Welcome to our living archive, documenting and drawing from diverse wisdoms in regards to today's environmental challenges. Hope you have a nice stay!

Islam & the Biodiversity Crisis

Islam & the Biodiversity Crisis

The following segments are taken from academic works. The first is a 2014 study, The Islamic Approach to Biodiversity Conservation for Global Sustainability. The second, much shorter, is Biodiversity and the Qu'ran (2014). Cover image borrowed from the article Conservation & Islam (2015). 


"There is no creature on the earth…
who are not communities like yourselves."



Islam provides a holistic approach in addressing the current global crisis in the face of loss of biodiversity for it propagates balancing conservation with sustainable use of nature and the wealth of resources found therein. This article explores the fundamental principles enshrined in Islam and discusses their relevance in addressing the extinction crisis which is threatening the future of this planet as has been prophesized in the Qur'an.... Conservation efforts undertaken through the holistic principles enshrined in Islam may be the requisite tool needed to unite the global community and find pathways to live harmoniously with the environment.

When the earth is shaken with a (violent) shaking,
And the earth reveals what burdens her,
And man says: What has befallen her?
On that day she shall tell her story.... 

(Qur'an, SuratAz-Zalzalah: 99:1-4)


When we talk about building more sustainable societies, it is essential to explore the values and criteria underlying long term sustainability that contributes to conserving the Earth's biodiversity. Such an effort requires us to go beyond the four corners of the Western conceived notion of "new environmental ethics‟ and re-examine a wide range of viewpoints representing many of the world's cultural and religious traditions to help the global community make better determinations for themselves. The juxtaposition of diverse perspectives invites us to engage in brainstorming with a view to establish a common foundation for making ethical decisions about our environment. In fact, the composition of the 'new' environmental ethic is predominantly the 'old' pre-Western land ethic of an African, a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Hindu or a Taoist [16].

The link between conservation of land and water has been evidenced historically throughout the world with every belief system and faith demonstrating some of the earliest forms of habitat protection either through the preservation of particular places as "sacred natural sites and/or through religious based control systems such as the hima system in Islam [i] [49] which protects areas of land to promote the sustainable use of resources [26]. These notions were relegated with the privatization of religion in modern society i.e., when religion was forced to withdraw gradually from the modern secular state and the modern capitalist economy and to find refuge in the newly found private sphere [61].

...The way people relate to their faith and how it affects their attitude to the environment has to be explored since most people in this world subscribe to some form of religious faith [26]. The implicit values which have shaped the attitude of western society towards nature and the environment, particularly post Industrial Revolution, is predominantly anthropocentric where the status of man is exclusively divine, placed at a higher level than all other creatures and things and has the right to dominate nature [19]. The Judeo-Christian tradition in contrast to Asian religions is founded on a dualism of man and nature – man is separated from other physical creatures because it is God's will that man exploits nature for his own proper ends, and when science and technology developed their enormous forces, these were used against the interests of all of nature [51].

...Traditional religions such as Islam [iii] [22] present an important reference point with which alternative responses to the environmental crises that is threatening our humanity can be analyzed. The standpoint of Islam becomes all the more pertinent considering the fact that Muslims currently inhabit more than eighty-three countries located in varied geographic locations around the world ranging from oil-rich countries such as the United Arab Emirates to poorer countries such as Somalia and Bangladesh [5].


The Islamic Approach to Environmental Sustainability

It is increasingly recognized around the world that the diversity of life encompasses not merely the living forms (biological diversity) but also the world views and cosmologies of what life means (cultural diversity) [52]. Of the many environmental worldviews in literature, two from different ends of the continuum have predominated i.e. "planetary management worldview" and "environmental wisdom worldview" [iv] [29]. However, Islamic worldview which was developed fourteen hundred years ago falls somewhere in the middle of the said continuum and combines the two world views in a single melting pot [29].

...The teachings from Islam – derived primarily from the revealed knowledge in the Qur′an (the highest religious and most absolute source), the Hadiths (the Prophet‟s Sayings), the Sunnah (the Prophet‟s Actions) and Ijma`[v] [22] as well as the Ijtihad of existing jurists [vi] [37] – is considered a comprehensive way of life whose teachings cover, directly or indirectly, every possible human relationship including that with the environment [29,5].

...Islam is considered as a Din i.e. a way of life that has been perfected by Allah and accommodates every aspect of it [29]. 


The Relationship Between Humans and Nature in Accordance with Islam

Certain verses of the Qur′an have made references to all creatures, including plants and animals, sun and stars, as signs of Allah. They are witnesses of Allah, which demonstrates the Qur‟an's powerful emphasis on nature [40]. The protection of nature is thus based on the principle that God created the various components of the universe which are ordered and have purpose and function: Verily, all things have we created with measure (54.49); Everything to Him is measure (13:8). Thus respecting God necessitates respecting his creation.  

