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Preface and Acknowledgements

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 October 2023

Emmanuel Karagiannis
Affiliation:
King's College London
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Summary

In her widely praised novel The Kindness of Enemies, the Sudanese-Scottish writer Leila Aboulela tells a story that takes place in the Caucasus of the mid-nineteenth century. In one of its scenes, the legendary Muslim leader of the anti-Russian resistance Imam Shamil recites for his son Jamaleldin the following Qurʾanic verse:

In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of the night and the day, and the ships that run in the sea with that which profits men; and the water that Allah sends down from the sky, then gives life therewith to the earth after its death and spreads in it all [kinds of] animals, and the changing of the winds and the clouds made subservient between heaven and earth, there are surely signs for a people who understand. (2:164)

It is a powerful moment for young Jamaleldin, who comes to realise God’s power of creation as manifested through the rain, the wind and the clouds. He walks with his fearsome warrior father around their quiet village in the middle of the night, but he can hear the ‘breathing’ of stars and forests. He connects with the Creator of the universe because he feels His presence. Here, Aboulela essentially describes the return to fitra, the primordial nature of purity whereby humans are born to submit to God’s will and follow His commands. This transcendent union between God, man and nature lies at the heart of the Islamic understanding of the cosmos.

At the beginning of the third decade of the twenty-first century, it is becoming clear that humanity and the planet face enormous and potentially catastrophic environmental challenges. The effects of global warming and climate change could devastate countries and destroy communities. Droughts and floods have already resulted in massive loss of life and migration flows. Air pollution has been identified as a cause of cancer and other health problems. The pollution of oceans and other bodies of water has threatened marine life. Many animal species are close to extinction owing to human activities. Indeed, the list of environmental problems is endless.

From North Africa to Indonesia, Muslim communities have struggled to cope with the new environmental realities.

Type
Chapter
Information
Why Islamists Go Green
Politics, Religion and the Environment
, pp. xiii - xvii
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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