The Earth as a mosque: Integration of the traditional Islamic environmental planning ethic with agricultural and water development policies in Saudi Arabia

Hesam Addin Abdul Salam Joma, University of Pennsylvania


An ethical system must do two things: It must envision a particular way of life and it must work out a path to the realization of that way of life that is internally consistent, yet workable in the real world. Surprisingly, recent ecological ethics have failed to realize these two components of an ethical system. From Leopold's Land Ethic to Deep Ecology, no coherent ethical system was born. Most of the prevailing ecological ethics suffer from being too abstract or utopian in principle. The dissertation asserts that Islam, as a religion and a way of life, is capable of providing man with a comprehensive ethical system. Islamic environmental values represent the theoretical part while the Islamic Institutions and laws provide the operational component of the ethical system. "Earth as a Mosque" ideal is a proposed concept that combines theoretical and operational principles, and can provide an alternative Islamic environmental ethic. The dissertation deals with major policy conflicts that have arisen in developing agriculture and water resources in Saudi Arabia. Recently, the Kingdom's strategy for achieving self-sufficiency in food commodity has created serious environmental conflicts. Severe groundwater depletion, soil salinity, inefficient use of irrigation technology, lack of land use management and control, and inefficient administrative organization are all symptoms of policy and decision-making conflicts. The assertion is that the integration of Islamic environmental planning principles--derived from the Islamic Shari'ah--with the existing Saudi policies for agriculture and water development can generate many solutions to these problems. Tazkiah, an Islamic alternative to conventional Western "development" concept, is introduced as an integral part of Islamic environmental principles. The dissertation proposes a new Ministry for the Environment in Saudi Arabia. The new Ministry is inspired by the traditional Islamic institution of Hisbah. The consolidation of relevant environmental affairs within the proposed Ministry is a response to the existing sectoral approach dealing with the environmental problems. The proposed Ministry is based on the holistic Islamic approach and the Islamic values of justice, modernation and equilibrium. The proposed ministry is responsible for producing an environmental impact statement based on the Shari'ah injunctions.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Joma, Hesam Addin Abdul Salam, "The Earth as a mosque: Integration of the traditional Islamic environmental planning ethic with agricultural and water development policies in Saudi Arabia" (1991). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9125675.