Islamic Environmental Ethics
The new technological developments increase mobility as well as comfort, but might have major harmful effects to the environment besides risking human health. The harmful effects of technological developments to the environment have resulted in what many have termed as environmental crises. The environmental crises are a threat to human beings as well as other living organisms. The existing evidence shows that the technical solutions have essentially not been resulting in outcomes that are satisfactory. Thus, it is critical for us to know how we should behave towards the environment. It is worth mentioning that, among the theoretical deliberations, environmental ethics is essentially getting extra attention to formulating an appropriate solution for the extensive degradation of the environment. As environmental ethics is based on the intrinsic beliefs and value, religions throughout the world have essentially been obtaining extra recognition to define correct environmental ethics. The reason for this is because religions attempt to illuminate what possessed the inherent value along with the standard for evaluating a conduct toward nature as the ethical one. As a result, the focus of this research paper is the Islamic perspective of the environmental ethics. For this reason, this paper offers an overview of the environmental ethics from an Islamic point of view.
The subject whether nature must be of concern is strongly related to the question of the category of ethical principles must apply to the relationship between humans and nature. The underlying philosophical values are expressed in ethical guiding principles for the relation; therefore, it is imperative to elucidate the human-nature underlying principle (Walker, 2000). Ethics refers to the philosophical study of wrong and right conduct as well as the principles and rules, which ought to guide it, meaning that ethics deals with good versus evil behavior issues. Thus, ethics defines acts that are morally obliged or permissible. In any ethical theory, there exist two basic concepts including the intrinsically valuable things and things that make an action right or wrong.
There are different approaches, which are considered for the manifestation of moral support to nature and to non-human world. The most common of these approaches are as followed: social ecology, conservation, animal rights, preservation, sustainable development and sustainability. Preservation and conservation are associated with a set of the utilitarian ethic that seems to maximize on the utilization of human welfare as a basis of food action. In the conservation, different components of the environment need protection as it is connected to the economic value. Reservation, on the other hand, rejects strict economic value of nature. It is in an ethical position where natural preservation is prescribed for maintaining diverse species as well maintaining the beautiful natural systems (Bowie, 2011).
Social ecology, stresses on present ecological problems that arise from deep-seated social problems. Unfortunately, these problems cannot be understood clearly, leave alone resolved without dealing with problems within society. It is through social ecology that one can see society and nature are interlinked by evolution into one nature of either a biotic or biotic. Social ecology employs critical theory where one has to use his/her senses in preserving the environment. To understand ecological destruction as a manifestation of human alienation from nature critical theory needs to be employed.
Animal rights attach intrinsic value to life. It is an ethical, which views animals on a different perspective and encourages people to respect animals. Supporters of animal rights argue that just like humans, animals too have consciousness and they have the capacity for reasoning. Animal rights ethics prevents humans from torturing animals, since it argues that animals have rights the same to human rights (Bowie, 2011).
Land ethic clearly indicates that people are required not to act upon the unconscious between each other. Although the problem is the need to generalize conscience from people to land. It implies that people should respect each other and respect the community in general. Land ethic simply expands the boundaries of the community to include water, soils, plants and animals. When approaching this ethic land is viewed as a biological mechanism. Mostly land ethic is right when it preserve the stability, beauty and integrity of the biotic community.
Deep ecology separates all efforts to the environmental preservation in two distinct forms, deep and shallow movement. The movements mainly aim in preserving the environment and fight against pollution. Deep ecology is the one, which claims to be more useful than shallow ecology, a move towards deep ecology is an obligation. However, this ethical approach describes the principal in convergence of all individuals in preserving nature. Some of these principles are as followed: Biodiversity and coexistence, rejecting human domination over nature, fight against pollution and resources dissipation, and many more. Deep ecology seeks the self-realization through unity with other things as it claims that humans can form unity with the landscape, ecosystems and other species (Quadric, 2013).
Ecofeminism considers connections between ecology and feminism. It sees the theme of dominance, which is operating in the association of men over women, as well as humanity over nature. It promotes the overthrow of both types of dominance for each is oppression. In Islam just like Judaism and Christianity, taking care of the environment is a matter of concern. However, some believe that these religions are largely anthropocentric and they view nature as being of secondary importance. In Islam God-humans-nature relationship is described more precisely by understanding that God encompasses everything (Quadric, 2013)
Religious value Orientation
Environmental crises can be considered to be a separation between the worldly living and living in a particular religion. The religion of an individual is the key thing in the shaping up of the individual attitude toward the nature. In other word, we can say that religion is the main factor that helps to shape up the ethics and views of individual worldwide in the relations to the attitudes and values in which different culture and society are viewed. The ethics and values of religion determine the behaviors of interactions with another creature like the plant life and animal life. The viewpoints of the world have changed in the last twenty years and the religion to be one of the best solutions to the environmental crises (Ziebertz, 2009).
Islamic Perspective on the Environmental Ethics
According to the Islamic religion, God is the true owner of the universe and all the things that are on it. The religion evaluates the human behaviors toward their environment by the use of commands from God. The centers in which values of Islam are obtained are related to the ethnocentrism. The Islam religion further explains that the intrinsic values only belong to the creator who is God and the values toward the other things can only be defined in relations to God himself. The religion has the perspective that human beings are charged with the responsibility of taking care of the nature and all that is in nature. The Islam religions see it be ethically right for human to do their duties according to the commands of Allah. Human behavior can be toward the natural environment can be used to examine based on Gods’ command. Human beings are expected to appreciate God creation without going into the excess. The world of the Muslim community is characterized by specific attributes in that God is the one who encompasses everything. Environmental ethics can be explained by basing the arguments on the concept of human nature interaction. There are verses in Qur’an that give a test to this and a good example is the verse below:
“Now surely they are in doubt as to the meeting of their Lord; now surely He encompasses all things “(Qur’an, 41: 54).
