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Worldviews 16 (2012) 286–305
Reviving an Islamic Approach for Environmental
Conservation in Indonesia
Fachruddin Majeri Mangunjayaa and Jeanne Elizabeth McKayb,1
a) Faculty of Biology, Universitas Nasional
Jl. Sawo Manila, Pejaten Ps. Minggu, Jakarta 12520, Indonesia
b) Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), School of Anthropology and
Conservation, Marlowe Building, University of Kent, Canterbury
Kent, CT2 7NR, England
In this paper, the authors argue that while state-sponsored eforts to preserve Indonesia’s
natural resources have been needed, their efectiveness has been limited due to the paucity
of available arable land and the frequent conicts conservation policies have generated
among local populations. Rather than a top-down structural approach, they argue, what is
needed is an innovative approach that includes education at the grassroots, which in
Indonesia will combine Islamic principles of environmental protection with traditional
methods of conservation. After a section presenting an Islamic theology of creation care and
then highlighting some projects in the Muslim world, the spotlight is turned on Indonesia,
where a number of initiatives involve the cooperation of religious leaders, eco-friendly
pesantren (religious boarding schools), international NGOs, and government policy at the
national and regional levels.
Islam, Qur’an, environment, Indonesia, conservation, education
It is widely accepted that a natural balance between the natural environ-
ment, production and consumption sustains the chain of life on earth.
For this reason, a balance between the protection of natural resources and
Author Mangunjaya holds positions in the Faculty of Biology, Universitas Nasional
(Indonesia) and the Religion and Conservation Initiative, Conservation International,
Jakarta; McKay is a Research Associate at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology
(DICE), University of Kent UK, and Project Manager of the Darwin Initiative Programme
funded by the UK’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural Afairs (Defra), entitled,
F.M. Mangunjaya and J.E. McKay / Worldviews 16 (2012) 286–305 287
sustainable development is required to ensure that these resources may
continue to be used by future generations. This paper reviews several cur-
rent initiatives relating to the conservation movement in the Muslim world,
and especially in Indonesia. Here, we focus on the attempts being made
to render or return human and non-human apects of life today to a sus-
tainable balance. We note some specic responses from Islamic religious
thinkers and conservationists using Islamic approaches to protect the envi-
ronment and give examples of how Muslims, particularly in Indonesia, are
contributing successfully to this efort through education, legal frameworks
and conservation practice. These could be successfully applied across
Southeast Asia and wherever Qur’anic teachings are practiced.
Eforts to protect or preserve Indonesia’s natural environment are criti-
cally important and will require a strong and innovative approach. Many
conventional attempts in the past that have corresponded to government
policies have, in general, followed a structural approach. This approach
often represents a “top-down” process that is not socially inclusive. These
policies may give the impression that local populations do not have the
capacity to constructively engage in the process, particulary when the
establishment of conservation areas requires the alteration of traditional
rights (“hak hak ulayat” or “tanah adat”) that have been locally observed for
generations. In Indonesia, conict over natural resource use often arises
due to conservation areas being unilaterally established by the government
in land that local communities have already been using, or over which their
ownership has been claimed, albeit often without ocial government
approval or formal registration. When the government extends permission
for a conservation area or a land use concession and a boundary dispute
subsequently arises, conicts may escalate that result in restriction of
resource use rights, expulsion of the local population, or even bloodshed.
“Integrating religion within conservation: Islamic beliefs and Sumatran forest manage-
ment.” Much of this article was translated from Bahasa Indonesia into English, with some
revision, by Anna M. Gade.
Bruthland Report’s of World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED)
denes “sustainable development” to be development that meets the needs of the present
without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (WCED.
1987. Our Common Future. Available online at: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikisource/
en/d/d7/Our-common-future.pdf [accessed February 10, 2012]).
A recent case was reported in the village of Mesuji, Lampung, Sumatra, in which conict
arose when the landowner, in accordance with a government permit, attempted to widen
his eld for the cultivation of palm oil and the local community considered the land was
theirs according to customary rights, and the palm oil company claimed that it was their
right since they had obtained a due license from the government. See Handadari, Transtoto,
“Siapa Merambah Lahan?” KOMPAS, December 20, 2011, 6.
