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Religious Studies

Islam: beliefs about care of the planet

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The Assisi Declarations on Nature, 1986

In 1986, HRH Prince Philip, then President of the WWF International invited five leaders of five of the major religions of the world - Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism - to meet to discuss how their faiths could help save the natural world.

The meeting took place in Assisi in Italy, because it was the birth place of St Francis, the Catholic saint of ecology. From this meeting arose key statements by the five faiths outlining their own distinctive traditions and approach to the care for nature.

In the Assisi Declarations on Nature the Muslim statement was:

  • The central concept of Islam is Tawhid [Tawhid: Belief in the Oneness of Allah ] or the Unity of God. Allah [Allah: The Islamic name for God in the Arabic language ] is Unity; and His Unity is also reflected in the unity of mankind, and the unity of man and nature. His trustees are responsible for maintaining the unity of His creation, the integrity of the Earth, its flora and fauna, its wildlife and natural environment. Unity cannot be had by discord, by setting one need against another or letting one end predominate over another; it is maintained by balance and harmony. There Muslims say that Islam is the middle path and we will be answerable for how we have walked this path, how we have maintained balance and harmony in the whole of creation around us.
  • So unity, trusteeship and accountability, that is Tawhid, Khalifah [Khalifah: Successor; inheritor; custodian; vice-regent. ] and Akhirah [Akhirah: Everlasting life after death - the afterlife. ], the three central concepts of Islam, are also the pillars of the environmental ethics of Islam. They constitute the basic values taught by the Qur’an [Qur'an: That which is read or recited. The Divine Book revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Allah's final revelation to humankind. ]. It is these values which led Muhammad [Muhammad: The name of the final Prophet. ], the Prophet of Islam, to say: ‘Whoever plants a tree and diligently looks after it until it matures and bears fruit is rewarded.'
  • For all these reasons Muslims see themselves as having a responsibility towards the world and the environment, all of which are the creations of Allah.
  • Unlike many other religions, Muslims do not have any specific festivals in which they give thanks for the harvest or the world. Instead they give thanks to Allah regularly for his creation.
  • In order to separate Islam from other religions, the Islamic year is only 354 days, this means that the months and festivals happen at a different time each year and so there is no particular festival which falls during a period of harvest.

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