Islam and the Environment: Embracing Responsibility

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The concept of the environment holds various meanings depending on the context in which it is used. As Muslims, understanding the environmental responsibility bestowed upon us is crucial due to its significance in Islamic teachings and principles.

This article explores the definition of the environment, the Islamic perspective on creation, and the importance of reflecting on historical examples of environmental mismanagement. It emphasizes the need for Muslims to educate themselves about the environment and fulfill their role as stewards of the Earth.

In addition, this article series titled “The Green Muslim” will also address key challenges related to Islamic green investment. Topics such as the Islamic approach to carbon offset and the reality of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) will be covered in separate articles to provide a comprehensive understanding of these important aspects.

By exploring these challenges and addressing them in separate articles, “The Green Muslim Investor” article series aims to provide a holistic perspective on Islamic green investment. It will equip Muslim investors and Islamic financial institutions with the knowledge and insights necessary to navigate these challenges and make informed decisions in line with their Islamic values and environmental goals.


Understanding the Environment in Islamic Perspective


The environment encompasses the interconnected relationships and interactions between all living and non-living elements of ecological systems. This means it includes all the things around us, like plants, animals, air, water, and even non-living things like rocks and soil. These different elements are connected and interact with each other in special ways, forming a big system. It’s like a big puzzle where everything fits together and affects one another.

From an  Islamic perspective, Muslims are also encouraged to acknowledge the diverse aspects and entities within the ecosystem. Islam teaches that everything in the universe has a purpose, including the environment, which is highlighted in the Quran.

God says: “We did not create the heavens and the earth and everything between them playfully. If We had wished for a pastime, We could have found it within Us– if We had wished for any such thing.” [Surat 21:V16]

Sheikh Khalid Saifullah Rahmani1 explained that God designed the Universe to thrive for an extended period, and although natural resources may seem unimportant, they play a crucial role in ensuring the well-being and safety of humanity.

By adopting a holistic view, Muslims recognize the intricate relationships that exist within the environment. This recognition fosters a deep sense of responsibility and stewardship, as they understand their place within this interconnected web of life. 


The Responsibility of Muslims as Stewards: Reconnecting, Reflecting, and Embracing Knowledge


While many individuals dismiss the dangers of neglecting nature as mere conspiracies, it is crucial for them to contemplate the fate of civilizations like Easter Island. Jared Diamond’s account of Easter Island’s inhabitants2 and the collapse of their society serves as a poignant example of the consequences of environmental mismanagement. Exploring such historical events offers valuable insights into the importance of preserving nature for the sustainability and well-being of human societies.

Meanwhile, amidst competing priorities within the community, Muslims must not overlook the significance of the environment. They should deeply reflect on their role as stewards of the Earth, entrusted by God to establish justice. The Quran portrays human beings as vicegerents on Earth, underscoring their responsibility to uphold balance and justice within themselves, their families, and society at large.

Throughout Islamic history, the initial purpose of upholding justice and preserving the equilibrium of the environment may have gradually faded or been overshadowed by individual interests. In order to truly embody their role as vicegerents, Muslims must proactively restore those connections and rectify any existing disconnections within the various components of the environment. This entails a dedicated commitment to the pursuit of justice and a wholehearted embrace of the profound responsibilities entrusted to them.

Muslims should also recognize that scientific knowledge is not a conspiracy or a means of control, but a tool bestowed by God. Education about the importance of the ecosystem and the potential harm it faces is crucial. Rejecting knowledge signifies a rejection of the role assigned to Muslims by their Creator.


Carbon Market, ESG and Ethical finance

Carbon offset

The carbon offset market has grown significantly and is projected to reach $30 billion by 2030. It facilitates funding for projects that offset greenhouse gas emissions, supporting environmental sustainability. Factors like emissions reduction demand, regulations, sustainability goals, and international agreements influence its size and importance in combating climate change.
Supporters of the carbon offset market contend that it has the potential to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change by backing carbon reduction projects. Conversely, critics argue that the market suffers from a lack of standardized methodologies and regulatory frameworks, allowing some companies to utilize carbon offsets without making significant efforts to reduce their own carbon footprint.

In spite of the criticisms surrounding the offset market, Muslims and financial institutions have the opportunity to take the lead in creating an ethical market that aligns with godly principles whilst having a meaningful impact on the environment. But what are the different forms of carbon offset and to what extent can they be Shariah compliant?


ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) is vital in the business and investment world. By incorporating ESG considerations, companies can mitigate risks, improve financial performance, build trust with stakeholders, enhance their reputation, comply with regulations, and contribute to a sustainable future.

However, critics of ESG have raised several concerns regarding its implementation and effectiveness. For example, some argue that its ratings and assessments can be subjective and open to manipulation, potentially allowing companies to engage in “greenwashing” by presenting a positive ESG image without substantial action. 

There is also a perspective suggesting that it might be beneficial to separate and examine the components of ESG individually. By unbundling the three letters – E, S, and G – it is believed that focusing on each aspect separately may increase the likelihood of effectively addressing specific environmental, social, and governance goals. 

Should the Islamic finance industry also contemplate this strategy? How should a sukuk issuer address ESG objectives while funding an environmental initiative in a country where it may inadvertently contribute to negative outcomes, such as the exploitation of humans through forced labor in another part of the world?


Ethical finance vs Halal

The size of the ethical finance sector differs based on region and the specific criteria used to define it. However, it’s important to note that Halal finance and ethical finance are separate concepts within the realm of responsible and sustainable finance. While many Muslims opt to invest in funds labeled as ethical, the question is are they actually shariah compliant?



Muslims have a significant role to play in addressing the environmental crisis. By understanding the Islamic perspective on the environment, reflecting on historical examples, and embracing education and knowledge, Muslims can fulfill their responsibilities as stewards of the Earth. Upholding justice and preserving the environment are integral to their role as vicegerents and demonstrate their commitment to God’s guidance.

The series “The Green Muslim Investor” will delve into key challenges of Islamic green investment, such as the Islamic approach to carbon offset and the reality of ESG, providing comprehensive insights in separate articles. The upcoming articles will provide a comprehensive analysis of a halal carbon offset market, ESG considerations, and the nuances of Halal finance versus ethical finance, offering valuable insights for Muslim investors and Islamic financial institutions.

By exploring these topics and upholding our role as stewards of the Earth, Muslims can play a significant part in promoting responsible and sustainable finance, fostering a harmonious relationship between Islamic principles and environmental goals. 


(Mufti) Billal Omarjee


1. Environmental Issues (2010). 1st edn. India: IFA Publications
2. Diamond J. (2006). Effondrement : Comment les sociétés décident de leur disparition ou de leur survie. France, Edition Gallimard



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