Islam and Climate Change
And do not walk upon the earth exultantly. Indeed, you will never tear the earth [apart], and you will never reach the mountains in height. (Al-Isra’ :37)
More than one year ago, to be exact on August 17-18, 2015, Muslim intellectuals from various countries gathered in Istanbul, Turkey, to attend the International Islamic Climate Change Symposium. The symposium came out with an Islamic Declaration on Climate Change that in essence emphasized the importance of responding to Climate Change based on the values and teachings of Islam.
These Muslim intellectuals stressed that the current climate change was the result of people’s own doing and therefore called on the world’s billions of Muslims to play a role in reducing glass house emissions and be committed to the use of renewable energy sources.
These scientists also stressed that the human species who are supposed to carry out what has been entrusted by the authority on earth, have become the very reason for the damage on and destruction of other beings on this planet. The present level of climatic changes has now also reached a point where it should not be left to proceed if one did not want the balance of nature to disappear soon. As humans, we have destroyed the balance of nature that was created by Allah SWT. The concrete threats of climate change is the results of the actions of humans which have jeopardised this natural balance. One of the main reasons behind this is the need for fossil-based fuel which are the main contributor of riches for some Muslim countries on this globe.
The calls that was made reaffirmed that the role of humans as khalifatullah fil ardl (the authority on earth) is to safeguard and care for the earth. What Allah has entrusted to humans, is to safeguard and take care of the earth and its entire content so that they they can continue to exist, and not to exploit it for the sake of progress and greed.
As part o the population of the earth, the Muslim community should also take responsibility for the sustainability and continuity of the earth. As we know, Muslim-populated countries are among the largest emitters. Countries with Muslim-majority populations also have the worst air pollution.
Most are crude oil producers and their vast expanse of forests are continuously being deforested. Therefore the declaration also urged Muslim oil-producing countries to be at the forefront of efforts to reduce gas emissions, while their business sector should prioritize sustainable business models. The commitment of oil-producing countries such as Gulf states are being tested and the world is watching to see whether they will take important measures to divest their fossil-based fuel industry.
At a different level, the lifestyle of Muslim communities also need to change. The damage that has been inflicted by men on the earth is the results of greed and unrestrained human lust for growth and consumption.
The results are what has been described in the Korean, in ar-Rum, verse 41:
“Corruption has appeared throughout the land and sea by [reason of] what the hands of people have earned so He may let them taste part of [the consequence of] what they have done that perhaps they will return [to righteousness].”
Those intellectuals who issued the declaration were aware that humans are part of the beings who populate this earth, do not have the rights to oppress other beings and should treat well all creations of Allah as part of their devotion to Allah.
As to how far this declaration and similar calls, can carry an impact on the mindset and behavior of Muslims, only time can answer. However, there are many who believe that moral calls that are made based on religious teachings stantd to have more chance to make an impact in behavioral changes in the society.
Leading ulema Seyyed Hossein Nasr, for example, believed that religious teachings constitute an immense force in Muslim communities. Muslims stand to be more receptive to calls against damaging the environment if they came from local influential kiais and ulemas.
At the very least, declarations like these would have given and reafirmed the teological base for policy makers and Muslims in general to realize the urgency more, so that they then take the actions that they can take.
by Heru Prasetya, Gusdurian Network
Bahasa Indonesia version of this article has been published in Muslimedianews as a part of Wahid Foundation's Media Syndication Program.