By Miriam al Ali

Islamic Fashion, 101: Many Westerners may not know this, but the long, black covering for clothing worn mainly by Arabian women is called an abaya; the headscarf that is worn with jeans and other casual wear is called a hijab. Hijab is a term that means ‘barrier, covering or veil’, and for many Muslim women around the world, it’s an essential part of the fashion they consider to be modest enough to comply with Islamic dress codes.

Unfortunately, these items of Islamic clothing are often also a ‘barrier’ to eco-friendliness, as more than not, they are made out of nasty polyester, nylon or rayon, all of which trap sweat and heat. But that is about to change.

Abeer Al-Azzawi is a young Canadian woman who fretted that in a world where eco pet accessories and organic baby clothes worn for mere months are offered to consumers in abundance, there were very few ‘green’ options for the hijab, which is worn every day by millions of women around the world.

“From all of my research, I never found one eco hijab that was available,” said the designer to the leading newspaper, the Toronto Star.

So Al-Azzawi – who doesn’t wear the traditional head scarf herself – created Queendom Hijabs, a line of head coverings that uses soy and bamboo based fabrics that breathe well, and are warm in winter and cool in summer. Due to its flexibility, breathability, and natural credentials, the line quickly gained popularity with sportswomen and Muslims living in colder climes.

“My goal is to make every hijab eco,” she says.


While this is good news for hijab wearers from Canada to Indonesia, the eco-abaya, however, remains elusive. Still mainly a Middle Eastern phenomenon, these long black robes do make a strong appearance in London during the summer months, when many Arabs escape the heat to the more moderate weather of the English capital. While the highest quality abayas are often made of fine silk, these are often reserved for special occasions, and even so, they can’t necessary be considered ‘eco’, because the dyes used are often toxic, and they are frequently covered in synthetic crystals, plastic beads or other non-eco embellishments.

Some brands, such as Body AMR, pictured in our main image, do carry all-silk, design rich pieces that are high on style whilst being low on bling, but they are not cheap, and the thirst for embellishment is unlikely to disappear from the Gulf region any time soon.

That being said, there’s clearly also a growing eco-fashion market in the region, as demonstrated by Vogue Italia’s green design talent hunt, in conjunction with the Dubai Mall. The question is: which entrepreneurial designer will be the first to truly corner that market and become the ‘Stella McCartney’ of the Arab world?

This article originally appeared on ELUXE Magazine in 2015. 

Conference Promotes Sustainable Development in the Islamic World


The Islamic Conference of Environment Ministers adopts various documents and projects aiming to give substance to environmental protection and promote sustainable development in Islamic world

Today at the headquarters of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) in Rabat, the 7th Islamic Conference of Environment Ministers closed with the adoption of many documents and projects that aim to activate environmental protection and promote sustainable development in the Islamic world.

In this regard, the Conference adopted the Report of the 4th Islamic Executive Bureau for the Environment and urged the Member States to complete the appointment of focal points for the Bureau to facilitate the follow-up to the implementation of the decisions, resolutions and recommendations of the Executive Bureau and the Islamic Conference of Environment Ministers.

It also adopted the Report of the Director General on ISESCO’s Efforts in the Field of Environment and Sustainable Development between the 6th and 7thICEM Sessions. In addition; commended ISESCO’s efforts devoted to the implementation of the programmes geared towards Environment Protection and Sustainable Development; and invited ISESCO Director General to pursue these efforts, in coordination and consultation with the OIC General Secretariat, the Member States’ competent parties and the national, regional and international specialized bodies, in such a way as to achieve sustainable development goals.

By the same token, the Conference adopted the Report on ISESCO’s Efforts in the 22nd Conference of the Parties on Climate Change and Preparation of the 23rd Session of the Conference and lauded ISESCO’s efforts devoted to activating the “Islamic Declaration on Environment Protection and Sustainable Development.

It also lauded the Organization’s efforts in enforcing the resolutions of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP), through the implementation of relevant programmes and activities for the benefit of Member States; commended its contribution to the preparation for and participation in the COP22 held in Marrakech and urged the Member States to engage in further joint action for activating the relevant conventions pertaining to climate change and to the mitigation of its effects; and to take practical measures likely to ensure the necessary adaptation in this regard.

Further, the Conference adopted the “Progress Report on the Creation of the OIC Water Council and its Terms of Reference”; commended the efforts put by the OIC General Secretariat and the Islamic Conference of Ministers Responsible for Water towards creating this Council, developing its statutes and defining its terms of reference and working mechanisms; invited the Member States to support this Council in the implementation of water-related programmes in such a way as to enhance water resources management and climate change adaptation in the Islamic world. Likewise, it invited the OIC General Secretariat and ISESCO to coordinate water-focused joint Islamic action in order to uphold the Council’s action in light of the “Strategy for Integrated Management of Water Resources in the Islamic World” and the “OIC Water Vision 2025”, in such a way as to contribute to ensuring water security for Islamic countries.



In another vein, the Conference adopted the Progress Report on the Creation of the Islamic Academy for the Environment and Sustainable Development; thanked the Kingdom of Morocco for its sustained efforts towards the implementation of this major academic and developmental project, as well as for the administrative and technical measures taken, within the framework of the new conception of the Academy, towards providing its headquarters and developing its organizational structure and action programme; and invited the competent party in the Kingdom of Morocco to coordinate with ISESCO for pursuing the necessary practical measures for the creation of the Islamic Academy for the Environment and Sustainable Development.

In addition, the Conference adopted the Report on “the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Award for Environmental Management in the Islamic World”;reiterated thanks and gratitude to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for the creation of the Award and for his kind consent as to expanding its scope to cover the Islamic world and entrusting its General Secretariat to ISESCO, in order to entrench the broad concept of environmental management and promote sustainable development in Islamic countries.

It also hailed the efforts exerted by ISESCO and the General Authority of Meteorology and Environmental Protection of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to effectively launch this Award in the Islamic world, starting from the current edition of 2016-2017 and commended ISESCO’s role in assuming the General Secretariat of the Award, undertaking the organizational and technical arrangements for the implementation of its media plan, and ensuring the academic and technical supervision of the submissions assessment process, in cooperation and coordination with the General Authority of Meteorology and Environmental Protection of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

In another vein, the Conference agreed that a new category under title “Honoring the Best Environmentally friendly Islamic City” be added to the Award’s four categories in a bid to encourage the development of green cities in the Islamic world in line with the Guidance Document on Green Cities and their Role in Achieving Sustainable Development.

The Conference also adopted the updated version of the “Report on the Creation of the Joint Committee on the Executive Work Plan for Natural Disaster Risk Reduction and Management in the Member States” and adopted the proposal made by the Islamic Executive Bureau for the Environment to set up the Joint Committee on the Executive Work Plan for Natural Disaster Risk Reduction and Management in the Member States, composed of the OIC General Secretariat, ISESCO, Islamic Development Bank, the General Authority of Meteorology and Environmental Protection of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, under the supervision of the Islamic Executive Bureau for the Environment.

In the same vein, it adopted the Pilot Programme on Capacity-building in Natural Disaster Risk Reduction and Management in the Member States for 2018-2019 and invited the OIC institutions concerned to cooperate with the Joint Committee to convene an Expert Meeting in order to define Member States’ priorities and capacity-building activities in line with the said Pilot Programme, and submit a report on the subject to the Eighth Islamic Conference of Environment Ministers.

Further, the Conference commended the efforts being made by the Member States towards achieving sustainable development within the framework of their regional and international commitments, and invited them to continue their efforts to implement the resolutions of the 7th Islamic Conference of Environment Ministers in such a way as to respond to the needs, priorities and public policies of the Member States in this area.

In another vein, it called for building on the “Guidance Document on Green Cities and their Role in Achieving Sustainable Development Goals” in the development of relevant national plans; commended the ongoing efforts in the Member States having opted for sustainable urban planning and development, and urged the rest of Member States to prioritize sustainable urban development in their national policies and take the necessary legal measures to regulate green building projects, in line with the best international practices and in anticipation of the steady growth of cities in the decades to come.

By the same token, it recommended fostering cooperation and exchange of successful experiences in green urbanization and enhancing the climate resilience of existing cities, and invited Member States to adopt smart and sustainable city policies in building, energy, transportation, waste recycling and water use, protect forests and prevent their exploitation for urbanization purposes, and build the capacities of local governments in this field.



Moreover, the Conference adopted the Report on “the Creation of an OIC Joint Commission for Sustainable Development (OIC-CSD)” and called for merely activating the existing relevant OIC and its affiliated institutions’ mechanisms with regard to directing joint Islamic Action efforts towards encouraging sustainable development among Member States, and working towards highlighting these efforts within the UN System, the regional and international forums as well as specialized conferences on environment and sustainable development, in order to achieve sustainable development goals and enable the neediest Member States to benefit from the expertise and potential available in this field.

Likewise, it adopted “the Programme on the Celebration of Islamic Capitals of Environment and Sustainable Development”, taking into consideration the observations of the Conference members and called on Member States to adhere to this Programme and work towards taking the necessary measures for making their cities environmentally friendly as per the “Guidance Document on Green Cities and their Role in achieving Sustainable Development Goals”, and in line with the best international practices in this field.

It welcomed the endeavors of the Executive Director of the UN Environment Assembly to dispatch a qualified team of international experts to conduct a field study on the state of the environment in the occupied Palestinian territories, including Eastern Al-Quds, pursuant to the request submitted by the State of Palestine, and in accordance with the procedural guidelines of environmental assessments and called on the Executive Director to act towards dispatching the abovementioned experts team to conduct the said study in the event of a refusal by the Israeli occupation authorities to cooperate by issuing a written approval to facilitate the team’s mission and its entry to the occupied Palestinian territories, including Eastern Al-Quds and invited the competent parties to support this resolution in the relevant international forums in appropriate ways.

In conclusion, the Conference decided to hold the 8th Session of the Conference at ISESCO headquarters, in October 2019 and thanked the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for allocating a fixed budget for the convening of each session of the Islamic Conference of Environment Ministers and the Islamic Executive Bureau for the Environment.

For more information about the conference, visit the ISESCO website at

Beyond crisis: a film on social justice and hope for the climate

By Dr. Hind Al-Abadleh

“Nature has a way to go on whether we’re part of it of not” – Film director Kai Reimer-Watts

What a powerful line at the beginning of a film launch that marked the third year of the People’s Climate March on September 21, 2017 in Waterloo.  This day also marked the UN International Day of Peace.  

Beyond Crisis is unique compared to other documentaries on the topic of man-made climate change and the need for action.  It is narrated by the film director, Kai Reimer-Watts, who holds a Master of Climate Change from the University of Waterloo. The documentary is divided into parts: the first part reminds us of the science behind the changing climate at unprecedented rates relative to the past 400,000 years.  It shows news clips of the most recent impacts linked to climate change within the last 10 years on major cities across the globe, from flooding, to droughts, to intense and more frequent hurricane activities and wild fires.  The film shows interviews and highlights from the recent scientific literature by notable scientists like Dr. James Hansen of NASA, and those who contributed and reviewed the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Reports.  

The second part of the film interviews social justice activists who highlight the fact that people who did not contribute to the problem are the ones who are facing the most consequences.  More specifically, nations around the equator who live in low land will experience sea rise and floods.  Increasing heat waves in some of these lands will not only make life unbearable, but will affect food production and water quantity and quality, leading to mass migration and political conflicts.  Closer to home, indigenous communities who live in their ancestral lands in the northern parts of Canada have seen first hand the effects of increasing rates of ice melting on their infrastructure and food resources.  Interviews with social activists and journalists such as Naomi Klein emphasized the moral responsibility of those who live carbon-intensive lifestyles to those whose basic living conditions are threatened or even destroyed because of climate change impacts.  The movie featured what religious communities in particular have done in this regard, from Pope Francis’s Climate Change Encyclical to the Islamic and Hindu Declaration on Global Climate Change, to name a few.


The following parts in the film focused on the background story behind organizing for the People’s Climate March in 2014 that brought together over a million people in many cities around the world to protest policies on climate change and call on government leaders to take action before time is too late to act.  This great march that brought people from all walks of life together was influential in exerting pressure on political negotiators who participated in the talks that led to the Paris climate agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2016.  This historical agreement aims to hold global climate temperature to well below 2 degrees C relative to pre-industrial levels, by reducing carbon emission and increasing adaptation and climate resiliency efforts.  Signatory countries have to come up with their own national efforts to meet the goals of the Paris agreement.  Here comes the role of individuals and communities, who have to keep the issue of climate change front and centre when making choices in their lifestyles and when they elect the politicians who represent them.

