Why taking action on climate change is an Islamic obligation

As more than 100 world leaders meet this week in Glasgow, attention is on a handful of major economic powers and the hope that COP26 turns the tide of climate change. If there is to be real progress, every country has to do its part, including Muslim-majority countries.

With an estimated population of 1.8 billion in more than 56 Muslim-majority countries, Muslims make up 23% of the world’s population. Muslim countries are generally developing nations and do not top the list of largest carbon-emitting nations. But they will need to be part of the conversation and the solution to this global crisis.

Islamic thinking in the contemporary world has often focused on issues such as radicalism, terror, security, and how to engage with the legacy of Western imperialism and the emergence of modern science. Climate change and environmental sustainability do not yet occupy an important place.

The pioneering work of Seyyed Hossein Nasr on an Islamic understanding of the care of creation has only occasionally stimulated further research and action. Nasr has drawn on the spiritual and metaphysical dimensions within the Islamic tradition to argue the importance of the environment and human responsibility to protect it. In the intervening years, global concern has shifted from sustainability and the loss of biodiversity to the urgent and serious threats posed by human-induced climate change.


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