288 F. M. Mangunjaya and J. E. McKay / Worldviews 16 (2012) 286–305
Available arable land in Indonesia has become increasingly scarce; com-
petition over land use has become even more intense because most pro-
ductive areas are also inhabited. Therefore, structural policies alone are not
enough to address the problem, and a more comprehensive community-
based approach should lead to improved support at the grassroots level. A
related dilemma that often arises with the application of government pol-
icy is that resources and inuence are so substantial that they tend to over-
whelm the very people who require economic support. Consequently, a
sense of injustice may arise because local communities living in or around
conservation areas do not receive adequate benets needed to achieve sus-
The mission of the International Union for Conservation of Nature
(IUCN), which gives recommendations for conservation goals along con-
ventional lines (i.e. “protect, research, and use”), requires greater support at
the grassroots level in order for its policies to incorporate the needs of local
communities. In line with this, conservation eforts must do more to ensure
that their strategies are economically viable, socially acceptable, and spiri-
tually appropriate for local communities. The global environmental crisis
requires the cooperation of humanity worldwide. Highlighting specic pro-
grams in Indonesia, this article outlines programs carried out by global
Muslims on an Islamic religious basis in the areas of education, law, and
community engagement to address a range of current environmental
Islamic Approaches to Global Environmental Challenges
The Muslim world has the potential to contribute positively to environ-
mental protection by way of its beliefs and doctrine. Two out of three
Muslims worldwide live in South and Southeast Asia, and Indonesia has the
world’s largest Muslim population. In Southeast Asia and in Indonesia par-
ticularly, Islam has united diverse civilizations that have existed since
ancient times. Its cultural assimilation is manifested through everyday
activities such as traditional holidays, festivals and norms of dress. Further,
the observance of Islamic ritual activities and required worship (the “ve
pillars of Islam”) are based on the Sha’ite jurisprudential system, which is
the most widespread in the country, extending out even to the most remote
This legal tradition also inuences many Indonesian cultural taboos that
prohibit certain behavior, such as the the consumption of primates and
animals that have claws and fangs—especially amongst Muslim coastal
F.M. Mangunjaya and J.E. McKay / Worldviews 16 (2012) 286–305 289
populations. Muslims are also forbidden to eat animals that live in two ele-
ments simultaneously, such as many species of reptiles and amphibians.
This prohibition, propagated by Shaf’ite jurisprudence, prevents Muslim
communities from hunting these animals in the wild, thereby ofering
them a degree of protection. In many places this has had a positive impact
on the preservation of wildlife, such as orangutans, as well as many species
of primates found in areas with a predominantely Muslim populations
such as Kalimantan (Borneo), Sumatra and Sulawesi. As Mangunjaya (2005)
also details, an increase in the population of these animals has been corre-
lated to the restrictive consumption habits of Muslim communities in the
outlying coastal areas, especially in Kalimantan.
Fazlun Khalid, a Muslim scholar and founder of the Islamic Founda-
tionfor Ecology and Environmental Science (IFEES), has long expounded
the importance of making environmental conservation central to Mus-
lim awareness. He believes that environmental teaching is inherent to
Islam (Khalid 1992; 2002). Many other scholars have held a similar view:
Seyyed Husain Nasr (2003), Yusuf Qardhawi (2006), Mustafa Abu Sway
(2005), Ziauddin Sardar (1985), Mawil Izzi Dien (1992; 1997), and Alie Yae
(2006). To summarize, they share the perspective that Islam provides a
comprehensive system for teaching the fundamental aspects of environ-
Islam broadens environmental awareness by connecting religion to
other aspects of everyday life. Thus it may be said to direct a holistic envi-
ronmental ethic like that of non-Muslim and non-religious environmental-
ist leaders of today (Bakader et al. 1994; Izzi Dien 1990). The scripture of the
Qur’an guides discussions on the environment as well as techniques to put
these teachings into practice. For example, it contains as many as four hun-
dred eighty-ve words with meanings directly related to al-ard, the Arabic
word for “earth” (Izzi Dien 1990). In addition, Khalid (1999) nds at least
two hundred and sixty-one verses in the Qur’an that discuss the world
made by God using terms based on Arabic meanings of kh-l-q, which relates
to His creation. An example of one of these verses is the following:
And We created not the heaven and the earth and all that is between them in
vain (Q. 38: 27).
See Imam Syai. 2004. The chapter, “Perincian Makanan yang Halal dan Haram,” Kitab al
Umm, in Ringkasan Kitab Al Umm (translation of: Mukhtasyar kitab al Umm l al Umm al
qhi. Imam Syai Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Idris). Jakarta: Pustaka Azzam, 773.
See Mangunjaya. 2005. Konservasi Alam Dalam Islam (Yayasan Obor Indonesia: Jakarta).
290 F. M. Mangunjaya and J. E. McKay / Worldviews 16 (2012) 286–305
In 6 An’am 38, the Qur’an states that all earthly creatures are part of the
“ummat” (community) which humanity shares:
There is not an animal in the earth, nor a ying creature on two wings, but they
are peoples like unto you. We have neglected nothing in the Book (of Our
decrees). Then unto their Lord they will be gathered (Q. 6 : 38).
The commands of the Qur’an above put foward a model for living which is
also related in many hadiths (reports) of the sayings and actions of the
Prophet Muhammad that connect the overarching ideas of justice and
equality with the command to humanity not to “corrupt” or “oppress” the
creation of God (Q. 16: 90; 26 : 151-152). Moreover, some Muslim ethicists
and legal thinkers have concluded that Islam puts forward conservation of
the environment as one of the highest goals of Islamic law (shari’ah). This
may be recognized through the fundamental legal and ethical theory
known as the “ve necessities” (al dharūryyat alkhams) that were put for-
ward by Syātibi in book, al-Muwāfaqāt, and which are guiding criteria of
for the “aims of the law” (al-maqāshid al-shar’iyyah). They state the neces-
sity for all legal rulings to guard and protect ve aspects of human ourish-
ing, namely: religion, life, heritage, property and thought. These criteria are
all broadly dependent on the conservation of the environment.