The last part of the movie flowed naturally to the massive opportunities that awaits us in creating a new future that is more sustainable, socially just, and in harmony with nature.  With interview clips from scientists and thought leaders in politics and the energy sector, the path to meeting Paris goals was laid out in three major points:

  1. Stop all subsides to the fossil fuel industries,

  2. Price carbon to truly account for the true cost of pollution,

  3. Divest investments from fossil fuels to renewable energy.  

We need to shift our thinking from relying on an economy based on resource development to a technology based economy, where we harness the energy of the sun, wind and geothermal wells to power conscious and sustainable lifestyles.  Employment data shows that this transition to renewable energy will create more jobs that those lost from ceasing to work in fossil fuel industries.  The film emphasizes that this grand challenge can be overcome within a generation when the politicians and people come together and work towards a common goal.  Examples from history highlighted in the movie to prove this point included civil rights movement with Martin Luther King, funding projects that landed humans on the moon, and preparing for the military might that defeated Nazism in World War II.

At the end of the screening, the attendees left with a renewed sense of hope and mingled together to share their ideas and ongoing projects they’re working on.  It was a truly inspiring experience that shows the importance of grassroots effort in tackling what appears to be a problem of magnificent magnitude.  I highly encourage everyone of you to plan for a screening of this film in your community, invite the Director for a Q & A, and keep the conversation, and action, going.

Dr. Hind Al-Abadleh is a Professor of Chemistry at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, ON.  She is also the Science Advisor for Students for Sustainability at Laurier.  She could be reached via e-mail:

Can The Halal Industry Contribute to a Better Environment?


By Latifa Saber 

Many often link the halal industry to the food industry, but what a lot of people miss is that ‘halal’ goes way further than that. When we think about halal we mostly think about the slaughter process that is different for Muslims, but we seem to forget that it doesn’t stop there. Depending on what industry we’re talking about, the halal rules can differ. A main guideline when it comes to halal is that it should be good for humans, animals and the environment. What’s really interesting is that many of these ‘halal – rules’ are very respectable and could change many things that are quite harmful to our environment today.

Let’s take a look at the beauty industry for example and think about how halal is implemented when it comes to manufacturing cosmetics.  Halal beauty and personal care goes way further than banning pork derivatives from the products and having halal financial services. When we’re speaking of halal beauty we have to make sure that the products don’t own any pesticides. But that’s not all; besides the ingredient list the halal beauty sector also focuses on the manufacturing. This means that the environment and the people who work on the cosmetics are not to be forgotten. It is highly recommended to manufacture products locally, which reduces the effect on the environment. Also fair trade is a must! Exploitation of production workers is definitely a no-go. Last but not least: The creation of halal beauty products needs to be free from any type of animal cruelty.

So we’re talking about banning pesticides, stopping the exploiting of working forces, and fair-trade, all these standards are exactly what many environmental activists are pleading for these days. So what if these halal guidelines were a standard for all industries? Could this be an optimal solution for the many problems that live in the industry these days? Think of sweatshops exploiting workforces in third world countries, the use of pesticides or the abuse of animals to manufacture products.

The ideal answer would obviously be yes, but of course it isn’t that easy. Even though the standards are high when it comes to the halal guidelines, many of these industries lack a standardized approach, which makes it really hard to control it. And unfortunately there’s also this strange feeling towards halal products by some non-Muslims who still see it as some kind of Muslim hocus-pocus

But maybe being more open about it and having more transparency into the halal industry would get rid of these problems, which could lead to more industries applying these guidelines. Because if we look at the way our environment is often treated these days, it really screams for a new way of doing things. More specific it screams for a way in which we can enjoy products without exploiting people, abusing animals or disrespecting our planet.

This article originally appeared on mvslim on July 24th, 2017. 

Alhamdulillah for Lavender

Lavender has traditionally been used for centuries for both its aromatic fragrance and medicinal benefits. Today lavender oil can be easily purchased and has been touted as a cure-all for everything from inflammation to insomnia. While there is still some debate over its effectiveness in the healthcare community, one cannot argue that this potent flower is a versatile staple in any garden and its edible flowers are a treat for both bees and chefs alike.  

The "Alhamdulillah Series" was inspired by Ruzky Aliyar who featured a series of nature images with the tagline “Alhamdulillah”. The series was profiled on Muslim Matters during the Winter of 2012 and quickly drew praise for the simplicity of the message. Building upon this effort to remember the many blessings of Allah, has picked up the initiative and will continue to highlight the many signs of Allah.

“There truly are signs in this for people who reflect.” (Quran 13:3)

Environmental Challenges in the Light of the Theory of Maqasid

The Research Center for Islamic Legislation and Ethics (CILE) leads the reform and renewal of contemporary Islamic legal and ethical thought and behavior by contributing a sustainable ethical framework for addressing contemporary global challenges. CILE’s initiative is maintained by the production, dissemination and application of Islamic ethical thought and behavior. This is achieved by engaging scholars of text and scholars of context to bring about a transformative ethical school of thought.


Islamic scriptural sources (the Qur’an and Prophetic tradition) abound with references and reminders about nature and all of creation. Because creation is a sign of the Creator, respecting and preserving it is not just altruistic but also an act of faith and worship.

The environment is an essential topic for Islamic applied ethics. In light of the contemporary environmental challenges (deforestation, global warming, how the use of technology and our lifestyles destroy nature and kill animals), we need to turn to the Islamic scriptural sources to derive an ethical framework to halt, if not to reverse, the destruction of our planet.

We recognise that this field cannot be tackled separately from economics and politics. Many environmental decisions by politicians and states today are based on economic interests and/or pressures. In the global south as much as in the industrialised countries of the north, these three fields must be considered together in order to acquire a better and more holistic understanding of the framework of Islamic environmental applied ethics.

This requires Muslim scholars of the text/Shari’a and experts in this field to work together on specific questions and create a framework for resolving the crisis we confront. Only then will Muslim scholars be able to produce effective and relevant legal opinions.

The following video is from the CILE Granada Summer School session on the Environment 

Grateful for Gardens: Tarbiyah Elementary experiences the joys of green space

Tarbiyah students enjoy their time in the garden and help to create their own green space! 

by Chantelle Misheal

What happens when you introduce gardens and plants to your students? Well, they get awfully interested in learning more! We’ve had such an amazing time working with the students of Tarbiyah Elementary School in Milton, ON and a large part of that is due to the students’ excitement of being in the garden!

Given the generous funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to provide programming around gardens, as well as the funding from the Ontario150 Youth Partnership Program to install a garden at two schools, we were more than fortunate to have the resources to allow the children to really dig deep and get their hands dirty as they learn more about the benefits of restoring natural habitat.

We started off with a workshop from our partners at EcoSource, who took us to the Iceland Teaching Garden with 30 students from Tarbiyah. The girls got a first hand look at a community garden with a tour and basic information about everything that was growing, as well got the chance to help contribute to the garden by first making room in the garden beds for new seedlings to be planted.

Initially, I was worried someone would be terrified of getting their hands dirty. Soon enough, I realized the girls were racing to plant more seedlings and were eager to learn more! Learning about the processes of the garden helps to reconnect us to the process of food, and allows for a greater appreciation for the food we are so fortunate to have. The time outside was beneficial as their school is surrounded by quite a bit of concrete, and there isn’t too much opportunity to spend time in the garden.



As we celebrate Canada 150, we have also made it a point to ensure we are acknowledging what 150 years really means. We’ve turned our efforts towards honouring the land and its original caretakers, looking for the support from Six Nations and the Indigenous Council to help us make this project representative of what the next 150 years will be through Truth and Reconciliation.

Sherry Caevil, the Aboriginal Liason Officer for the Halton Catholic District School Board, offered to take us to visit Six Nations. We were interested by the Kayanase Greenhouse and the amazing selection of native species, so we’ve made the decision to purchase most, if not all, of the plants for the schools from this greenhouse. After a tour and a quick bite at the Burger Barn, we left Six Nations with open minds and open hearts, a full belly and a van jam packed with beautiful plants!

You can plan your next visit to Grand River with a little help from this website!


On June 13th, we held our official Canada 150 Build Day at Tarbiyah Elementary School. Planning around a shorter school schedule, busy last weeks at school and also being mindful that the students were celebrating Ramadan, made this build day nothing short of exciting! We were visited by MP Indira Naidoo-Harris who gave a special speech to the girls before we “broke ground”.

With a focus on native species, we invited Erin from Conservation Halton to teach the girls a little more of the importance of natural habitat. Luckily, the rain held off long enough for us to do the majority of the planting, but we will have to return over the summer to complete the rest of the garden beds. Even with most of the students fasting, so many wanted to continue working throughout the day to be involved in the garden!

While all the fun was happening outside for the older grades, I hosted a few sessions with the younger grades making some seed balls to help transform the bushy areas around the school!  Students were more than happy for the opportunity to help the bees and butterflies and eagerly asked to make more to take home for their own gardens.

Pictures will be up soon to show you the before and after of our wonderful garden, which includes a new rain barrel to help our thirsty plants this summer! With plans already underway for our next garden, we are optimistic and hoping for the same reaction from our students at Christ the King Secondary School in Georgetown.

Stay tuned to see what projects we’re working on! Follow us on Instagram and Twitter at @GSSHaltonPeel. See you next time in the garden! This article originally appeared on Faith and the Common Good on June 26th, 2017. 

Creating a Community Garden at your Islamic School

Community gardens have recently taken off as a way of engaging communities in the local food movement. Not only does it raise awareness, community gardens can also serve as a learning tool for schools. The Safa and Marwa Islamic School (SAM) in Mississauga, Ontario received a grant from TD Friends of Environment in 2015 towards the creation of their own gardening space. has the opportunity to speak with Nisreen Shawahneh, who was instrumental in coordinating the project, to learn some successes and challenges in creating a community garden in a school environment. 


a.     How did the idea for a community garden first come about, what was the motivation?

At Safa and Marwa Islamic School (SAM) our goals are to deliver a ‘living’ curriculum that ensures the spiritual and academic success of our student body and to build a sense of comradely and community amongst our students, parents and staff. Every year our team brainstorms projects that would help us meet these goals. It was in one of these sessions that the idea for a community garden was born. We recognized that building a community garden would bring to life curricular concepts allowing students to cement their learning in the classroom by living examples in the garden. From a spiritual point of view, having a garden would allow students to understand the importance of stewardship and the environment in Islam. Furthermore, having a garden that was not owned and manned by one, but the entire school community brought teachers, students and staff together to work towards a common goal. It was heartwarming to see the way harvests were enjoyed and celebrated by all involved.

In addition to being motivated by our goals for students we were also cognizant of the fact that having a community garden would complement our healthy living and physical education program nicely. Prior to having our community garden our student body has regularly participated in the 60 second kids club, we are currently ranked 10th in the Province. We would also have healthy eating competitions across the grades. We hoped that the addition of the garden would give kids the push they needed to begin eating healthier in their day to day lives.

b.     How have the students been involved?

Students from Junior Kindergarten to grade 8 all participated in the community garden.  Each class was assigned a plot to plant in. Students chose what to grow; the school provided the seeds and the seedlings. Students, with the help of their teachers, planted the seedlings and seeded the seeds. Students, watered, weeded and took care of the garden the whole season.

In addition, we conducted workshops for both parents and students on how to establish and run their own gardens at home. The presentation was delivered by Ms. Nisreen, the Garden Coordinator. The agenda was as follows:

  • General information for parents and students on how they could begin their own community gardens in their neighborhoods.
  • General information for parents and students on how they could begin their own community gardens in their backyards.
  • General information on the different types of plants that could be grown year-round.
  • General information on the tips and tricks of gardening. 

c.     What was involved in planning the project?

To plan the project we put together a planning team that consisted of members from administration, teachers, auxiliary staff, parents and students. The following diagram depicts the team and their tasks in terms of planning the project.

d.     What were the greatest hurdles?

In bringing this project to fruition, there were several hurdles. Following are the greatest hurdles we faced and we feel that these were all equally challenging:

·Finance: In Ontario, private faith based schools do not receive any public funding. Therefore, all the money that is generated to operate the school is derived from tuition. It is difficult to allocate tuition money to a project such as this because there are often competing needs that take precedence such as those related to the facility infrastructure and those related to curriculum delivery directly. Although there are many grants available through the Government of Ontario that could fund a community garden, they are often only open to publically funded schools - which we are not. We had to be creative in finding a grant. We are very appreciative of the grant we received from TD to deploy our garden.

