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Whose Environmental Crisis?

Believing that the system provides instead of God causes man to abandon his amanah, his divine trust, to care for all creatures. It renders him unconscious that all beings on the earth -- the animals, plants, elements, and minerals -- the earth, mountains, and sky themselves -- are consciously alive by the touch of the Divine, communicating and complying with the momentary command of the One Sublime, though we may perceive their discourse and actions not.  "Indeed, We did offer the trust [of volitional faith] to the heavens and the earth and the mountains. But they refused to bear it and were fearful of it. Yet the human being bore it, [but could not uphold it]. Indeed, he was most unjust [concerning his own trust] and most ignorant [of the outcome]!" (33:72)

It tricks man into substituting mere crumbs falling from the lowly table of market-interest for the opulent grace of the divine, and thereby to upset the Heavenly mizan, the delicate balance of creation, that God originally set and then bequeathed to our care. "Thus it is He alone who has set the balance of all things, so that you might not transgress the just balance" (55:7-8).

It transforms man's constructive impulse of ‘imarah, inspired improvement and facilitation of the wholesomeness of the earth, into greed-driven development that ruins creation and destroys its naturally paired state of beauty and utility. Thus in the place of human sharaakah, what the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, called the believers' shared partnership in the earth's abundantly free-flowing water, game, and vegetation of the wilderness, and air, the multitudes are subjugated by the monopolies, cartels, and interest-based financing of the few.

The result is the inversion of the divine gift of tas-kheer, the rendering by God of all things in the land, sea, and sky as cultivable, serviceable, and utile for the express purpose of the renewable benefit of man in his brief worldly sojourn. Instead of the princes of God on earth, we human beings become the subjects of the material, time-bound, and valueless, indentured in the servitude of a "brute-ocracy," a network of modern-day vampires who live on the blood of common victims.

We have willingly turned ourselves over to the care of unseen people. So the Creator in the Unseen has willed to turn us from His meticulous care to their ruthlessly methodical exploitation and carelessness. The modern world has told us the greatest fairy tale in history, that we no longer have to worry about the Judgment of the Creator in the world for our trespasses because "rational" men have recently learned to take away His Life and the wise men of ‘natural' science now control the world and shall find an answer to every problem, including death.

But alas for the words of men. How often they are empty, like their hearts, and how easily they are deceived. So corruption prevails in the land and the sea. Nor even have the spheres of the heavens been saved from all the evil that the hands of humanity have earned. This, God has allowed, so that He may cause them to taste something of that which they have done. Yet even so, this test for man is no mere punitive measure from God. Rather, it is so that they may return to their proper posture of vicegerency in penitence to Him (30:41).

For the results of man's wholesale assault on creation (especially our oppression of our own selves) remain grievous violations against the Creator. And though our ways must change, His Way does not. Erupting mountains, quaking lands, melting glaciers, burning woods, tidal destructions, breached skies, and breaking levees -- these catastrophes of creation are happening everywhere and with increasing rapidity because such is the Judgment of God. And even as our unnatural human behavior is no longer local but global -- and, true to the understanding of the ages before our modern one -- so to the ensuing creational disaster remains commensurate with the environs of our corruption. Steadily, they are engulfing the whole earth.

Whose Crisis Is It?

The mainstream media presents the dimensions of our impending environmental disasters as a "natural" outcome of a system of human life now so "advanced" as to be hopelessly intricate, complex, and overwhelming. This is no accident. This message is meant to make us throw up our arms and ask: How can a common person like me work outside the system?

Yet this question is itself telling of a deeper problem. We exist in such a state of disconnection -- with creation, with one another, with the sacred, with God -- that we falsely see the system as separate from ourselves; in fact, that we see ourselves as existing either outside of it or able to enter and exit it at will; that we come to see the system is an inevitable Leviathan of history; that we submit to the notion that power properly belongs to the system almost metaphysically; and that we personally are spiritually separated and emotionally divested of the system so that there is nothing we can or ought to do to change it. On the contrary, even we Muslims are now increasingly telling one another that we can bend the system, through clever political activism, to our interests, if we are "smart" like others have been.

9/18/2009 4:00:00 AM