The analysis above cannot be considered exaggeratory when it is recog-
nized that humanity is completely dependent upon nature for all of its
activities. Without a healthy environment, humans lose the essence of life.
Even more profoundly, humanity and nature have been interconnected
since primordial time. The environmental crisis that surrounds humanity
is growing ever more acute, with increasing numbers of natural disasters
worldwide caused largely by human action: pollution of the oceans and
waterways, the air and the atmosphere, deforestation and alterations of the
natural environment—all which contribute to global warming and climate
change. These unsustainable practices cannnot be addressed efectively by
any one group of people or any single government or nation. A concerted
global efort is now required.
See Mudor. 2009. Argumen Konservasi Lingkungan Sebagai Tujuan Tertinggi Syariah.
Doctoral dissertation, Sekolah Pasca Sarjana Universitas Islam Negeri (UIN). Jakarta: Syarif
In S. Keller and E.O Wilson (1993), a hypothesis is formulated for this argument called,
“biophilia: the human bond to nature.” Jalaluddin Rumi (1207-1273), in a similar fashion,
stated that humanity needs nature, since the entire world in reality is alive. Also see
L. Clarke. 2003. The Universe Alive: Nature in the Masnawi of Jalal al Din Rumi, 36.
F.M. Mangunjaya and J.E. McKay / Worldviews 16 (2012) 286–305 291
Many kinds of collective approaches are already in efect, including rou-
tine meetings to address the climate crisis, carried out annually by the
Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nation Framework for Climate
Change Convention (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC may be said to be the only
convention of the United Nations that mandates an annual discussion.
Every nation that is a signatory to the convention, reports annually on the
development of plans for the mitigation of and adaptation to climate
change. Let us now turn to Islam, a religion with one of the largest number
of adherents globally, to see how teachings about Qur’anic and Islamic
environmental ethics are being shared and implemented around the world.
Islamic Education and an Environmental Message
The teachings of Islam form a clear argument for environmental defense
conveying coherent principles for expressing “Islamic environmentalism.”
The question then becomes, what is a point of entrance by which such
teachings can easily and comprehensively be understood, both contextu-
ally and textually? The increasing pressure placed on the environment rep-
resents a contemporary issue that rst appeared when the world’s human
population increased dramatically, and the development of an economic
system based on exploitation of natural resources was intensied. The
Muslim community (ummat Islam) may ofer a response to this crisis
according to the guidance provided by the Qur’an, which Muslims are
required to follow. In order for this to occur, Muslims must be able both to
understand the text of the Qur’an as well as to apply its teachings to the
current physical and ecological reality that they witness daily.
One of the present authors (Mangunjaya), working in collaboration with
Fazlun Khalid, has led numerous workshops aimed at advancing religious
understanding of environmental themes found within the text of the
Qur’an. For example, Mangunjaya led various workshops in Indonesia
including Aceh, Padang, Mandailing Natal, North Sumatra, Bogor, Bandung,
Cirebon, West Java and Waigeo Island, Papua. During these workshops hun-
dreds of participants including ulama (religious scholars), ustaz (Islamic
teachers), imam (religious leaders) and khatib (preachers) from all over
Indonesia read the Qur’an repeatedly together and sincerely to adjudicate
its ecological teachings. In addition and with authorization from Fazlun
Khalid, Mangunjaya also presented this methodology and approach to
Fazlun Khalid. 1999. Qur’an Creation and Conservation. IFEES. Birmingham.
292 F. M. Mangunjaya and J. E. McKay / Worldviews 16 (2012) 286–305
hundreds more religious scholars, not only in Indonesia (Java and North
Sumatra) but also as far as Kano in Nigeria.
Following these workshops the following themes for Qur’anic perspec-
tives on the environment were developed:
1. Tawhid—the principle of “Divine Unity” and related discussions on the
nature of the Creator, His creation and the importance of its conservation.
2. Khalq—how the Qur’an deals with matters relating to the environment and
conservation through verses relating to “khalq” (“creation”).
3. Mizan—the principle of “balance,” and how the earth remaining in a stable
balance is a step toward conserving the environment.
4. Ihsan—the knowledge that Allah created humankind in a state of “goodness”
or “beauty,” and understanding our place in tra (the Qur’anic term for an
original state of nature).
5. Fasad—knowing the capacity of human species for destructive behavior
(“corruption,” or fasad), which leads to the destruction to the environment.
6. Khalifa—knowing our human responsibilities as guardians of the
environment, as expounded in the Qur’an, including our treatment of other
At the most basic level, Mangunjaya and Khalid have aimed to convey in
their teachings the commands and goals stated in the verses of the Qur’an,
which pious Muslims read and study every day. Their goal is to enhance and
enrich discussions on what may be intended by the verses, in terms of envi-
ronmental themes and with actual examples found in present day realities.