·Space: We are at capacity in terms of student body because SAM has consistently been named the top Islamic school by the Fraser institute. Space is over utilized and therefore to carve out space on our grounds was extremely difficult. It required re-planning our play areas and putting in another outdoor rotation for our students which resulted in an overhaul of the school and classroom schedules. It was also challenging to convince some school members and parents that the reutilization of the space would add more to the curriculum then the original play space.

·Manpower: Maintaining a garden (watering, weeding, harvesting, replanting) and asking teachers to integrate curriculum related to the garden day to day was extremely challenging because both are time consuming and rely on volunteerism.



a.     What has the response been to the project?

The garden has received so much love and support from students, staff and parents, especially around harvest time where everyone gets to taste their success. Our garden has inspired parents to create their own gardens.  Following are some testimonials:

I love the garden. I planted it, watered it and picked it. It was fun in the garden because I saw plants grow - Hannah, Grade 6

I love being in the garden. We picked basil and onions and many more. There were even carrots, being in the garden made me feel free and happy - Mustafa, Grade 4

The garden was the best. I especially loved when it was time to pick the plants. I even got to sell it. I loved the garden - Adam, Grade 3

I got to pick plants from the garden. We even bought some. I ate carrots, too. They tasted amazing - Leena Grade 1. 

 b.     Have you been able to incorporate parents and other groups into the project?  

We have successfully been able to engage parents during garden planning and planting. We did not incorporate other groups into the project.

c.     How does the garden sustain itself over the summer?

SAM operates a summer program that incorporates a unit on community gardening. Students in this program maintain the garden over the summer and are supervised by the summer teachers and administration.

d.     What happens to the produce in the fall?

Throughout the summer and fall produce is harvested and, depending upon the yield, either sold to parents during school fundraisers, distributed to student volunteers and those who have completed a related curricular unit, donated to families in need and shared with the entire school in our ‘welcome to school’ fall barbecue.


a.     Have you included any spiritual or religious programming into the garden? If so, what has the messaging been?

Our community garden helped us explain Islam’s ethos of environmentalism and stewardship to our students using a hands-on approach. In Islam humans were created to serve God (Allah) and work towards creating the greatest good for all his creations which includes the earth and its environment. Caring for the earth is our shared responsibility. Our department of religion began incorporating what it means to live a sustainable life into religious curricula as follows:

  • Allah created us directly from the Earth and we must therefore be stewards of the Earth by taking care of it and protecting it in a sustainable way.
  • We have undertaken a trust with our creator to protect the planet and contribute to and sustain its resources responsibly.
  • We must treat all creation including the natural world with justice.
  • We must recognize that Allah has created the world in a balance and we must work to sustain that balance.
  • We must live a simple lifestyle – which includes growing our own produce.

b.     Are multiple grades involved in the project?

Yes, multiple grades were involved in the project namely: junior kindergarten, senior kindergarten, grade 1, grade 2, grade 3, grade 4, grade 5, grade 6 and grade 7. Each grade was assigned their own part of the garden and were responsible for caring for it.

c.     How do you see the garden growing in the future?

Thus far, we have planted produce that was quick and easy to grow in our garden. We planted: tomatoes, curled parsley, basil, strawberries, carrots, sunflowers, corn, peas, beans, green onion, hot pepper, bell pepper, cucumber, potatoes, beets and Swiss chard.

In the future, we would like to plant our garden by theme. For example, we would like to plant a salad garden, a salsa garden, a fruit salad garden etcetera. In addition, we are looking to move our school to a new location to continue to deliver quality curriculum. Whereas a community garden would never have made it onto our list of ‘must haves’ for a new property in the past; after our project, we have decided that our new location would never be complete without space for a new community garden.

Lessons Learned:

a.     What have been the biggest challenges and what were the lessons that were learned in creating a community garden?

As mentioned in 1d above the biggest challenges were finance, space and manpower. The lesson we learned were as follows:

  • Finance: When establishing the garden, we factored in the cost for building the garden however we did not factor in the cost for continuing to maintain and sustain the garden.
  • Space: We could have collaborated with our school neighbors and shared property to build a larger garden which would not have compromised out play area.
  • ·Manpower: We need to build capacity around having more consistent volunteers for the garden and demonstrate to teaching staff that taking their students out to the garden is worth the time it takes to do so. In addition, we learned that it is important to ensure that those that tend to the garden document what they have done so that it can be passed on to those who take it over the following year.

b.     Can you provide any advice to other groups looking to start their own community garden?

Be cognizant of our lessons learned.

Breastfeeding: Fulfilling an Islamic Duty & Environmental Stewardship

By Khairoon Abbas

My second child turns two years old this month and it’s an emotional moment for me. I am filled with pride seeing my toddler grow, hearing his sweet little voice sing his ABCs and call for mama. Yet I am teary-eyed as I realise our two wonderful years of breastfeeding is coming to what feels like an abrupt end. The four years I have spent breastfeeding my two children have allowed me to reflect upon the spiritual significance of breastfeeding, particularly as a Muslim mother. In fact, this journey has brought me closer to Islam. With every passing month of breastfeeding, I, like millions of Muslim mothers around the world, am reminded of how Islam guides and encourages us to give our children the best nourishment in their early years through breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding and Islam

After my first child was born in 2012, I struggled to breastfeed him and I was very close to giving up. In between my son’s piercing cries and my moments of desperation, I turned to Allah in prayer, beseeching guidance. If breastfeeding was a natural act, why was it challenging? I remembered the wise words of my grandmother who lovingly reminded me that it is the child’s entitled right to breastfeed and that I should persevere.

In fact, the Holy Qur’an and various traditions place utmost importance on breastfeeding. It is narrated from the Prophet (PBUH): “Allāh (SWT) has placed the sustenance (rizq) of the child in the two breasts of the mother, in one is his water, and in the other his food.” In the mother’s body, Allah (SWT) has created a remarkable system of feeding a child in the most beneficial way. It is narrated from the Prophet (PBUH) that “For a child, there is no milk better than the milk of the mother” (Mustadrak al-Wasāil, vol. 15, pg. 156).

“Mothers may breastfeed their children two complete years for whoever wishes to complete the nursing [period].” Qur’an 2:233

Breastfeeding not only provides the optimal nutrients for the baby’s growth and development, but it also creates an extraordinary bond between a mother and child. Like Islam, national and international health organizations such as Health Canada and the World Health Organization recognize breastfeeding as the normal and unparalleled method of feeding infants and mothers are advised to breastfeed - exclusively for the first six months, and sustained for up to two years or longer with appropriate complementary feeding. The more I breastfed and read about the benefits of breastfeeding to both mother and child, I realized that breastfeeding goes beyond a religious duty or obligation.


Breastfeeding and the environment

Breastfeeding offers countless environmental benefits. It is both environmentally-friendly and is an invaluable renewable resource. Breastfeeding is also one of the most environmentally sound food sources available no matter where you live in this world, whether you are in a rural Morocco or urban Canada. Firstly, breastfeeding does not waste scarce resources or produce pollution. Secondly, breastmilk is produced by the mother and given to the baby with a zero ecological and carbon footprint. And thirdly, breastfeeding requires no packaging, shipping, transport or disposal and therefore, there is less waste going to landfills.

As a communications professional who spent seven years working as a sustainable lifestyles consultant for the United Nations, I remain continually intrigued by how our daily actions impact the environment. My work involved researching, writing and training young people and educators on how to incorporate sustainable lifestyle choices in their daily lives at a time when the Earth’s resources are being depleted faster than they can be replenished. This work enabled me to recognize humanity’s crucial role in adopting more sustainable ways of living that are in harmony with our communities and nature.

Islam encourages environmental stewardship, particularly given our role as caretakers of the environment. We all have a responsibility to take care of our planet and protect it as much as we possibly can. Science tells us that If we continue the same consumption patterns, by 2030, just 13 years from now, we will need two planet Earths to support all 8.5 billion of us. This is a stark reminder that the time to change and take action for a better, cleaner and greener environment, one that is well within the Earth’s bounds, is now. As individuals, that action begins in our homes, in the food we eat, and the way we feed our children.


Khairoon Abbas holds a bachelor's degree in communications and a master's degree in journalism and has spent many years (2009-2016) working as a consultant with the United Nations Environment Programme. Khairoon currently lives in Richmond Hill, Canada. 


By Nouman Khalil

This year, Peel, Halton and Toronto’s Muslim community is celebrating environment-friendly Ramadan by saying "no" to disposable bottles from sunset to sunrise.

The fasting month of Ramadan begins next weekend, May 27-28. It’s the Islamic month in which holy Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the revelation occurred during one of the last 10 nights, called Laylat Al-Qadr.

To reap maximum reward in this month, benefit others and protect the environment, TorontoMuslims — a project of DawaNet, a Mississauga-based nonprofit organization committed to community service, outreach and development — launched a pilot project called the #Waste Free Ramadan campaign to encourage all community members not to send plastic bottles to landfills.

“We really want to be environmentally conscious, especially in the coming month of Ramadan,” said Taha Ghayyur, one of campaign organizers. “If we are fasting to develop God-consciousness, we are also ensuring that we are not damaging the world and that’s the whole idea of seeking mercy.”

He said the campaign began with an initial goal of distributing 5,000 bottles through few major mosques in Peel, Halton and Toronto regions, especially in the cities of Brampton and Mississauga, but due to overwhelming response they have double the target to 10,000.

“The earth is green and beautiful and Allah has appointed you stewards over it,” reads a campaign message quoting a hadith (saying of the Prophet).

Bottles are available free of charge at local mosques such as ISNA Canada, Al Falah Islamic Centre, Sayeda Khadija Centre, Anatolia Islamic Centre, Islamic Propagation Centre (aka Coopers Masjid), and Dar At-Tawheed Islamic Centre. People can also obtain one free of cost by making an online donation.

Ghayyur said since it's a pilot project, TorontoMuslims initiated this campaign with selected mosques, but the actual idea was to distribute bottles free of cost.

The colourful bottles are designed for people to also write their own names on it and encourage others to do the same.

The #WasteFreeRamadan campaign hopes to engage all Canadian in discussions about climate change, global warming, environmental degradation and conservation.  

For more information, visit

Nouman Khalil is a reporter with The Mississauga News, Brampton Guardian and South Asian Focus. This article originally appeared on on May 19th, 2017. 

Alhamdulillah for Cameras

The greatest mathematician, astronomer and physicist of the medieval world was a 10th century Arab by the name of Ibn al-Haytham. Among his many contributions to optics was the first correct explanation of how vision works. He used the Chinese invention of the camera obscura (or pinhole camera) to show how light travels in straight lines from the object to form an inverted image on the retina. He is also credited with being the first man to shift physics from a philosophical activity to an experimental one.

The "Alhamdulillah Series" was inspired by Ruzky Aliyar who featured a series of nature images with the tagline “Alhamdulillah”. The series was profiled on Muslim Matters during the Winter of 2012 and quickly drew praise for the simplicity of the message. Building upon this effort to remember the many blessings of Allah, has picked up the initiative and will continue to highlight the many signs of Allah.

“There truly are signs in this for people who reflect.” (Quran 13:3)

Lakehead Student Crosses Canada to Raise Awareness of First Nations Plight

How far would you go for clean water? For one recent Lakehead graduate, quite literally across the country.

Hasan Syed, a community bridge-builder active in Thunder Bay, has undertaken a cross-country run to raise awareness about the water crisis among First Nation’s communities in Canada.

Syed was shocked to learn about the conditions on some reserves, and thought Canada had moved beyond basic water access issues he witnessed in his native Pakistan. As of the end of February, there were more than 80 drinking water advisories in First Nations communities across the country.

"It literally took me back to the country I immigrated from. Like then there's no difference between here and there." said Syed to the CBC. Until then he had assumed the services he had access to were afforded to all Canadians.

Upon learning more he knew he had to take action and his faith played a crucial role. "I feel like there's like God saying, 'Okay, I told you about this. Now what are you going to do about it?'"

Partnering up with First Nations organizations, Syed founded Access 2 Clean Water, to raise awareness about the issue and funds to develop solutions.  "I'm brand new to this, so I'm still learning how to approach these situations and how to be respectable so I don't overstep any boundaries."

