Women, Mother Earth And the
Environment: The Beautiful Things About Islam
29 November 2012
By Karin Friedemann
In the past, I have written about the connection
between the women's hijab and the struggle for
protecting environmental resources. Hijab beyond
religion is a political statement saying, "I will
not be commodified."
Women's bodies are essentially part of the earth's
resources. Her offspring can either thrive or become
endangered. That is one reason why it is important to
Yet women's persons are resources in themselves
embodiments of boundless love, beauty, organization
and creativity when properly nourished. Women are the
personal maintainers of human life and human culture.
Yet, women are also usually in a weaker position than
men, and so must struggle to complete their tasks on
earth while simultaneously struggling to create a
situation of sustainability on earth.
Sustainability, in environmental terms, means actions
that lead to general health of the soil, air and
water. Sustainability, in human terms, means actions
that lead to the general health of self esteem,
relationships, and ability to contribute to the
community. Many times, people in weaker positions like
women and children, or indigenous populations such as
Native Americans or Palestinians, suffer a lot because
of the inability or refusal of the ruling class to
hear their voices or care how they feel.
At this time in history, we as humans are at a
watershed moment. The environment is in a state of
crisis, largely our fault, due to a combination of
unbridled consumerism and unbridled warmongering
leading to burning up the ozone layer with bombs,
airplanes, factories and automobiles. We as a species
are at a point where we have to take responsibility
for the way things are, and try to do better. Because
if we don't, we will all lose the feeling that our
planet is a comfortable and safe place to live and
While this is a pretty scary thing to realize, it's
also pretty amazing. God chose us, out of all the
living species, to decide what is going to happen on
this planet. There is no other species besides us that
is competing for the goal of making decisions for
everyone. Yes, whether you believe in God or not, we
cannot deny that we as a species have been made
responsible for everything even a frog. And the
proof is that there is no frog on earth, except in a
fairy tale, that would ever be able to take
responsibility for a human.
If we were imbued with the spirit of hope and faith,
the potential of good action when realizing this
intensely glorifying responsibility would be beyond
religion. But most people are not aware that God
created us to make the world a better place.
Many people have already become cynical and decided
that the earth is not a good place for raising
children and have told themselves that they are doing
the right thing by not investing in the future. Those
of us who do have children often feel like victims of
a hurricane, needing intense amounts of help but not
ever receiving enough. It takes a village to raise a
child, but today's world is a prison complex of
individual cells, where nobody really talks to
anybody, and each child is completely and utterly on
Kieran Suckling, executive director of Center for
Biological Diversity, made five simple demands of
President Obama in a recent article in the Huffington
1. Address climate change and ocean acidification.
2. Stem the extinction crisis.
3. Keep politics out of the Endangered Species Act and
other vital environmental laws.
4. Safeguard our public lands, wild places and the
5. Embrace a newer, cleaner energy.
While an oppressed person might view these demands for
a safe living environment as basic part of being
alive, a ruling class person might view other people's
life demands as negotiable, or even justify denying
them through force.
In Brazil, indigenous peoples and traditional groups
occupied the Belo Monte construction site to protest
the building of a dam. According to White Wolf Pack:
"Everything started with 13 fisherman camping on an
island and evolved to almost 200 people between
river-dependent community members, small farmers, boat
pilots, indigenous leaders, and fisherman. Those 13
brave warriors managed to build a beautiful and
organized community. A team of three women cooked day
and night for everybody. The stories shared under the
stunning sun and crazy storms; the laughs; tears; even
the quarrels between people were a sign that we were
becoming a big family. No dam could take that from
The protesters were all there "to denounce the
violation of their rights and the government's
pre-conditions that where never met by the company.
People should never have to negotiate to secure their
rights. With that in mind, we know that the battle is
not over, and the dream to stop the Belo Monte dam
The importance of power dynamics is addressed by
Yashar Ali, Los Angeles author of On Her Terms: The
Modern Woman's Guide to Rewriting the Rules of
"Women are consciously and unconsciously taught that
they are responsible for keeping the man by doing
what's necessary to make him happy. The onus is on
women to change, to adjust, to push aside what they
need or want in an effort to appease men so that they
are willing to engage in dating or being in a
relationship at all Women are faced with the
responsibility of maintaining the relationship, while
men have the power to direct where the relationship
Ali's book is meant to encourage women to stop
ignoring or accepting behavior that makes them feel
uncomfortable, and to stop making massive adjustments
in their character and fundamental selves in order to
make a man more comfortable.
"It's time for women to stop giving up ground when it
comes to romance and it's also time for men to stop
expecting them to give up this territory. For too many
women, the tone, tenor, nature, path, and dynamics of
the romantic part of their life is on the man's terms.
And it's time for our society at large to recognize it
and work to shift that imbalance."
One of the beautiful things about Islam is that people
should never have to negotiate to secure their rights.
Human rights are non-negotiable. They are God-given
and self-evident. The honor of the life of a human
being is never negotiable. It is important for women
to address imbalances in their personal relationships
in the same way that it is important for all oppressed
people who value the Earth to address imbalances in