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“Al-Mizan: A Covenant for the Earth” Unveils an Islamic Approach to Environmental Stewardship at the United Nations Environment Assembly

February 29, 2024

Source: Emily Echevarria/Parliament of the World’s Religions

The sixth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly kicked off on February 26th at UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya with a clear call for stronger global action to address the “triple planetary crisis” of  climate change, pollution, and  nature loss. The United Nations Environment Assembly is the world’s highest-level decision-making body for matters related to the environment. It sets priorities for global environmental policies and international environmental law.

Key amongst the outcomes of UNEA-6 is the unveiling of Al-Mizan: A Covenant for the Earth, a landmark document drafted by leading Islamic eco theologians and practitioners from around the world, it presents a comprehensive Islamic outlook on ecological and moral responsibility, urging collective action to combat climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, and protect our planet. Among the numerous calls to action within Al-Mizan are:  

  • Endorsement of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, a framework that will enable countries to negotiate the phasing out of fossil fuel production in a way that is just, fair, and transparent, and to commit to an equitable transition for affected workers and climate-vulnerable communities.  For the call for a ‘transitioning away’ from fossil fuels is a far cry from ‘phasing out’ fossil fuels. Scientists and UN Secretary General amongst others have warned that the failure to call for a phasing out of fossil fuels is devastating and dangerous given the urgent need for action to tackle pollution and the climate emergency.
  • Ecocide to be recognized as a crime alongside genocide and war crimes.

PoWR Trustee and member of its Climate Action Task Force Imam Saffet Catovic, who is the Director of United Nations Operations for Justice For All, a member of the Scholars Drafting Team and a contributing author of Al-Mizan, stated on the historic occasion of the global launch of Al-Mizan: A Covenant for the Earth:

After several years of dedicated painstaking hard work not by theoreticians, but by a dozen Muslim practitioners and scholars/activists from across the globe in the fields of biodiversity conservation, protected area planning, wilderness leadership, individuals who have devoted their lives to addressing and resolving environmental problems and fighting for climate justice, as well as input from many major Islamic organizations, institutions worldwide the Al-Mizan: A Covenant for the Earth, has been publicly released. 

Al-Mizan has often been compared to Pope Francis’s Laudato Si’, which expresses the ecological and environmental teachings of Christianity, the largest community of faith on Earth; Al-Mizan expresses the ecological and environmental teachings of Islam, the community of faith that is poised, in light of population trends, to become the largest community of faith on Earth. Together, the adherents to these two faith traditions represent over half of humankind.

Al-Mizan is more comprehensive in its approach than any other document we have seen in its assessment, theology, ethics/ethos, economy, legislation/policy/activism. In the process of drafting Al-Mizan, we as its authors, made a deliberate effort to gain input from a diverse spectrum of thinkers from around the Islamic world, including: Sunnis, Shi‘is, Ibadis, traditionalists, modernists, Salafis, Sufis, intellectuals, activists, women, men, young and old.  We do not seek to provide answers from the teachings of Islam, but to raise questions and challenges informed by the values and teachings of Islam. We don’t set out to tell Muslims or non-Muslims what to believe or to prescribe solutions to environmental crises, but rather, to challenge Muslims and non-Muslims to seek solutions within the context of Islamic values and teachings. 

Al-Mizan seeks to uplift a radical understanding of ethics derived from the concept of One God, Lord of all beings.  The greater our faith in the all-embracing reality of divine oneness—the more earnestly, joyfully, and gratefully shall we work utmost good within the framework of possibilities given us by God.

Al-Mizan is the work of a large group of Muslim scholars from across the globe and different Islamic backgrounds led by the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO), Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences (IFEES), Uskudar University, Hamad University, Quranic Botanic Garden. Anaq el-Ard and facilitated by UNEP’s Faith for Earth Coalition. The Covenant, in addition to being endorsed by the Muslim Council of Elders, has been reviewed by more than 300 Islamic and international organizations. More information on Al-Mizan: A Covenant for the Earth including the entire downloadable document can be found by going to

Al-Mizan envisions the possibility of unexpected coalitions and collaborations of religious and spiritual traditions, indigenous peoples, of religious and scientific thinkers to seek solutions. Al-Mizan is not characterized by platitudes or theoretical ideals; on the contrary, it is characterized by real ethical dilemmas. It does not shy away from dealing with difficult, thorny issues, such as human population growth, energy production, fossil fuels and climate change, the insatiable global economic system, how humans produce and harvest the food we eat, genetically modified organisms, the loss of biodiversity, loss of forests, wildlands and wilderness, and the lack of ecological literacy in educational institutions across the globe.

The landmark document was unveiled in a packed conference room at UNEA-6 on Tuesday, February 26th by the President of UNEA H. E. Minister Leila Benali accompanied by H.E. Msgr. Hubertus van Megen, Permanent Representative of the Holy See, H. E. Dr. Samir Boudinar, Executive Director of the Peace Center of the Muslim Council of Elders, and two co-authors Ms. Aishah Abdulla and Mr. Othman Llewellyn.