One of the few comprehensive environmental, ecosystem related Fatwas was issued on the 22 January 2014 by the Indonesian Council of Ulema, Fatwa Commission, Jakarta. Released in the face of increased rates of threats to natural ecosystems and endangered species, the fatwa has been welcomed in a country where Islam is the faith of the majority. While the actual impact of a such a strong fatwa advocating for natural ecosystems is difficult to predict depending on who you listen to, it is most certainly a positive to see that our ulama are formally advocating for the active protection of Allah (SWT) various creations.
Interestingly, a lot of media coverage has focused on the fatawa being “against Wildlife Trafficking” (e.g. see National Geographic’s article). The Fatwa however covers a larger spectrum of issues. The main emphasis made is that the fatwa does not only address the endangered “charismatic” animals and plant species (like cycads, rhinos and polar bears), but rather also the underlying and arguably more important ecosystems and their services. Indeed, it is through these ecosystem processes that Allah (SWT) provides for us and show our dependency on Him. If we continue with our “business-as-usual” attitude in our daily activities, continue harming these endangered species and continue being ungrateful of these bounties we are blessed with, we will cripple these supporting ecosystem functions. May Allah (SWT) guide us and protect us, Aameen.
The Fatwa begins with outlining the problem and then proceeds to give the underlying background principles from the Qur’aan, the Haadith [traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him) and relevant rules of the Islamic laws and principles of Islamic Jurisprudence. The fatwa then states that it has also taken into consideration Muslim scholars opinions, various conservation laws and principles of the Indonesian government, as well as the results of various meetings between different bodies during the course of formulating the fatwa.
The actual decree “FATWA on protection of endangered species to maintain the balanced ecosystems” consists of:
- general guideline to understand the fatwa
- the decreed legal guidelines that must guide a Muslim’s actions
- recommendations to government, to legislators, to regional administrators, to businesses, to religious leaders and to the community
- and lastly closing off by saying the fatwa is immediately effective as well as inviting the public to comment.
You can download the fatwa here: Indonesian Fatwa, 2014, Endangered Species, Balanced Ecosystems
May Allah (SWT) guide us all and let this fatwa be part of the beginning of constructive discourse and action in Indonesia and the rest of the world. Aameen.
If you would like to give your opinion on this fatwa and on the role of ulema bodies in general in environmental conservation, please feel free to comment below or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org Please try to be respectful in all your comments. Shukran