Islamic Garden

Islamic Garden
Islamic Garden in Lausanne, Switzerland

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Another Rationale for an Ecological Hermeneutic

One cannot recite al-Fatiha and ignore the obvious invocation of an integrated web of relationships between the Divine, the human, and all of creation including all of the imaginal realms, which itself is the central tenet of Islam – the Unity of God, the Unity of Being and the Unity of man.

In “Islam and Ecology” an anthology of essays on the topic, Dr. Kaveh Afrasiabi, director of Global Interfaith Peace, writes a passionate essay entitled “Toward an Islamic Ecotheology” in which he advocates for “(a) a reconstruction of the meanings of key Islamic terms and their inter-relationships, for example, tawhid (divine unity), khalqiyat ( creation), ahd (covenant), amanat (trust), qiyamat (apocalypse) and umma (community) and (b) a deconstruction of those Islamic cosmological, theological, and ethical perspectives deemed untenable either wholly or in part.” (2003, p. 293).

On the other hand, Dr. Abdul Aziz Said and Dr. Nathan Funk, co-editors of “Peace and Conflict Resolution in Islam,” in their contribution to this anthology, entitled “Peace in Islam: an Ecology of the Spirit,” their understanding of peace “suggests an ecology of the spirit, an ecology predicated on tawhid, the fundamental unity of God and of all existence.” These authors, consciously or unconsciously, reference al-Fatiha: “Compassion and mercy are integral and oft-repeated attributes of God, whom the Qur’an refers to as al-Rahman, al-Rahim, the Merciful and Compassionate…And God’s mercy extends to all worlds.’ (2003, p. 159).

Al-Fatiha identifies the Lord of the Universe (all the worlds), in some quarters interpreted as “the Maintainer of all Beings,” to whom praise is offered multiple times a day, to the Master of the Day of Judgment, hence establishing an inter-connectedness of Being, similar to the Buddhist concept, with the exception, of course that in Islam, as a monotheistic faith, there is a recognition of a Creator-God.

Ibn Arabi refers to this unity of being as Wahdat al Wujud, finding specific support for it in the second chapter (2:115) of the Holy Qur’an which declares that “Whithersoever you turn, there is the Face of God.” But clearly it is also invoked in al-Fatiha as “the Lord of all the worlds”. Hence it would not be inappropriate to suggest that there already exists an Islamic Ecotheology which for the most part in the contemporary Muslim world is in shadow. An integral psychology of Islam would bring this ecological dimension of the faith to consciousness by examining the place of a “macro” or “cosmic” ecopsychology which respects all the imaginal realms, whether directly accessible or inaccessible to the human experience, embedded within the psycho-spiritual infrastructure of al-Fatiha, the very essence of the faith.

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