The essential point in ofering these exercises and workshops is to harness
the motivation to change the behavior among Muslims to better to guard
The Challenge of Protecting the Environment in Indonesia
Islam is the faith of 1.34 billion people representing 20% of the global popu-
lation and is a state religion in twenty-ve countries. It is found largely in
in South Asia (including Pakistan, India and Bangladesh) and Southeast
Asia (including Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunai Darussalam), areas that
have large fertile areas and which possesses a great inheritance of natural
resources. The extent of the richness of biological diversity in Indonesia, for
All quotes from Fazlun Khalid and Ali al-Tsani are taken from Teacher Guide Book for
Islamic Environmental Education. (2008) IFEES: Birmingham.
O’Brien, J. and Palmer, M. 2007. The Atlas of Religion: Mapping Contemporary Challenges
and Beliefs. (2007) London: Earthscan.
F.M. Mangunjaya and J.E. McKay / Worldviews 16 (2012) 286–305 293
example, is so great that it is called one of the earth’s regions of “megadiver-
sity.” Many regions in Indonesia are also considered geographical “hotspot”
zones, areas, “characterized both by exceptional levels of plant endemism
and by serious levels of habitat loss.” There are two “hotspot” regions in
Indonesia: Sundaland, which consists of the large islands of Sumatra, Java
and Kalimantan; and, Wallacea which comprises Sulawesi and Lesser
Sunda Islands, as well as Maluku (the Maluccas). These regions, in addition
to having high levels of endemism, are also increasingly threatened as a
result of large-scale land conversion and the loss of habitat, especially
under pressures of economic priorites focused on using land for agriculture
Indonesia has a vital role to play globally in protecting the earth’s bal-
ance as its forests represent massive carbon stocks, known as the “lungs of
the earth.” Forty percent of the excess of carbon dioxide (CO2) that now
piles up in our atmosphere results from deforestation that was already car-
ried out in places like Indonesia. Indonesia now has approximately
14,432,000 hectares of forest remaining. This includes protected areas
whose preservation is guarded so that it may make contribute to the supply
of oxygen and the regulation of the climate for all citizens of the earth.
The government of Indonesia has made a noteworthy commitment to
protect its natural resources as part of its national goal to reduce green-
house gas emissions by 26% by 2026. This is is evidenced in the moratorium
on logging concessions. Although this proposed moratorium has met with
controversy it promises great conservation benets considering the high
levels of deforestration that occur on a massive scale in Indonesia today. In
the year 2006 alone 1,174,068 hectares, an area sixteen times the size of the
nation of Singapore, was deforestated. This is equivalent to one football
eld per day.
Many of the environmental cases from Indonesia have a checkered
record because of poorly coordinated policy and implementation that con-
tinuously becomes tangled up in problems of land administration and
See: Biodiversity Hotspot: Hotspot Dened. Available online at: http://www.biodiversity-
See Gore, Albert. 2009. Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis. New York: Rodale
See “Indonesia’s Ambitious Forest Moratorium Moves Forward.” Available online, http://
[accessed January 10, 2012].
These gures are from 2006, from the forest statistics of the Badan Planologi Kehutanan
Baplan. See the website, www.dephut.go.id , also available in Pdf at: http://www.dephut
.go.id/les/stat09_planologikehutanan.pdf [accessed January 10, 2012].
294 F. M. Mangunjaya and J. E. McKay / Worldviews 16 (2012) 286–305
competing conservation priorities. As a country whose inhabitants accept
democracy, and compared with other nations, sustainable development in
Indonesia is not as advanced as it could be, and faces weighty challenges.
Writing from the environmental perspective, Jared Diamond has even pre-
dicted that this nation is one that will experience collapse because of the
environmental situation and the overpopulation that it experiences.
Eforts to manage environmental problems have received attention from
the Indonesian government in stages, in order to enforce regulation con-
nected with the use of natural resources. For example, in 2009, there was
passage of “Undang-undang Perlindungan dan Pengelolaan Lingkungan
Hidup” (Laws for the Protection and Management of the Environment),
also known as UU No 32/2009. These statutes replaced the previous “UU
Pengelolaan Lingkungan Hidup” (“Laws for Management of the Environ-
ment,” UU No 23/97). The reason for the new legislation was that the prior
regulation, under UU PLH (No 23/97), was viewed as unsatisfactory twelve
years after its implementation due to instances of widespread environmen-
tal degradation and ever-increasing environmental pollution.
The new law (UU No 32/2009) was strong enough to require that an
“Environmental Impact Assessment” (AMDAL) be made in order to obtain
“Environmental Permission” by a licensing agency as a prerequisite to
establishing a commercial company. If the requirements for this
“Environmental Permission” are not met, it is revoked, and the business is
to be duly terminated. This regulation also has inuence across other sec-
tors as well, including regional government, as well as the new necessity to
obtain capital for the sake of environmental protection and concern.
