Ecology and Islamic values -IV

Ecology and Islamic values -IV

"Fitrah" (Deep primordial nature)

As opposed to certain popular doctrines, which hold that the cosmos is flawed and human nature is basically bad, Islam tells us that our deepest nature is beautiful, harmonious and right. It is only ignorance and bad choices, not an original built-in flaw, that can prevent us from realizing the fullest fruits of our Fitrah, our beautiful deepest human nature, which is a gift from Allah. In other words, we were made to live in harmony with ourselves and our world. We simply have to pursue the knowledge, and make the decisions, that will allow us to do so. The Quran and Sunnah, designed to awaken the built-in rational and intuitive knowledge of our Fitrah, contain the gist of the knowledge we need. The Quran and Sunnah can be supplemented but not replaced by instrumental reason and empirical science. A world guided by this viewpoint will avoid the errors of original sin and unbridled science, and put all its efforts into establishing and maintaining the harmony between humans, creation, and the Creator that is the deepest essence and potential of our humanity.

Corruption upon the earth

The Quran incessantly warns us against spoliation and corruption. One aspect of this corruption, besides the spiritual one, is the corruption of the earth—the environment, the animal species, and the plants. The two forms of corruption are closely related. The following passage seems especially appropriate to today's environmental dilemma, which is closely linked to humanity's spiritual dilemma. Allah Says (what means): "Corruption is spread over land and sea from what men have done to themselves that they may taste a little of what they have done: They may haply come back (to the right path). Say: "Travel on the earth and see/how came the end of those before you." [Quran, 30:4l–42]

If we accept Allah's invitation and travel around the earth, we will see the ruins of countless civilizations that fell due to some combination of spiritual corruption and environmental heedlessness. The highly advanced Mayan civilization, for example, crumbled in just a few generations, as unsustainable farming practices coincided with an explosion of ever-bloodier warfare aimed at gaining captives for human sacrifice.

Variations on this theme have been repeated countless times throughout 10,000 years of human history.

Jared Diamond, in a new book called COLLAPSE: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, suggests that today's industrial-capitalist civilization seems on the brink of following its predecessors into oblivion through environmental degradation. But Diamond does not fully appreciate the spiritual dimension of the problem. As the continuation of the Quranic passage quoted above Allah Says (what means): "Most of them (the ruined civilizations) were idolaters. So set your face towards the straight path before the day arrives from God which is irreversible." [Quran 30:42-43] Various forms of idolatry whether warfare for egotistical ends and human sacrifice to pagan idols, or the worship of money, consumer goods, social status, and shiny erotic televised images—are the root cause of natural catastrophes. To save ourselves and our communities we must turn toward the straight path, the path laid out with unsurpassed clarity in the Quran, before our situation becomes irreversible. There are signs that our environmental situation (not to speak of our moral situation) may soon become irreversible. British scientist Steven Hawking has warned that as little as a 7 degree rise in global temperatures could set off a negative feedback loop that would send temperatures sky-rocketing until the earth becomes as the boiling, molten surface of Venus, completely inhospitable to any form of life. Meanwhile, a new global warming study suggested that previous estimates were far too optimistic, and that the world is likely to experience a global 10 degree temperature jump within the next century. The London Independent headline 2005 puts it starkly: Global warming approaching point of no return, warns leading climate expert.

Look around us at the beautiful life forms that Allah has created as signs pointing to their creator, and contemplate the potential transformation of this jewel of a world into a ball of molten toxic waste. We must resist wastefulness, egotistic consumerism and disregard for the creation around us. We must realize that our commitment to Allah requires us to be conscious and protective of our environment and merciful towards animals. We must use the strength of our religion to rise proudly to the defense of our Ummah and the planet that is its home.

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