The natural world is now a resource to be exploited not an entity to be cherished; a theatre for our Follies. So how do we overcome insurmountable odds in dealing with the environmental debacle we have created? – Fazlun M Khalid
This book by one of the world’s leading Muslim environmentalists explores what is perhaps the greatest threat humanity faces today, namely climate change. Fazlun Khalid looks unflinchingly at how modernity imposes itself on the world, throwing traditional societies and ways of life into disarray. This unfolding disruption has corrupted the balance of the earth’s natural ecosystems while holding out illusory promises of ‘progress’. Instead he urges that such progress through industrialization, economic growth and an unsustainable addiction to consumerism desperately needs to be rethought.
His radical reconsideration of prevailing models of ‘development’ draws inspiration from the realm of the sacred. He makes a special appeal to Muslims to reﬂect on their own particular responsibility in addressing the perils faced by the planet. Recognising, however, that environmental concerns are a collective responsibility, Fazlun Khalid calls on people of all faiths and none, to work together to bequeath future generations a planet on which they will not only survive but thrive.
About the author: Fazlun M Khalid was born in Sri Lanka and began his working life in the UK spending much of his career in the British
Civil Service. Since 1992, he has devoted himself to raising environmental consciousness among Muslims. In 1994, he founded the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences (IFEES) and over the years has been recognized through numerous awards and accolades as one of the world’s most important Islamic environmentalists.
Table of contents
FOREWORD AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
CHAPTER 1 – A HOUSE OF CARDS
- Brains, Black Holes and the Enlightenment
- The Bridge
- A Lethal Cocktail
CHAPTER 2 – A RAVISHED EARTH
- A Disconnected People
- The Pollution Boomerang
- Rape of the Forests
- The Nectar of Life
- A Delayed Reaction
CHAPTER 3 – PROSPERITY IN PERSPECTIVE
- Happiness and the Good Life
- The Progress Trap
- Development and Delusions
- The Growth Fantasy
CHAPTER 4 – HOW HISTORY ACCELERATED
- All the Time in the World
- Signs of Impatience
- A Spurt
CHAPTER 5 – ISLAM AND THE NATURAL WORLD
- Mobilising Faith
- Rediscovering Nature
- The Sacred
- Islam and Environmental Ethics
- Political Economy in Islam
- Producing Results
- Ilm ul khalq – Knowledge of Creation
- Fiqh al biah – Jurisprudence of the Environment
- The Shari’a in Perspective
- A way forward
CHAPTER 6: SURVIVING THE ANTHROPOCENE
- What now?
- Hope springs eternal
Appendix: Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change
List of Acronyms
Glossary of Arabic Terms
List of Quotations from the Qur’an
For those who are interested in how religion and ethical values can make a profound contribution in mitigating the disastrous effects of climate change this book is a compulsory read. It is a thoroughly holistic account of the “why” of climate change and the “how” to do something about it and helps people of faith to relate to the urgent issues of our times. Fazlun Khalid provides an integrated perspective combining faith with environmental, economic and historical narratives thus contributing fresh thinking in these unpredictable times.
Prof. Dr. Azizan Baharuddin, Director General, Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia
At last an authoritative statement on this crucial matter from avital constituency whose voice has, up to now, scarc.ely been heard at all. Muslims make up a quarter of the world’s population and, owing to the areas where they live, are in many c.ases disproportionately affected by global warming and climate change. Drawing on sources deeply embedded within Islamic tradition, Fazlun Khalid shows that the vast body of knowledge and experience contained within it has muc h to offer to the contemporary discourse on the ecology of our planet and he provides a perspective that is surprisingly original and extremely relevant to those who care about the future of the world in which we live.
Shaykh Abdalhaqq Bewley, Islamic scholar and co-translator with Aisha Bewley of The Noble Qur’an: A New Rendering of its Meaning in English
For years, Fazlun Khalid has been the world’s leading voice for Muslim environmental action. He has taught us about Islam’s beautiful and sacred teachings on the Earth. He has told us, with urgency, to respond. Signs on the Earth is his magnum opus. It is electrifying, frightening, challenging, and deeply imbued by decades of reflection and scholarship as a Muslim. As the azan calls the Islamic community to prayer, Fazlun Khalid’s voice calls us to action, provokes us to see, feel and act in a manner appropriate to the grave crisis we face. We all need to listen to what he is saying and heed his c.all to work together.
The Rev. Fletcher Harper, Executive Director, GreenFaith, New Jersey, USA
This book contributes much to an understanding of the holistic nature of the Islamic worldview. The insights it brings to bear sheds much light on the path to discovering solutions to the global environmental crisis.
Professor Odeh Al-Jayyousi, Head of Innovation and Technology Management, Arabian Gulf University, Bahrain. Member of UN GEO6- Scientific Advisory Panel
Climate change and ecological collapse are no longer future theoretical risks, but real and present threats to our security now. If we are to avoid disaster it will be necessary not only to present reason to power, but also to awaken the great faiths. Fazlun Khalid’s excellent Writing reveals why environmental concerns should be at the heart of Islam, its teachings, its sense of the divine and sacred and its moral and spiritual authority.
Tony Juniper CBE, Executive Director at WWF and former Director of Friends of the Earth
A Great Book indeed! Fazlun Khalid rewards us with the benefit of almost forty years of reflection and activity on the root causes of the formidable environmental problems We have created for ourselves. He also points to where our responses lie drawing inspiration from readings and reflections in the Quran. The book argues that understanding the Signs on the Earth and reflecting on their implications will at the very least open the way to perceiving the challenges that face us today in the manner it led the early Muslims to face the challenges of their time. It is a book that moves the senses and certainly deserves careful study especially, but not only, by those who are interested in an Islamic approach to the environment and climate change.
Ībrahim Özdemir, author of The Ethical Dimension of Human Attitude towards Nature: A Muslim Perspective. Professor of Islamic Philosophy and Theology, Åbe Akademi University, Turku, Finland