However, the regulatory approach will not be enough if the legal require-
ments and constraints are not based on sustainable environmental activi-
ties, including raising awareness in the business and private sectors and
society at large. Because of this, promoting environmental ethics based on
faith (religion) is critical to progress, because this efort forms a basis with
which to change attitudes and ultimately behaviour within society.
Therefore, the challenge that must be addressed stems not only from the
perspective of national and local legislation but also in the sustainable
application of the regulations on the ground.
See Diamond, Jared. 2011. Collapse: How Societies to Choose to Fail or to Survive. New York:
Section40, point 2 (UU 32/2009) regarding permits.
Section45 points l and 2 (UU 32/2009) regarding “ Anggaran berbasis lingkungan hidup.”
F.M. Mangunjaya and J.E. McKay / Worldviews 16 (2012) 286–305 295
Climate change has become a global concern, not only for those in
Indonesia. Moreover, representatives of every religion have proclaimed
their concern for the increasingly destructive activities by humans, which
continue unmitigated. In the year 2009, representatives from various reli-
gions worldwide conrmed their commitment to undertake eforts within
their own institutions and communities to address climate change. The
document produced was a collective declaration to develop an “action
plan” with respect to climate change. The Muslim world developed the
“Seven Year Action Plan for Climate Change Actions” (known as M7YAP in
Indonesia) that was initiated by a focus group of experts who met for dis-
cussions in Kuwait, and then completed and declared in Istanbul in July
2009. In April 2010, in Bogor, Indonesia, Muslims convened the First
International Conference on Muslim Action on Climate Change and
reached an agreement at the conference which yielded, among others
results, the following recommendations that were sent to the Organization
of Islamic Conference and all country members for follow-up and
policy-making and education systems for sustainable development across
the Muslim World and the formation of the Organization of Islamic
Conference to take a leading role in protecting Muslim countries from
climate change impacts through promotion of coherent climate change
policy, environmentally benign technology and corporate practices and
adoption of a lifestyle in accordance with Islamic values.
climate change with mitigation and adaptation eforts and to develop various
hubs of cooperation for exchange of knowledge and best practices. This
would focus on rehabilitation and revitalization of local natural resources
that increases resilience; quality of life and the development of mosques as
community and education centers to disseminate the sustainability message
should be prioritized.
See ARC & UNDP 2009. Many Heaven One Planet: Faith Commitments to Protect the Living
Planet. ARC: Bath, 175. Lihat juga available online: www.Arcworld.org or religionandconser-
The complete M7YAP documents are available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
“Report on First Muslim Conference on Climate Change Action. Bogor Indonesia.”
April 9-10, 2010. Bogor, near the city of Jakarta on Java, was also declared to be a “Green City”
at this time.
296 F. M. Mangunjaya and J. E. McKay / Worldviews 16 (2012) 286–305
sustainable corporate practices to community actions at all levels, to
encourage learning and exchange of knowledge and best practice across the
Muslim World e.g. Award programs and eco-pesantren (Environmental
Islamic Boarding School) jamborees, to promote pro-environmental ethics
practices using locally relevant systems, e.g. the pesantren system in
Indonesia and enhancing and replicating the eco-pesantren program a model
to promote best environmental education practices elsewhere.
M7YAP also formulated an overarching plan to support funding for projects
addressing climate change by way of Muslim Association for Climate
Change Action (MACCA). The M7YAP can be viewed as an important
model for Indonesia and the rest of the Muslim world. In Indonesia its
implementation has already been carried out in some part through
environmental movements which run parallel to the expressed aims and
goals of M7YAP. These include the eforts of leaders of pesantren and
Along with those already documented in Mangunjaya et al. (2010),
there are many leaders of pesantrens who have pioneered “green” eforts.
Tuan Guru Hasanain Juaini, leader of Pesantren al-Haramain, Nusa
Tenggara Barat Province for example, has distinguished his pesantren from
others by establishing a social forestry project that involves students and
their families in environmental conservation and economic empower-
ment. The project has succeeded in reforesting thirty-one hectares land
crops motivated by live stock runs for short-term needs and each family is
allocated one hectare in which to to plant, nurture and harvest trees accord-
ing to a business plan. Leaders from many other Islamic schools have also
begun planting trees to raise funds for their own pesantrens. For example,
K.H. Husen Muhammad has planted thousands of teak trees, “jabon” trees
Pondok pesantren are Islamic religious boarding schools ormadrasahs, found in
Indonesia and elsewhere in Muslim Southeast Asia. This type of school is widespread, with
about 21,000 schools and 3.9 million students in the country of Indonesia. The pesantren is
well known for instruction in religious knowledge led by the “Kiyai” of the pesantren, who
acts like its Chairman under the authority of its founder. Such schools train Islamic leaders
from the local to national level.
See Mangunjaya, F.M., Wijayanto, I., Supriatna, J., Haleem, H., and Khalid, F. 2010.
