Theological Imperative for Environmental Stewardship?

July 09, 2024

Contributor: Elis Nurhayati* | Editor: Dadi Darmadi 

Grand Imam of Istiqlal Mosque Jakarta,  Prof. Dr. KH. Nasaruddin Umar, in his keynote speech during a recent's research launch on Green Islam research in Indonesia by PPIM UIN Jakarta, underscored the theological imperative for environmental stewardship.

"Our fatal shortcomings as human beings come from the arrogance that we are the ultimate owners of the universe while we are merely guardians of nature (khalifah fil ardh)," he said. "The greedier we are toward nature, the sooner doomsday will arrive." 

Read also: Tackling Environmental Issues Through the Lens of Islam: UIII Student’s Insights from Borneo Youth Camp

Grand Imam Nasaruddin has exemplified this commitment through practical actions. At the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, he initiated a cleanup of the polluted river nearby and implemented green initiatives, such as installing solar panels and water recycling systems. His efforts earned the mosque a green building accolade from the World Bank. 

Read also: MFin Student Calls for Green School Curriculum at Elementary Level

While some clerics see environmentalism as peripheral to religion, there is a growing recognition of its importance. Educating Indonesia's 200 million Muslims about climate change could drive significant change. The proponents of the Green Islam movement believe that Islamic universities can indeed produce climate leaders and eco-theologians to address the climate crisis. 

Recognizing the importance of this issue, the Indonesian International Islamic University (UIII) has launched an MA program in Public Policy that prioritizes integrating climate change awareness and leadership into its curriculum. 

Read also: Depok City and UIII Committed to Transforming Depok into a Blue and Green City

"The environment needs to become a central theme in the religious sermons and school curriculum," says Prof. Nasaruddin Umar. "It is indeed a daunting task for Islamic universities to produce climate leaders and eco-theologians to address the most pressing issues of humankind, climate crisis," he stated.


*) Elis Nurhayati is a UIII student in the Master of Public Policy program specializing in Climate Change.