Eco-Warriors

Kowanda-Yassim Cover
Residenz Verlag’s ‘Life with Insight’ (‘Leben auf Sicht’) series features non-fiction titles that explore innovative ways of dealing with the greatest global challenges – from climate change to the migration crisis. Written with verve and insight and aimed at a general audience, here we review the latest in the series, a study of ‘green Islam’.

Eco Jihad explores how the Muslim world engages with ecological issues, those which affect the entire planet as well as issues specifically relating to Muslim societies, such as the environmental impact of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. The book outlines how the principles of the Islamic faith relate to environmentalism and features a variety of eco-projects initiated by Muslim individuals and organisations. Eco Jihad makes an essential contribution to our understanding of the relationship between spiritual values and environmentalism, and is the only showcase for such a diverse collection of Muslim environmental initiatives.

Eco Jihad is divided into two main sections: the first provides a brief overview of the origins and characteristics of eco-Islam, including major international conferences and academic surveys, as well as a summary of the underlying theological arguments. The second section comprises twelve chapters, each describing a particular Islamic organisation, project, or individual engaged in activities to promote sustainable living and reduce environmental destruction. Numerous eco-Islamic projects originated in the UK, including the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences (IFEES), founded by Fazlun Khalid in the mid-1980s and regarded as the first eco-Islamic organisation. Other UK initiatives include Muslim Action for Development and Environment (MADE), founded in 2008, which initiates a huge variety of campaigns to engage young British Muslims in social actions benefiting society and the environment, and the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) founded in 1995 by Prince Charles, which seeks to find common ground between the world’s religions in terms of protecting the environment.

The author gives an overview of international projects, including an Austrian initiative aimed at increasing environmental awareness in faith schools and the ‘Masdar city experiment’. Launched in 2008, this innovative project aims to found a city which runs on renewable energy, with zero carbon and zero waste. That city is in the UAE, a country with one of the world’s largest carbon footprints. Ursula Kowanda-Yassin’s book will appeal to anyone with an interest in environmentalism and how the influence of religion can be harnessed to promote sustainable living – an important factor in a world where around eighty-five percent of people adhere to a religious faith.

Kowanda-Yassin Profile

Ursula Kowanda-Yassin was born in Beverley, Yorkshire in 1975. She grew up in the countryside in Salzburg state, obtained a degree in Islamic studies and now lives in Vienna. She has worked in adult education and as a freelance writer since 1999.