Seeing God Everywhere. Qur’anic Perspectives on the Sanctity of Virgin Nature
This essay addresses four themes on the spiritual values of nature from the Islamic perspective: The first is the holiness of the natural environment from the point of the view of the Qur’an. Here, the author argues that the environmental crisis could not have happened in a world fashioned by the Islamic conception of Tawĥīd. The second theme concerns the spiritual roots of the environmental crisis: how this crisis came about, not from a technical point of view, but in respect of the deeper moral and spiritual attitudes which generated the actions leading to the crisis. The third theme concerns the relationship between the human individual and the entire universe. The argument here is that even if we are in the grip of a global crisis which may be the foreshadowing of ‘the end of the world’ (or of a cycle within this cosmos), the result of this presentiment should be a deeper sense of personal responsibility for changing oneself and one’s world for the better. This attitude of perpetually renewed resolution, together with an inextinguishable spiritual hopefulness, contrasts starkly with the despair and sense of personal impotence which so many are feeling in the face of the environmental crisis, which has already assumed catastrophic dimensions. Finally, the fourth theme is practical ethics: what we should actually do, in the light of the Qur’anic principles discussed, and according to the Sunna, in respect of the natural world, including different ways in which each and every individual can bring into his or her life some practical changes in accordance with the Qur’anic world-view so eloquently embodied and enacted by the Prophet Muhammad.
This is an expanded version, published on line at http://cambridgecentralmosque.org of an article of Reza Sha-Kazemi which first appeared in Sacred Web— A Journal of Tradition and Modernity, no.27, June, 2011, pp. 15–38.