Monday, June 14, 2010

Muslims can Change our Energy Future

To me, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a reminder that people of faith have a special responsibility to protect the planet. I believe my faith or “Deen” of Islam is intrinsically connected to the environment. In Arabic, “Deen” is defined as a religion or a creed, a faith or a belief, a path or a way. Christianity is a Deen. Judaism is a Deen. Buddhism is a Deen. A “Green Deen” is the choice to practice one’s religion while affirming the synergies between faith and the environment.

My inspiration to write the book, “Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet,” comes from my desire to highlight the contributions of Islam and Muslims to the environmental movement. The book shares how the Islamic teachings of Oneness, trust, and justice can guide all of humanity to transform our pollution-based way of life to one that prioritizes the planet.

Oneness, or Tawhid, is the understanding that everything comes from God. We all emanate from the same source; therefore, harm to one person, one animal, one part of the planet, is a harm to all of creation. The millions of gallons of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico is an example of how interconnected we are. Animals are losing their lives, humans are losing their livelihood. The economic repercussions will be felt around the world. Had we truly understood that taking from the Earth is taking from ourselves, we might not have allowed big oil companies to drill with little oversight and regulation.

Trust, or Amana, is a promise to protect the planet and it comes with the gifts of speech, knowledge, and the freedom to make decisions over the land and the animals. God trusts us to be responsible with these gifts. Unfortunately, too many have taken this trust with God as a license to pillage and destroy. The oil spill serves as an example of what can happen when we violate this sacred trust.

Justice, or ‘Adl, starts with the recognition that people can have a negative impact on the planet. “Corruption has appeared on the land and in the sea because of what the hands of humans have wrought. This is in order that we give them a taste of the consequences of their misdeeds that perhaps they will turn to the path of right guidance.” (30:41) Scholars have interpreted corruption in this verse to mean pollution. In the case of the BP oil spill, we have taken from the Earth without just return; in fact, we’ve returned the epitome of injustice.

As Muslims, now is the time for us to stand up and choose a Green Deen and restore justice to the Gulf of Mexico. “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you swerve, and if you distort justice or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do." (4:135)

CAMP along with other Muslim professionals and the Green Deen Team are supporting a variety of efforts to help the Gulf and to save the planet from more acts of injustice. The Sierra Club is organizing the Beyond Oil campaign to stop all offshore oil drilling. is urging Americans to defend the Clean Air Act. As Muslims, it is essential that we join the ranks of those who are fighting to change our energy future. Write to your congressman. Sign the petitions. Go to the rallies. Organize. It is our divine duty.

ibrahim abdul-matin is a green economy consultant, media personality on WNYC’s “The Takeaway,” and author of “Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet,” due in stores October, 2010. For more information, please visit

(from, by ibrahim abdul-matin)

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