|01-16-2006, 06:54 PM||#1|
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Montreal, Canada
Where would you take this conversation?
My brother, not a Muslim, is a staunch environmentalist. He sent me the following letter as an intro to a summary of the new book coming out by James Lovelock, "The Revenge of Gaia," scheduled for release February 2, 2006, (published by Penguin) where the author disparages over the sick and dying earth. (summary not included here) My brother said the following about humans:
...This man, James Lovelock, is an environmental visionary. I remember his theory of Gaia -- understanding the planet as a living, breathing, self-regulating organism -- from back in the early 90's when I studied geography. Lovelock's dire assessment of that living organism's health is nothing short of shocking. The patient is terminally ill. There is, now, no cure. And we are the cancer that is killing her.
When I read this article, I can't help but think religious folk the world over have wasted their time and energy celebrating anthropocentric deities concocted by ignorant (by today's standards) men from past millenniums, when all along we should have been taking our spiritual cues from indigenous cultures. The earth's soul should have been our God, our Mother.
I responded as follows:
I read the article and see nothing in it to have inspired your wretched accusations regarding religious folk the world over [who] have wasted their time and energy celebrating anthropocentric deities concocted by ignorant (by today's standards) men from past millenniums. If you wish to take “The earth's soul” as your God, or Mother, this would be a step in the right direction away from atheism. I would call that progress. Regarding the major religions, funnily enough the agreement between God and man is that man is the viceroy of the earth and he is supposed to be taking care of it and if he truly was a God-serving rather than a man-serving or self-serving person, the earth would not be in the state it is. God provided us the sustainable balance we are supposed to keep within, but we disobey the limits, unfortunately and I am as dismayed as you are.
Also, there is also the prediction of Armageddon, the end of the world which cannot be avoided. You can, if you wish, fight against its coming with all your might or you can accept the religion God provided and from within that work to change the people in your environment to take seriously their charge to care for the planet and all of God’s creation. From that perspective, whatever good actions you do in saving and preserving God's creation and encouraging others to take their responsabilities seriously would work in your favour because it would please Allah emensely. You would earn reward in the present life and also in the hearafter. Please consider this option. When armageddon does come, you will be safe.
He responded back:
I still submit that the major monotheistic religions have not been helpful, and that our Native brothers and sisters had it right. Today of course our problems are all about greed and the competitive drive for wealth, development, and ever-increasing technology-based comforts. But fundamentally our severance from nature goes back to the development of the monotheistic religions that somehow put "man" above nature (there's ample literature on this), no matter what the various scriptures might say about the responsibility for stewardship. The Native spiritualist never saw his or herself as above or apart from nature (again, there is an abundance of literature). I'm simply saying that if we all held those values and that kind of spirituality, the earth would not be in the shape it is in today. Perhaps we would never have had SUVs or sky scrapers, but we'd still have a planet.
And armageddon, let's not even go there. There's a self-fulfilling prophecy if I ever heard one. Fundamentalist Christians, very numerous in the US, are hailing the global environmental crisis as the coming of their "end times". Their sense of stewardship of the earth is absolutely appalling -- they will not try to do anything to help forestall the crisis. Furthermore, these people don't believe in limits to resources. They've been taught that god made the earth FOR MAN and furnished it with all the things he'd ever need, including an unending supply of oil. Consequently, many fundamentalists don't see the need for conservation.
And as for your swipe against atheism, I'm a proud atheist with a sense of grave concern for humanity and the other creatures with which we share the earth. Religious people are lucky, in a sense. Doesn't matter how ugly things get down here, just as long as they pray a lot, god will save them -- there's a nice place to go. But not for me. This is it. It's all we've got. Let's not screw it up. I think you'll find a lot of evil atheists share the same concern for humanity and nature.
Anyhooooo, nice opening a can of worms with you.
My question: do I pursue showing him how saving or preserving and caring for the earth is a part of Islam too? I know I read something once about this, an article or two and some grassroots Muslim environmentalists are working to promote this fact. If there are parts of the hadith or Quaran which spring to mind please post. Or is this topic now finished? Where would you take it?
"Islam appears to me like a perfect work of architecture. All its parts are harmoniously conceived to complement and support each other; nothing is superfluous and nothing lacking; and the result is a structure of absolute balance and solid composure." Muhammad Asad (born Leopold Weiss 1900, converted to Islam from Judaisim in 1926)
|01-16-2006, 08:15 PM||#2|
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Banu Maysara
Re: Where would you take this conversation?
Assalamu Alaikum sis,
You know your brother better than anyone inshAllah.
Seeing the strong environmentalist thinking in him makes me think that he's really leaning towards accountability...i.e. why are humans held 'so high" and not accountable to the world.
Immediately the hadith from the day of resurrection about the horned goat vs. the goat without horns surfaced in my head.
It was narrated from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) – in a hadeeth that has many corroborating reports and isnaads – that he said: “Allaah will judge between His creation, jinn, men and animals. On that Day, Allaah will let the hornless animal settle its score with the horned until, when there is nothing left to be settled, Allaah will say to them, ‘Be dust.’ At that point the kaafir will say, ‘Would that I were dust.’”
(Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in al-Silsilat al-Saheehah, no. 1966)I hope inshAllah this is not too far fetched, however this accountability is applicable to all beings, animal and humans. Thus, really, the only kind of justice that your brother is looking for in terms of those who destroyed the environment.
Further than that, you can also mention that Islam itself rewards those who are thoughtful of the environment... for example
Vol 3, Book 39. Agriculture. Hadith 513. Sahih Bukhari
Narrated By Anas bin Malik : Allah's Apostle said, "There is none amongst the Muslims who plants a tree or sows seeds, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, but is regarded as a charitable gift for him."
You don't have to narrate the hadith themselves but the general concepts in them would inshAllah be more clear, the proof is more for yourself.
Lastly and I think most importantly in my mind is the issue of how we got this environment...It seems like your brother does really appreciate the environment, its beauty, its completeness and its perfect compliment to the beings on this earth.. The Quran is full of parables of this earth, eg. Surah Al-Mulk
67:19 Do they not observe the birds above them, spreading their wings and folding them in? None can uphold them except ((Allah)) Most Gracious: Truly ((Allah)) Most Gracious: Truly it is He that watches over all things.
and honestly just countless other examples. How else can everything like this be created and in such perfect harmony subhanAllah than God itself. And this God is a Fair, Just and Merciful God in that we are given all of this, are able to use it and it has not deteriorated except with our own ignorance and heedlessness. Furthermore we are not free of blame in this destruction and we will be asked about it.
I guess just instead of arguing or refuting things, come to a point where you find the commonalities and then BUILD on them with Islam... (i.e. yes you like the environment, but if anything I should be more concerned than you are, and here is why...) start with something you already know he loves and somehow intertwine that with Tawheed, bi'ithnillah, everything will come from that. You know your brother best, therefore you know how best to do this.
May Allah subhanahu Wata'ala guide your brother and make your da'wa easy for you and provide you with strength, Ameen.
Seest thou not that Allah sends down rain from the sky? With it We then bring out produce of various colours. And in the mountains are tracts white and red, of various shades of colour, and black intense in hue.
And so amongst men and crawling creatures and cattle, are they of various colours. Those truly fear Allah, among His Servants, who have knowledge: for Allah is Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving.
|01-24-2006, 10:39 PM||#3|
Re: Where would you take this conversation?
As salamu alaikum sis. I would suggest taking this conversation where all conversations like this should go... to the concept of Tauheed. Now how you take it there is up to your (ample) creativity, but the shortest route is best. I'll give it a shot, and you can take or leave it:
It seems he is saying he'd rather worship the soul of the Earth. As you point out that is a step away from atheism. "But is Earth more in need of our worship, or does it need our caring for it? Should an object of worship be weaker than us or stronger than us?"
"And do native cultures really put earth or man above the Creator? Doesn't Native American religion put a spotlight on the Great Spirit? The answer for the one who looks into this is "yes", even the "primitive" religions had a God, even if He was joined with others, or morphed into something from creation, like the Sun."
"Islam says that Allah sent guidance to mankind from its beginning. So it is probable that some of these primitive religions are remnants of monothestic religions that began with a prophet who had received guidance, and then later degenerated to pluraistic beliefs. (But they didn't lose everything, including the spirit of stewardship and environmentalism that is in Allah's original message.) Sending us the message throughout time is consistent with Allah's Mercy... how could He expect us to follow His religion otherwise?"
"The fact that so many religions, primitive and otherwise, say the same thing, is also a testimony to that core of Islamic belief, that there is no other deity worthy of worship but God. He is "as Samad", independent of all creation. He doesn't need us for anything, and we need Him for everything. Quite unlike the Earth."
"The indigenous were not ignorant, I agree, so if they believed in God, why don't you also? He gave us the Earth. Worship the gift or the Giver of the gift? To be mindful of the gift is nice, but shouldn't we also be grateful?"
End of my spiel.
Aack. It's hard. This needs major editing. You'll most likely have to go on and on, countering different answers he puts up to your insights. But insha Allah, keep your goal in sight, getting him to understand that there is no ilah but Allah. After he accepts that, then "Muhammadur Rasool Allah" is the next goal. Finally, i advise not using the word "wretched" in your reply.
Anything good in this is from Allah SWT.
|01-25-2006, 02:44 AM||#4|
Re: Where would you take this conversation?
There are many ahadith where Prophet Muhammad Sallhuwa3liwasalam put emphasis on treating other beings kindly, so much so that it becomes a matter of heaven and hell.
Sahih Bukhari Volume 3, Book 40, Number 553:
Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Umar:
Allah's Apostle said, "A woman was tortured and was put in Hell because of a cat which she had kept locked till it died of hunger." Allah's Apostle further said, (Allah knows better) Allah said (to the woman), 'You neither fed it nor watered when you locked it up, nor did you set it free to eat the insects of the earth."
There is another a hadith where a prostitute was forgiven because she gave water to a thirsty dog.
I dont know , but does your brother believes that this dunya is ever lasting? Is there an end to it, like human beings or not?If there is an end, then whats the purpose of guarding this earth? (ofcourse Islamically, u will be held accountable,) but if there is no God, no day of Judgement, then whats the point of all this?
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