By Rand Dalgamouni

AMMAN – Islamic scholars on Wednesday concluded that spiritual corruption is one of the main reasons behind the environmental problems now facing humans.

At the conclusion of the 15th General Conference of the Royal Al al Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought titled “Environment in Islam” yesterday, participants adopted the Islamic Declaration on Sustainable Development issued by the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation in June 2002, and the manifesto of the 2008 Interfaith Climate Summit held in Uppsala, Sweden titled “Hope for the Future”.

The conference also adopted what the UN approved of in a seven-year Islamic plan that was accepted by all religions in 2009 and its calls for the importance of protecting the planet by restoring its balance.

Another recommendation called for the establishment of an Islamic organisation similar to Greenpeace International to ensure the implementation of environment-sustaining measures in Islamic countries.

Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America, told The Jordan Times that the consensus that the scholars reached was the first step towards implementing specific practical changes, adding that community leaders should now play the role of mediator between scholars and the community to find practical methods that can develop this vision.

She also stressed the importance of religion in developing conscience and conviction that urge us to “do the right thing” in environmental issues.

The conference participants highlighted the need for combining efforts to sustain the environment with all its elements, saying any action that damages the environment is forbidden in Islam, and the importance of raising environmental awareness through teachers and religious figures promoting it as an Islamic value.

The scholars branded the abuse of environmental resources such as water, air and soil as a form of corruption that Islam forbids, stressing the need to prevent the utilisation of land in projects that may be harmful to the environment.

Other recommendations included calls for decision makers to pass legislation that ensures the protection of the environment and the need to increase vegetation and protect all living beings.

Al al Bayt Institute Spokesperson Hussein Rawashdeh called on decision makers to take the recommendations into serious consideration for implementation in the near future.

Mohammad Kamali, founding chairman and CEO of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies in Malaysia, said the conference went smoothly, but expressed hope that future conferences would be more “action-oriented” instead of the tendency of some scholars to be descriptive rather than “issue-oriented”.

The conference, which HRH Prince Ghazi officially opened on Monday, featured 39 research papers on issues related to the environment in Islam.