This unity is further revealed in terms of social structure, where all of God‟s creations are as
communities: “There is not an animal in the earth nor a flying creature on two wings but they are nations unto you. We have neglected nothing in the Book [of our decrees]. Then unto their lord they will be gathered” (6:38). This unity is also exemplified in the obedience of God by all of his creations (22:18). In essence, the Qur'an not only assumes a fundamental link and interdependency between all natural elements but further asserts that if man abuses or exhausts one element, the natural world as a whole will suffer direct consequences...

Although all creatures are alike and equal by virtue of being created from a common origin, human beings are endowed with special qualities, namely the ability to speak and reason which qualifies them as God‟s vice-regents (al-Khalifah) or guardians with sacred duty on Earth ... In summary, the environmental philosophy of Islam relates man not only with man but with nature and ultimately with his relationship with the Divine which is revealed in the five (5) important principles, namely: 

a) Tawheed (Unity of God)
Which is the axis in which Islamic philosophy revolves and implies the unity and equality of all God‟s creations and their equality as partners in terms of due recognition of the existence of all and the due appreciation of interdependency and interconnectedness between all (Kamla et al., 2006: 249). It further dictates that all of God‟s creations have rights (Farook, 2012);

b) Khalifah and amānah (stewardhip and trust)
As God‟s steward/vicegerent (representative) humans are bestowed with freedom and far-reaching power. However, as the trustee of God, humans are expected to use the power in accordance with the wish of the creator and not otherwise. Thus it is the fundamental duty of humanity to protect and preserve nature to the basic design of the Almighty (Farook, 2012);

c) Shari’ah (The ethics of Action)
In Islam, all moral or ethical issues are codified in the Shari‟ah to be preached, practised and incorporated into the laws of the land, thereby providing a practical normative framework within which men as individuals and as a society can fulfil the role of trustee (Farook, 2012). 

d) „Adl and I’tidal (Justice and Moderation)
Justice has been accorded several dimensions in the Qur′an not only is it the supreme attribute of God, it is also synonymous with Order and Equilibrium and requires submitting oneself to the will of God, accepting the mandate of trusteeship and striving to be a moderate community (ummat-e-wast). “Thus, have We made of you an Ummah justly balanced, that ye might be witnesses over the nations, and the Messenger a witness over yourselves." (Qur‟an, 2:143). Therefore, Islam insists the same moderation and balance in utilising natural resources and prevents undue exploitation of natural resources (Farook, 2012).

e) Accountability (Belief in the Day of Judgment)
The said belief is the driving force in Islam which guides the believers to fulfill the trust bestowed upon humans and curtails mundane urges and motivations that are self-centered lust and passions (Farook, 2012).

f) Sunnatullah 
This is a concept which explains that Allah has set the fitrah or nature of every being. For every action there will be a resulting reaction. For example, when a seed is planted and nurtured it will grow; it takes in the sun light and carbon dioxide to produce oxygen. If we deprive the seed from sunlight, it will fail to grow, it cannot make its own food without the sun. As a result, the carbon dioxide will not be utilized and no oxygen will be released. Therefore, if the Sunnatullah is disturbed, there will be very serious repercussions.

The Qur′an emphasizes nature not only to have an idea about God‟s existence and his Presence through whatever he creates but also to have a moral feeling of obligation towards God (Özdemir, 2003: 6).

  • (i) The use of nature and its resources ought to be in a balanced, not excessive manner (7:31) – this rule is supported by a variety of Hadiths by the Prophet where “the merit of the utilization lies in the benefit it yields, in proportion to its harm”;
  • (ii) Nature and its resources have to be treated with kindness (ihsan) since kindness to nature is a celebration of God's creation: even animal rights statements were created as early as the thirteenth century;
  • (iii) The damage, abuse or distortion of nature is prohibited in any way – the Qur′an states "Do no mischief on the earth after it hath been set in order, but call on him with fear and longing in your hearts: for the Mercy of God is always near to those who do good" (7:56);"

LEARN more about Islamic perspectives on Sustainable Development, Fair Trade, Biotechnology, and more, via the PDF found here


“The creation of heavens and the earth is
far greater than the creation of mankind. 
But most of mankind do not know it.”





Biodiversity in the Qu'ran

...The genetic bases of all living beings are the same, which decisively indicates that the Creator is also the same, the differences in the genetic structure and the external, internal and functional characteristics indicate that God, Glorified and Exalted be He, is Most-Creative, Almighty and Most-Gracious.

"Allah has created every [living] creature from water. Indeed, Allah is over all things competent.” (An-Nur 24:45) .

“And He it is who causes gardens to grow, [both] trellised and untrellised, and palm trees and crops of different [kinds of] food and olives and pomegranates, similar and dissimilar. Eat of [each of] its fruit when it yields and give its due [zakah] on the day of its harvest. And be not excessive. Indeed, He does not like those who commit excess.” (Al-An`am 6:141)

“Do they not see the birds controlled in the atmosphere of the sky? None holds them up except Allah. Indeed in that are signs for a people who believe.” (An-Nahl 16:79)


Read the full article on IslamforChristians.com


Torah Prohibits Species Extinction

Torah Prohibits Species Extinction

Do Buddhist countries love their biodiversity more?

Do Buddhist countries love their biodiversity more?