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Miyazaki, Shintoism & Ecology

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Miyazaki, Shintoism & Ecology

Shintoism & ecology

Commencing yesterday and running through the 30th of this month, New York's Museum of Modern Art presents Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata: Masters of Animation. The retrospective's centerpiece will be the North American premiere of Howl's Moving Castle (2004), Miyazaki's latest, which will subsequently receive a limited national release starting June 10th. (For Minneapolis readers, the film will open on that date at the Uptown Theatre.)

As no great fan of animation, let alone animae, I will admit that I think of Miyazaki as something of an exception. His best films manifest many of the same qualities as the very best of the classical Hollywood system: that is, they succeed in addressing multiple audiences at once, both as organic works of art and as entertainments in their own right. Spirited Away (2001), for instance, is targeted at ten year-old girls, seeking to remedy their principle anxieties, while operating as a parable for the economic crisis for older viewers. Then again, those not within the former demographic are likewise given a glimpse into the young female's psychoses. It is in other words an art that operates on numerous levels, separately addressing different viewers.


Shintoism and Ecology

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Shintoism and ecology

Nature as Divine

Heian Jingu Torii

Shinto tradition acknowledges a deep debt to the blessing of nature and the spiritual power which brings about life, fertility, and prosperity. This life-giving power was called Musubi (divine power of growth), and perceived in all the workings of nature. Since the Japanese people felt the divine within nature, they came to hold the ideal of a life that was in harmony with and united with nature. Mountains peaks, deep valleys, and the wide ocean were viewed as dwellings for the divine, and other natural objects such as evergreen trees and huge rocks were considered to be symbols of divine spirits.

Shinto and Agriculture

The Japanese way of life depends heavily on rice cultivation, the form of agriculture best suited to the Japanese climate. Rice is treated as a sacred and indispensable food. Matsuri festivals are traditionally held seasonally in each region to invoke the success of the rice harvest. Over thousands of years, the rituals and festivals associated with rice agriculture gave form to the religion of Shinto. Shinto is therefore both the indigenous folk religion of Japan, and the history of the Japanese people's way of life.


Are Islamic Thinking and Ecofeminism Possible?

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Are Islamic Thinking and Ecofeminism Possible?

Prof. Nawal Ammar

In her presentation about Are Islamic Thinking and Ecofeminism Possible, Prof. Ammar explained that it is not difficult to understand the ecological crisis in its apparent manifestations as polluted air, radiation, contamination of water, and the eradication of entire species of animals and plants.

However, as Foucault (1978) argued we do not live in an ecology but we live in a culture that influences ecology. A number of new episteme have been introduced regarding the relationship between culture and the environment in the past quarter of a century, Ecofeminism is one of those episteme that examines such a relationship.

Eco-feminism is a movement that is still evolving. According to King (1988) the French theorist Francoise d’Eaubonne coined the term ecofeminism in 1974. Ecofeminism parallels an ecological critique with gender role critique. Ecofeminism is a social and political movement that unites environmentalism and feminism, with some currents linking deep ecology and feminism. Ecofeminists argue that a relationship exists between the oppression of women and the degradation of nature, and explore the intersectional between sexism, the domination of nature, racism, speciesism, and other characteristics of social inequality.



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Ibrahim Ozdemir, Ph.D.*



1. What is the Environment?

2. The Islamic View of the Environment.

3. The Importance of Cleanliness.

4. The Cleanliness of the Social Environment

5. The Preservation of Trees, Woodland, and Green Areas

5.1. Trees in the Qur’an

5.2. Trees and Woodlands in Hadiths of the Prophet (PBUH)

6. The Protection of Animals

6.1. Animals in the Qur’an

6.2. Animals in Hadiths of the Prophet (PBUH).

7. Some Examples From Islamic History

8. Not Wasting the Earth’s Resources

Bibliography and Further Readings


An international conference was held in Chicago from 11th to 13th November 1997 to which representatives of all the major religions had been invited, and in which I myself also took part. In the course of it we were asked to note down what we considered to be the three most important problems facing the world. When the results were compiled, the following emerged as the most important problems:

1- Peace.

2- Environmental problems.

3- Education.

A decision was taken by the members of all the different religions participating in the conference to co-operate in solving these problems. For it has been stated by social scientists that moral and religious values will dominate the 21st century. In the present booklet, which I have prepared in this spirit, I have attempted to put forward the Islamic principles concerning the environment. My aim has been to set out clearly how Muslims consider the environment, or how they should consider it.

If this small work assists in the growth of environmental consciousness, all humanity will profit from it. For the environment belongs to all of us. Or more correctly, it has been given to all of us in trust by God. Our greatest responsibility should therefore be to treat this trust in the best way, and not to pollute it or destroy it. Furthermore, those things that have to be done, have to be done here and now; we must put nothing off until tomorrow.

Success is from God alone.



Towards an Islamic Jurisprudence of the Environment

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Towards an Islamic Jurisprudence of the Environment

Fiqh al-Bi'ah fil-Islam

By: Prof. Mustafa Abu-Sway

[This paper is based on a lecture given at the Belfast Mosque in February 1998]

This paper aims at formulating a coherent and systematic jurisprudence of the environment based on the Islamic revealed knowledge and heritage. The latter reflects the practical experience in the field and, therefore, forms the ground for a positive relationship with the environment. Within the Islamic world-view, this positive relationship is perceived as an act of faith which comes in line with the essential role of human beings on earth; to worship the one and only God. Therefore, our relationship with the environment should be regulated in the field of jurisprudence.

In addition, the paper explores how the Islamic world-view takes care of the different components of the environment, each separately. Finally, there is a discussion of the aims [maqasid] of the Shari'ah, where the aims are reconsidered.

The Epistemological Framework:

Islam is considered a comprehensive way of life whose teachings cover, directly or indirectly, every possible human relationship including that with the environment. These teachings are primarily available in the revealed knowledge which comprises the Qur'an and the Sunnah. There remains two other sources, namely the Ijma' and Qiyas; they are dependent on the first two in different ways and degrees. The relationship is so complex that cannot be represented in this paper for brevity. It is discussed, however, in books of Usul al-Din.

In what follows, some of the verses that define the epistemological parameters of the Qur'an are considered. One verse, at the beginning of Surat Al-Baqarah, presents the Qur'an as a book of guidance:


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