction of the natural environment follows from immoral and unethical use of natural resources.

   Muslim Involvement Today 

Public concern over such phenomena as the greenhouse effect, ozone depletion, acid rain, and the extinction of species, is shared by sensible people worldwide.
An international effort is now underway to confront environmental ills that plague the earth. Sadly, the Muslim involvement remains reactive and minimal.

Environmental Vocabulary of Islam - 1 

Mizaan – Balance [Harmony between humans’ as God’s Regents on Earth and Nature is a reflection of God’s wisdom.]

Khilaafa – Regency/Responsibility

Amaana – Trust [placed by Allah in humans]

Allah as al-Muheet ( = Environment) and al-Haseeb (who takes perfect accounts) [two of the
100 names of God]

Salat – Worship/Prayer [The whole earth is a place of worship, and Salat requires Taharah, cleanliness]

Wasat – Moderation

Takathur – Greed

Ni’mah – Blessing

Hisbah – Enjoining good and preventing evil

Haram – Natural reserve

Hema – Protected area

Waqf – Endowment

Ih’ya - Rehabilitation 
Environmental Vocabulary of Islam - 2 

? ???????? ??? ??????? ??? ???? ???.

“Wa ja’alnaa minal-maa’ee kulla shay’in ‘hayy.” – From water we made everything living. 

????? ???? ?? ?????? ???? ?????? ? ??? ??????? ???? ??????.

Na’hnu qawumonn Laa na’kulu hattaa naju’… –

Ethics of restraint vs. unsustianable consumption 

??? ????????? ???? ?????? ???? ???? ?????? ??????.

Lawu Ta’allaqat himmatu’l mar’ee… – Scientific  vs. Scriptural Authority 
Islamic “CBA” 

The Shari’a evolved within guidelines set by three principles agreed upon by scholar-jurists aver the centuries. They are: 

1* The interests of the community takes precedence over the interests of the individual. 

2* Relieving hardship takes precedence over promoting benefit. 

3* A bigger loss cannot be prescribed to alleviate a smaller loss and big societal benefit takes precedence over a smaller one. Conversely a smaller harm
can be prescribed to avoid a bigger harm and a smaller benefit can be dsipensed with in preference to a bigger one. 


Further Readings 

Environmental Protection in Islam  

Ecology in Islam: Protection of the Web of Life a Duty for Muslims 

Islamic Perspectives on Islamic Natural Resource Management and Sustainability  

Ecology in Islam  

What is Islam?  


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