Islamic Relief Environment Policy

“Mischief has appeared on the land and sea because of (the greed) that the hands of man have earned” (Qur’an, 30:41) 

Author: Policy & Research Unit
Country: International
Category: Climate Change and Food Security

Many poor people in developing countries live in ecologically vulnerable environments. This affects both their livelihoods and their safety. As their farm lands erode, deserts advance and forests disappear, they are finding it increasingly difficult to ensure a sufficient and sustainable income. As increasing numbers of people are forced to live in precarious locations such as steep hills, slums and unstable coastal areas continues to rise, natural hazards such as earthquakes and hurricanes are increasingly likely to cost lives.

Poverty accelerates environmental destruction, as survival often requires an overexploitation of natural surroundings. Relatively infertile land is quickly depleted and prone to erosion. The quest for survival leads to levels of hunting, fishing, grazing, and wood-gathering that surpass the environment’s carrying capacity. It is difficult to escape from this downward spiral, in which poverty and environmental destruction reinforce each other.

Climate change is exacerbating this situation. It is likely to annihilate the poverty reduction gains of the recent past, and may render the Millennium Development Goals unachievable.

Islamic Relief is inspired by the teachings of Islam in all of its work. Islam’s environmental worldview is a holistic one. It assumes a fundamental link and interdependency between all natural elements and bases its teachings on the premise that if humanity abuses or exhausts one element, the natural world as a whole will suffer direct consequences. Ultimately, none of the five major aims (maqasid) of the Shariah (protection of religion, life, mind, offspring and property) can be sustained if the world’s environment – God’s Creation – does not allow for survival.

Islamic Relief recognises that poverty and environmental degradation need to be tackled simultaneously to achieve long-term alleviation of the suffering of the world’s poorest people and to be true to the Muslim faith.

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