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Mindanao Muslim Ecological Paradigm: A Perspective

By: Prof. Yusuf Morales, Ph.D

Bismillah... Fr Joel Tabora, SJ President of the ADDU, distinguished guests, fellow participants, allow me to greet everyone assalamu alaikum Introduction One must understand that caring and concern for the environment is an intricate part of Muslim spirituality. Living in harmony and tranquillity (sakina) with the environment is deeply rooted in Islamic tradition and is considered to be a part of Islamic Law (shariah). Although some Muslim communities may not appear to be exemplary models of ecoliving and sustainable development, but Islamic law clearly bears emphasis for a more harmonious balanced life of being at peace with the environment and ensuring an active part in preserving it. Allow us then to elaborate the basic elements of what we may hope to craft into a comprehensive Mindanao Muslim Ecological paradigm. There are six elements that we believe are essential to this paradigm:

1. Tawhid or Unity Allah Taala created everything (40:62): and that includes the sea and everything in it. He gave it form (59:24): that is, for both the animate and inanimate objects of his creation He had determined their physical form, chemical composition and genetic structure. He regenerates and provides from heaven and earth (27:64) and this further explains the term "As Samad" in the key ayah (meaning sign). Earth (ard) is a term that includes both the terrestrial and marine environment. Thus the aspect of regeneration is also linked to everything to both the land and the sea which is explained in the many systems like the water cycle and the land mass movements. Preservation ensures proper regeneration ensures the continuity of our livelihood and sustenance. 2. Khalq Allahs Creation or Natural Environment When Allah Taala says He created every animal from water" (24:45), this is intended to mean that we as humans are included in this process

Mindanao Muslim Ecological Paradigm: A Perspective


By: Prof. Yusuf Morales, Ph.D - and that the water forms the essential basis for survival for every organism. It is estimated that about two thirds of the human body consists of water. It should be noted that this statement was made in Al Quran many centuries before modern science discovered this fact. It is also a fact that all life, animal and vegetable depend on clean potable water which is the source of all moisture that sustains us. Protection of our water resources is thus beneficial to us in the wider context of our lives not forgetting that it keeps us alive with provision from its depths every day. Understanding that the destruction of forests through illegal logging and the water systems through the dumping of poisonous mining byproducts would show that there is a clear need on how we must see of how to have creative ways of addressing our human needs. 3. Mizan Balance It is easy to see the balance of creation when we look at our environment. A denuded forest and a devastated mountain are sure parameters for ecological disaster, and that if efforts are not made to maintain this delicate balance, massive landslides, poisoned water sources and destroyed livelihoods and scarred communities for centuries to come. All natural ecosystems of the earth are in a delicate ecological balance. The food web straddles terrestrial and marine ecosystems and they can be disrupted or changed by changes in environmental conditions. These changes can be natural or caused by humans as is the case with Misali. This balance, mizan, is the support mechanism that allows ecosystems to support plants, animals and humans. 4. Insan - Humankind Our connection with the sea is obvious. It is home to the fish we eat and Allah Taala says He created everything on the earth for us (2:29). The sea enables us to travel as Allah Taala has made the sea subservient to us (45:12). We use it to go to Unguja or the mainland on special occasions and to go to Misali to catch our dinner. It also

Mindanao Muslim Ecological Paradigm: A Perspective


By: Prof. Yusuf Morales, Ph.D gives us the weather, which gives us rain, which allows us to grow food on land. All this is on the surface. The sea hides many secrets in its depths. It is where the coral lives and it has taken thousands of years to form itself into a habitat where the fish can also live and spawn its young of which we are the ultimate beneficiaries. 5. Fasad Mischief The condition of our land and water resources are now at a dangerous situation, when we look at the areas where mining is done, where logging is done, no active involvement is done to help the communities recover from the long term effects of these activities and the consequences once the resources are depleted and no more mining/logging is possible in the area. Destroying the coral is like throwing dynamite at a mango tree for its fruit or perhaps even cutting it down: no tree no mango; no coral no fish. Destroying the mountains, would mean no forests, no water tables. These and other malpractices destabilise the ecosystem and consequently cause the depletion of forest cover, instability of our communities due to the threat of flash floods and land slides on resulting also in the disappearance of our livelihood. 6. Khalifa Stewardship What makes us different from all other living beings is that we are held accountable for our actions. This accountability requires us to take urgent action and introduce good conservation practices in Mindanao. As guardians of Allah Taalas creation we have a responsibility to the marine environment to protect it for what it is, a place of beauty and tranquillity and for what it means to us for our survival. What then defines the Mindanao Muslim Ecological Paradigm? More common than you think