This view can be used to compare the views of human beings having responsibility toward the nature and also definition of the relationship [that is they're between god nature and the human being. It becomes very necessary not to forget the idea by O’Riordan idea. He gives out two major views that are about environmentalism .These are the interventionist mode and the techno-centrism in which distinguishes the competition spirit and also the terms of the mortalities and the modes that can be used to nature and finally it gives the rules of conduct. In intervenes and the nurturing models are seen as the most discrete entities in the relationship of God human and nature and it is a hierarchy. Islam ethics toward the environment are to protect the natural environments against degradation. By the rejection of any denominations that are irresponsible over the earth is Godly on earth and for the safe keeping of god’s Creation as the Quran says:
“Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: “I will create a vicegerent on earth”. They said: “Wilt thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood? - Whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy (name)?" He said: “I know what ye know not” (Qur’an 2: 30).
Human being is made superior by God over all other creations. In other words, this can be explained that a good and responsible human being is the one who follows Gods command and behave rightly toward God creation. Human being is expected to Coexist well with other creation and it is written in the Quran
“There is not an animal (that lives) on the earth, or a being that flies on its wings, but (forms part of) Communities like you. Nothing have we omitted from the Book and they (all) shall be gathered to Their Lord in the end” (Qur’an, 6: 38)
The Quran also prevents the human being from over exploitation of the natural resources. Human being is required to avoid from any damage to the living Organism. As it is stated in Quran:” Allah does no love the mischief of human being in destroying the crops and its progeny”
According teaching of Muslim Environmental degradation is seen as forgetting of Allah. Human being who degrades the environment is going against the responsibility that he or she is assigned by Allah of taking care of his creation.
There are various governing rules in the Islamic environmental ethics. The Islamic religion formulates a number of instructions on the way human beings should treat the natural resources and environment. One of the governing rules in the Islamic ethics requires people to benefit from the natural resources in a responsible manner. The stress of the hadiths and Qur’an on natural phenomena and the nature do not mean that individuals cannot profit from them. In reality, the Qur’an plainly suggests that God created natural phenomena and the nature such that man can benefit from them as well as dominate them. For instance, the Qur’an says: “And the earth, He has set it for people. (55:10)” In addition, the benefits, which individuals get from the environment, are not restricted to physical or material ones. Similarly, they include psychological and mental benefits: “And He created the cattle for you, you have in them warm clothing and many (uses) advantages, and of them you can eat. And there is beauty in them for you when you drive them back home and when you send them forth to pasture. (16:5 &6)” The natural phenomenon and nature are similarly God signs on which individuals must reflect to understand God better and improve their relationships with Him. Besides, individuals need a number of natural materials for various worship acts performance. Thus, we can also benefit from them spiritually and theologically.
The other governing rule in the Islamic ethics requires individuals to behave towards nature as guardians. According to the Qur’an, a man, must use natural resources on earth responsibly and as God’s vicegerent. Thus, a man should feel responsible for natural resources improvement and maintenance. In addition, Islamic ethics requires Muslims to recognize their role as trustees. According to the Holy Qur’an, God has given human beings the responsibility of trust and stewardship so as to serve as a God’s blessings channel to all the creation. Thus, this means that God has invested human beings with unique status and responsibility as earth’s trustees, and they should fulfill that trust requirements. The Islamic thought describes nature as a divine trust and the trustee as a man. Another crucial governing rule in the Islamic environmental ethics requires people to plan for improvement of their lives and the entire world. The Islam religion teaches us that we should do our best to both improve and develop the world.
There are various qualities related to individuals’ treatment to the environment in the Islamic religion. Cleanliness and tidiness are important aspects in Islam. Prophet said, “Surely God is clean and loves the clean, so clean your courtyard" an imam once said clean clothes removes grief and sorrow. These Hadiths show clearly that the cleanliness has effects a big effect on the soul. A good believer should moderate his/her life including the use of the environment. The holy prophet said, “The best of affairs is the medium one” Exceeding limits in using natural resources is extravagance. Another aspect, which is important to the believer, is thankfulness. It should not only be by words but deeds also. In other words by deeds implies divine blessings in the right ways and pleasing God. To misuse divine blessings as destroying nature and polluting water, these are signs condemned in Islam. Qur'an says, "Have you not seen those who have changed God's favor for ungratefulness and made their people to alight in the abode of perdition?" (14:28)
The research paper has addressed various aspects of Islamic environmental ethics. From the discussion, it is obvious that the Islamic religion puts great emphasis in Qur’an on natural phenomena and nature as the divine signs indicating the power, the wisdom, and the knowledge of God. Therefore, it becomes apparent that environment in the Islamic religion has an intrinsic value and is sacred. Even if there is no shortage or threat, humans must still protect the natural resources, take care of plants and animals, and develop and improve the environment.
Bowie, N. E., & Schneider, M. E. (2011). Business ethics for dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Gohari, M. J., & Quran Institute (Oxford, England) (2007). The Quran. Oxford: Quran Institute.
Quadric, T. M. (2013). Traditional Islamic Environmentalism: The Vision of Seyyed Hossein Nasr. University Press of America.
Walker, J. (2000). Environmental ethics. London: Hodder & Stoughton.
Ziebertz, H. -G., Kay, W. K., & Riegel, U. (2009). Youth in Europe III: An international empirical study about the impact of religion on life orientation. Mu?nster, Germany: Lit Verlag.