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The Environment – Why be green?

The earth and its natural resources are being ravaged by mankind. But why should people care? ​ Are there any practical ways to make a difference? And will people actually bother to change their current lifestyle to protect the environment before it is too late? Every human being must at some point ask himself or herself, “why does my existence matter?” And the answer to our own purpose in life will directly determine how we see our role with respect to the planet we inhabit. When we see life as a journey to worship the Creator, we are in harmony with the rest of creation engaged in that worship. The Qur’an notes that there is nothing in nature “except that it is engaged in the glorification and praise of God, though you do not understand how it praises Him” (Qur’an 17:44), and that “every star and every tree is in prostration to God” (Qur’an 55:6).  Recognizing the earth as a fellow worshipper of God imbues it with inherent sanctity. And even more sanctity is conferred upon it by the Prophet Muhammad’s statement, “The earth has been made a place of worship and source of purification” (Sahih al-Bukhari). In other words, the whole planet is considered one giant terrestrial mosque, to be respected and sanctified. The Qur’anic account of creation also demonstrate the value of caring for the earth. Human beings are part and parcel of the earth, having been created from its soil (Qur’an 20:55). And during its own creation, the earth was filled with blessings by God (Qur’an 41:10), and therefore one who desecrates the earth commits a violation against God.  The...

Fitrah – The Primordial Nature of Man

Is the mind of a baby a blank slate or are there certain concepts ingrained in the human mind? Can human nature be demonstrated in infants from birth? Do thoughts about God and moral values naturally occur to a human growing up or are they fabricated ideas invented by previous cultures? Why are certain ideas and values so widespread among people?  People have long wondered and debated about human nature. Are there some behaviours which arise naturally from the human being and others which arise solely due to the influence of the surrounding culture? Some would argue that many of the good traits of human beings arise naturally, including moral traits like compassion and concern for others. The man known as the father of modern economics, Adam Smith (d. 1790CE), argued that sympathy must be inherent. He wrote, “No matter how selfish you think man is, it’s obvious that there are some principles in his nature that give him an interest in the welfare of others.”1Smith, Adam. The Theory of Moral Sentiments. Copyright ©2010–2015 All rights reserved. Jonathan Bennett electronic print version Others, like English philosopher John Locke (d.1704CE), argued that the human mind is essentially a blank slate at birth and that all knowledge is acquired through experience.2Locke, John. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Book 2, Chapter 1, pt. 2 Muslim scholars centuries earlier preceded such comments with a vast, rigorous and systematic analysis of human nature when defining the Fitrah – the primordial nature of all human beings. What is the Fitrah? Fitrah is an arabic word used in Islamic theology to refer to the natural constitution of human beings,...