In Focus

Letter From the Editors

The Sustainability Issue explores environmental stewardship and the role of nature in Islam.

By
Alia Dharssi and Anar Rajabali
Published September 30, 2020
The chahar bagh at the Ismaili Centre, Lisbon. Photo: Farhez Rayani.

As we worked on this issue, the state of the environment weighed on our minds. The last five years have been the warmest on record. The ocean is ridden with plastic, and one million plant and animal species are threatened with extinction. The COVID-19 pandemic is tied to a man-made breakdown of natural systems. We have a dire duty to respond. And we are hopeful.

“Our faith constantly reminds us to observe and be thankful for the beauty of the world and the universe around us, and our responsibility and obligation, as good stewards of God’s creation,” said his Highness the Aga Khan in Ottawa in 2013

We’ve created this issue to reflect on this responsibility. Our writers delve into the idea of environmental stewardship and the ways in which nature offers us opportunities for reflection, respite and renewal. We find inspiration and lessons in gardens which display the inherent pluralism of Allah’s creation. From the spiritual, cultural and social significance of Islamic gardens to the profile of a First Nations activist fighting for basic water rights, these stories shed light on the interconnections between humans and the natural world.

We must also reckon with challenges related to human relationships. Environmental problems disproportionately affect people from low-income and marginalized groups. Resolving these challenges demands a pluralist outlook—one that values the perspectives of people from diverse backgrounds, fosters social justice and preserves human dignity.

What has been reaffirmed for us is that environmental stewardship is not only our responsibility, but our human vocation. We invite you to linger in these pages—as you would in a blossoming, light-filled garden—and we hope it plants seeds as to how each of us, in our own way, can be stewards of our shared creation.

Alia Dharssi

Editor-in-Chief

Dr. Anar Rajabali

Deputy Editor