Syed’s journey started in Vancouver and his goal is to reach Ontario in 150 days - marking the 150 years anniversary of Confederation. Given the tumultuous history between First Nations and the Federal Government, this journey represents the ongoing struggle in the era of reconciliation.

To support the project,, a Go Fund Me page has been set up and is almost halfway towards its goal. You can also follow Syed’s journey through the Access 2 Clean Water Instagram account which has photos and videos of the trek.

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Islamic Ecotheology: A Religious Call To Protect Ecosystem

By: Malik Gazi Bilal

The calls for ecological justice are intensifying faster and louder than ever. Environmental experts and climate scientists, after conducting vigorous researches, found that climate change is a functional reality which poses great threats to survival of humankind. Their research findings endorse, every decade since the 1970s has been warmer than the previous and polar icecaps and glaciers worldwide have been melting rapidly, faster than their scientific projections. In such a vulnerable situation, together with governments, non-governmental organizations and different international environmental research committees, religious organizations and faith leaders, all across the world,  have also become conscious regarding their role and responsibility vis-à-vis establishing justice for earth, inter-generational justice, and justice for all creation.

Since, environmental crisis is basically the problem of “disequilibrium” of natural world through men’s exploitative behaviour. Therefore, alongside politico-scientific considerations, it also demands a systematic theological perspective that has potential to appeal spiritual and psychological dimensions of man’s “consciousness” towards the biological and physical composition of his (her) environment. The “awakening” of religious consciousness vis-à-vis ecological justice demands that faith-activists of all religions should recognize “ecological justice” as common responsibility and must work together to make this earth a beautiful abode.

Today, the world is witnessing the ever growing participation of faith leaders and appearance of “scripturally contextualized” ecological writings over burning environmental issues such as soaring greenhouse gas emissions, rising global temperatures, typhoons, floods, and killing droughts. Faith leaders, unhesitatingly, are accepting the fact that establishing a just society in principle and practice, would be impossible unless vigorous public discussions, through all channels of communication, are generated regarding how “ecological justice” is valued in religious scriptures and theological formulations. The “utopia” of “just society” would also not come true, if faith-based pro-environment movements for “global action on climate change” are not promoted at national and international level.

Since late 1960’s, Muslim scholars and environmental experts, have been adding their voice to a crescendo of religiously-inspired call for “global action on climate change”- a movement towards developing an Islamic ecotheology. Making “theological formulations” relevant to contemporary ecological issues, Muslim scholars have been engaged in different environmental projects thereby developing a sense of interconnectedness between man and his (her) surrounding ecosystem. Transforming their “less-heard” voice into a meaningful “movement”, on 17-18 August 2015, Muslim faith leaders, ecologists and politicians from more than 20 countries, gathered at a seminar in Istanbul and launched unanimously agreed-upon Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change– a document appealing world’s 1.6 billion Muslims to take immediate, well-mechanized and relevant action against ecological disequilibrium. This declaration followed a similar intervention by the Vatican group earlier this year when Pope Francis issued his 192 page long-awaited encyclical on climate change which warns of “unprecedented destruction of ecosystems and serious consequences” if the world fails to act on the mechanics of climate change.

The discussions generated around the issue of ecological injustice and Islamic response laid the basis of Islamic ecotheology.  Now, the point of concentration is what is this Islamic ecotheology and how does it work?

In my understanding, Islamic ecotheology is a concept that Islam has its own well-structured environmental framework. The philosophical underpinnings of Islamic ecotheology basically include all those concepts and precepts that have been frequently referred to in shari’ah (Islamic law) vis-à-vis God’s design for creation of natural world (ilm al-khalaq)and man’s responsibility for its utilization, maintenance and preservation. Interestingly, Muslim ecotheologists- scholars dealing environmental problems in light of theological formulations- have found that there are about 750 verses in the Qur’an that are, directly or indirectly, related to creation of natural world, the laws that govern it and its impact on quality of human life. For example, the Qur’an has mentioned word maa’ (water) at more than 60 places and introduced it as the origin of whole biological life (21:30). It has also provided every minute detail regarding its source, its forms, its cycling, and its impact on entire ecosystem.

Muslim ecotheologists also maintain that many chapters of the Qur’an are named after specific animals and natural incidents, such as: ‘the Cow’, ‘the Cattle’, ‘the Thunder’, ‘the Bee’, ‘the Ant’, ‘the Daybreak’, ‘the Sun’, ‘the Night’, ‘the Fig’ and ‘the Elephant’ which indicates that Islamic theology doesn’t recognize man a “living being” independent of his (her) environment and the laws that operate therein. Islam advocates that “physically” all ecological factors such air, water, earth, plants and animals support human life. Therefore, man’s attitude towards his/her environment should be based on the principles of justice (‘adl), wisdom(hikmah) and compassion (rahmah). They are also of the opinion that Islam has characterized all natural phenomena as divine signs of God (ayaat-ul-Allah); manifesting His knowledge, wisdom and power. Therefore, it would be right to claim that environment offers profound and constant opportunities to man to be aware of God’s presence and any maltreatment to environmental factors would tantamount man’s negligence towards giving due “respect” to God’s noticeable signs.

However, giving respect doesn’t entail that man cannot take advantage from the nature and its abundant resources positively. Rather, it means while benefiting from the nature, he (she) has to abide by certain principles which form basis of the Islamic ecotheology. These principles can be described as following:

Trusteeship (amanah):

To understand the concept of trusteeship, it is important to understand the nature of relation between the God, man and earth. From the Islamic point of view, whole of earth and all its abundant resources are seen as a divine gift from God and man as the vicegerent (khalifah) of God on the earth (2:30; 6:165; 35:39). The principle of man’s vicegerency tells us that absolute ownership of resources of the earth belong to God and man has been positioned as trustee having right to creatively use it, maintain it and deliver back to God in the best possible conditions. The following Qur’anic verse emphasizes the point, “Believe in Allah and His messenger, and spend of that whereof He hath made you trustees… (57:7).” The meaning of this verse has been appropriately conveyed by Ali ibn Abi-Talib, who said, “partake of it gladly so long as you are the benefactor, not despoiler; a cultivator, not destroyer…man’s abuse of any resource is prohibited”. Hazrat Ali’s explanation suggests that man has been endowed with “special status” over the rest of creation, but, it doesn’t give him (her) liberty to exploit the earth and use its resources extravagantly.

In the contemporary times, modern techno-centric man, fully dependent on energy resources, has abandoned the principle of “trusteeship” in theory and practice. Consequently, he (she) started behaving like an “owner” instead of a “trustee”. This changed nature of relationship from “owner” to “trustee” has become the root cause of environmental disequilibrium. Therefore, rebuilding the concept of “trusteeship” rather than “absolute ownership” while applying the modern technology to earth and its resources can prove one of the effective ways to improve earth’s conditions and protect the ecology from man’s exploitative behavior.

Conservation and Moderation:

Wastefulness (israf) of resources is one of the major contributing factors to present vulnerable conditions of man’s “living” on the earth. Researchers, experts and policy makers have been tirelessly working to generate public consciousness regarding benefits of moderate and conservative approach while consuming natural resources. However, for the Muslims “conservation” of resources is not a reactionary method to avoid “resource dearth” in future; rather, it an “active process” which has been described as essential component of faith. Muslims as “revolutionary community” have been cautioned that “but waste not by excess: for Allah loves not the wasters (6:141)” and “Surely the squanders are friends of Satan (devil) and Satan is ever ungrateful to his Lord (7:31).”In the light of these verses, exceeding limits in “consumption” and living lavishly at cost of others- that include all biological and physical elements of earth- are considered as grave sins and also violation of “divine balance” in Islam.

The principle of conservation can be further understood in the light of Prophet’s golden saying that has been reported in many hadith books.  It is reported from Abdullah bin Amr that messenger of God passed by S’ad while he was performing ablution. The Prophet said, “What is this extravagance?” S’ad said, “Is there extravagance with water in ablution?” The Prophet said, “Yes, even if you were on the banks of a flowing river (Sunan Ibn Majah).” If the essential message of this Prophetic tradition, which is nothing but “conservation”, is applied in a broader context, its practical benefits would be bewildering.

Corruption and Vandalism:

According to Islamic doctrines vis-à-vis creationism, God (khaliq or creator) has created everything in its best form and that too with “balance” as is mentioned in the Qur’an, “Who made all things good which He created (32:7).”  After giving perfection of “form and purpose” to creation, God commanded man, the only one amongst whole creation who has been given power and control, to keep it that way, “Do no mischief on the earth, after it hath been set in order (7:56).” In light of these commands, it is evident that Islam opposes mischief (fasad) and corruption (zulm) in all forms. However, some may argue here that these verses only talk about interpersonal relations, but, many scholars such as Tariq Ramadan, Sayyed Hossein Nasr, and Mohammad Aslam have broadened the scope of these verses to adopt wider issues of the environment wherein man lives.

It is worth to note here that there stands a well-established maxim, “La dhararwa la dhirarafi’l Islam” in the Islamic jurisprudence which states, “harm may neither be inflicted nor reciprocated in Islam”. This maxim is general in application and includes all kinds of harm whether it involves individual, society or environment. Thus, whatever causes harm to environment should be seen as forbidden (haram) and punishable act and all necessary measures should be taken to prevent this harm from happening.

Cleanliness and Hygiene:

Islam doesn’t consider cleanliness only a desirable attitude rather an indispensable part of faith. According to Qur’an, “God loves those that turn to Him in repentance and purify themselves (2:222).” Since, Islam places great impetus on cleanliness, in both physical and spiritual dimensions, that is why we see all great works on hadith(collection of Prophet’s narratives) and fiqh(Islamic jurisprudence)  start with discussions related to cleanliness (taharah) which was methodologically a novel practice in the history of world literature. In effect to cleanliness, there are numerous Prophetic sayings such as, “cleanliness covers half of faith (cited by Imam Muslim)” and “Surely God is clean and loves the clean, so clean your courtyard (Sunan Ibn Majah)”. The Prophet is also reported to have said, “Surely the clothes glorify, (but) when they are dirty and unclean they do not glorify (Mizan al-Hikmah).” What all could be understood from these Prophetic traditions is nothing but “completion” of faith is impossible without having proper sense of cleanliness.

Apart from cleanliness of one’s body, Islam demands cleanliness of the houses, roads, streets, public parks, health centers and educational institutions in order to enhance the living standards and value structures of society. For example, he is reported to have said, “you must clean your houses and do not follow in the footsteps of Jews (practicing ruhbaaniyat i.e. abandoning worldly responsibilities, reported in Al-Tirmidhi)” and “Removing harmful things (which include impurities and filth) from the roads is a charitable act (Bukhari and Muslim)”. The Prophet has also admonished against creating problems for other living beings and considered it one of the reasons to incite God’s curse. He has said, “Beware of three acts that cause others to curse you: relieving yourselves in a watering place, on foot paths or shaded places and public parks (Sunan Abu Dawud)”. In view of the significance of cleanliness in Islam, Muslims are ordained to take these instructions in conjunction with the protection of the environment and establishing ecological justice.

Ecological Responsibility and Acts of Kindness:

There are numerous sayings of the Prophet that promote care and compassion vis-à-vis establishment of “ecological justice” such as protecting animals, preserving the productiveness of the soil, using water sparingly, planting a new tree if cutting down another for a just reason, and not polluting streams with sewage. In a tradition reported by Anas bin Malik, the Prophet(PBUH) has encouraged Muslims to look after God’s creation also referred to as God’s family (ayaal al-Allah) including plants and animals. He is reported to have said, “If a Muslim plants a tree or sows a field, which later nourishes a human, a bird, or beast, it is regarded as a charitable gift (sadaqah) for him (Bukhari).” While denouncing unnecessary cutting or destruction of plants, the Prophet said, “He who cuts a lote-tree [without justification], God will send him to hellfire (Sunan Abu Dawud).” The environmental consciousness of the Prophet is brilliantly described in his own saying, “If the qiyamah (last hour) comes while you have a palm-cutting in your hands and it is possible to plant it before the Hour comes, you should plant it (Musnad Ahmad).

As far as the concept of “animal care” is concerned, Tariq Ramadan in insightful book In the Footsteps of the Prophet has outlined some key sayings of the Prophet about judgment day. For example he has quoted Prophet’s saying that, “whoever kills a sparrow or a bigger animal without respecting its rights to exist will be accountable to God for it on the Day of Judgment (Sunan Nasa’i).” It has been also reported that once companions asked Prophet “Is there a reward for us in serving the animals?” He replied “There is reward for serving any living being (Bukhari).” And yet in another tradition, it is mentioned that “A woman entered fire because of a cat which she had tied, neither giving it food nor setting it free to eat from the vermin of the earth (Bukhari).”

