Green Deen: What Islam teaches about protecting the planet, Ibrahim Abdul-Matin
Ibrahim Abdul-Matin brings with him a long and deep passion about living a Green Deen and encourages others to do the same.
The anti-conservation pundits can deny the debilitating effects of global warming for all they want but Ibrahim Abdul-Matin knows that one thing for sure – it is not the deen that is causing the apathy but rather, stubbornness and ignorance. In Green Deen: What Islam teaches about protecting the planet, Ibrahim, a policy advisor in the New York City Mayor’s Office, fuses his passion for a green economy, his love and understanding of Islam and a profound commitment to justice. He proves the intrinsic relationship between faith and environmentalism as readily seen and important in reconciling the relationship between the self and the community with the environment.
As with everything else, Muslims live by ethical principles that also guide how they interact with the environment and it’s resources. This book explores six Islamic principles as that apply to our relationship to the environment: understanding the Oneness of Allah and His Creation (tawhid), seeing the signs (ayat) of Allah everywhere, being a steward (khalifah) of the Earth, honouring the trust we have with Allah (amanah) to be protectors of the planet, moving toward justice (adl), and living in balance with nature (mizan).
These six principles are the blueprint upon which this book is based on – that is, living and practicing Islam while also honouring the environmental ethos of Islam.
There are a myriad of ways to sustain and care for the environment and every country or community seek different means and methods to reach this goal. This book is neither a comprehensive and exhaustive guide that offers solutions to global environmental problems and nor is it a scholarly analysis of the verses in the Quran and the Hadeeth (Prophetic Tradition) of Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) related to the environment.
Rather, it seeks to present a set of experiences that uniquely situates the author to see how being an environmentalist and protecting the planet are deeply embedded in the Muslim tradition from a variety of perspectives.[pullquote_left]Green Deen seeks to present a set of experiences that uniquely situates the author to see how being an environmentalist and protecting the planet are deeply embedded in the Muslim tradition from a variety of perspectives.[/pullquote_left]
Green Deen is a collection of thoughts, stories, analyses, and practical pieces of advice to help those who are looking to live and practice Islam while honouring the principles that connect humans to protecting the planet. Imam Zaid Shakir, co-founder of Zaytuna College says that: “Ibrahim Abdul-Matin not only shows the myriad of ways American Muslims are contributing to the resolution of the environmental crisis that threatens us all, but goes a long way toward humanizing the Muslim community by sharing with the reader the lives of so many extraordinary, talented and visionary people.”
On a communal level, this book serves as a conversation starter among people of faith, environmentalists, organizers, youth elders, religious scholars, and everyone in between about the role faith can play in the larger environmental movement. All the Arabic terminologies from the Qur’an and Hadeeth are transliterated and translated, making its content accessible to readers of other faiths keen about learning more about the relationship between environmentalism and Islam. A glossary of Islamic terms used throughout the book, as well as a list of resources to help readers further their education and involvement in protecting the planet is appended at the end of the book.
This book is divided into four parts and each of the parts deal with one of today’s major environmental problems namely, Waste, Energy, Water and Food. Each section delineates the problem and offers suggestions to the readers in the form of personal stories of Muslims striving for a Green Deen and these stories are reinforced with verses from the Qur’an and excerpts from the hadeeth.
The author also relates stories from his own life and includes his personal reflections about several verses from the Quran and Hadeeth to clarify a problem or to support a suggestion. For example, the Prophet (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) always ate from a dish closest to him (hadeeth). Upon further reflection it occurred to Brother Ibrahim that the spirit of this hadeeth could be used to encourage people to buy food from local sources. Though the message of conservation and suggestions offered in the book are not new, it provides a new perspective of not found in other books – that is when Green meets the Deen.[pullquote_right]The Prophet (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) always ate from a dish closest to him (hadeeth). Upon further reflection it occurred to Brother Ibrahim that the spirit of this hadeeth could be used to encourage people to buy food from local sources.[/pullquote_right]
Green Deen proves that Islam cultivates and teaches it’s followers to develop an immense love for the Earth, because loving the Earth means loving ourselves and Allah s.w.t. In order to understand Islam’s commitment to the environment, it is important to delve deeper into the spiritual principles and practices that situates Islam closely to its environment.
Living a Green Deen means understanding that everything comes from Allah. It is about recognizing that Allah is the Creator and Sustainer of everything. There are many verses in the Qur’an attesting that surrounding mankind are “signs for those who reflect.” The signs of Allah are present everywhere and to treat the natural world poorly means to deny the signs of Allah. These signs are the evidence of Allah and we need to expand our vision to see everything through this point of view. Allah tells us in the Quran that He created us from the Earth.
It is therefore incumbent upon us to take care of the Earth, protect it and manage its resources in a sustainable way. As the Earth is the essence of our being, it is our responsibility to protect it.
Green Deen proves that Islam cultivates and teaches it’s followers to develop an immense love for the Earth, because loving the Earth means loving ourselves and Allah s.w.t.
Following a Green Deen means knowing that we are entrusted by Allah to act as stewards of the Earth. This trust is a conviction to protect the planet and it comes with gifts of speech, knowledge and the freedom to make decisions. We can choose to cooperate with nature or not or be inspired or burdened by this trust from Allah. Either way, we are all accountable for our actions. At the same time, we must accept our role as the protectors of the planet, especially to a planet that has come under the assault from the actions of humankind in pursuit of economic gain.
The economic system is partly to be blamed for this injustice. Far too long it has been based on a model of economic growth by any means necessary. The natural world is viewed as an opportunity for resource extraction. We assault the Earth and view people as an afterthought in our collective pursuit of expansive markets and the search for natural resources to create more goods. We need to examine how our actions are affecting the land, the sea, and the people and animals who live on the Earth.[divider]
Ummjameel is an English Literature and Mass Communications graduate. She is a self-declared teh tarik connoisseur and feeds her cat flowers from her table.