Environmental Crisis: The Need of Ijtihad

A part of most Muslim, like another human, are ‘sleep by walking’ to face this crisis. They merely give a little attention without giving big concern to solve the crisis that will be danger for human existence in this world. Environmental crisis, either locally or globally, it will be in serious condition for poor society, which has known most of them are Muslim.

A Muslim has mandated by Allah to preserve a balance of nature. Oftentimes human never realize his mistake, it means the Muslim role and responsibilities in the natural order that Allah provided. The appointment of people as Khalifa, or guardians, is the sacred duty God has given to the human race.

Environmental Crisis and Islamic Environmentalism

If we want to learn about Islamic view or natural relations among human and environment, it describes about harmonist life of city with environment that was classical Islamic civilization. And if we compare, that reality with Islamic situation nowadays, it will be clear even government or people in Islamic nation are not following the Islamic principal to preserve environment. Many of ulama did not teach and give information to general society how Islam preserves an environment. It is so dilemma. What are challenges and how to apply Islamic principle regarding environment in general society.

The Islamic world is also experiencing the environmental problems in the middle of the world globalization competition and economic development after being colonized by the West, and have started to re-emerge to rediscover their identity. Besides being expected to be aware of the environment, the Islamic world is also expected to contribute to the world development and human civilization including reliving the ethics and environmentalism practical teachings that can be accepted by the Moslem world in order to face the environmental problems faced by the world.

Similar to the other countries in the Islamic world, Indonesia also face the same environmental problems. This country for instance faced continuous natural disasters during the last decade. This was caused by ecosystem degradation and changes due to non-environmentally friendly measures towards the natural resources that have been the main economy source. Logging practices and harvesting nature resources by the community using unhealthy methods, even violating ethics, for instance illegal logging inside protection forests, fishing using bombs and poison, which clearly –realized by fishermen and Moslem majority– will degrade the environmental eventually.

Unfortunately —as realized by the Moslem scholars— previous approaches to raise environmental awareness in Moslem countries are mainly adopted from West knowledge. The same applies to protection area systems including forest conservation (national parks) and conservation areas management that adopt systems from North America. Forgetting the positive side, several areas Islamic teachings on environmental sustainability —including preserving the environment and preventing logging activities— have not been socialized, thus making it hard for people to understand that preserving the environment is one of the compulsory teachings in Islam.

This is why the Muslim environmental and conservation scholars make serious efforts to discover Islamic teachings on environment. Nowadays it is clear that Islamic environmentalism strongly supports natural resources management and posses a thorough teaching base. For instance, Al-Qur’an mentions about Tawhid (God is one), al-khalq (creation), al-mizan (balance), fitrah (basic character), khalifah (mandate implementer), al-istishlah (public well-being) and others, which can be considered as the base of Islamic teachings to preserve environment. Allah SWT have also gave the mandate to all humans to preserve and maintain earth and its contents after He perfected it (Q.S. 7:56, 33:72).

Solution: The Need of Ijtihad

The shari’a (Islamic Law) also addresses the issue of our surrounding environment and provides the extensive opportunity for its management. Shari’a practices address various aspects, including waste management, water treatment, air pollution, urban landscaping, industrial waste, use of river basins and flood management. In addition, Islamic Law also provided for the conservation and utilization of forest, offshore mining exploration, utilizations of marine resources, sea water pollution and sea tourism. It can be concluded that Islam has arranged all of Environmental ethics.

The current environmental problems found in the Moslem world are the challenges faced by the current scholars and fuqaha. Thus it is a common thing for Moslem scholars in the ecological field and is masters in Islam can sit together in a forum such as the Fiqh al-biah Colloquium. For Indonesia, facing the environmental challenges is very critical and urgent, since the Moslem community in Indonesia is the majority.

Professor Emeritus Muhammed Hyder, from Mombasa, Africa, one of the resource people in the meeting hoped that the Fiqh al-biah meeting can be continued into a larger scale by joining forces with other parts of the Moslem world. This forum is conducted to bridge the gap between the environmental Islamic law with other Moslem professional scholars in the environmental and conservation field. The initial meeting between Moslem environmental scholars and fuqaha is the first step to create environmental laws (fiqh al-biah) that needs not only centuries old law precedents or general principal ideas, but also detailed, practical, creative and specific events in our environment. In a more humble manner, our current environmental condition needs ijtihad.

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