Environmental Conservation

Islam and environmental conservation

E. Kula a1c1
a1 School of Public Policy, Economics and Law, University of Ulster at Jordanstown, Shore Road, Newtownabbey, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK


Over thirty years ago a debate began as to whether religion in general, or the Judaeo-Christian faith in particular, were in some sense responsible for the present environmental predicament. Islam, as a major world religion which shares the same Abrahamic roots as the Judaeo-Christian tradition, has been largely absent from this debate. Most conservationists now believe that it is essential that there be comprehensive discussion not only of environmental policies, but also of the ethics underlying environmental protection. This paper looks at the importance of the environment in the main sources of Islamic instruction, namely the Koran and Prophet's Hadiths (teachings). These texts turn out to be on the side of conservation, the emphasis being on respect for creation, the protection of the natural order and avoidance of all wasteful activities which may cause injury to the environment. These positions are contrasted with views expressed by political Islam, which has become influential in a large part of the Muslim world and rejects the conservation measures advocated by Western writers.

(Received February 18 2000)
(Accepted September 22 2000)

Key Words: Islam; political Islam; environmental conservation.

c1 Correspondence: Dr E. Kula Tel: +44 (0)289036 6167, Fax +44 (0)289036 6847, e-mail: ie.kula@ulst.ac.uk