Is Islam the ‘green’ religion?

religion-dialogueScholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr makes the case for Islam’s environmental credentials

Recent headlines from the mainstream media around the world highlight how the words “Muslim” and “Islam” are often mentioned in the context of terrorism.

But according to a world-renowned scholar, there’s another word that should be associated with Islam — environmentalism.

Seyyed Hossein Nasr, a professor of Islamic studies at George Washington University, believes Islam is more disposed toward environmental stewardship than other faiths, and should probably be regarded as the “green” religion.

At the same time, he allows that Islamic governments have often put economic progress ahead of the environment, and many Islamic societies expect the West to find some technological solution to the woes of the planet.

Still, as Nasr told CBC Radio One’s IDEAS, “Christianity in the West has had a tremendous problem: how to come to terms with the environment at a time when its most devout followers have not shown much interest in the environment.”

As he points out, “If you take all the verses of the New Testament, there is no reference to nature.”


The adolescent phase of Islam.

273946142Just as Judaism and Christianity went through periods characterized by conquest, so, too, it can be argued that Islam is now in its violent ‘Crusader’ incarnation.

The dizzying pace of global developments in our time makes it difficult to analyze reality from a historic perspective, since events seem to pre-empt all predictions. Still, it’s important to try to see the big picture.

I want to focus on two aspects, the religious-cultural aspect and the demographic-economic one, and suggest a historic context for two phenomena that I believe continue to shape reality. One is the nature and roots of Islamic resistance to the West, embodied in a clear and extreme way by the Islamic State, and the second is the large waves of migration in our time, which are responsible for a process of irreversible and uncontrollable changes in the demography of Europe and the United States, and in how the world looks in general.

The explanation I am suggesting for the two phenomena rests on the natural process theory from the school of Oswald Spengler, Arnold Toynbee and Samuel Huntington, whose common hypothesis was that cultures and religions go through phases like those of a living organism. That is, you can discern stages in their historical development: A childhood phase, characterized by consolidation and self-determination; an adolescent phase, for the most part violent and characterized by conquest and expansion; and in the end, a stage of maturity, characterized by moderation and tolerance.


Muslim hijabi hipsters fusing fashion with faith

hipsterDUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Fashion-conscious Muslim women from Kuala Lampur to Los Angeles who wear the Islamic headscarf, known as the hijab, have had to get creative.

By fusing both their sense of fashion with their faith, this growing group, some of whom have dubbed themselves hipster hijabis, is reinterpreting traditional notions of what it means to dress conservatively. They’re spawning a new market for niche fashion brands and finding unexpected supporters among some mainstream brands, as well as from conservative Christian and Orthodox Jewish women who also dress modestly.

“We want to be current in fashion and adhere to the tenets of our faith,” said Ibtihaj Muhammad, who owns Louella, a fashion brand catering to women who combine modest dressing with fashion.

The Los Angeles-based brand has sold nearly 4,000 pieces since its launch three months ago. Muhammad, a professional athlete and member of the United States fencing team, said she struggled trying to find long-sleeved, floor-length dresses to wear when she traveled on speaking tours on behalf of Team USA and the State Department.

Her line, which include floor-length sheer cardigans and dresses, ranges from $45 for a colorful, Picasso-inspired print cardigan to $100 for a pink lace, empire-cut dress. Though there are countless Muslim-owned companies around the world making clothes that cater to women who wear the hijab, many are selling traditional black-flowing robes known as abayas.

“I just got tired of spending money and chasing this idea of this perfect modest dress,” she said.

Some mainstream designers also have started to cater to this growing demand for stylish modest wear. This summer, DKNY released a collection during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan that sold exclusively in the Arabian Gulf. Karl Lagerfeld also brought his Chanel Cruise Collection this year to Dubai, unveiling an array of designs inspired by the rich culture and patterns of the Middle East.

Still, the market is ripe for more investment said Albert Momdijan, founder and CEO of Dubai-based Sokotra Capital.