“Muslim Projects to Halt Climate Change in Indonesia,” Journal of Islamic Perspective
3, April 2010. Available online: http://iranianstudies.org/journals/islamic-perspective
Ibid. This article describes the Muslim actions for planting trees as well as combating
climate change in actions in Indonesia in Indonesian pesantren and madrasahs.
F.M. Mangunjaya and J.E. McKay / Worldviews 16 (2012) 286–305 297
(Anthocephalus chinensis) as well as many other species on the grounds of
his pesantren in Cirebon (north Java) with the participation of students,
teachers, and the surrounding community.
Again in Nusa Tenggara Barat, Tuan Guru H. Sofwan Hakim led his
pesantren in planting of 600,000 various species of tree seedlings at
Pesantren Nurul Hakim, which was recognized by the Ministry of the Envi-
ronment in its efort to promote ongoing involvement of the pesantren in
environmental action. As a result, the Ministry has led an “ Eco-Pesantren”
programme to foster the participation of the Islamic society at large in
carrying out action on behalf of the environment.
Individuals like those above are among the Islamic religious scholars
(kiyai) who have been involved in discussions of “Environmental Islamic
Law” (“Fiqh Lingkungan” or Fiqh al-Biah, in Arabic). These discussions were
facilitated by a collection of NGOs in Lido, Bogor, in 2003, and which even-
tually led to the document titled, “The Concept of Islamic Law of the
Environment” (“Menggagas Fiqh Lingkungan”). In the year 2011, this efort
received international recognition when Hanasain Juaini himself received
the Ramon Magsaysay Award, often considered as Asia’s Nobel Prize and
which is based in the Philippines.
An example of partnerships between NGOs and the State can be found
in Daarul Ulum Lido in West Java around Mount Pangrango, which has
been selected by the government to channel its “green program.” This
initiative specically aims to engage the pesantren with support from con-
servation NGOs including (IFEES), Konsorsium Gedepahala, and Conser-
vation International who are also involved in reforestation projects in
National Parks in Gunung Halimun and Salak, West Java, Indonesia.
Autonomous support for environmental religious education and out-
reach has also been ofered by cultural and humanitarian NGOs. For exam-
ple, the Maarif Institute Initiative created a supplement to the environmental
curriculum and book, “Islam Peduli Lingkungan” (2011), in Islamic middle
In 2008, the Ministry of Environment announced a “National program on Eco-Pesantren,”
in order to endorse pesantrens activities for the environmental movement. See Kompas,
See Manggagas Fiqh Lingkungan, by Muhammad et al., 2004. Also, the writing of
Mangunjaya, 2011. Developing Environmental Awareness.
In the award testimony, the committee of the Magsaysay award stated, “The project has
successfully reforested a once-barren thirty-one hectare tract through a scheme in which
families, motivated by a grant of livestock for short-term needs, are allotted a hectare each
for them to plant, nurture, and eventually harvest trees according to a clear business plan.”
See: http://www.rmaf.org.ph/Awardees/Citation/CitationJuainiHas.htm. See also: Radio
298 F. M. Mangunjaya and J. E. McKay / Worldviews 16 (2012) 286–305
schools run Muhammadiyah as supplemental educational materials. This
book has since been distributed in the regions of West Java, Central
Sulawesi, and Nusa Tenggara Timur as an extension of the module, “Al-Islam
dan Kemuhammadiyahan” (AIK) which includes module training and
activities that can be carried out by the teachers simultaneously. These
materials are on a par with the training module and materials developed by
the British Council (2010-2011) for teachers, including those in religious
schools, on issues related to climate change called, “Climate for the Class”
(C4C), which was also supported by Fazlun Khalid from IFEES and the
Darwin Initiative programme.
The development of conservation initiatives would benet from innovative
ideas to enliven and revive humanity’s ancient wisdom of sustainable prac-
tices. Islam possesses the tradition of al-Harim and al-Hima (protected
areas), which contribute to the care of the environment. Many “hima” in
the Middle East have been registered as Important Bird Areas (IBA) as they
have not been disturbed for centuries. Hima has developed in the Middle
East and the Arab world for 1,500 years and continues today. “Hima” is also
considered by environmental experts as a unique system and conservation
approach because it is based on the leadership of the people, and it is main-
tained by the community residing around the area of the “hima” itself.
Unfortunately, the concept of hima did not emerge in the teachings of
Islam in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. For this reason, many Islamic envi-
ronmental activists have begun trying to impart the “spirit” of environmen-
tal protection based on these old traditions of Islam. Thus, environmental
agencies working in Muslim areas globally have tried to develop the model
of hima, e.g. on Misali Island (Zanzibar), with support from IFEES and Care
Netherland, January 6, 2011. Pemimpin Pesantren Peduli Lingkungan. http://www.rnw.nl/
See the book, Mangunjaya, F. et al., 2011. Islam Peduli Lingkungan. Maarif Instute, Jakarta.
British Council Indonesia. Climate for the Classroom. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.
[accessed, January 15, 2012].
