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Green Deen: What Islam Teaches about Protecting the Planet Paperback – November 11, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
"How we manage waste, watts, water, and food should reinforce the moral foundations of our communities...ensure economic and social justice and create the freedom to transform our pollution-based 'gray' economy to one that...is sustainable and 'green.'" Environmental policy consultant and youth organizer Abdul-Matin shares his love of the Earth, which he describes as a mosque, in his first book, a guide to environmentalism that speaks to Muslims in their own terms. Defining a Deen as a path, the author clearly demonstrates how environmentalism fits into the goals and ethics of Islam. Abdul-Matin seamlessly intertwines personal experiences with religious doctrine and environmental information. The author focuses on several facets of human impact-waste, energy, water, and food-and includes discussions of green jobs, political systems, and greenwashing. Though topics will not be new to those who have read secular books about green or simple living, Muslims will appreciate Abdul-Matin's clarity in relating steps to Islam, often providing quotes from the Qur'an (though tips will apply equally to non-Muslims). Less a lecture than an invitation to introspection, Green Deen is a welcome hybrid, providing a glimpse into conservation through the lens of religion.
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'Ibrahim Abdul-Matin's deep connection with Islam and the environment helps to make his book clear, easy to read, balanced and convincing.' - Harfiyah Abdel Haleem, Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences, UK 'Ibrahim-Abdul Matin not only shows the myriad ways American Muslims are contributing to the resolution of the environmental crisis that threatens us all, but he goes a long way toward humanizing the Muslim community by sharing with the reader the lives of so many extraordinary, talented and visionary people.' - Imam Zaid Shakir, cofounder, Zaytuna Institue 'Green Deen shows how the authentic religious values and practices of Islam should lead to a wholesome, healthy and compassionate lifestyle that benefits all living things. Abdul-Matin writes in accessible, intelligent and motivating language, making this an excellent book for all readers.' - Ingrid Mattson, PhD, President, The Islamic Society of North America --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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He also presents major examples of efforts currently doing good things on this front.
After a nice forward by Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison, Abdul-Matin divides his discussion into four main parts: waste, energy, water and food. For each, he briefly outlines the environmental issues and tries to show how American Muslims are working to solve these issues by highlighting certain individuals as examples. He also sometimes refers to hadith or Qur'anic verses or in some other way tries to connect one or more of the six principles (tawhid, ayat, amana, adl, khalifah, and mizan) to solutions.
As far as the quality of this item for someone interested in following a "Green Deen", a way of life that emphasizes responsible use of resources as part of and in line with Islamic teachings, his advice and outlines are mostly rather pedestrian. The historic and scientific background information in this book tends to be drastically oversimplified. The author fails to address any scientific debate over some claims made, and he makes sweeping gestures around history, at one point seemingly suggesting that there has been one smooth arc of progress from humanity as environmental devils toward fulfillment of the Islamic ideal of humans as proper stewards of the world's resources. However, as an overview or introduction, these aspects are adequate.
The writer finally seems to catch his stride about 1/3 of the way into the book. He presents many solid, standard ideas for topics such as making a "Green Mosque" through energy audits, weatherizing, adding off-grid energy sources, avoiding use of disposable dishes and bottled water, incorporating ride-sharing plans, composting food waste, using low energy appliances, getting LEED certification on new construction, growing a community garden, and so on. He also does a fair job of describing a relationship between the modern political landscape and the unjust appropriation of natural resources by some governments and makes an impassioned argument against bottled water. He further succeeds at demonstrating through example that many American Muslims are working on environmental issues in a variety of contexts, although the book would've been well-served to have had even more such examples.
Abdul-Matin admits in his introduction to a few limitations that do affect the overall quality of the work. His attempts to tie his chosen six Islamic principles to his overall discussion are often weak. The connections are there, but insufficiently supported in the writing. He becomes extremely repetitive, beginning sections with nearly identical wording and retelling some facts and stories multiple times. The questions he ends chapters with often leave them feeling unfinished rather than bringing them to a satisfying conclusion. He excessively uses the phrase "Green Deen" as if it were a religion or mantra of its own, separate from Islam, in contradiction to his correct contention that Islam and a conservationist stance are already perfectly aligned. And, he presents some content that involves fiqh in ways that may be incorrect for some schools of thought. For example, while making a strong case for organic and free range zabiha meat, he nonetheless claims that eating meat slaughtered by People of the Book is religiously acceptable - a claim that is certainly not a unanimously held position.
As a whole, this work lacks in sophistication or nuance, but succeeds in filling a necessary niche in the available literature. A reader will find some content of worth in this effort, although may not be satisfied by the book as a whole. A youth group interested in leading its community toward more environmentally sound practices may find some inspiration and ideas in its pages and may benefit from the effort to employ an Islamic foundation, but will not find a clear, practical guide on how to accomplish its goals; the author leaves it to the reader to figure out how to put the ideals, ideas and examples into action in one's own particular context.
Religion can be relevant beyond just dogma, by helping us to re-frame how we look at our problems. The author is a native born, second generation Muslim, educated, with a sense of civic responsibility, helps me to look at Islam in completely different light. Highly recommended.
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people of all backgrounds who truly care about our world.