“The Muslim population is the second largest population in the world with roughly 1.8 billion people so it’s a large population that you definitely cannot ignore. And 50 percent are below the age of 25,” he said. “It’s a young population, it’s a growing population and it’s a large addressable market.”


The hipster hijabi movement is the byproduct of a young generation of Muslim women coming of age. It grew organically, spurred in part by social media, and continues to take on new meaning by the women who embrace it.

The Diversity of Islam by Nicholas Kristof

Muslim-children-from-around-the-worldA few days ago, I was on a panel on Bill Maher’s television show on HBO that became a religious war.

Whether or not Islam itself inspires conflict, debates about it certainly do. Our conversation degenerated into something close to a shouting match and went viral on the web. Maher and a guest, Sam Harris, argued that Islam is dangerous yet gets a pass from politically correct liberals, while the actor Ben Affleck denounced their comments as “gross” and “racist.” I sided with Affleck.

After the show ended, we panelists continued to wrangle on the topic for another hour with the cameras off. Maher ignited a debate that is rippling onward, so let me offer three points of nuance.

Likewise, it is true that the Quran has passages hailing violence, but so does the Bible, which recounts God ordering genocides, such as the one against the Amalekites.


A tipping point for Muslims: The ‘Islamic State’ has clarified for everyone the difference between Islam and barbarism

The rise, battlefield success and vainglorious propaganda of the so-called “Islamic State” may prove to be a moment of clarity for Muslims worldwide.

This alleged state has suddenly caused all nations in its neighborhood to join a coalition with the United States to combat what is now seen clearly by all as a purely barbaric force. To this extent, it may be serving a historic purpose.

The “Islamic State” phenomenon is forcing a clean separation between those Muslims who wish to live by the peaceful fundamentals and intent of Islam from those who do not. Muslims who wish to live in harmony with the rest of the world, with civilized justice and without coercion, with equal rights for all, with benefit to their fellow man are in a large majority. That majority now knows that it must take stronger action against the anti-Islamic Muslim minority.

Long constrained by a tradition of showing deference to another’s faith and merely condemning criminal acts, Muslims watched extremists as they abrogated peaceful Islamic principles and took on what they claimed to be worthy causes with an end-justifies-the-means approach. As a result, violent men appeared to speak for our faith and were brought to prominence by media focused primarily on reporting bad news. The realization has been slow among Muslims, spread as they are among diverse cultures, that rotten apples spoil the lot for all of us, wherever we may live.

American Muslims, many of whom left dysfunctional economies and social systems in the Old World for better opportunities in the United States, find themselves under a cloud due to events in those ancient lands. Any confusion caused by rival propaganda or false-flag theories should now be replaced by clarity. We all must stand with moral certainty for civility and call out the violent ones such as the “Islamic State” for disgracing their faith in pursuit of political agendas.


Christian, Muslim and Jewish artists unite in prayer for the world

[Episcopal News Service]

ens_101614_caravan-500x581The Rev. Paul-Gordon Chandler grew up in Senegal, a predominately Muslim country in West Africa where his father was a minister.

Throughout his childhood he observed the tension between Muslims and Christians.

“I thought there has to be a better way. Most of my best friends were Muslims, and today still, Muslims number among my closest friends,” the Episcopal priest said, sitting on a wooden bench at New York’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the world’s largest Gothic cathedral. He answered logistics calls and texts on his cell phone while taking a break from working on the 2014 CARAVAN Exhibition of Visual Art, “AMEN: A Prayer for the World.”

Open to the public until Nov. 23, the art show embodies Chandler’s lifelong mission: to ease that religious and cultural tension by focusing on commonalities rather than trying to overcome differences. With religious extremism and persecution so prevalent and interwoven so thickly with politics, especially in the Middle East, this mission is needed now more than ever, he said.


