Book Review | Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet

In recent years, many politicians and environmentalists have argued the need for a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. I recall one night in the Islamic Center of NM here in Albuquerque when a nun who was visiting our center asked me what Islam says about the environment, and I struggled to answer her.  I responded, “Of course it promotes taking care of our earth,” but I wasn’t able to give her enough evidences from the Quran and Sunnah to support my statement.

Recently, I read a book titled Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet by Ibrahim Abdul-Matin who is an environmental policy consultant and has worked for Green For All, Green City Force, Interfaith Leaders for Environmental Justice, the Prospect Park Alliance, and the New York City Mayor’s Office of Long Term Planning & Sustainability. The book, which is available on Amazon, has a very unique approach to this issue of Islam and the environment.

It is divided into an introduction and four parts (Waste, Watt, Water, and Food), and serves as an educational tool for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. In the introduction the author briefly introduces the reader to Islam and its concepts, and then he talks about the motives behind writing this book. One interesting section of the introduction was “The Six Principles of a Green Deen” which incorporated the concepts of Tawheed (monotheism), pondering over the signs of Allah on this earth, humans as guardians and protectors of this planet, Muslims as being just even to the environment, and promoting balance with nature. He elaborated and articulated how Islam promotes fairness and peace to earth and what is surrounding us.

In the first part of the book, Waste, he started by asking the very captivating question “How do you relate to trash, to waste, to consumption?”, which automatically connected my mind with his.  It took me a few minutes to think of an answer before I continued reading the book just so I would examine where I stand vs. where the author stood, and the difference was huge. If we take a closer look into our Muslim homes, masajid, and community centers, we will find that the main theme connecting them all together is over-consumption. This part of the book sets the stage up for us to start thinking of ways and solutions to overcome these issues.

If you live around New York or the northeastern United States, then you will relate to part two of the book, Watt. It is interesting how the world lived pre-Industrial Revolution when the only source of energy was fire. The author alludes to the usage of cleaner energy and less dependence on carbon and its derivatives. He talks explicitly about the various industrial practices that left the environment naked of its natural resources. Coal mining and oil drilling were the main two areas that the author brought to light in this chapter. He suggested a few solutions like solar, water, and other renewable sources of energy. The interesting part was the verses he quoted in support of his solutions. Look forward to that.

The famous verse in the Quran where Allah said: “…and We have created from water every living thing” (Surah 21 v.30) came to mind when I read in the introduction of the third part of this book, Water, that less than 1% of the earth’s water is left for us to survive. This indeed peaked my curiosity as to how to conserve water and use it properly. In this section of the book, Abdul-Matin spoke about the level of toxicity in our water and ways to conserve water as we are practicing our deen.

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Being a chubby person myself, I found the chapter about food interesting, to say the least. The book gives excellent solutions as to how to pick your food and stay Halal. He actually has two chapters titled “Green Zabiha” and “American Halal – Setting the Stage for the Future” discussing methods and ways to stay green while staying Halal and even profiting from it financially.

I found this book to be interesting and original in its ideas. While I found the author sometimes going out on a limb to quote some verses, I think the book overall allows us Muslims to connect with the environment around us while realizing it is a form of obeying our Creator. I highly encourage reading this book.

Click here to watch an interview of Abdul-Matin on Fox News about his book.

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24 responses to “Book Review | Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet”

  1. TruthMuslim says:

    I always appreciate it when contemporary issues are explained through an Islamic perspective, such as environmentalism and Islam.

    It helps to reinforce the true meaning and purpose of our Deen: that it’s a phenomenon needed to be applied to every aspect of life, including how we should take care of the Earth.

    InshAllah, I hope more scholars can prioritize this important subject.

    We only have one earth, and although it may be suitable for us to live our lives by, it’s also important to think about our future generations. Surely as we hope Islam will thrive in the future, it will be good to know that the good maintenance of the planet will thrive as well.

    MashAllah, it’s an awesome book review. JazakAllahu-Khair for bringing this text to our attention! I will definitely look into it.

    • Hena Zuberi says:

      JazakAllah! Bro Haytham for doing the book review. Would ask you to mail it to me but after reading this I think I’ll support the brother and buy my own copy plus Yusra ahead of me on the wait list. :)

      I have major tree-hugging tendencies too :) seriously, my dad did own and ran a plastics recycling plant when I was younger. I do believe it is our religious obligation to take care of the earth and try to be eco-conscious in as many aspects of our lives as possible.

      InshaAllah, MM will have a new series “Make your deen green” that will focus on Muslims and our responsibility to the environment- hoping to show our readers, practical ways to make changes in their lives. Any and all suggestions welcome.

  2. abu Rumay-s.a. says:

    jazak Allahu khairun brother Haytham for highlighting this important topic that is oft neglected, especially in the Muslim world.

