What are MAN AND ECOLOGY: TOWARDS AN ETHIC OF ENVIRONMENT
  • "In light of today’s environmental crises, many secular and religious scholars have begun to look into underlying philosophical causes for man's rapacious attitude towards his environment. Part of this search involves a look at root philosophies affecting the human outlook and interaction with the world and the responsibility religion shares in creating the attitudes and philosophies that have led to the desecration of nature that has occurred in the past few centuries and which seems to be accelerating in our times. As Ziauddin Sardar writes;

    “The roots of our ecological crises are axiomatic: they lie in our belief and value structures which shape our relationship with nature, with each other and the lifestyles we lead.” (Sardar, Ziauddin. Islamic Futures. New York; Mensell Publishing Limited. 1985. pg.218)
    For this reason traditional religions like Christianity, Judaism and Islam are held accountable as they supposedly espouse an anthropocentric (human-centered) reality. Writers like Lynn White Jr. see this as being the root cause for the ecological/environmental problems of today. He decries not only the dualistic nature of man’s relationship with nature but also the idea “that it is God’s will that man exploit nature for his proper end...” as “Man shares, in great measure, God’s transcendence over nature.” (White, Lynn. The Historical Roots of our Ecological Crises. Science, 155. 1967) [1]

    This short essay is a sincere effort to investigate the validity of White’s view that the disrespect for nature is inherent in the very nature of these religions. Dealing only with the Islamic tradition, it will take into consideration the nature of man, his place in relation to God, his rights and responsibilities before God, and his relationship to the rest of the world with regard to his rights over it. In other words the world-view of Islam is to be the starting point for the examination of man’s relation to the world of external nature.

    “All religions, customs, schools of thought, and social philosophies rest on a world view. A school’s aims, methods, musts and must nots all result necessarily from its world view... A world view can become the basis of an ideology when it has attained the firmness and breadth of philosophical thought as well as the...sanctity of religious principles.” (Mutahhari, M. Fundamentals of Islamic Thought. Berkeley; Mizan Press. 1985)"