Islamic Iktisad (Frugality)

Solution to Consumerism as the Root Cause of Environmental Destruction

  • Heather Fagan
Keywords: Islam, iktisad, environment, spirituality, frugality


Although consumerism has long been recognised as one of the major contributors of environmental destruction, little change in consumer habits have resulted. Knowledge alone of the widespread environmental destruction caused by consumeristic lifestyles simply has not provided the required motivation for behavioural change. Religions have a key role to play, as they have the potential to provide this motivation needed for change. One concept largely absent from religious environmental ethics literature is iktisad, the Islamic concept of frugality, which has the potential to produce this required change in consumeristic behaviour. Iktisad is using only resources that are necessary – no more, no less. Importantly, though, Islamic environmental iktisad is also an important means of spiritual and personal development, which provides added motivation for change without the necessity of a separate environmental consciousness. It is a means of detachment from material goods, allowing for increased contentment, gratitude and enhanced personal relationships. While the motivation for Muslims to implement iktisad may be religious, the personal benefits of iktisad mean it can appeal to all human beings, regardless of religious belief. These motivating factors of iktisad, mean it offers a real, lasting and urgently needed solution to environmental destruction caused by consumerism.