    As a water/wastewater specialist myself, I know (and value) first hand the importance of environmental protection. After having moved to the Middle East, I’ve observed some of the most horrendous acts of polluting the environment starting from the individual all the way up to those in charge.. It made really understand how important it is to have an EPA (environmental protection agency) to serve to protect nature and its resources.

    Therefore, once again, there is a distant gap between what Islam says (about the environment) and what Muslims do to it, its really disheartening.

    Sometimes, I go for a walk along the beach here in Jeddah and smell the obnoxious odors emanating from the beach because of dumping sewage into the ocean, you can see all the algea growing on the rocks at the shoreline which is quite atypical for a normal healthy beach. Also, on a Saturday morning walk you will see all the trash dumped by the people who were there picnicking on Friday night and the poor street cleaners are sweeping it up.

    We Muslims need to step up to the plate and walk the walk and slow down on talk the talk…as they go hand in hand…may Allah ta`ala give us proper awareness and thankfulness for His infinite bounties..ameen..

    Insha`Allah when time permits, I’ll try to contribute and add a follow up to this post as I believe our environmental ethics are only a reflection of one the aspects of our eeman….


  3. Sarah says:

    MashaAllah, having just taken an Environmental science class this semester, I was wondering what the Islamic take was on this. JazakaAllahu khayrn – going to look for this book… after exams inshaAllah. :)

  4. Amad says:

    Being a chubby person myself, I found the chapter about food interesting, to say the least.

    You are not chubby, you are just muscular…. ur fat muscles are continuing to develop.

  5. AMS says:

    Tree hugger… get a job

  6. Amatullah says:

    “If it comes from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t eat it.”

    EMANcipate yourself

    • Linda (II) says:

      What a cheap way to get publicity to your for profit org

      • Usman says:

        Sister Linda you seem to be mocking at anyone who is posting relevant comments and also is posting a link to their own website. This is not the first of such comments of yours that I have seen. Your comments are the ones that are off topic.

        Back to the topic:

        I am in the process of reading Green Deen myself. One thing that is glaring as I read through the book is the wrong concept of tawheed is being spread. The book says repeatedly that tawheed is “the Oneness of All in Creation.” Whereas tawheed as we all know is the oneness of Allah and nothing to do with creation. This is a repeated concept throughout the book so far ( I am half way through reading it). Inshallah, I will contact Brother Ibrahim about it when I am done reading the book.

  7. akhan says:

    About time there’s a book like this. I often hear speakers say that Muslims should be the forefront of every field and they often mention the environment. Glad to see someone taking the initiative.

  8. Rafa says:

    Masha Allah, I’ve noticed that there’s been more talks from Imams and scholars tackling this issue as well. Its really refreshing to hear. Jazak Allah for the review!

  9. Nayma says:

    I saw my husband reading the book few weeks ago! Just skimmed it myself. JAK for encouraging us to read it!

    I’m excited for MM to start a section: Making your Deen Green! We need to especially encourage our children to be more environmentally conscious. What better way than to practice ourselves.

    We were so disappointed that in DE, you actually have to pay for the recycling truck to come take your bottles/papers. We were spoiled in NY! They did it for free.

    So we save them until my kids and their dad can take them to the recycling center. :-)

    My daughter has a category for being an environmentalist:

    Please encourage your children to send any projects/poems they have for taking care of Allah’s earth to put on her website.

    • Haytham says:

      mashaAllah. I just skimmed through her site, and I am amazed mashaAllah.

      Let me know if she is interested to write for us :) I am serious. With a pro-enviroment new section on our site, we are going to need some fresh help :) My email is haytham at muslim matters dot org

      Give her my salam and thanks :)

  10. NY says:

    Very interesting and needed. I will soon inshAllah buy that book.

    Jazakuallahu kyrun for the encouragement.

  11. Maryam says:

    Fox News speaks with the author of Green Deen:

  12. Salaams

    We have a new children’s Islamic cartoon DVD just arrived “Zaky’s Adventures- The Earth has a fever”. It takes children on an adventerous journey with Zaky and his friends to discover about global warming and how to help our enivornment whilst trying to save their freind’s school. An excellent resource to educating the young ones in a child friendly way about islam and our enivornment!

  13. Nayma says:

    Being Green in Action with Kids
    Good way to reuse everyday items and have fun with kids!

  14. Ed Schulte says:

    Dear fellow readers of “Green Deen” ( Peace be to You and yours)

    I have taken the liberty of posting a referenec to “Green Deen” on the TED wed site discussion group promoted by SHELL Co. Netherlands “Future Cities Discussion”

    I invite all to add their encourgement of Gree Deen there as well.

    Be Well, Be Present

    Ed S

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