By Prof. Odeh Al-Jayyousi
June 22, 2018
The world, not just the UN, is waking up to
the power of faith-based organizations (FBOs). How can Islam, and other faiths,
contribute to solutions to sustainability and mitigate climate change risks?
Odeh Al-Jayyousi, Professor and head of
innovation at Arabian Gulf University in Bahrain, scholar in sustainable
innovation and a member of UN Global Scientific Advisory Panel, for UN
Environment’s Global Environment Outlook 6 (GEO6), argues that Islamic
worldview represents a unique model for a transition to sustainable development
by focusing on justice, de-growth and harmony between human and nature.
He commented that Islam views the
environmental challenges as an indicator for a moral and ethical crisis.
Looking at the creation of human, Earth, and cosmos as signs of the Creator (Kitab
Manthoor) is a key in Islamic values.
Prof. Al-Jayyousi elaborated that Islamic
worldview defines a good life (Hayat Tayebah) living lightly on Earth (Zuhd)
and caring for both people and nature. Islamic discourse offers a sense of hope
and optimism about the possibility of attaining harmony between human and
nature. Earth will find a balance if humans rethink their lifestyles and
mindsets as stated in the Quran:
has appeared in both land and sea
what people’s own hands have brought
So that they
may taste something of what they have done
hopefully they will turn back
Qur’an 30: 41
Professor Al-Jayyousi calls to revive the
holistic view of Islam which is founded on the notion of harmony and “natural
state” (Fitra) and in respecting balance (Mizan) and proportion (Miqdar)
in the systems of the universe. These notions provide an ethical dimension and
a mandate for all humans to respect nature and all forms of life.
Hence, the overcoming environmental crisis
and mitigating the impact of climate change, from an Islamic perspective is
underpinned by defining the role of humans as trustees and stewards (Khalifah).
This balance has been disturbed because to human choices which result in
overconsumption, overexploitation and overuse of resources.
Islamic values call to save integrity and
to protect the diversity of all forms of life. Professor Al-Jayyousi commented
that the ecological crisis is linked to human ethics and values. Human actions
are responsible for the global ecological crisis. “Reflecting on the main
environmental problems, such as the destruction of natural habitats, loss of
biodiversity, climate change, and erosion of soil, we see that all are
triggered by human greed and ignorance. Human responsibility is to save and
protect livelihood and ecosystem services to ensure a sustainable civilization
learning from and reflecting on the fate of past civilizations”, said Professor
He cited a verse from the Holy Book, Quran,
“Every living thing is in a state of worship”. He commented that when one hurts
a bird or a plant, he/she is silencing a community of worshippers. To celebrate
the symphony of life, all humans need to celebrate and protect biological and
Islamic worldview calls to make a
transition to a sustainable society and economy by adopting responsible
development and respecting sustainability principles. This change requires a
shift in norms and practices. Religion can become a powerful part of the
solution if humans embody a holistic spiritual view towards mankind, earth and
In 2015 in Istanbul, the Muslim world in
its Islamic declaration for climate change set the framework for an ethical
code of conduct to build a low-emission climate resilient future.
Al-Jayyousi aspires to see a new Islamic
discourse that emphasizes and links faith, reason and empathy to ensure an
ecological insight (Baseera). He calls to rethink educational systems that
neglected the beauty and majesty of nature and the cosmos.
“The extinction of species around us which
are simply communities like us (Ummam Amthalokom) may extend to
humankind unless we change our worldviews and development models”, warns Prof.
Al-Jayyousi. He calls to revive the
concept of Green Endowment Fund (Waqf) to support a transition to sustainable
economy by promoting innovation (Ijtihad) inspired by nature and
He proposed a conceptual model with three
domains to address climate change and sustainability:
He refers to this as a Green JIZ model,
which represents an Islamic response to climate change embodying the concept of
“Conflict and poor governance are putting
the Middle East and North Africa at jeopardy” points out Prof. Al-Jayyousi. He
calls for a sustainable region that is founded on human and environmental
justice. An optimist, Prof. Al-Jayyousi is inspired by prophet Mohammed saying
“If it is the Last day of life and you have a small plant, make sure you plant
Professor Odeh Al-Jayyousi is the head of Innovation and Technology
Management at Arabian Gulf University, Bahrain. He published a book on “Islam
and sustainable development”, UK, (2012) and a book on Integral Innovation,
2017, UK. He is a member of UN GEO6- Scientific Advisory Panel.