These Prophetic sayings, which came more than 1400 years ago, not only promote an ethical sense towards ecological responsibility, but, also reinforce the scientific concept of “chain of life” wherein all living species, including man, depend on each other for their survival. In this regard, God reminds us of His divine balance (here referred to as ‘measure’), “And the sky He hath uplifted; and He hath set the measure, that ye exceed not the measure, but observe the measure strictly, nor fall short thereof (55:7-9).


To conclude, I propose Islamic ecotheology considers environment very sacred and equates serving environment with other forms of Ibadah (worship) such as prayer and fasting. This implies that even if there is no threat of “resource crisis”, Muslims must still take care of earth and its resources, protect animals and plants and, more importantly, improve conditions of“life” on earth by paying due consideration towards their environment with the sense of both duty as well as morality. For that, they need to develop a strong “eco-consciousness” and establish different environmental groups and institutions in order to promote global awareness of damage that is being done to environment. Since good environment promises good life, therefore, it becomes imperative for every single Muslim to maintain the “goodness” of life. Imam Jafar Sadiq has said, “There is no joy in life unless three things are available: clean and fresh air, abundant pure water and fertile soil”.

This article originally appeared on The Companion on April 4th, 2017. 

The Spiritual Significance of Jihād in Islamic Economics: The Need for a New Economic Paradigm

By: Waleed El-Ansary

I begin with three questions: What is the spiritual significance of jihād?  What does this have to do with Islamic economics? Why does a proper understanding of jihād show the need for a new economic paradigm for the modern world?[1]Regarding the first question, the meaning of jihād has unfortunately been obscured by the Western image of Islam as the “religion of the sword.”[2]Although jihād relates to the defense of the Islamic world from invasion by non-Islamic forces, and thus represents a form of just warfare (tragically inverted by violent extremists),[3] it also has a much broader meaning as a form of economic and spiritual activity. Upon returning from the battle of Badr, which threatened the existence of the Islamic community, the Prophet of Islam said, “You have returned from the lesser jihād to the greater jihād.” This greater battle, which describes the inner meaning of jihād, is the struggle to integrate the whole of life around a Sacred Center. In fact, jihād is derived from the root j-h-d, whose primary meaning is “to strive” or “to exert oneself,” and corresponds to similar doctrines in most of the world’s major religious traditions.[4] Within Christianity, this inner struggle is indicated by Christ’s statement, “Think not that I come to send peace on earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword.”[5]

“Applied to Islamic economics and in answer to the second question, the Qur’ān teaches that to struggle for a living is tantamount to defending the community in battle.”

Applied to Islamic economics and in answer to the second question, the Qur’ān teaches that to struggle for a living is tantamount to defending the community in battle.[6] Before the Battle of Badr, the Prophet saw a young man with a strong physique running to his shop through the area that the Prophet was marshalling his men for battle. Someone remarked that he wished the youth would use his strength to ‘run in the way of God’ by joining them to defend the Muslim community from its enemies. The Prophet responded, “If this young man runs with the intention of not depending on others and refraining from begging, he is in the way of God. If he strives for the livelihood of his weak parents or weak children, he is in the way of God. If he tries to show his health out of pride, he is in the way of the devil.”[7]

This saying of the Prophet demonstrates that exertion to support oneself and family is a form of jihād that has a spiritual significance and should be performed as “an act of worship as if [one] were praying.”[8] Far from merely serving to maintain one’s physical and material wellbeing, work for pious Muslims involves the edification of human nature in all its fullness, requiring that right actions in economic activity be combined with right intentions in order to actualize their spiritual dimension, following the “Straight Path” (al-sirāt al-mustaqīm). In fact, the Divine Law in Islam gives religious meaning to all acts that are necessary for human life.[9] Accordingly, work must somehow support us in attaining our highest aspirations as human beings, including our spiritual destiny, rather than prevent us from realizing them by engaging in completely tedious and degrading activity that prevents us from realizing our human dignity.

Division of Labor in Islam

The division of labor and coordination of economic activity required by Islamic (and many other religions’) economic systems must have a spiritual and not simply a corporeal significance. Some division of labor is required to provide any society with its necessary and useful goods and services, requiring that some members of the community perform various tasks, functions and professions. Other collective and civic duties (fard kifā’i), such as building orphanages and hospitals, are analogous. If no members of the community fulfilled these needs, each member of the community would be held spiritually accountable. Such division of labor, both in the personal and collective sense, is a duty under Islamic law, not simply a pragmatic possibility.

“The division of labor and coordination of economic activity required by Islamic (and many other religions’) economic systems must have a spiritual and not simply a corporeal significance.”

Moreover, all forms of labor and service must allow space for the expression of human creativity, and the realization of personal satisfaction in its intrinsic meaning and usefulness. Thus, each member of society can perfect his or her God-given talents, and become good stewards of the vitality and worthwhile heritage of the community, as well as Nature itself. However, an extremely high or overspecialized division of labor that employs too few of man’s faculties can have serious social costs by constraining the proper development of human talents and skills that benefit individual workers, their families, and society. Adam Smith stated:

“In the progress of the division of labour, the employment of the far greater part of those who live by labour, that is, of the great body of the people, comes to be confined to a few very simple operations, frequently to one or two. The man whose life is spent in performing a few simple operations… has no occasion to exert his [creative talent and improve his] understanding… He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become… but in every improved and civilised society this is the state into which the labouring poor, that is, the great body of the people, must necessarily fall, unless government takes some pains to prevent it.”[10]

A division of labor that stultifies the minds of laborers leads to a lopsided and unjust form of development that fails to provide most people with psychological and spiritual fulfillment. A disequilibrium between meeting the corporeal, but not spiritual needs of mankind, can only persist in the short or medium-term. “Equilibrium on the socio-economic plane is impossible to realize without reaching that inner equilibrium which cannot be attained save through surrender to the One and living a life according to the dictum of Heaven.”[11]

The Role of Islamic Intellectual Sciences

“Islamic metaphysics and sciences of nature based on sacred scripture and its subsequent inspired commentaries applied to everything in the productive processes—from architecture and urban planning to the artistry of clothing, and the design of personal living and communal working space. The same principles of traditional sciences applied to everything, including social organization and the treatment of animals, plants, and the environment.”

While Islamic laws of religious and economic practices set the conditions for providing mankind’s needs for products and services, it is the Islamic intellectual sciences, with their vision of man’s integral place in the cosmos—grounded in physical, psychological and spiritual reality—that allow for modes of work that can meet the needs of man for both bread and the Spirit.[12] Islamic religious laws provide the necessary approach, but Islamic intellectual, productive, and artistic sciences are also necessary, because the norms and principles of art, which are also derived from the Quranic revelation, govern the making of things in a traditional Islamic economy.[13] The Qurʾān is not only the source of rituals, ethics, and social institutions, but is also the source of the knowledge of reality. From this point of view, what humankind makes, or humankind’s art, should also communicate a spiritual truth and presence analogous to Nature, which is God’s art. “The ethical aspect of work in this case embraces also the aesthetic.”[14] Production and service are conceived as spiritual disciplines in which work is not only a means of livelihood but also a product of devotion. As Coomaraswamy asserts, “Every man is a special kind of artist,” the artist is not “a special kind of man.”[15] 

A necessary condition for making things in traditional Islam is consciousness of one’s mortality and complete dependence on the Absolute, a kind of “spiritual poverty” (faqr) or humility.[16] Spiritual preparation involving prayers and spiritual contemplation were an integral part of the creative process for traditional Muslim craftsmen, whose products combined utility and beauty with spiritual truth and presence.[17]

Islamic metaphysics and sciences of nature based on sacred scripture and its subsequent inspired commentaries applied to everything in the productive processes—from architecture and urban planning to the artistry of clothing, and the design of personal living and communal working space. The same principles of traditional sciences applied to everything, including social organization and the treatment of animals, plants, and the environment. The link between work, spiritual education, and sacred ambiance forged by the Islamic intellectual sciences were crucial to meeting all of mankind’s needs by ineluctably integrating religion, economics, arts and crafts, and indeed all of civilization. This approach to work must conform to the nature of things, and bringing us into conscious alignment with reality, because “[A]ction by definition manifests God, and … the creature can therefore do nothing that does not in some way affirm God.”[18]

The traditional Islamic guilds of various trades and crafts transmitted the Islamic doctrines and practices on the division of labor, production, and market exchange that allowed man to live in harmony with himself, his community, and nature. This observation is not intended to suggest a restoration of the specific practices of the historic Islamic economic models, but they can serve as a source of inspiration for restoring ethics and the edifying dignity of work to our contemporary economic practices.

“The link between work, spiritual education, and sacred ambiance forged by the Islamic intellectual sciences were crucial to meeting all of mankind’s needs by ineluctably integrating religion, economics, arts and crafts, and indeed all of civilization.”

Honorable and noble intentions, in addition to making a living, were clearly important in the traditional Islamic economic system, tightly integrating ethics and economics. The guild approach to production, service, and social organization entailed a system of coordination between members. Traditional craftsmen accepted the duty to supply their goods at just and stable prices, since the appropriate division of labor and its fruits was a duty, not just the unintended result of an “efficient” market.[19] To avoid over-supply or under-supply of the market at a particular time, a master craftsman would postpone or accelerate taking on extra apprentices while other qualified craftsmen had insufficient or excess work, respectively. Maintaining this equilibrium of supply and demand in Islamic economies was critical, not only for meeting the craftsmen’s physical needs through reliable employment and steady income, but also for satisfying the guildsmen’s spiritual need for dignity and pride in the service and products they provided consumers.

Law and Jjihād for Ethical Economics

Traditional Islamic (and other religious) societies provide a model of the integration of ethics and economics through their organic union of market and non-market institutions. For example, Islamic law encourages charity in many forms, whether through permanent endowments (such as waqf) or specific charitable donations (such as zakāt), which spiritually purify one’s wealth—and gives rise to an Islamic “gift economy,” through which needs of the disadvantaged are met outside the “market economy.”

E.F. Schumacher, who corresponded extensively with Muslim philosophers and scientists on religion and economics,[20] identified three objectives of work related to the hierarchy of spiritual and other needs in any religious approach to economics:

First, to provide necessary and useful goods and services.

Second, to enable every one of us to use and thereby perfect our gifts like good stewards.

Third, to do so in service to, and in cooperation with, others, so as to liberate ourselves from our egocentricity.”[21]

In Islam, all three of these objectives are forms of jihād applicable to what humanity does and what humankind makes, and are necessary for an ethical economics.[22] Islamic economic law is relevant to all three of Schumacher’s objectives. The first objective defines necessary and useful goods and services while excluding “noxious markets” such as pornography and gambling (or speculation). And Islamic economic law establishes the external conditions for fulfilling the second and third objectives. However, the intellectual and esoteric dimensions of Islam are necessary for realizing the latter objectives, perfecting our talents as stewards, and working cooperatively to liberate ourselves from our egocentricity.

Of course, all economists recognize Schumacher’s first objective of work, and Adam Smith acknowledged the second objective to some extent, noting the potentially degrading and dehumanizing effects of an extremely high division of labor. But other classical economists such as David Ricardo and James Mill strongly opposed this view, denying the existence of such harmful effects. They asserted that all types of work are homogeneous in terms of human development.[23] These thinkers also denied the possibility of work as a form of spiritual jihād that could liberate anyone from egocentricity and realize their spiritual destinies. They only acknowledged the first objective of work—production and service. These various positions have critical implications for the link between ethics and economics and the extent to which economic realities can be governed by their own logic, pointing toward an answer to the third question on the need for a new economic paradigm. As Robert Foley has pointed out, the modern economic approach bases itself on a view of

. . . modern society as made up of two spheres: an economic sphere of individual initiative and interaction, governed by impersonal laws that assure a beneficent outcome by pursuit of self-interest; and the rest of social life, including political, religious, and moral interactions that require the conscious balancing of self-interest with social considerations.[24]

This is sometimes called the “separate domain” argument, namely, that the motivations of the “actors,” whether ethical or not, have nothing to do with whether a market economy generates “beneficent” outcomes. In response to such propositions, Gandhi stated that, “dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good” is one of the greatest delusions of our time.[25]

“A prevailing preoccupation with the accumulation of wealth is self-defeating, often converting the joy and blessings of wealth into a sort of envious misery—because somebody else will always have more.”

