Iskandar Abbasi is a Palestinian-American scholar activist from Los Angeles. He is currently a Madina Institute student as well as post-graduate student at the University of Johannesburg focusing in Islamic Studies.
The Green Jihad*
The mujahidin** have finally banded together to fight the forces of evil. They are running around proclaiming “Allahu Akbar!”, waiving their flags back and forth, and denouncing all shaytaanic ideologies. Instead of AK-47s though, these radicals are carrying natural soil fertilizer and reusable water containers. Instead of proclaiming destruction and hate towards kuffar, these warriors are proclaiming preservation of nature and compassion towards all within God’s creation. No, these Muslims are not your normal strugglers – they are eco-mujahids. They are proclaiming a green jihad, and are preaching a return to the environmentally conscious nature of traditional Islamic doctrine and practice. Can Islam save the environment? While pragmatically preserving the earth’s environment will take much more than eco-friendly theologies, the relationship between Islam and ecology is arguably a healthy starting place for Muslims and others to realize our interconnectedness as humans to a greater cosmic creation.
The Qur’an dictates that humans are endowed with an inherent ethical notion to care for the environment. One example of a gift from God, which humans have received to further ethical behavior, is the ability to name things; “Without this ability, life becomes a great mystery and all matters can easily become bewildered and confusing” (Khalid 27). It is through this ability that the connection between humans and the environment is forged; such environmental treasures as mountains, hills, and valleys would not be identified if code words were not available. The Qur’an states that humankind was entrusted with this power so that it could be the khalifa, or vice-regent, of its surrounding creations. We can interpret this to mean that God wants humans to be an integral caretaker of His life-support system, and that God gave us the Qur’an and Shari’ah to teach us the complexities of our shared cosmic creation (Khalid 28).
There are many practical ways we can develop a constant practice (i.e. it is a habit and a part of our natural character) of being environmentally friendly in our everyday life. In this short blog, I would like to share two; the first being short and easy to always remember, and the second being something to really chew on and always improve upon. Firstly, we should never litter, and always do our best to pick up trash whenever we see it as to “remove harmful objects from the road”, as the Prophetic practice goes (Sahih Muslim 2618). Secondly, practicing minimalism and anti-consumerism has basically become a fard (i.e. obligatory according to the Shari’ah) in our day and age. We (meaning all creatures on the earth, humans or not) are currently experiencing a massive extinction in which plants, animals and many organisms within the natural world are being systematically destroyed due to over-consuming our earth’s natural resources. One of the best ways to combat this destruction and support environmental preservation is to simply consume less and live life as simply as possible. This means only using and buying what you need – whether food or other staples and goods – and reusing all that you have as much as possible. Reusing or “passing down” clothes is one easy practice to embody this principle; reusing food containers whenever possible is another; using a reusable water bottle is another; and saving water and electricity whenever possible is another. With these principles and practical tips in mind, inshallah, we will be able to support the movement of preserving and defending God’s creation before it is too late.
*The Struggle on the Path to God
**People who struggle on the Path to God
Khalid, Fazlun M., and Joanne O’Brien. Islam and Ecology. New York, NY: Cassell, 1992.