Despite the fact that Islam remains a powerful social force in the lives of the majority of its adherents, contemporary scholars lament the silence of Muslims on the environmental crisis. However, close scrutiny reveals a burgeoning ‘green’ movement amongst Muslims the world over. While scholarly works initially elucidated the scriptural basis for Islamic ecological ethics, efforts are now centred on translating these ethics into practice.
The ecological ethics of Islam are comprised of broad Qur’anic ethical principles which define the relationship between the Creator, humankind and creation, and a system of juristic methods, laws and institutions―the Sharī’ah―which puts these precepts into action. The ecological ethics of Islam present an environmental philosophy based on the sovereignty of the Creator, the responsible trusteeship of humankind and the intrinsic value of creation. Drawing upon this ethic, Muslims across the world are actively voicing their concern for the environment and striving to implement practical initiatives based on the ecological teachings of Islam.
The Islamic educational landscape, which extends from the minbar to the foundation-level maktab, is frequently put forward as the primary arena for imparting the ecological teachings of Islam. Revitalising the ecological ethic of Islam by way of education provides an impetus to not only uncover Islam’s environmental (and educational) tradition, but to affect awareness and action on environmental issues. Educational interventions have thus been among the primary strategies promoted to revive Islam’s environmental teachings and practices.
This essay will firstly provide a broad outline of the ecological ethics of Islam, and thereafter identify both existing and potential educational opportunities for translating the ecological ethics of Islam into action.