From a religious point of view, we are not merely human beings “having” and “doing” things, we are humans aspiring to “be” all that we can be, which includes transcending the state we find ourselves in—to realize our highest potential as human beings, not just as intelligent animals that consume and reproduce and destroy our environment for our grandchildren. Ignoring questions of intrinsic meaning in work and spiritually productive cooperation leads to a destructive growth in production, consumption and pollution (corruption of the earth, or fasād fi’l ard to use the Quranic expression), and a diminution of the potential of workers, craftsmen, and artists (and all other providers of useful goods or services) to realize their dignity as human beings made in the image of God. A prevailing preoccupation with the accumulation of wealth is self-defeating, often converting the joy and blessings of wealth into a sort of envious misery—because somebody else will always have more.

Worldviews and Islamic Economics: Material vs Spiritual

From the perspective of Islamic economics, solutions to the mounting crises in our current environmental, economic and social/psychological domains (such as crime, suicide and the moral degradation of our culture) require changing our way of life, of the way we look at the world, and the way we look at ourselves—ultimately the way we understand reality.[26] Accordingly, the root cause of our environmental economic and socio-economic ailments is the prevailing mechanistic and materialistic worldview, with a scope of scientific inquiry absurdly limited to the grossly physical realm. This truncated worldview ignores the higher orders of reality that ultimately determine man’s destiny and current well-being. Instead, it generates scientific, technological, political, economic and other social structures that do violence to man and nature, by ignoring nearly everything necessary for a harmonious and just society. These structural injustices, in turn, generate patterns of economic instability and environmental degradation that manifest themselves in specific financial and economic crises, on the one hand, and ecological catastrophes on the other.

“From the perspective of Islamic economics, solutions to the mounting crises in our current environmental, economic and social/psychological domains (such as crime, suicide and the moral degradation of our culture) require changing our way of life, of the way we look at the world, and the way we look at ourselves—ultimately the way we understand reality.”

This abbreviated worldview and its corresponding structures also promote the erosion of non-market values, leading to “the expansion of markets, and of market values, into spheres of life where they don’t belong.”[27] When “everything is for sale,” markets may corrupt and degrade the very goods that are being marketed:

Paying kids to read books might get them to read more, but also teach them to regard reading as a chore rather than a source of intrinsic satisfaction. Auctioning seats in the freshman class to the highest bidders might raise revenue but also erode the integrity of the college and the value of its diploma. Hiring foreign mercenaries to fight our wars might spare the lives of our citizens but corrupt the meaning of citizenship… [W]hen we decide that certain goods may be bought and sold, we decide, at least implicitly, that it is appropriate to treat them as commodities, as instruments of profit and use. [28]

Degradation in this context means treating something

…in accordance with a lower mode of valuation than is proper to it. We value things not just “more” or “less,” but in qualitatively higher and lower ways. To love or respect someone is to value him/her in a higher way than one would if one merely used [them like prostitutes].[29]

Central to this argument “is the idea that goods differ in kind; it’s therefore a mistake to value all goods in the same way, as instruments of profit or objects of use.”[30]

Islamic economics is therefore defined as “applied ethics,” understood broadly as applying both individually and structurally, which acknowledges the aesthetic aspect of work, and spells out the consequences of violating spiritual, ethical and aesthetic principles in our economic affairs. If such principles are necessary for socio-economic and environmental equilibrium, then ignoring or diverging from those principles makes no sense and subverts and destroys any hope of a just, harmonious, efficient, and environmentally sustainable economy.[31] The “separate domain” argument is not only false; it is pernicious. At stake is the starting point of economic theory, for an economic system that is unsustainable in the long-term and intrinsically unstable in the short-term is unintelligible in its own terms, just as disease is not intelligible except in terms of health, the loss of which leads to death.

“Islamic economics is not reducible to a combination of modern economic theories and Islamic economic law any more than traditional Islamic medicine can consist of a distorted combination of conventional allopathic medicine with elements of Muslim medical ethics.”

Islamic economics is not reducible to a combination of modern economic theories and Islamic economic law any more than traditional Islamic medicine can consist of a distorted combination of conventional allopathic medicine with elements of Muslim medical ethics. Moreover, a similar hybrid approach to economics (often espoused in popular studies and publications on Islamic economics) is inadequate for anything beyond the treatment of symptoms. Such an attempt at synthesizing Western and Islamic economics fails because they cannot be integrated, and cannot adequately address the structural issues between traditional Islamic science, technology and production processes and those of modern, Western, and scientistic secular materialism.

Another related problem is that current Islamic economics literature does not adequately refute the claim that mainstream, or “neoclassical,” economic theory can accommodate any “instrumentally rational,” that is, internally consistent set of values or tastes. If that claim were true, then the Islamic sciences would have nothing to say about how neoclassical theory reduces needs to wants and values to tastes.[32] But this reduction eliminates the distinction between “necessary and useful goods and services” in the first objective of work (let alone the distinction between intrinsic “good” and “evil”), thereby rationalizing trade-offs with Schumacher’s second and third objectives of work—perfecting our gifts as stewards of humanity and nature, and submitting the lowest elements of our souls (egos) in obedience to God’s will for our ultimate felicity. This agnostic economic view of ethical neutrality reinforces the secularization and degradation of the human spiritual jihād through engagement in ethical production, service and exchange processes.

“An honest debate over the analytical tools for evaluating the ethical implications of economic assumptions and policies is critically needed. Fortunately, the Islamic sciences of nature and ethical social cohesion have important implications for such a critique of the analytical tools of neoclassical economic theory.”

The neoclassical claim of accommodating choice and preferences, without regard to ethics, fosters libertarian policies that claim to be ethically neutral, but, in fact, embrace hedonism as the prevailing economic policy while avoiding substantive philosophical debate over this covert objective. This obfuscation in honestly describing economic theory leads to prescriptive failure in economic policy. An honest debate over the analytical tools for evaluating the ethical implications of economic assumptions and policies is critically needed. Fortunately, the Islamic sciences of nature and ethical social cohesion have important implications for such a critique of the analytical tools of neoclassical economic theory. This problematic theory was largely imported from Newtonian mechanics and nineteenth century physics, and frozen in place, while ignoring the revolutionary discoveries of more modern physics refuting Newton, such as those of Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg and Schrödinger. [33]

The jihād that Islamic economists must now undertake is to intensify debate among scholars and the public at large regarding the fact that the Westernized modern worldview of economics is in desperate and urgent need of a new economic paradigm—a paradigm based on fostering an economic system that meets all of the needs of mankind for engaging in their jihād of work in a way that mediates the objectives of work described by Schumacher, and recognized in traditional Islamic societies for centuries.

Dr. Waleed El-Ansary is University Chair in Islamic Studies at Xavier University, where he teaches courses on comparative religion, Islamic studies, and religion and science. He holds a Ph.D. in Islamic and Religious Studies from George Washington University and M.A. in Economics from the University of Maryland. His research focuses on the intersection of religion, science, and economics. He has authored numerous publications, including “Islamic Environmental Economics and the Three Dimensions of Islam” in his co-edited volume Muslim and Christian Understanding: Theory and Application of A Common Word. His recent work includes a book sponsored by a UNESCO-based organization, the Aladdin Project. 

This article originally appeared on Maydan on March 23rd, 2017.

[1]Thanks to Darrell Blakeway for reviewing and editing this offering.

[2] Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Traditional Islam in the Modern World (London and New York:  KPT, 1987), 28.

[3] See Waleed El-Ansary, “The Economics of Terrorism: How Bin Laden Has Changed the Rules of the Game,” in Joseph Lumbard (ed.), Islam, Fundamentalism, and the Betrayal of Tradition: Essays by Western Muslim Scholars, 197-241.

[4] See for instance Whitall Perry, A Treasury of Traditional Wisdom (Cambridge: Quinta Essentia, 1971), 391-412.

[5] Matthew, 10:34 (a challenge to slay one’s ego and love one’s neighbor above all, and despite the harm he or she may have done to you).

[6] See for instance Muhammad Abdul-Rauf, A Muslim’s Reflections on Democratic Capitalism (Washington, D.C.:  American Enterprise Institute, 1984), 5.

[7] Al-Ghazzali, Ihyā’ ‘Ulūm al-Dīn (New Delhi:  Kitab Bhavan, 1982), vol. 2, 54.

[8] Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Ideals and Realities of Islam (San Francisco: The Aquarian Press, 1994), 98.

[9] Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Islam in the Modern World: Challenged by the West, Threatened by Fundamentalism, Keeping Faith with Tradition (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2012), 55.

[10] Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, 1776, V.1.178. It is worth noting that Smith’s reservation regarding the division of labor does not appear in the first edition of the Wealth of Nations, but was added in subsequent editions. Smith seems to have had second thoughts about the salubrious effects of the minute division of labor.

[11] Seyyed Hossein Nasr, “Review of Ethics and Economics—An Islamic Synthesis,” Hamdard Islamicus 5/2 (Summer, 1982), 89–91: 89.

[12] “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4).

[13] See for instance Amanda Coomaraswamy and Roger Lipsey, Selected Papers—Traditional Art and Symbolism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978); or Titus Burckhardt, Art of Islam: Language and Meaning (Bloomington, Indiana: World Wisdom, 2009).

[14] Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Traditional Islam in the Modern World (London: Kegan Paul International, 1994), 43. He also notes that ḥusn, the root of iḥsān (excellence) in Arabic, also means both “beauty” and “goodness” . . ..

[15] See Rama Coomaraswamy (ed.), The Essential Ananda K. Coomaraswamy (Bloomington, Indiana: World Wisdom, 2004), 124.

[16] For the man who has acquired faqr, its immediate consequence is “detachment with regard to all manifested things, for the being knows from then on that these things, like himself, are nothing, . . .  .” René Guénon, “Al-Faqr or ‘Spiritual Poverty’,” Studies in Comparative Religion 7/1 (Winter 1973), 16–20:16.

[17] Yusuf Ibish, “Traditional Guilds in the Ottoman Empire: An Evaluation of their Spiritual Role and Social Function,” Islamic World Report (1999): 6.

[18] Frithjof Schuon, The Eye of the Heart (Bloomington, Indiana: World Wisdom Books, 1997), 15.

[19] See for instance Volumes 17 to 19 on prices (al-asʿar; sing. siʿr) in Ali Gomaʿa (ed.), Revealing the Islamic Economic Heritage (Takshīf al-Turāth al-Islāmī al-Iqtisādī) (Cairo: International Institute of Islamic Thought, 1997).

[20] See Waleed El-Ansary, ed., Not by Bread Alone: E.F. Schumacher and the Perennial Philosophy (Bloomington: World Wisdom, forthcoming, 2018).

[21] E.F. Schumacher, Good Work (New York:  Harper & Row, 1979), 3-4.

[22] As Nasr points out in an essay on Islamic work ethics, “Work carried out in accordance with the Sharīah is a form of jihād and inseparable from the religious and spiritual significance associated with it.”  Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Traditional Islam in the Modern World, 35.

[23] For an excellent survey of classical and neoclassical approaches to work in the history of economic thought, see Ugo Pagano, Work and Welfare in Economic Theory (Oxford: Basil Blackwell Ltd, 1985).

[24] Robert Foley, Adam’s Fallacy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2006), 1.

[25] Quoted in E.F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered, 24.

[26] See for instance Seyyed Hossein Nasr’s“Islam and the Preservation of the Natural Environment,” lecture at Georgetown University, Qatar, Center for International and Regional Studies, January 6, 2009.

[27] Michael J. Sandel, What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets (New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2013), 7.

[28] Michael J. Sandel, What Money Can’t Buy, 9.

[29] Elizabeth S. Anderson, “Is Women’s Labor a Commodity?” Philosophy and Public Affairs 19/1 (Winter 1990), 72–92: 77, as quoted in Michael J. Sandel, Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010), 94.

[30] Michael J. Sandel, Justice, 95.

[31] See for instance John Medaille, The Vocation of Business: Social Justice in the Market Place (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2007), Part I.

[32] See for instance Lutz and Lux, The Challenge of Humanistic Economics (Menlo Park, California:  The Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company, Inc., 1979).

[33] For a critique of the analytical tools of neoclassical economic theory in light of the Islamic sciences of nature, see Waleed El-Ansary, “The Quantum Enigma and Islamic Sciences of Nature: Implications for Islamic Economic Theory.”.