Mindanao Muslim Ecological Paradigm: A Perspective


By: Prof. Yusuf Morales, Ph.D

Earth (ard) appears 485 time in the Quran Charity to creatures has rewards All creatures have similar rights over nature Preservation of water is a worship Islam forbids water pollution Islam forbids air pollution Islam endorses the transformation of idle lands in the wilderness into agriculture and cattle pastures Earth as the first mother: Humans have rights over the earth, and the earth has the rights over humans Kindness to animals: not to kill animals for amusements Moderation in life: neither luxury nor miserliness Kindness to animals is an article of faith Two stories in prophetic tradition: Hima (wildlife conservation) in Islam Islamic science: no tension between science and nature Islam being against consumer waste Purity of human life Improving greenery

Mindanao Muslim Ecological Paradigm: A Perspective


By: Prof. Yusuf Morales, Ph.D Looking at it within the Mindanao Context: Understanding that the recent developments in Mindanao pushes us forward to immediately think of responses to both ensure that the environment is protected, being the only resource that we truly have as Mindanaons that we can hand over to our descendants. WE must that understand that we must act now because: First, we are God's regent and caretakers and as such must actively stake our claim as stakeholders and claim active ownership of these resources since it is our resources that will be extracted. The Quran reminds us in Surah furqan (25:2) that we must act as judicious caretakers since everything belongs to Allah and that he has determined the relations therein. This is best described in the context of Khilafatul ard or what is known as guardianship of the earth. We have a moral responsibility to exercise restraint and to consider the needs of others in the context of ensuring that others too have a right over the utilization of resources and as such must allow them a voice as well. Second is that that we must understand that the environment is a communal resource and property and must be actively protected and that considerations must be made in that development must nit be in favour of a privileged few but it must be manifested through sustainable development wherein generations may enjoy the fruits of the environment and not simply during the process of extraction of resources. Third is that the process of accountability has been imperative and that Muslim Scholars have always placed emphasis on communal rights over individual rights over a particular natural resource if their use or extraction causes greater damage to society. Every member of society is entitled to benefit from a common resource as long as the needs of others in society are not in any way, violated or obstructed. In return for benefits derived from a renewable source, the user is obliged to maintain its renewable value. If the user causes destruction, impairment or degradation of a resource, he is obliged under law to make right the damage inflicted.

Mindanao Muslim Ecological Paradigm: A Perspective


By: Prof. Yusuf Morales, Ph.D

Proposed Responses: Over the past few centuries these principles and institutions on the Prophetic example have seen a gradual decline, sad to say these have been replaced by a model that allows capitalist greed through the exploitation of natural resources for profit. In order to avoid the further adverse effects of adoption of these negative models we must then again make use of these Islamic principles to utilize them to be put into good use in the modern context. Among the proposed responses are : WE must always remember the prophet of Islam has referred that "al Ulama alwarasatul al-anbiya'ah, being successors to the Prophets (saw), scholars must put to use the mechanisms and tools of Islamic thought and law to protection of the environment as well as guide the faithful (Muslims) towards this goal. Scholars by virtue of knowledge provided to them on the dangers of environmental degradation can come out with a formal document on the basis of Ijma (consensus) stipulating the previously mentioned principles on the need to protect the environment and can be used as a basis for Muslim faithful to comply as part of their "deen". This can be issued by Muslims scholars by virtue of being part of a darul Ifta (council of Islamic guidance) Muftis (Islamic Legal scholar/ judges) can also issue such fatawas (religious edicts) mandating protection of the environment on the same basis as mentioned above. Ulama can also join hands with other religious clergy to have an interfaith initiative for protection of the environment and as such amplify the effect of such efforts with other religious congregations. Participation must not only be limited to the Ulama but also include the following: Muslim Leaders (religious, community and traditional)

Mindanao Muslim Ecological Paradigm: A Perspective


By: Prof. Yusuf Morales, Ph.D

Communities Political and religious organizations Scholars from the academe and the religious sector Intellectuals

From this point the Mindanao Muslim ecological paradigm can not only be discoursed but enhanced by the plurality of voices and push towards the popularization of this paradigm.