Hala, Kilani, Assaad, Serhal, Othman, Llewlyn, “Al-Hima: A way of life,” IUCN West Asia
regional Oce, Amman Jordan—SPNL Beirut, Lebanon, 2007. See also, “Al Hima the Way of
Life,” IUCN. Available at: http://cmsdata.iucn.org/downloads/al_hima.pdf
F.M. Mangunjaya and J.E. McKay / Worldviews 16 (2012) 286–305 299
International. In Indonesia, an initiative funded by the the Ruford Small
Grant Award to develop hima was implemented by Conservation
International (CI) Indonesia in partnership with Yayasan Owa Jawa, and a
pesantren in Daarul Ulum Lido in Bogor. This piloted a program to develop
a “harim zone” system, a which involved the local population caring for a
riverbed area. The pesantren allocated one hectare of its grounds as its
Harim Zone, an area reserved for the protection of the river catchment
area, while serving as a place in which students could also learn about bio-
An ongoing, comprehensive initiative that puts into efect an Islamic
approach to forest conservation in West Sumatra is the Darwin Initiative
Programme funded Britain’s Department of Environment, Food and Rural
Afairs (Defra), entitled, “Integrating religion within conservation: Islamic
beliefs and Sumatran forest management.” Researchers at the Durrell
Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), University of Kent rst met
with Islamic leaders and scholars both in Britain and Indonesia in 2007 to
discuss the feasability and potential of promoting faith-based and custom-
ary teachings on the environment across Indonesia. Through these initial
discussions it was determined that faith-based teachings could be highly
efective in conserving natural resources through changing behavior, rather
than just attitudes (which on their own does not guarantee improved con-
servation), especially when linked to the recognition of the many benets
that ecosystem services provide for humans.
West Sumatra contains some of the most pristine rainforest in Indonesia,
and contains within it a watershed that services more than a million peo-
ple. It is also home to the indigenous Minangkabau (or Minang) ethnic
group. Strongly Islamic, the Minang have a rich heritage of religious and
cultural traditions, or adat, which still have a great inuence on daily life.
The tight bond between adat and Islam is encapsulated in a popular
Minangkabau saying, “adat basandi syara’, syara’ basandi kitabullah,” which
means that all rules and regulations within the community should be based
on Islamic religious law and the Qur’an. This provided a valuable opportu-
nity to initiate a faith-based approach to conservation.
Higgins-Zoghib. 2005. “Misali Island Marine Conservationa Area (MIMCA), Zanzibar,” in
Beyond Belief: Linking Faiths and Protected Areas to Support Biodiversity Conservation.
Switzerland: WWF International and ARC, 78-81.
See: “Introducing the Islamic Hima and Harim System as a New Approach to Nature
Conservation in Indonesia Phase II.” Available at: http://www.rufordsmallgrants.org/rsg/
300 F. M. Mangunjaya and J. E. McKay / Worldviews 16 (2012) 286–305
With nancial support from Ruford Small Grant for Nature Award, a
pilot project was launched in West Sumatra in October 2007. Three inter-
related land-use management systems that apply Islamic principles within
nature conservation were discussed:
1) Hima—management zones established for sustainable natural resource
2) Harim—inviolable sanctuaries used for protecting water resources and
their services; and,
3) Ihya Al-Mawat—reviving neglected land to become productive.
Workshops held with religious, traditional and village leaders, and repre-
sentatives from several women’s groups from three rural communities,
identied the above systems as being loosely practiced within their com-
munities through their nagari (legally recognized traditional land use sys-
tem). Within this system, adat law exists that encompasses the relationship
between humans and nature.
Although West Sumatran adat is specically structured in accord with
Islamic law, project participants agreed that a lack of awareness about
these Islamic systems and the institutional capacity to implement them
hindered their efectiveness in the sustainable management of forests and
their ecosystem services. Further discussions with the wider community in
Friday prayers and village meetings found a strong commitment to inte-
grate and formalise religious principles within a fully-functioning land and
forest management system, which would provide simultaneous benets to
local livelihoods and biodiversity.
Due to overwhelming support from local partners and based on the
valuable information gained during both the scoping award and pilot proj-
ect, a full project proposal was awarded full support in 2009 for three years.
To date, a wide range of activities have been conducted in the project’s
two eld sites, Guguak Malalo and Pakan Rabaa Timur, including: locally
managed eld schools and nurseries, training on biodiversity survey tech-
niques and community mapping of ecosystem services, and religious man-
agement zones. Seventy-three participants from local farmer groups (fteen
of which were women) were trained in tree nursery care, sustainable plant-
ing techniques, organic fertilizer and pesticide production and application.
