Islamic environmentalism is embedded in the matrix of Islamic teachings. The Qur’an, the central religious text of Islam, is inherently conservationist and mainly concerns the issues of how human beings relate to the natural environment and the benefits that accrue from protecting it. The Qur’an contains approximately 200 verses dealing with different elements of the environment. Many Surahs of the Qur’an carry names of plants (e.g. Al-Tin), minerals (e.g. Al-Hadid), and natural phenomena (e.g. Al-Thunder).
According to the Qur’anic principles, Allah is the Lord, Creator, the One who sustains all beings, He encompasses everything of His creation. He created the Earth in a perfect equilibrium of natural resources and cycles in which all living beings thrive. It is in Muslims’ responsibility to follow the Qur’anic principles and the example of Prophet Mohammad, who protected the rights of all the living, conserved water, established protected areas, renewed and recycled his possessions, and took delight in the created world.
This paper will focus on the gap between the Islamic principles that promote conservation and development of the environment and the practices in Muslim countries that are still a far cry from these principles. It also refers to some efforts to overcome this gap towards greener practices.
Author: Nourhan ElSheikh, Professor of Political Science, Cairo University, Member of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs