Thursday, February 4, 2010

Dr. Ejaz Akram's Lecture on the link between Environmentalism & Islam

Dr Akram reiterated the ‘sacred element of nature’. In his world view, there are two groups – the Malthusians vs. the Cornucopians. The former lives according to spiritual principles, upholding the view that the quality of one’s life is far more important than the quantity. The latter believe that the modern world can fix itself through technology and yet more development. He has pointed out, however, that we are running out of time – in a generation or two, global warming will become irreversible with disastrous consequences for the planet.

“If the lifestyle of the developing world becomes that of the industrial centres, it will be a global catastrophe,” he writes.
“The industrial world over consumes and over produces. Then they look for sinks for their garbage in poorer countries… It is the bugbear of development which is the real cause of environmental damage,” he adds.
Dr Akram traced the rise in greed and over-consumption to the changing rules of ownership which occurred when Europeans started distancing themselves from Christianity. It was the Protestant work ethic which took over and flipped over the traditional Christian view which believed that ‘work is a curse and blessed are those who have time’. In the traditional Muslim world, ownership was regarded as what you have on you.
According to Dr Ejaz Akram, what the world really needs is not a “war on poverty, but a war against wealth.” Most of the people who are currently suffering from environmental damage (take the coast of Bangladesh and other small islands for example, where villagers are losing their homes and livelihoods due to rise in sea levels) are not the ones who caused it in the first place.
“People are suffering from someone else’s fault… We are made to believe that resources are scarce but in fact, resources are plenty. If there is a loss, someone is taking more,” says Dr Ejaz. He referred to the famous book, Small is Beautiful which outlines how localised economies should be run instead of the globalised system we currently live under, which “sees society as economy, not that society has an economy.”
Religion, of course, calls one towards good deeds and teaches us equilibrium, harmony and balance. This leads to stability, whereas modern economics is inherently unstable. In the religious mindset, “everything in the world has everything to do with God. But if you kill God, then everything becomes possible”.


The book 'Small is Beautiful" site and availability at

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