ISLAM AND ANIMAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
by Dr. Michael W. Fox to Nadeem Haque’s book ECOLIBRIUM (Unpublished)*
In this wonderful book, we are informed that: “Unlike humans, animals always naturally conform to their environment; in this sense they are ‘Muslims’ ¾ literally ones who naturally submit to the laws of the Creator.”
As the Quran advises, we humans must likewise submit to the laws of the Creator through reverence for all life and respect for the sanctity of Creation. This wisdom of Islam is as relevant today as its conception by the Great Prophet. And it is more urgent than ever that Muslims and others fully understand this biosopheric gem of insight. It enables us to understand that to be obedient to the will of God is to conform to the laws of nature. All but human life-forms conform naturally, instinctively. The telos ¾ life’s final purpose and instrumental value ¾ is at the interface of every living being and the environment and ensures the continuance of the Creative process. For a Muslim, this telos includes experiencing, through Nature, God’s divine conception, love and will, in the phenomenal world, which is the source of our spiritual and ethical sensibility and what the Quran calls true innate nature or pattern – fitrah.
The practice of Islam, as well as of the two other monotheistic traditions, namely, Judaism and Christianity, has become severely corrupted over the centuries. Linear, hierarchical, dualistic and patriarchal modes of perception, cognition and behaviour have eroded the pristine vision of pure and unadulterated monotheism. However, if we take, for example, Jesus’ actual teachings, then what G.K. Chesterton once said about Christianity may hold a grain of truth for most other religious traditions: Namely, that “there is nothing wrong with Christianity except that no one has ever tried it.”
Yet thanks to insightful books like Ecolibrium this great belief system, its ethics, compassion and respect for all life, is being restored. Such restoration is vital to the material, spiritual and physical well-being of humanity, and to the ecological integrity and future of the earth community.
Ecolibrium is an affirming guide and inspiration, highlighting the teachings of Islam from a God and creation-centred perspective. As the authors reveal, these teachings will help humanity realize the source of its pathology and find how best to heal itself. By way of this concern, we discover our cosmic place in Creation, and our telos in God-centred awareness is realized.
Until I became familiar with the writings and works of Al-Hafiz B. A. Masri, one of the co-authors of the present work, I was uninformed about the true nature and relevance of Islam. I now appreciate the deep spiritual and practical relevance and significance of what it means to be Muslim – true to one’s God-given nature, like animals always are, as our teachers and exemplars of divine purpose and conception. Human nature is embedded in the entire life-cycle of this solar system that has birthed a consciousness that can apprehend the process by which it came to be: its origin and divine purpose. When humans attain such apprehension and live mindfully, conscientiously and gently, they are Muslim, obedient to their true natures, the ethos and telos the Creator/Sustainer has bestowed upon them.
When we realize that all wounds are ultimately self-inflicted, we begin to heal ourselves by changing our behaviour so that we stop harming others, be they other humans, non-human beings, natural systems, lakes forests savannas, swamps and the elements themselves, which we have made increasingly toxic. The waste we burn, the rains that fall, the water we drink and irrigate our crops with, like the soil and air, are all contaminated with human created chemical and radioactive wastes, even to the extent that we now have an ozone hole and pesticide rain. We have so altered the ecological dynamics and metabolism of the planet that we now have life-and future-threatening climate change/global warming, a kind of Earth-fever that we can no longer ignore. There is much healing to be done, and suffering prevented, and this book is a major call and contribution to these reasonable and just ends.
For those people who are troubled by the word God and are atheists and agnostics, they, along with secular materialists, do not see the word and will of God written and manifest in Nature’s laws, processes, and myriad life forms. To be blind to this great beauty and mystery is to be blind to God, deaf to the music and rhythms of life, and thus not yet born, according to the Quran, into the light of our natural being-in-awareness. But when we are not so called God-Blind and autistically disconnected from Nature and from our own nature and cosmic origin in stardust and starlight, we realize that, “This ruh is by my Sustainer’s command: you have been granted but a small portion of the body of knowledge,” needed to know its exact nature, as stated in the Quran.
We do indeed see through the glass darkly, but what we can see is as life affirming as it is life sustaining. When we do not see, we do not seek, and become separate from our origins, from Nature and the divine source, we separate ourselves from God. Such separation brings sin and evil into the world because we are no longer in right-relationship and right-mindedness with God and Nature. This separated, dualistic state may be a natural developmental stage for Homo-sapiens, a kind of spiritual adolescence through which we must all pass. But in our contemporary industrial consumer society, this developmental progression has been arrested, creating a collective condition of destructive adolescent-like alienation, arrogance and selfish indifference. The suffering of sentient life and state of the natural world attest to the pathology of the human condition. We may have some god-like powers, but we think we can play God and turn the natural world into a bioindustrially raped and desecrated wasteland to sate our own exclusive materialistic needs, claims and aims.
Ecolibrium provides us with the insight and wisdom to help us overcome this developmental impasse for the good and glory of all Creation. The choice is ours: suicide, ecocide and deicide — or adoration.