Noor Cultural Centre

Islam and the Environmental Crisis

Jan 1st 2009


The Noor Symposium on Religion in the Contemporary World


Islam & the Environmental Crisis: Faith, Eco-Responsibility, Sustainability, and Leadership Through Exemplary Action

An evening with Dr. Maged Senbel and Dr. Timothy Gianotti

Date: Friday May 16, 2008
Time: 7:30pm
Location: Auditorium, Noor Cultural Centre
Admission: $5

Combining scholarly presentations and general discussion, this event will explore some of the following themes:

Nature as a Sacred Text: A Qur’anic Introduction to the Majesty and Mystery of the Natural World
We will briefly draw a clear and Qur’anically-based line linking the sacred ayat of the Qur’an itself and the sacred ayat said to be woven into the fabric of our bodies, souls, and the world we inhabit. In this light, the natural world becomes a “book” no less sacred than the ones we revere and handle with such special care and concern. Islamic Environmentalism must be grounded in an understanding of the sacredness of the creation.

The Global Ecological Condition and Muslim Responsibility
We will explore the current discourse amongst environmentalists about the state of the world and the realities of climate change, peak oil, globalization and massive social injustice and upheaval. Questions will be raised about what our role as Muslims ought to be in light of these conditions.

Rethinking the Caliphate: A Qur’anic Illumination of Human Responsibility Toward the Environment
Here we will explore the Qur’anic description of stewardship (khilafa): what is the Divinely intended relationship between humankind and the natural world?

Islam and Ecological Ethics
We will explore present environmental and social ethics as derived from the example of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the Qur’an and Hadith. This discussion will also draw heavily from the considerable scholarship put forward by Muslim environmentalists over the last three decades. The rise of popularized values of material consumption and desirable lifestyles have directly harmed people and the living beings upon which we all rely for our survival. How can contemporary measures of success be redefined to be in line with Muslim values and environmental and social justice?

Healing the Divorce of the Human Sphere and the Biosphere: Toward an Islamic Theology for the Survival of the Planet and the Human Family
Drawing upon the Qur’an, the Prophetic Traditions, and the writings of great sages from Islamic History, we need to rethink our relations with other religious communities and discover the Divine wisdom in the creation of religious and ethnic diversity. In this regard, we should also make mention of contemporary initiatives — including the open letter entitled “A Common Word” that was released last Ramadan by a host of Muslim scholars and religious leaders — that are pointing in this direction.

Spirituality, Faith and Remembrance
How do the Islamic practices of worship serve as tools that help us live in a more conscientious way? The essence of Islam as submission should inspire Muslims to live in a state of constant humility, which naturally translates to concern for the welfare of others and modest living. Everything from wudu’ to prayer to dhikr enables us to remain in a constant state of awareness of our place in the universe. Muslim reverence, if practiced ubiquitously, can allow us to be sensitized to the plight of God’s creations and our affect on them no matter where they reside on the planet.

Timothy J. Gianotti is the current Noor Chair of Islamic Studies at York University.

Maged Senbel is a professor in the School of Community and Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia. Maged’s passion is urban sustainability. Inspired by the ongoing quest for environmental and social justice Maged traverses the space between architecture and planning, between design and public decision-making. His research focuses on analytical methods for making cities more ecologically sustainable as well as the deliberative and participatory processes that contribute to implementing sustainable designs. His professional experience is in the areas of architecture, planning and urban design; and his teaching experience is in architecture, urban design, planning, landscape architecture and creativity. Interdisciplinarity and enhancing the reciprocity between theory and practice are the continuous threads that weave together the various strands of his work.

Maged joined SCARP in 2007 after spending three years at the University of Utah where he launched and directed the Westside Studio. This is an interdisciplinary teaching and research center in Salt Lake City’s lowest income and highest diversity neighborhoods. It brings together students from architecture, business and urban planning to work with neighborhood residents and community organizations on local development issues. He was named Lowell Bennion Public Service Professor and was the 2006 Professor of the year for the college of Architecture + Planning.

Born in Cairo, Egypt, Maged is Canadian and has had the privilege of living in several countries, traveling to a few more, and being influenced by many more. He has a Bachelor¹s in Architecture from the University of Oregon; a Master’s in Architecture from McGill University; a Master’s of Science in Planning, and a PhD in Planning, both from the University of British Columbia.