Why is Islam not taught in Canada

"Eco-Islam in Trend"

Islamic scholar: Muslims in the West are increasingly committed to the environment

According to scientific knowledge, Muslims in Western countries are increasingly committed to environmental protection. "The eco-Islam movement is spreading mainly in Europe, the USA and Canada," says Islamic scholar Monika Zbidi, who will present her research results at the 32nd German Orientalist Day (DOT) in Münster in September. A good 1,000 oriental researchers from all over the world are expected to attend the conference. “The eco-activists get involved in animal and plant protection for religious reasons, warn against negligent use of resources such as soil and water and advocate frugality and abstention. They justify their convictions in particular with passages from the Koran and Sunna, with statements and actions of the Prophet Mohammed.

According to Zbidi, the spiritual fathers of “Islamic Environmentalism”, which began in the 1960s, are the Iranian philosopher Seyyed Hossein Nasr and the environmental activist Fazlun Khalid, who lives in the UK. Currently, the religiously motivated movement is largely limited to Western countries. “But that doesn't mean that there is no ecological awareness in Arab or African countries. In Tunisia, for example, many environmental organizations have emerged since the 2011 revolution, albeit less for religious reasons. ”To what extent eco-Islam will find support in Arab countries cannot yet be foreseen. For her dissertation project, Zbidi examines relevant websites, weblogs and activities in social networks and evaluates texts by Muslim researchers and scholars on environmental ethics and the role of the environment in the Koran.

Less meat consumption along the lines of Muhammad

"Most of the Islamic conservationists are young Western academics who grew up with the debates about environmental degradation and climate change and who want to get involved as Muslims," ​​says Zbidi, who is doing her doctorate on Islam and ecology at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. “In Facebook groups and blogs, for example, The Eco Muslim‘ or, khaleafa.com ‘, they draw attention to the fact that respect for creation is deeply anchored in Islam and promote an ecological way of life among Muslims. During Ramadan, for example, the blogs warn against food waste. ”In this context, it was also discussed“ whether factory farming violates the principles of Islam and whether believers should eat less meat, following the example of Muhammad ”.

More and more Islamic organizations and initiatives are also showing ecological awareness, as the researcher explains. Muslim communities such as those in Huddersfield, UK, are committed to the sustainable construction of their new mosque. Similar projects are planned in Cambridge in Great Britain and in Norderstedt near Hamburg. "Especially today, when Islam has a bad image in the West, many Muslims are proud that their religion demands and promotes environmentally friendly behavior."

Practical environmental protection is also advertised in brochures and projects - whether in everyday life or on a pilgrimage. The “Muslim Green Guide to Reducing Climate Change” from 2008, for example, provides instructions on recycling, saving electricity and using public transport. “The individual chapters are headed with quotations from the Koran. They should make it clear to the readers that environmental protection is part of their beliefs. ”One of the editors is the“ Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Science ”(IFEES), based in Birmingham, which was founded by Fazlun Khalid in 1980, which significantly advanced Islamic environmental protection in its beginnings. Another brochure, the Green Guide to Hajj, published by the British non-governmental organization Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), is aimed specifically at Mecca pilgrims. They are encouraged to use only environmentally friendly products during the pilgrimage, to reduce waste and to live sustainably after their return.

Eco-Islam is based on an Islamic environmental ethic that ecologically interprets the statements of the Koran and the hadiths, as the Islamic scholar explains. “According to this interpretation, the entire world consists of signs of God and is therefore worthy of protection. God has given man as governor the responsibility for creation. According to the researcher, the protection of animals can also be proven with the Koran, according to the researcher. For this purpose, sayings of the Prophet Mohammed are quoted, according to which he takes good care of animals and punishes their mistreatment. For many Muslim environmental activists, the Islamic faith is the most important motive for their commitment, as Zbidi's research has shown. “Your commitment to the environment has a special value due to its religious foundation. The activists see it as their duty and believe that they will be rewarded for their commitment to creation in the hereafter. ”The sense of community in projects and campaigns also plays a major role in motivating people.

According to Zbidi, Islamic environmental activism arose in the 1960s, among other things, as a reaction to the controversial theses of the historian Lynn White Junior, who saw the roots of the ecological crisis in the monotheistic religions. “Muslim academics and scholars who had emigrated to western countries began to grapple with ecology, sustainability and a responsible approach to nature”.

Monika Zbidi is a PhD scholarship holder from the German Federal Environment Foundation. Until March 2013 she was a research assistant at the Chair for Oriental Philology and Islamic Studies at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. Her dissertation project deals with eco-Islam as a modern Islamic movement. She will present the first results of this at the German Orientalist Day in the section “Islamic Studies”. In total, scientists present new research results on cultures in Asia, Africa and in Arab regions in around 900 lectures and 80 panels. (ska / vvm)