A Role of Religion in Environmental Conservation
Dr. Rao Nadeem Alam
DEPARTMENT OF ANTHROPOLOGY
The current assignment is about the role of religion in environmental conservation. Every society of the world follows certain religion or has a particular set of beliefs. Religion is the basic instrument which patterns the behavior of the people throughout the world. It provides the basic principles, rules and guidelines to its followers to spend their lives. It directs the people to do certain acts and avoid certain things or acts. Some things may be considered as holy while some may be attributed as unholy. This categorization may also be termed as sacred and profane. There are also certain socio-religious taboos in the societies around the world. Socio-religious taboos exist in most cultures, both Western and non-Western. They are good examples of informal institutions, where norms, rather than governmental juridical laws and rules, determine human behavior. In many traditional societies throughout the world, taboos frequently guide human conduct toward the natural environment. Environment comprises of both the living and non-living objects around the human beings. This may include natural resources like forests, water, soil, mountains, herbs, air and living organisms. Different religions guide the people to utilize these natural resources as well as these religions put some limitations in the utilization of environment. Religion and Environmental Conservation:
The major religions of the world like; Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism have certain doctrines about the relationship of human being and environment. These religions guide its followers about the utilization of natural resources and about the conservation of environment. In the Buddhist tradition, environmental responsibility is a result of the natural interaction between humans and nature. One of the misconceptions that prevent humans for reaching happiness is the false consideration of their own importance. As a consequence, humans lose their links with nature, destroying valuable resources as a result of their greed. Overcoming greed will provide a better internal equilibrium, as well as a better preservation of natural resources. Humans should be like bees that take the nectar of flowers without destroying them. Buddhist culture also acknowledges a moral communion between humans and nature. The land will produce proper fruits when humans deal properly with her. Human greed causes division and ownership conflicts, which implies violence and destruction. Susan M. Darlington in his article, “The Ordination of a Tree: The Buddhist Ecology Movement in Thailand” tells about a Buddhist ecology movement which is started by Buddhist Monks. These monks are popularly known as “Ecology Monks”. This movement is developing in Thailand and other Buddhist countries. It is focusing on the local and national problems of deforestation and ecological destruction. The Buddhist involved in this movement see their religion as critical for providing practical as well as moral guidelines for ecological conservation. The major aim of Buddhism is to relieve suffering, the root causes of which are greed, ignorance and hatred. The monks who are involved in this movement see the deforestation, pollution of the air and water, and other environmental problems as caused by people acting through these evils, motivated by economic gain and the material benefits of development and industrialization. These monks forbid the people from damaging the natural resources which have a good impact on the environment of Thailand. Islam has provided different texts that support the environmental responsibility of human beings. Islam has divided the things for human use into “halal” (lawful or permissible according to Islamic law) and...
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