Islamic jurisprudence and scriptural tradition have numerous compulsory and voluntary obligations to provide a safety net for the less fortunate in their communities. One particularly important instrument for solidarity and social development is the establishment of waqf (charitable trust or pious endowed property). Among many charitable faith-based organizations and institutions, waqf is an important option available to devout Muslims concerned with care for the poor and the earth, closeness to and love of God, as well as love of kin and neighbour. In this paper, I first present the institution of waqf and how it functioned historically. Second, I point to the crucial role of women as founders and managers of waqf. Third, I examine waqf amidst the whirlwind of modernity and colonialism. In conclusion, I affirm the significance of waqf today for Muslim societies in difficult political and socio-economic situations.
Concerns for the vulnerable, the poor and marginalised, both human and non-human, are central to the Christian and Muslim religions. This special issue focuses on the one hand on Catholic social thought and practice with regard to care for the poor and care for the earth, and on the other hand on historical and contemporary Islamic social thought and practice. In this introduction, we set the context of the dialogue and of this special issue. At a general level, we emphasise the centrality of love of God and love of neighbour in both Christianity and Islam. We then focus on the Catholic and Sunni traditions. We discuss how each understands the relationship between love of God/love of neighbour and the different organisational structures and practices which express this love. We highlight some commonalities and differences between teachings, organisational structures and historical and social contexts. We conclude by outlining some areas of mutual learning with regard to the centrality of care for the poor and for the earth in both religions.
Religious traditions and institutions have historically played a significant role in shaping cultural scaffoldings and social practices. Can they also help re-shape the unsustainable world humans have made for themselves, which is now undermining not only the actual and prospective minimum standards of dignified life for the many, but also the basic fabric of Earth’s life support? From an approach critical of mainstream sustainability and looking to the example of the Catholic Church and Pope Francis’ vision of an “integral ecology”, this article argues that, in spite of being a latecomer to the global sustainability debate, the Church is structurally uniquely positioned to play the role of a global sustainability governance agent in the necessary transition to future-able way(s) of societal organization. It can, however, do so only if it proves capable of avoiding the risks of corporatist takeover, instrumentalisation for economic and political purposes, and assimilation of the integral ecology narrative used by the overall ineffective approaches of mainstream sustainable development.
In this paper I explore some of the roles that education can and needs to play in supporting “the great socio-ecological transition”, with particular emphasis on adult and vocational education and training. After briefly outlining some of the facets of the current pluricrisis, I examine a set of intersecting debates about transformation and transition(s) towards a more sustainable future, which is necessarily also more just. In this analysis, I build beyond the social science traditions usually evoked in these debates to draw on Catholic analyses of the nature of the problem. Catholic Social Teaching began with a concern about the effects of the transition to industrialisation, with Rerum Novarum (published by Pope Leo XIII in 1891), and increasingly has sought to address the need for the next transition beyond the Capitalocene, especially in Laudato Si’ (published by Pope Francis in 2015). It has always placed workers, work and learning at its core. Thus, there is much potentially to be gained from bringing together conventional educational research perspectives on education for sustainable development and education for human development with a Catholic Social Teaching lens in thinking about the possible roles for education in supporting just transitions.
Latin America is plagued by extreme wealth inequality, much of which results from sharp disparities in land ownership. In addition to limiting access of basic goods to millions of Latin Americans, concentrations in land ownership harm the common good. Extreme disparities correlate to sluggish economic growth, inefficient agricultural practices, weakened public institutions, income disparities, and sharp increases in environmental degradation. A related concern is the destruction of indigenous peoples’ land in the Amazon and denial of access to land that is rightfully theirs. This paper examines how resources from Catholic Social Teaching help us reflect critically upon and respond to these injustices. It analyzes in particular how Pope Francis and the Amazonian bishops apply the tradition in markedly new ways, ways that are shaped by and directed to this diverse, abundant and unique socio-geographical region. Attention is paid not only to what Catholic Social Teaching can bring to local justice issues, but also lessons indigenous peoples can teach the broader Church.
Islamic environmentalism has increased within the last several decades in the Muslim world and in Muslim-minority countries. The Arab Gulf is one of the regions in which environmentalism – let alone Islamic environmentalism – has been greatly understudied. This paper aims to partially fill this gap by exploring the Qur’anic Botanic Garden (QBG) in Qatar as an illustrative – albeit imperfect – example of Islamic environmentalism, combining environmental aspirations of many modern botanic gardens with religious and cultural aims. After briefly introducing Islamic environmentalism and the significance of environmentalism in the Arab Gulf region, I draw on field research conducted in Qatar to elucidate how the QBG utilizes Islamic scripture, beliefs, and values to articulate its vision and objectives. This paper also examines how QBG leaders’ religious and cultural views influence environmental advocacy within the QBG and beyond. Finally, this research critically explores the QBG’s potential impact on socio-environmental realities in Qatar. While the QBG may succeed in making intellectual advancements and promoting religious and ecological values, this paper posits that such a state-sponsored institution’s inability to politicize ecological degradation demonstrates the difficulty of reforming development models to achieve more socially just and sustainable ends. I conclude that the broader potential of Islamic environmentalism lies in its ability to unite Muslims and people in the Arab Gulf region behind a shared socio-environmental vision. Its efficacy also comes from mobilizing people to advocate alternative development models prioritizing the integrity of all people and honouring planetary boundaries over economic growth or political gain.
Why is so much of official environmental action in the Islamic world Western-oriented? This article investigates this topic by first examining inherited resources in the Islamic tradition that could contribute to an environmentalism. It then proceeds to explain the peripheralization of these resources and the engagement of environmentalist methods of particularly modern and Western origin. A variety of factors are at play, including the large-scale indifference of religious scholars and politicians to the environment in the Islamic world; postcolonial attitudes of inferiority in the East that champion Western views and methodologies over local, traditional ones; the relative compatibility of Western environmentalist means with modernization; and the secularization of the acquisition of knowledge and its applications. In juxtaposition with concerns of romanticizing the traditional or the modern, the present article also examines the relevance of traditional Islamic methods of environmental action.