Further, at the communities’ request, Darwin Initiative project staf and
local partners are providing the necessary support required to formally
apply for a customary forest governance system which will serve as a
best management practices pilot for future government replication in
West Sumatra. The project has also been working with local religious lead-
ers, teachers, community leaders, youth and women’s groups to pilot a
F.M. Mangunjaya and J.E. McKay / Worldviews 16 (2012) 286–305 301
conservation themed education curriculum and conservation campaign
that focus on the importance of ecosystem services, such as fresh water and
During the holy month of Ramadan in 2011, the project focused on activ-
ities promoting the importance of water conservation in its project sites. A
Green Mosque campaign was also launched in Guguak Malalo which
resulted in a community-led clean up of the neighouring Lake Singkarak
and the planting of fty Indian willow (Salix tetrasperma) seedlings and
750 seeds along 1,500 meters of its coast line. The root systems of this tree
species provide a preferred breeding and nursery ground for the endemic,
culturally important and critically endangered bilih sh (Mystacoleucus
padangenis). This event garnered the support of the District Government,
and the attention of the national media was aided in part by its success in
winning the honor of representing West Sumatra province in a national
environmental competition sponsored by the Ministry of Foresty, where it
received national recognition as a Conservation Village. Further, a BBC
radio documentary featuring the project work in Guguak Malalo was
awarded the top ve “Climate Change Adaptation stories for the Com-
petition for Best Media Report on Climate Change Adaptation,” organized
by UNEP in Bangkok.
The project also worked with two religious leaders in order to design and
develop sermons focusing on the importance of water conservation, which
were delivered during prayers in eight mosques within the West Sumatran
provincial capital of Padang and in both project eld sites to over 1,000 peo-
ple. A further 300 students from religious boarding schools were also taught
about environmental issues relating to the importance of watersheds in
providing potable water and ofsetting the efects of climate change.
In line with the project’s culmination this year, the focus is upon compil-
ing the valuable qualitative and quantitative data to both assess the proj-
ect’s impact in raising awareness on conservation issues. Two of the Darwin
Initiative’s scholars based at the University of Andalas in Padang will also
be completing their theses which focused upon: 1) The Interaction between
State and the Living Law (Islamic Law and Adat Law) on Natural Resource
Management; and, 2) The Role of Religious Leaders in Natural Resource
Management. This information will form part of a book that the Darwin
See BBC London “The Climate Connection: Lost in Translation.” Available at: http://
302 F. M. Mangunjaya and J. E. McKay / Worldviews 16 (2012) 286–305
Initiative project staf and partners will publish that describes the Darwin
outreach model and shares the lessons learned through its practical appli-
cation in West Sumatra.
Recent Fatwa s
Environmental cases in Indonesia have led to intensifying interest and
engagement in many circles, especially among religious scholars who are
bound by their moral duty to respond to the challenges of the needs of their
community. Fatwas (non-binding legal opinions) about the environment
have been issued by religious scholars in response to requests to address
social problems. The Indonesian Council of Religious Scholars (Majelis
Ulama Indonesia) has the authority to issue fatwas, and twice in recent his-
tory it has issued fatwas regarding the natural environment.
The rst fatwa, issued by the Majelis Ulama Indonesia Regional IV
Kalimantan (Borneo), regarded a prohibition on burning the forest and ille-
gal logging. This fatwa was aimed at illegal activities in South Kalimantan
Selatan, and the decision is as follows:
Logging and mining that degrade the natural environment and impoverish
society or the nation are hereby declared to be haram (forbidden). All interests
and prots gained from these businesses are not licit and are hereby declared
to be haram. The efect /standing of this judgment is required (wajib) explicitly
to be in efect, in accordance with the law.
It has now been six years since this fatwa was issued and there has yet to be
an academic study to determine whether the fatwa was efective or had any
social inuence, especially among Muslims, who live in the province of
Second, there was a recent fatwa issued in 2011 by the central committee
of the Majelis Ulama Indonesia on the question, “Environmentally Friendly
Mining.” In cooperation with the Ministry of the Environment, this fatwa
has put forward guidelines that are more detailed than the previous fatwa
on illegal logging, and ofers a more comprehensive rationale for the ruling,
Quoted from: KLH (Ministry of the Environment), 2011. Fatwa MUI tentang Pertambangan
Ramah Lingkungan. KLH: Jakarta.
F.M. Mangunjaya and J.E. McKay / Worldviews 16 (2012) 286–305 303
a. To strengthen standing of state law, especially with respect to environmental
justice in the sector of mining;
b. Provide correct clarication and understanding to all levels of society
regarding religious law with respect to issues connected with the natural
c. Attempt to apply moral and ethical norms and sanctions to those concerned
regarding the importance of environmental care in the mining sector.
These two fatwas represent a new way of thinking that invokes a moral
order as an instigator for change in behavior and action in order to stop the
destruction of the environment. In addition, this is an attempt on behalf of
the Ministry of Forestry to insitgate “dakwah” (religious outreach). This
resulted in the deployment of 5,000 preachers to stop illegal logging at the
Unfortunately, there is little scientic research that evaluates whether
these eforts, in the form of fatwas and dakwah, really have had any efect
on positive behavior change regarding the environment, or even whether
the perception within society is that environmental matters ought to be
addressed. However, these eforts in Islamic Indonesia, in addition to those
projects previously mentioned and the ongoing governmental works (e.g.
the establishment of conservation areas, which are based on Islamic teach-
ings), may soon prove to be a model for the global Muslim world.
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