Friday, November 21, 2008

A reflection on the Article “Childrens Environmental Rights” from an Islamic persepective

(The reaction is written in response to the conference paper presented by Atty Ronaldo Guttierez during the UNESCO World Philosophy day Conference “Power and Rights” held last 20 November at the Institute of Social Order Ateneo De Manila University.the article can be accessed at: )

The Holy Qur'an declares that man is the Vicegerent of God on Earth (khilafatul Ard) and that this trusteeship is divine in nature (amanah Ilahiyah). It is then in this context that this trusteeship is taken into the context of taking care of this divine piece of property so that the later generations (ummah) may benefit from it.

Sources from both the Qur'an and the Hadith express the divine injunctions of preserving the environment as part of a religious duty in the sense that if one does not take care of the environment, it appears that he has violated the divine injunctions for being God's trustee here on earth.

The context of protecting the environment in ensuring that future generations may enjoys it is of outmost importance that in the Islamic Rules on warfare written both in the Qur'an and the Traditions strictly prohibit any attacks made on the environment in the sense that the concept of warfare is directed at the opposing forces and that any other initiatives towards subjugation of the opposing force must be dealt with in a manner that may ensure that future generations may enjoy the fruits of a safe environment.

The fourth Caliph, Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib (karamallahu wajhah) has said in one of his letters to his commander Malik Al-Ashtar, that; “in wars, we must ensure that it is only combatants we fight and no harm must be done to trees, to bodies of water or any physical resource that is of collective use of humanity. Since this collective resource is the property of the future suceeding generations.”

The Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu Alayhi wa alihi wa salam) even said, “The Physical resources we now have at our disposal is actually a loan from Allah (God) to be returned later for use of the later generations.”

Islam goes a level further, claiming that man in his original state exists in a way that adapts to nature and the nature of creation, meaning by nature Man should also follow self sustainability. However, due to his excessive greed he goes to the point of extracting much and forgettingthe later generations.

In a nutshell, the point from an islamic persepective on environmental rights can be summed up in a simple concise statement,

“We borrow the physical resources at our disposal from our later generations,we must then take care and utilize carefully so that they may use it for many generations.”

This is the context of Divine stewardship of the earth. KHILAFATUL ARD

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Reflections : Attending the UNESCO Conference on Power and Rights

I had recently attended a conference sponsored by by the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines Social and Human Sciences Commitee in cooperation with Ateneo Human Rights Center and Ateneo De Manila Philosophy Department. The Theme for the Conference was "Power and Rights." and Since it was World Philosophy Day I tried to seriously relish the conference , nibbling its details and contents as if it was a course of delectable dishes.

And It was held only recently (today actually), I wasnt able to make commentaries on the articles presented there for this blog. But I would eventually do later after ding my other work here at the school.

In a way I found it intellectually awakening, hearing people qoute the same authors Ive read in College like Habermas, Foccault, or Maciavelli. It also was enlightening to hear what our intellectual philosophical giants had to say about the current issues of the day and how it would relate to your regular Fish monger,street sweeper or College student.

I was struck in a way that there indeed is a need to philosophize about things and that Philosophy is indeed an intellectual need for a nation to continue in its development.

I remember in Islamic History that when in the times when Islamic Philosophy flourished, Islamic Civilization was also at its peak and finest. Thus, as a progenitor of creative intellectual development, I believe that indeed for the Muslim Ummah to develop again, it mus rekindle Islamic Philosophy.

I only wished that in the next conference hosted by UNESCO, Prof Ibana would include speakers on Islamic Philosophy.

It would also be wonderful to think that had we decided to rekindle Philosophy in this country (the Philippines) perhaps we could see a reflourishing of intellectual advances in the country and perhaps a moral revolution in the country. Remember that the Prophet Muhammad (Salu Allahu Alayhi wa alihi wa salam) has said , "The Learned (scholars) are the heirs of the Prophets."

I also had a realization that has been rationalizing in my mind since attending the Interfaith Conference in DLSU, We have been always using western models and conceptual frameworks in our works, although the East has a living intellectual tradition worthy of emulation, we still take note and use western models for our discourses. Perhaps its about time to adapt a moratorium on using these models and instead adapt eastern models and conceptual frameworks and eventually creating our own indigenous and even unique conceptual models and frameworks when discussing concepts in Social Sciences.

More to follow after I do my commentaries on the articles in the conference.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Tariq ramadhan Comments on Meeting the Pope

Professor of Islamic studies and senior research fellow at St. Antony’s College at Oxford University and at Lokahi Foundation, Tariq Ramadan looks back at Pope Benedict XVI’s comments at Regensburg in September 2006, which were widely as being divisive between Muslims and Christians, and argues for a positive partnership between adherents of both faiths.

