Prince Charles delivers a speech targeted to Muslim population and how it mobilize to quell environmental problems, such as over-population in the developing world. Image via the Telegraph
Known as an ardent environmentalist – he’s even got his own line of organic food Duchy Originals – the United Kingdom’s Prince of Wales, heir to the throne, calls on Islam to save the environment. On June 9, His Royal Highness Prince Charles delivered a speech on “Islam and the Environment” at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (OXCIS). He was invited as Patron of the center to give a talk at the celebration of the Centre’s 25th anniversary. It’s advice that applies to the Muslim world everywhere, even in the Middle East.
In his speech, Prince Charles said that all human beings need to understand the damage they cause to the environment and take steps to halt it when it is still possible. He stressed that all the world’s big religions are preaching for the protection of the environment – God’s creation.
According to all the big religions, man is part of nature, not apart from nature, and, therefore, must always live in balance with nature.
According to Prince Charles, there is a current divide between man and nature, which has been evolving during the last centuries. He blamed this divide not only on the processes of industrialization, technological development and the pursuit of economic growth but also on the modern ideology that have been dominating Western ideology, which views the teachings of all the big religions as “backward looking.”
Therefore, he called on all the people throughout the world to reconnect with their sacred teachings in this issue, because this might shift the man’s attitude from causing damage to the environment to preserving it.
What’s green about the Qur’an?
Then, Prince Charles talked specifically about Islam and the environment as is dealt with in the Qur’an. The Qur’an describes nature as the “handiwork of a unitary benevolent power.” Since god created the nature and the human beings, there is no separation whatsoever between man and nature.
Man and nature are “all part of one living, conscious whole.”
People are living in the world for only a short period of time and also then, they succeed to do so only because of God’s hospitality “that offers us our provisions and our dwelling places, our clothing, tools and transport,” he said, adding: “we share this planet with the rest of creation for a very good reason – and that is, we cannot exist on our own without the intricately balanced web of life around us. Islam has always taught this and to ignore that lesson is to default on our contract with Creation.”
Prince Charles noted that these teachings were also evident in Judaism and Christianity and argued that there were more commonalities than differences between the teachings of the big religions.
It should be stressed that according to Judaism and Christianity, the man is at the center of the world and his role in the world is to dominate nature and multiply. This concept can be found already in Genesis (1:26), where it is said: “Then God said: ‘let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”
This whole Judeo-Christian concept of the place of man in the world is very much different from the Islamic concept as appears in the Qur’an and the Sunnah, which sees the man as one of the rulers in nature. The nature has been given to man as a trust, and he has to preserve it and to live in a balanced way with it. Every generation has to pass a clean and preserved environment to the next one.
According to Islam, the one who damages the earth is considered as though he committed a grave sin since this is a violation of the trust over nature which was given to man by God.
That is why Prince Charles, who has been well known for his Islamic tendencies, called the people all over the world to follow Islam’s green way in order to save the environment before it will be too late.
He ended his speech by citing an old saying of the nomads that “the best of all mosques is nature herself.”