MUHAMMADIYAH.OR.ID, JAKARTA – The worsening environmental degradation is triggering an uptick in natural disasters worldwide—ranging from extreme weather, floods, wildfires, and air pollution. These resulting anomalies and climate change have significantly caught the attention of Muhammadiyah.
The Muhammadiyah Council for Environmental Preservation (MLH) held a three-day National Conference and National Meeting (Rakernas) at the Grand Sahid Hotel Jakarta from August 18 to 20, 2023. The event raised the theme “Advancing the MLH Movement for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation,” aiming to strategize the response.
Opening the national meeting on Friday (August 18), the President of Muhammadiyah Haedar Nashir mentioned the importance of a theological approach to prevent and mitigate environmental damage rendered by human greed exploiting nature.
“The issues emerge due to the deteriorating human-environment relationship. In the Anthropocene era, human behavior and thinking significantly impact our surroundings. The vast damage underscores our role in ecosystem disruption and climate change, potentially leading to adverse effects on humans both spiritually and physically,” said Haedar Nashir.
The proliferation of scientific discoveries, technology, and modernization has also contributed to environmental damage. Humans’ ability to uncover mysteries of the universe has led to dominance over the Earth and rampant exploitation, resulting in a detachment from the once-intertwined relationship between humans and nature.
Cosmologically, modernization has eroded the local wisdom of traditional groups that have long cared for nature and the environment. Capitalism, driven by a few certain groups equipped with knowledge and tools, has also exploited insatiable human desires.
“In this functional era of capitalism, characterized by pragmatism and utility-driven ideologies, the quest for profit fuels the extensive exploitation of natural resources. This pattern reflects the enduring human dissatisfaction emphasized in Surah At-Takathur verse 1-2, Al-haakumut-takatsur, hatta zurtumul-maqaabir (Competition for more gains diverts you from Allah, until you end up in your graves),” mentioned Haedar Nashir.
This phenomenon has garnered worldwide attention. In his book “The Uninhabitable Earth,” David Wallace Wells describes environmental degradation as a ticking time bomb even more perilous than the aftermath of World War II.
As an Islamic movement, Haedar Nashir urged the LH to have a more systematic approach focusing on the theological aspect, potentially providing a solution to the Anthropocene and capitalism that have rendered environmental damage.
“Islam takes a moderate stance toward life, including the environment. Allah created the Earth and its resources for human use and cultivation, not just for reverence and neglect. Therefore, humans are entrusted with the role of Khalifah and endowed with intellect and technological prowess. As Allah’s servants, they bear the ethical responsibility of not overexploiting nature, lest it backfires,” said Haedar Nashir.
Haedar also emphasized the importance of consistent government regulations to advance Indonesia’s environmental conservation efforts.
“I believe that this perspective aligns with Islamic teachings, and Muhammadiyah is committed to spreading such awareness. It calls for balanced progress, utilizing nature and resources responsibly, while avoiding overindulgence. Collaboration is essential; Muhammadiyah, together with the government, should conscientiously manage our environment and resources within boundaries. The key principles are faith, ethics, and morality,” mentioned Haedar Nashir.
Meanwhile, Chairman of the MLH Azrul Tanjung mentioned that the national meeting arose from Muhammadiyah’s concern and will lead to affirmative actions such as installing solar panels in 1,000 Muhammadiyah institutions like schools, universities, and hospitals.
The meeting also raised issues to discuss as renewable energy, electric vehicles, and household-based waste management, which need to be implemented by all branches of Muhammadiyah.