All My Relations: Uniting Muslim and Indigenous Voices

By Muaz Nasir

Faith leaders and community activists gathered in Toronto yesterday evening for a discussion on strengthening the bond between the Muslim and Indigenous communities.

United Muslim and Indigenous Voices is the first of a series of events focusing on solidarity and reconciliation and was brought to fruition as a result of recent racial and religious attacks, both at home and abroad.

The panel discussion was hosted by Canadian Roots Exchange, a national not-for-profit organization that is committed to building bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous young people. The goal of the event was to discuss issues of racism, colonialism and Islamophobia from Indigenous and Islamic perspectives and fits in the organization's mission to facilitate dialogue and strengthen relationships through leadership programs.

The Toronto Foundation and the Inspirit Foundation were also supporting partners, and follows up on a report released last year which cites the ongoing discrimination Muslim youth face and the prevailing sentiment that this is expected to increase in the future.

“It’s no secret that folks from Muslim communities face discrimination and prejudices, much like Indigenous people,” said Max FineDay, co-executive director Canadian Roots Exchange to MetroNews. “This is an opportunity to start getting to know one another better and work together for the common good.”

The panel discussed the importance of educating ourselves about each others’ injustices and confronting our own prejudices as part of the decolonization process. “In order to activate yourself, educate yourself.”

The audience also raised questions about meaningful forms of solidarity, and the importance of making incremental steps towards fostering a friendship not just between Indigenous and Muslim communities but with all Canadians. “Solidarity to me looks more like friendship,” said panelist Zainab Amadahy as she recollected a very personal experience; it can be small or it can be grand. But at the end of the day, it’s about a responsibility, a meaningfulness and a connection to one another.


About the Speakers:


Sarain is an Anishinabe dancer, choreographer, facilitator, and activist. Since 2015, Sarain has turned her focus more toward media undertaking several hosting contracts with the VICE network, including RISE, a multi-episode show focusing on the endeavours of indigenous cultures from around the world, and Cut Off, which followed Justin Trudeau as he visited Shoal Lake 40, a remote Indigenous community struggling with water security. Most recently, Sarain has been contracted to co-host a forthcoming show on the Aboriginal People’s Television Network (APTN). All of her work, both artistic and community-based, serves her deep commitment to the process of reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada and beyond.


Of mixed race heritage, Zainab Amadahy is a researcher, organizational development consultant, author and educator currently based in Toronto. Her background in community service is in the areas of Indigenous knowledge reclamation, curanderismo, non-profit housing, women’s services, migrant settlement and community arts as well as medical and photovoltaic technologies. Among her publications is "Indigenous Peoples and Black Peoples in Canada: Settlers or Allies” (co-authored with Dr. Bonita Lawrence, 2009) and the futurist novel Moons of Palmares (Sister Vision Press, 1998). Links to Zainab’s more recent writings can be found at


Elected to the TDSB in 2014, Ausma brings expertise and experience in education policy and community organizing to representing her vibrant downtown community. From serving on the Board of the Toronto Environmental Alliance, the city's only social justice environmental organization, to volunteering with young people in Toronto's high needs communities, to labour organizing and leading equity initiatives on Ontario campuses, Ausma is a committed life-long human rights and social justice activist. Her work continues as Director of Social Engagement at the Atkinson Foundation.


Rudayna Bahubeshi is the Communications Manager at Inspirit Foundation. She is a passionate social justice advocate and city builder who always asks who is at the table and who is missing? She is currently a CivicAction DiverseCity Fellow and a Youth Advisor on Wellesley Institute's Supports for Success program, an emerging project seeking to bridge the gap across systems, services, and programs to enable children and youth to succeed. Rudayna has led programming and communications in the non-profit and grassroots sector for several years with organizations including Women in Toronto Politics, The Natural Step Canada, Engineers Without Borders,, and Impact Hub Ottawa. Rudayna is deeply interested in civic engagement and developing a more inclusive civic discourse. She is originally from Ottawa and holds a Bachelor of Humanities from Carleton University.


Islam and the Environment - What can you do be an Eco-Friendly Muslim

By: Marwa Hamid

Asmaa and Max are the eco-friendly Muslim couple behind the website 'Greenkum'. In this article, they shared their thoughts on Islam, the environment and animal welfare..

During my masters’ studies, one of my Professors who was giving us a lecture on the topic of Urban Environments and Sustainability told the class that she admires the importance that Muslims put on their surrounding environments. She said, 'go to Delhi and you will be enchanted by the beautiful gardens that surround houses and palaces. The Muslims who like to surround themselves with gardens do so so that they can remind themselves of the heavens'

I am lucky that my academic interests are in an environmental setting and the more I learn about our environment the more I admire the glorious abilities of Allah Subhanah wa tala’a. However, regardless of the emphasis that Islam puts on conservation and the environment, many of us contribute to a high carbon footprint and that effects our environment in a very negative way. Why have we gone so far? Is it possible for us to enjoy our so-called modern lifestyles yet still care for our environment?

We spoke to Asmaa and Musa Max, a German blogging couple who shared with us their experience living a more environmentally conscious life...


We are Asmaa, 27, and Max Musa, 28, a German married couple, best friends and the founders of the environmental blog Greenukum. Our blog is a showcase of our journey to become more conscious in hope to create an awareness for “green” topics like sustainability, environmentalism and animal protection, Eco-travelling, and so on.

So, how did we become aware of environmental issues?

Asmaa: As long as I can remember, I have been a huge animal and nature lover. My passion for environmental issues in addition to other things was inspired by my cats and by Hima, a Muslim organisation for environmental protection in Germany. On the other hand, I am working on my PhD in animal ethics in Islam and the more I do research in the field of nature and animals in Islam, the more I realised the importance of these issues.

Max Musa: I grew up in a vegetarian family that loves fellow creatures. Besides that, I worked for a big organic supermarket chain and had a lot of training and seminars on “green-topics”. Therefore, I tried to implement my knowledge in my daily life and realised more and more that the “modern” western lifestyle and the comfort that goes with it can have a negative impact on the environment. So I became more and more environmentally conscious.


The name Greenukum is a compound word consisting of the word green and ukum. Green a colour that is most commonly associated with the environment, life, hope and spirituality and is also considered the traditional colour of Islam. Ukum is an Arabic (possessive pronoun) suffix and stands for “your/yours” (pl.): Thus, Greenukum implies that it is YOUR nature, YOUR environment, YOUR life, YOUR spirituality... You have to take care of it!  For reasons mentioned above, we created Greenukum to inspire!


After our marriage, we decided to do our best to life a conscious lifestyle. We read a lot and watched several documentaries to learn more about it. So we become aware of our impact on the world and our function as Khalifa, stewards, on the earth.

To get more motivation we tried to find some personal blogs to follow and we came across many eco-bloggers. However, we were very disappointed by not finding any German Muslim blogger whom we could follow and identify with. That was the reason that motivated us to start our own blog, knowing that we are not perfect either we are 100% conscious since it was the beginning of our journey. We both had many discussions before deciding to do this step. Nevertheless, the desire to inspire and mobilise other people for such issues and to share our experiences in our very own way was great, so we did it in the end. Alhamdulillah.


Since we started our blog, the feedback we received from Muslims and people of other faiths all over the world was surprising. Our Instagram posts seem to be motivating especially to young Muslims. We assume that it is much easier to implement sustainable ideas into your own life when you find people you can identify with. It makes a difference if you are only reading something in an impersonal newsletter text or in a personal blog. Moreover, it makes a difference if you are getting the feeling that the author is real and not perfect: That is why we are trying to show our successes as well as our failures on the road.

The many messages we get from people who get inspired by our posts give us strength. It is also great to know that the great majority of Muslims also confirm that part of our Deen (Religion) is to take care of everything that lives with us or next to us. After a short introduction phase, we started receiving almost monthly invitations and many questions.


There are so many teachings that we can find in Quran and Sunna, but let us focus on the aspect of being a Khalifa (steward). God placed human being's as a Khalifa (steward) on earth; He created us as intelligent creatures, gave us the task to take care and to act righteously in all of our affairs. Thereby we have to hold nature as a trust (Amanah):

 “Then We appointed you viceroys in the earth after them, that We might see how ye behave”
(Quran 10:14)

There are so many verses in Quran that emphasise our duty to look after the earth and not to over consume its resources. For example:

“O children of Adam! … eat and drink: but waste not by excess, for Allah loves not the wasters.”
(Quran 7:31)

So we are really wondering, how we can damage nature, knowing that these are signs of Allah, placed by him on earth to show us his beauty? Even more: The Quran tells us that everything is praising the Lord.

"There is not an animal on the earth, nor a creature flying on two wings, but they are nations like you." (Quran 6:38)


That is a very complex question and it is very difficult to answer it briefly. Nevertheless, I remember a statement of the Iranian-born intellectual Seyyed Hossein Nasr, who has written several articles about men and nature in Islam. His opinion is that it is because of two facts: Firstly, we have societies engaged with immediate problems. Remember, Colonialism and its consequences, Radical Islamists and more. On the other hand for non-western people, the environmental problem is kind of a western problem, created by western industrialisation and capitalism that they did not identify with. Additionally, many environmental discussions do not reflect on a spiritual side of this issue. We are convinced that you can better reach people when you confront them with their faith.

Asmaa: I created an experience with my family and friends: While talking to my grandmother in Morocco about these issues, I told her that it is our task as Khalifa (steward) on this earth to protect the earth and I provided her with examples from the life of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) It was possible for me to reach her much better.

This is how people work! The religious values influence the way in which billions of people think and act. Why not work with them using the potential of religion!


At least reduce your meat consumption! It is not just good for you (many health benefits) but it is also necessary to protect our planet. By cutting down your meat consumption, you can help tackle these issues to name just a few:

  • Reduce greenhouse gases

  • Improve animal welfare
  • Save the Amazon from destruction (massive cattle is responsible for 75% of deforested areas in the Amazon)
  • Reduce waste production (did you know that 2000 - 2500 gallons of water go into a SINGLE pound of beef!)
  • Reduce world hunger (80% of global soy production is used as livestock feed).

In addition of all that we should also think about the way we’re treating animals before they are slaughtered and questioning ourselves if this way is really in accordance with the advice of the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and if so is it really halal AND tayyib?


A green Muslim is nothing more than a Muslim who is aware of his responsibility as a Khalifah on earth. Increasing awareness about this responsibility means that you are doing the main thing for the environment. You can also reflect on your daily behaviour while travelling, socialising, working or shopping – by asking yourself, is it really necessary and good? Example: Is it necessary to buy your 12th shirt only because it cost just $5? Is it necessary to take the car for a short distance? or could I go by foot or with a bicycle? Thus, with a clear understanding of how our choices are fundamental for us and for all creations around us your awareness will change and your awareness about your responsibility as a human being will rise.

“Do not mischief on the earth, after it hath been set in order[…].”
(Quran 7:56)

And at the end: Pray. Make Du’a. Connect to God. Connect to nature. Remember: Paradise is a Garden!

Through the course of his life, the Prophet (PBUH) who was a shepherd just like other prophets, was concerned with the environment and its protection and has left behind an 'ecological Sunnah'. The love the prophet’s (PBUH) had for all living beings and nature was clear in his verbal teachings as well as his acts concerning their protection.

One of his greatest efforts in this context was a forest in an area called “Zuraybu’t Taweel,” where he announced: “Whoever cuts a tree here should plant a new tree instead”. Together with this regulation, the area shortly turned into a forest. The Prophet also declared an area of 12-miles in distance from the centre of Medina as Haram (forbidden by religion) and also prohibited the cutting of trees and the killing of animals within its borders. 1400 years later, our planet is paying a huge toll due to the shift in lifestyles, overconsumption and unsustainable practices and we are desperately in need to implement the Prophets (PBUH) ecological Sunnah so we can protect our planet and conserve its resources for the next generation.

Special thanks to Asmaa and Musa Max for taking time, to answer our questions and provide our readers with some tips from their own experiences.

For more eco-friendly tips:

To keep up to date with their work check out their Instagram page HERE

This article originally appeared on on February 3rd, 2017. You can connect via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for more profiles.

Alhamdulillah for Coffee

The Muhammadan Bean - Listen Now  

Journalist Abdul-Rehman Malik leads us on a journey to Turkey as he investigates the forgotten history of coffee. He discovers that coffee was popularised by Sufi mystics in the Yemen who used the drink as a way of energising themselves during their nocturnal devotions. Originating in Ethiopia, finding its spiritual home in the Yemen, evading zealots and Sultans from Mecca to Constantinople, defying prejudice from Vienna to London – coffee made its mark wherever it went, facilitating radical new forms of social exchange.