Why I went to meet the Pope
Tariq Ramadan

London - Now that the shock waves touched off by Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks at Regensburg on 12 September 2006 have subsided, the overall consequences have proven more positive than negative. Above and beyond polemics, the Pope’s lecture has heightened general awareness of their respective responsibilities among Christians and Muslims in the West.

It matters little whether the Pope had simply misspoken or, as the highest-ranking authority of the Catholic Church, was enunciating church policy. Now the issue is one of identifying those areas in which a full-fledged debate between Catholicism and Islam must take place. Papal references to “jihad” and “Islamic violence” came as a shock to Muslims, even though they were drawn from a quotation attributed to Byzantine emperor Manuel II Palaiologos.

It is clear that the time has come to open debate on the common theological underpinnings and the shared foundations of the two religions. The appeal by Muslim religious leaders, “A Common Word”, had precisely this intention: our traditions have the same source, the same single God who calls upon us to respect human dignity and liberty.

These same traditions raise identical questions concerning the ultimate purpose of human activity, and respect for ethical principles.

In a world that is experiencing an unprecedented global crisis, a world in which politics, finance and relations between humans and the environment suffer from a cruel lack of conscience and ethical integrity, it is a matter of greatest urgency that Christian-Muslim dialogue turn its attention to both theological issues and to those of values and ultimate aims.

Our task is not to create a new religious alliance against the “secularised” and “immoral” world order, but to make a constructive contribution to the debate, to prevent the logic of economics and war from destroying what remains of our common humanity.

Our constructive dialogue on shared values and ultimate goals is far more vital and imperative than our rivalries over the number of believers, our contradictory claims about proselytism and sterile competition over exclusive possession of the truth.

Those dogma-ridden individuals who, in both religions, claim truth for themselves are, in fact, working against their respective beliefs.

Whoever claims that he/she alone possesses the truth, that “falsehood belongs to everybody else…” has already fallen into error. Our dialogue must resist the temptation of dogmatism by drawing upon a comprehensive, critical and constantly respectful confrontation of ideas.

Ours must be a dialogue whose seriousness requires of us, above all else, humility.

We must delve deep into history the better to engage a true dialogue of civilisations. Fear of the present can impose upon the past its own biased vision. Surprisingly, the Pope asserted that Europe’s roots were Greek and Christian, as if responding to the perceived threat of the Muslim presence in Europe.

His reading, as I noted after the lecture at Regensburg, is a reductive one.

We must return to the factual reality of the past, to the history of ideas. When we do so, it quickly becomes clear that the so-called opposition between the West and the Muslim world is pure projection, an ideological instrument if you will, designed to construct entities that can be opposed or invited to dialogue, depending on circumstances.

But the West has been shaped by Muslims, just as the Muslim world has been shaped by the West; it is imperative that a critical internal process of reflection begin: that the West and Europe initiate an internal debate, exactly as must Islam and the Muslims, with a view to reconciling themselves with the diversity and the plurality of their respective pasts.

The debate between faith and reason, and over the virtues of rationalism, is a constant in both civilisations, and is, as such, far from exclusive to the Greek or Christian heritage. Neither is it the sole prerogative of the Enlightenment.

The Pope’s remarks at Regensburg have opened up new areas of inquiry that must be explored and exploited in a positive way, with a view to building bridges and, working hand-in-hand, to seek a common response to the social, cultural and economic challenges of our day.

It is in this spirit that I participated on 4-6 November in Rome, and in a meeting with the Pope on 6 November. Our task was to assume our respective and shared responsibilities, and to commit ourselves to working for a more just world, in full respect of beliefs and liberties.

It is essential, then, to speak of freedom of conscience, of places of worship, of the “argument of reciprocity”; all questions are possible in an atmosphere of mutual confidence and respect.

Still, it is essential that each of us sit down at the table with the humility that consists of not assuming that we alone possess the truth; with the respect that requires that we listen to our neighbours and recognise their differences; and, finally, the coherence that summons each of us to maintain a critical outlook in accepting the contradictions that may exist between the message and the practice of believers.

These are the essential elements to be respected if we are to succeed.


* Tariq Ramadan is a professor of Islamic studies and senior research fellow at St. Antony’s College, Oxford University and at Lokahi Foundation in London. He is also president of the European think tank, the European Muslim Network (EMN), in Brussels.

For more information about “A Common Word” please visit This article is distributed by the Common Ground News Service (CGNews) with permission from the author.

Source:, 4 November 2008,
Copyright permission is granted for publication.

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