photo by mrehan (Flickr CC)

There has been a lot of controversy about a much-publicized anti-Islam protest by a certain nutty preacher in the US, which was scheduled to take place today, on the anniversary of 9/11.

But has anyone stopped to think about the CO2 that would be released if Terry Jones were to burn the Koran?

What? It’s no dumber than everything else surrounding the planned burning of the Muslim holy book. And since everyone else has already said their piece, isn’t it time for a Green perspective?

Sorry, it’s no laughing matter. Someone has actually already died in counter protests leading up to the aborted provocation.

It did get me wondering, however – and bear with me this is a tenuous connection – what some influential Muslims are saying and doing regarding environmental issues – specifically in the name of Islam.

Is there an ‘ecological’ Islam?

Most religions to some extent preach anti materialism, are against waste and wanton destruction of ‘God’s green Earth’, etc., but I’m curious about the here and now. As environmentalism has made – at least superficial – inroads into modern culture, how is the ancient tradition of Islam responding to this current shift in consciousness?

Here is a small sampling of what can be gleaned on the subject:

In the Philippines, Muslim and Christian clergy have held meetings on climate change, which included Muslim scientists, intellectuals and environmentalists.

From CathNews Asia:

The Muslim Association for Climate Change Action (MACCA) was also launched during the conference. MACCA, according to organizers, was an offshoot of the Muslim Seven-Year Action Plan on Climate Change crafted in Istanbul, Turkey in June 2009.

Some of the places considered most vulnerable to climate change are located in South Asian and Southeast Asian countries.

According to some Muslims, the holy month of Ramadan is a time to emphasize traditional moderation, respect and conservation of resources. The connection to environmentalism manifests both consciously and unconsciously in different parts of the Muslim world:

Our lives are becoming full of excesses and indulgences. We use fasting in Ramadan to cap our eating, our drinking and our impulses, so why do we not use it to protect our planet?

–Zaher Sahloul, chairperson of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago

Read more on this topic in the NewsOK article ‘Muslims go “green” for Ramadan’

An article on Islam and environmentalism from the Jakarta Post focused on leading British Muslim environmentalist Fazlun Khalid, founding director of the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences (IFEES). Khalid makes strong connections between faith and environmental stewardship. He sees environmental problems as ‘rooted in economics and politics’:

Khalid said the environmental crisis we faced was rooted in our “competing nation state” model locked into a capitalistic economic paradigm, which encourages a consumer culture and in turn sets no limits on growth.

Pretty good stuff.

Finally, check out the article ‘Islam and Ecology’ from the interfaith magazine CrossCurrents, which contains an interview with Muslim philosopher Seyyed Hossein Nasr. Nasr holds that Abrahamic religions are inherently more ecological than secularism, Darwinism and Westernized Christianity and contends that traditional Islam stresses cooperation and harmony with nature as opposed to the competitive, mechanistic and materialistic model of western science.

This argument is less substantial to me – it is made by a philosopher, of course – but makes legitimate points, nonetheless.

Additional resources:

Manila Bulletin – ARMM Areas Vulnerable to Sea Level Rise — PCID

Philippine Daily Inquirer – Muslim clerics urged to include environment in sermons