Call to Action



Mother cardinal feeding fledgling

The EPA (U. S. Environmental Protection Agency) defines sustainability as meeting present needs without harming the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Almost everyone would agree with the philosophy of sustainability; everyone wants to give their children a better life. However we are often caught in our immediate problems and we do not realize the consequences of our decisions. A classic example of this is the vicious cycle caused by over use of pesticides. In killing off pests we often kill off their natural predators, actually adding to the problem in the long term rather than solving it.

We are now at a point in human history where we must move intelligently and quickly to come back to a sustainable world ecology. We are like thieves stealing the future from our children. We can no longer turn our backs, deluding ourselves that there is no problem. We must not wait until we reach meltdown but act now before it is too late:

Once those who transgressed see the retribution, it will be too late; it will not be commuted for them, nor will they be respited.      Quran 16:85



Conservation is perhaps the main tool we can use to reach ecological sustainability. Wise stewardship of all of our natural resources, renewable and nonrenewable, is a constantly growing necessity. More and more people are born and technology allows them to live longer. And as technology continues to both advance and spread to more societies the resulting drain on natural resources increases, as does the need for more careful conservation.

Though it is a relatively new concept for the West, the principal of conservation was instituted in the Quran fourteen hundred years ago when hunting was prohibited during the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. Large numbers of pilgrims hunting would have quickly killed off all game in the arid area of Mecca, leaving the land depleted. Instead, pilgrims were required to bring in livestock to provide for themselves and for those in need rather than abusing the local resources. (See for example Quran 5:95.)

Waste is one of the greatest problems in attaining sustainability, and is condemned in the Quran (in verse 6:141 which is quoted later).

All our resources are a treasure to be cared for, as beautifully expressed in the Prayer of the Woods:

I am the heat of your hearth on the cold-winter nights, the friendly shade screening you from the summer sun, and my fruits are refreshing draughts quenching your thirst as you journey on.
I am the beam that holds your house, the board of your table, the bed on which you lie, and the timber that builds your boat.
I am the handle on your hoe, the door of your homestead, the wood of your cradle, and the shell of your coffin.
I am the bread of kindness and the flower of beauty. Ye who pass by, listen to my prayer, harm me not.

Portuguese Forest Service

Fall colors


Distribution of Resources

With increasing industrial and technological development cascading through all of human society those of us living in the West are being forced to face the fact that we are not the only ones on the planet who have a need for and a right to its resources. For the hundreds of years when colonialism held sway, the riches of nations were shipped off to their colonial masters. This mindset caused great inequities and was terrible for the environment. No one wants toxic waste in their own back yard, but leaving it half-way round the world is often not even noticed; depleting local resources is visible but depleting those of a foreign nation is much less so. Additionally, transporting resources vast distances greatly adds to the green house gasses released into the atmosphere and increases the risk of major spills of contaminants into the environment.

Thankfully there is a new world order, though the colonial mindset is still in the process of shifting. It is critical that it does, and swiftly. As long as humans feel they have unlimited access to resources, they will use them without really weighing the consequences to the environment. Just as importantly, nothing lasting and good can be created by unfairly using the resources of others, effectively cheating other people out of their rights. The Quran is particularly clear about this (see 26:183, 7:85, 11:85, etc.)

The dilemma is that we who can afford it have become accustomed to a very extravagant and wasteful way of life, and many around the world want the same. As the Quran describes the human being:

  He loves material things excessively.    Quran 100:8

Not only do we love material things, in the U.S. we are used to and demand an astounding array of choices. Just think of the vast variety of breakfast cereals, types of bread, canned goods, etc., on the shelves in every supermarket in the country for example. Producing, packaging and storing all of that variety requires a lot of resources, and shipping it around requires even more.

Just as critical to the overall problem is the amount of food that is wasted and will never be consumed by humans. Researcher Timothy Jones of the University of Arizona estimates that 50% of all food in America is wasted! The overall waste is even greater when you take into account the ultimate loss of all the resources used to grow, package, store and transport that food.  (Loyd Alter. March 23, 2008. Don’t Waste So Much Food. as of 09/27/2008; CBC Radio, March 11, 2008. Diet For a Hungry Planet - Food waste. Cached version available here..)

Waste is the antithesis of conservation and a major enemy of sustainability. It is condemned in the Quran:

He is the One who established gardens, trellised and untrellised, and palm trees, and crops with different tastes, and olives, and pomegranate—fruits that are similar, yet dissimilar. Eat from their fruits, and give the due alms on the day of harvest, and do not waste anything. He does not love the wasters.    Quran 6:141

This verse deals not only with waste, but with the redistribution of wealth. The Quran stresses the obligatory charity that was instituted by God in Abraham’s time (Quran 30:38). Charity given to individuals is not a favor to them, it is what is due to them. It is one way of distributing resources and promoting a more equitable and prosperous society, where all can share in the feast.


Fawn licking his lips


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