The Strange Two

glad tidings to the strangers

Dr Muzammal Hussain: “Environmental Perspectives: Islam and Ecologism”

‘The current state of the world is such that not only is there a need for us to reflect deeply on our relationship with the environment, but there is also a clear need for us to reflect on our relationships with each other.

Both violence in the name of religion and environmental degradation have become major issues of concern. Sir David King, chief scientist to the government, has stated that “climate change is the most severe problem we are facing today, more serious even than the threat of terrorism” (King, 2004: quoted in the Guardian). In his sentence he points out the seriousness of a major environmental problem and reinforces his comment by stating that it is more serious even than the threat of terrorism, thus implying that terrorism itself is, at least, perceived to be a major threat to the world.

It is unfortunate that terrorism is largely through the media, associated in many people’s minds with Islam. The word Islam is frequently placed side-by-side with the word terrorism, fundamentalism and militant. Rather than promoting constructive dialogue and understanding, this kind of representation fuels fear by planting unchallenged negative stereotypes regarding Islam and Muslims in peopleís minds.

This paper aims to compare and contrast ideas from two different ideologies. It is likely that whilst some differences will come to light, so too will commonalities and that both will provide a platform for greater dialogue, understanding and mutual learning between Muslims and those in the environmental movement, which tends to be spearheaded by people who are not Muslims. The motive for bringing these two viewpoints into the same piece of writing is firstly, to take Islam out of the negative stereotype that it is often fixed into. Secondly, embedded within Islam are a strong set of environmental values and principles and it would be interesting to compare them with those that are prevalent in ecologism, which has been described as the conscience of the environmental movement. Thirdly, by discussing these two ideologies together, dialogue between Muslims and other groups would be enhanced.’

This is the introduction to Dr Muzammal Hussain’s essay, ‘Environmental Perspectives: Islam and Ecologism’.

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