The "Alhamdulillah Series" was inspired by Ruzky Aliyar who featured a series of nature images with the tagline “Alhamdulillah”. The series was profiled on Muslim Matters during the Winter of 2012 and quickly drew praise for the simplicity of the message. Building upon this effort to remember the many blessings of Allah, has picked up the initiative and will continue to highlight the many signs of Allah.

“There truly are signs in this for people who reflect.” (Quran 13:3)

Fashion with a Purpose - #WaterBracelet

The International Development and Relief Foundation (IDRF) recently partnered up with Azha, an Arabic spiritual lifestyle brand, to help raise awareness about water access issues and promote their clean water project.

All proceeds from the Water Bracelet will go towards promoting clean water for schools, sand filters for villages and water pumps to help improve people's quality of life in drought prone regions.

According to the World Health Organization, 663 million people lack access to safe water and every 90 seconds a child dies due to a water borne disease. The World Economic Forum announced last year that the water crisis is the number one global risk based on impact to society (as a measure of devastation). The Water Bracelet is one tool to encourage the discussion around the issue of water scarcity and security abroad, while also promoting conservation here at home.

The IDRF also operates Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programs that provide access to safe drinking water, adequate sanitation facilities (such as washrooms and hand washing stations), and hygiene education for women, men, and children to keep families healthy and break the cycle of poverty.

About IDRF

IDRF (International Development and Relief Foundation) is a Canadian registered charitable organization dedicated to empowering the disadvantaged people of the world.

IDRF provides effective humanitarian aid and sustainable development programs, without discrimination, based on the Islamic principles of human dignity, self-reliance, and social justice.

IDRF seeks to provide the most vulnerable communities with the means to create lives of dignity, equality and sustainability, towards a more just world. Since 1984, IDRF has implemented relief and development projects across territories in South and Southeast Asia, Africa, the Americas, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

Impact of Water Scarcity

  • 750 million people in the world don’t have access to safe water and 2.5 billion people don’t have access to adequate sanitation. Tragically, every minute a child dies of water-related diseases, and over 500,000 children die every year from diarrhea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation.

  • Water is essential for survival, and for peace. Water shortages lead to reduced food production, mass displacement, undermined livelihoods, and dire public health outcomes – all of which can lead to conflict. Working with whole communities on comprehensive solutions is critical. So too is using technology and innovation to bring water where it is needed most.

  • In many communities, women and girls are most affected by water scarcity. Women and children spend an estimated 140 Million hours each day collecting water, often from distant, unsafe sources to provide for their families. When women do not have a safe place for sanitary practices, they risk increased violence, increased health risks, and diminished abilities to participate in school and public life. IDRF WASH programs consider the unique needs of all members of the community, and make access and education key components of our programs.

                                                                                                                                                                        Source: IDRF

An open letter to faith based organisations represented at COP 22 in Marrakesh

COP 22 The twenty-second session of the Conference of the Parties and the twelfth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP 12) is being held in Bab Ighli, Marrakech, Morocco from 7-18 November 2016.

Dear friends and colleagues,


The Paris protocol is now in force but may I just remind you that where we need to take giant strides this is only one small step for humankind. The COP process is vital and necessary but what we need overall is a paradigm shift that will enable us to leave a liveable Earth for our children. Divesting in fossil fuel investment to the exclusion of everything else is like plugging a leak in a dam that is about to burst. Let us take note that big oil is pushing a pipe line through North Dakota in the face of stiff opposition and the British Government is inviting bidders for new offshore drilling licences. And I wonder if anyone is talking to the Middle Eastern oil producers about divestment.

The voices of faith communities are now beginning to be heard in the global arena in matters of vital concern for us all. From tentative beginnings COP 21 in Paris witnessed the burgeoning presence of Faith Based Organisations (FBO's) in the public arena to the extent that we have earned ourselves our very own acronym. FBO's are now on the map and ask to be heard. This is unprecedented and long overdue though it must be said that people of faith did run the world for millennia keeping it in reasonable shape for past generations to thrive in. The organisation of the Climate Conscience Summit by the far sighted Government of Morocco in Fez on 3 November, is a commendable event. It not only recognises the emergence of once marginalised faith communities but also assures the continuing consolidation of this movement.

As you are no doubt aware human induced climate change now poses a deadly threat to all life on planet Earth. Although FBOs have the potential to be a positive force for change there are other fault lines defined by special interests which have the capacity to impede progress. Looking at this fairly and squarely in the face it has to be said that much of the responsibility for change lies in the hands of corporations and banks that wield enormous power and have access to resources. They perpetuate a counter narrative to the COP process we need to address. In a sceptical editorial that appeared in the influential Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on Monday 14 December 2015, on the first week day edition after the Paris summit, it made the following comment:

"The moment to be wariest of political enthusiasms is precisely when elite opinion is all lined up on one side ... if climate change really does imperil the Earth, and we doubt it does, nothing coming out of a gaggle of governments and the United Nations will save it."

This is verging on the rude and displays an arrogance of monumental proportions. The WSJ is located like the UN headquarters in New York and I wonder if one is listening to the other or do they just stare at each other over the sand bags. The best place to experience the chasm that exists between big business and the COP process is to visit the World Economic Forum that is held in Davos, Switzerland each year. Take your snow boots with you as it is held in deep winter. There is a serious need here for the two groups that think they run the world to be talking to each other.

The G20 Summit held in Hangzhou, China just about eight weeks ago was heralded by both China and the USA announcing their ratification of the Paris climate proposals. However one doesn't have to read too hard between the lines to notice some feet dragging is going on. For example there were some rumblings in Hangzhou concerning timelines for the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies. In some countries tampering with existing subsidies is tantamount to political suicide because in the final analysis it is the voice of the people that matter.

Sustainable Development (SD) warranted frequent references in the final Hangzhou communiqué. But it is just about dawning on policymakers that SD becoming a reality requires a capital intensive transition which is bound to interfere with the carbon reduction programme. We are in a double bind and a huge responsibility lies on the shoulders of the politicians because it is they who have to straddle the fine line that exists between cutting carbon emissions to the required proportions which on the one hand requires a degree of austerity and on the other responding to people's demands for prosperity. This puts the onus on developed countries to rethink their economics beyond COP and SD and apply the brakes to slow down growth to enable the rest to have a fair share of the cake. This is no time to be pointing our fingers at the United States as it is preoccupied in electing a new leader and I only refer to that country as a template for the rest of the world. The campaign for the presidency clearly reflects the universal fact that the climate change agenda is always subordinate to the growth agenda.

Morocco is unique amongst Muslim countries in the lead it is giving to bring the climate agenda to the notice of the people and following it up with an agenda which is both international and local in scope. The hosting of COP 22 takes care of the international and the local which is of primary importance becomes apparent in government policy where there is an undertaking to provide renewable energy to hundreds of mosques in all parts of the country by installing solar panels. I would urge the Moroccan Government to catch the wind and embark on an education programme that reflects Islam's basic conservationist approach to life. In this regard we offer our experience built over more than thirty years of work.

We have a shared responsibility and this is where the burgeoning FBO movement has a vital role to play. The collective will of people of faith can be a force to be reckoned with and as an interface between people and policy makers there is much this movement can deliver. As a lobby we can be strong enough to influence public policy but we also need to engage in demonstrable change if we are going to be taken seriously.

Yours sincerely

Fazlun Khalid

Fazlun Khalid is the Founder and Director of the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences (EcoIslam), Birmingham UK; Convenor of the drafting team of the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change .Fazlun Khalid Founder Director IFEES/EcoIslam


Is it time more Muslims turned to veganism?

By: Nadia Kadry

“It’s haram to be vegetarian, you’re denying what Allah has made permissible for you.”

This is a complaint I receive from family members when I am vocal about eating less meat. Whilst eating halal tayyib meat is permissible in Islam, there are compelling arguments made that adopting a vegan, vegetarian, or semi-vegetarian diet is more in accordance with the Prophetic tradition and Islamic principles than the current daily meat eating culture amongst many Muslim communities.

We can look directly to the diet of the Prophet (pbuh) who reportedly only ate meat occasionally, to support maintaining at least a semi-vegetarian diet today. It is a forgotten Sunnah of our beloved Prophet (pbuh) to keep meat consumption minimal, treating it as a luxury rather than a daily necessity. During his caliphate, Umar ibn al Khattab (ra) prohibited people from eating meat two days in a row, warning that meat has “has an addiction like the addiction of wine.” We can see a huge divergence when we compare many Muslim majority cultures’ meat eating habits to that of the Prophet’s (pbuh).

Eating lawfully and wholesomely

 “O mankind, eat from earth what is halal (lawful) and tayyib (good/wholesome)…” (Holy Quran 2:168)

From a strictly religious standpoint, for meat to be considered halal tayyib and therefore permissible, the process needs to meet requirements beyond what many understand as halal as the draining of the blood and the recitation of Allah’s name at the time of slaughter. The other requirements needed for meat to be tayyib and thus lawful to eat, are less known.

The animal must be raised in a humane and wholesome environment, be fed and given water prior to slaughter, and not be stressed, abused or mishandled, nor witness another animal being killed, among other requirements. The reality is that most of today’s meat, even when labeled “halal,” comes from battery farms where the animals endure cramped conditions and cruel and inhumane practices and are injected with harmful steroids and hormones.

Animal welfare is essential in Islam with the Prophet (pbuh) often preaching that animals be treated with the utmost compassion, mercy and kindness. There is thus a stark contrast between Islam’s stated animal ethics and the poor conditions that thousands of mass-farmed animals endure everyday. It is worth wondering whether the Prophet (pbuh), who would curse the one who mistreated an animal would approve of such practices.

Environmental effects of meat production

“Do not pollute the earth after it has been (so) wholesomely (set in order) …” (Holy Quran 7:56)

Animal agriculture reportedly accounts for 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions, with no other single human activity having a greater impact on the planet. This is unsurprising when you think about all the land, vegetation, energy and water required for raising animals for consumption, especially considering our growing population and appetites. Eating meat is a hugely inefficient transfer of energy, as the amount of food the world’s cattle consumes is reportedly equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people.

This illustrates the huge inequality our food systems sustain, as grains that could nourish those in poverty are being used to feed livestock to then be consumed by wealthier people. The increased demand for grains puts humans in competition with animals and drives the price for these grains up, further compounding the global food crisis.

Humans are the successors of the Earth

“And it is He (Allah) who has made you successors upon the earth…” (Holy Quran 6:165)

The natural world is a fundamental part of Islam; the whole of earth has been created a place of worship for us and the Qur’an glorifies nature and wildlife frequently. The Qur’an tells us that we were appointed as stewards on Earth, and thus have a duty to protect our planet, Allah’s creation, from environmental degradation. This includes protecting against the mass deforestation that the meat industry requires and thus protecting the habitats of much wildlife. More importantly, we need to recognize the impact of global greenhouse gas emissions on our fellow humans, mostly those in the global south who disproportionately suffer the effects of climate change whilst contributing the least.

Reviving our relationship with the environment

“…Eat and drink from the provision of Allah, and do not commitabuse on the earth, spreading corruption” (Holy Quran 2:60)

Following the principles of our religion, we ought to reevaluate and revive our relationship with the environment and consider how our diets, among other things, impact the earth and other people. I will be the first to admit that a transition to a more ethical and meat-free diet is difficult and requires time, thought, and money, which is a luxury not everyone has.

Conversations about the environment, animal welfare, our health and reviving the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) need to be started which can help enable a cultural shift amongst Muslim communities in the way we view and eat meat and our participation in harmful food systems. This need not involve shaming anyone’s diets or lifestyles, but rather in showing the perfect harmony a vegetarian diet has with Islam’s principles in the modern day.

“The point is to live consciously and intentionally—to walk on the path of continual, voluntary self-surrender, for this is what it means to be in Islam. First for the Creator, then for our own spiritual development, for the good of the beings we share this world with, and for the continued health of this delicate world itself.” – Ezra Ereckson

On a practical level, we can make greater effort to lessen our meat consumption to a couple of times a week, month or year. This can involve designating a specific day a week to eating meat. Where possible and affordable, one should buy organic and locally sourced foods, which extends beyond meat and animal products. Ultimately, we need to become more conscious of the way we live and eat and try to keep in accordance with the ethics of Islam.

This article originally appeared on The Muslim Vibe on October 20th, 2016.