When the West wanted Islam to curb Christian extremism

safe_imageThe tiresome debate over whether Islam is somehow more violent than other religions unfortunately won’t go away. Recent spats between outspoken commentator Reza Aslan, TV host Bill Maher and neuroscientist Sam Harris — who said on Maher’s show that Islam was “the mother lode of bad ideas” — have launched a thousand blog posts and vitriolic tweets.

Writing last week in The Washington Post’s opinion pages, Fareed Zakaria acknowledged the existence of an unpleasant level of intolerance in some Muslim-majority countries, but stressed such societal ills can’t be laid at the feet of a whole religion. “So, the strategy to reform Islam,” Zakaria asks Maher, Harris and their supporters, “is to tell 1.6 billion Muslims, most of whom are pious and devout, that their religion is evil and they should stop taking it seriously?”

The backdrop to this conversation is the U.S.-led war effort against the extremist militants of the Islamic State, as well as the continued threat of terrorist groups elsewhere that subscribe to certain puritanical forms of Islam. Their streak of fundamentalism is, for the West, the bogeyman of the moment. But many argue it has little to do with Islam, writ large.

In any case, Islam and those who practice it were not always perceived to be such a cultural threat. Just a few decades ago, the U.S. and its allies in the West had no qualms about abetting Islamist militants in their battles with the Soviets in Afghanistan. Look even further, and there was a time when a vocal constituency in the West saw the community of Islam as a direct, ideological counter to a mutual enemy.


Attacks on Al Aqsa compound proof Israel not interested in peace

382333_Al-Aqsa-Mosque(CHICAGO 10/13/2014) – The American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) is outraged that Israeli forces today fired tear gas, stun grenades and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinians inside Al Aqsa mosque, disrupting the holy site’s sanctity and safety. The Palestinians were taking refuge from aggressive Israeli settlers, who, with increasing frequency, have been harassing Palestinian worshipers at Islam’s holiest site in Palestine and third holiest place overall.

After dawn prayer today, extreme right settler groups, protected by Israeli soldiers and police, entered the Al Aqsa mosque compound for the second time in less than one week. At the same time, most Palestinian men under 50 and nearly all women were banned from offering prayers in the mosque, in contravention of international law.

Israeli attacks against Al Aqsa are not new. For instance, in 1967, immediately after the end of the Six Day War, “the Israeli army chief rabbi, General Shlomo Goren, tried to convince a commander of the conquering forces, Uzi Narkis, to blow up the mosque ‘once and for all,’” according to published historical accounts.

What’s changed is the frequency of settler incursions into the Muslim holy site, coupled with discussions in the Israeli Knesset about dividing Al Aqsa in the manner of the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron, which apportioned two-thirds of the mosque for Jews, prohibiting the area to Palestinians. The Jerusalem Municipality also is discussing plans to turn the courtyard area between the Dome of the Rock mosque and Al Aqsa into a public park. Israeli authorities already have given the extremist settler group Elad the right to create an oversized ‘visitor center’ that will abut the mosque compound, further cutting off Palestinians from their historical religious site. UNESCO is so concerned about recent ‘Judaization’ developments in Jerusalem it dispatched a fact-finding committee to study the issue in April.

All these actions come at a time when Israeli settlers have forcibly moved into Palestinian homes and the creation of new settlements in East Jerusalem are planned.


Eid Al-Adha 2014: Photos Of The Muslim ‘Feast Of Sacrifice’ Around The World

slide_373346_4343068_freeEid al-Adha is the Festival of Sacrifice, one of two feast festivals celebrated in Islam. In 2014, the holiday fell on October 4, 2014 with observances lasting for several days.

The feast fell within the time of hajj, the annual pilgrimage Muslims are expected to go on at least once in their lifetime. Eid commemoratesthe willingness of Ibrahim, or Abraham, to sacrifice his son in the Biblical story. Some Muslims observe the day by slaughtering a sheep, cow or other livestock animal.

Take a look at the ways Muslims around the world observed Eid al-Adha: