Eco-Religious Teachings and Environmental Sustainability

An Analysis of Workability of Seyyed Hossein Nasr’s ‘Eco-Spirituality’ in the Context of Bangladesh

  • Md. Abu Sayem The Chinese University of Hong Kong; Dhaka University; University of Vienna
Keywords: Eco-religion, Eco-ethics, Eco-Islam, Ecology, Environment, Sustainability, Nasr


The present research project aims to make Bangladeshi people more aware of human-nature relationship so that they can work from their own levels for the environmental sustainability. This study focuses why eco-religious understanding is necessary to work for environmental sustainability and how it can contribute as an alternative approach to reducing the present ecological crisis. Here Seyyed Hossein Nasr’s eco-spiritual approach is used as a tool to do so. This research investigates why Nasr’s eco-Islamic understanding and prescription seem significant for Bangladeshi people and how these can be implemented to reduce the environmental issues in Bangladesh. In terms of methodology, it is an analytical study based on reviewing Nasr’s eco-religious vision and examining its applicability in Bangladesh. As a result of this study, readers can instill a deeper awareness of human-nature inseparable relationship in their mind, which convince them to manifest its essentiality in their practical behaviors with the natural world. As the project connects Seyyed Hossein Nasr’s eco-religious teaching with the present environmental problems of Bangladesh, its prime result will be motivating Bangladeshi people from grassroots levels to maintain ecological equilibrium by diverting their attention from the mechanistical and materialistic view to an organic view of the environment. Alongside these, the project will enrich the current discussions on the role of religions in environmental sustainability from a Bangladeshi perspective.


Ahmed, M. Feroze and Saleh A. Tanveer (Eds.). Bangladesh Environment 2010. Dhaka:
Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) and Bangladesh Environment Network (BEN), 2010.
Ahmed, M. Feroze; M. Khalequzzaman and Ahmed Tanveer (Eds.). Water Resources
in South Asia: Conflict to Cooperation. Dhaka: Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) and Bangladesh Environment Network (BEN), 2013.
Ahmed, M. Feroze; Saleh A.Tanveer and Ahmed Tanveer (Eds.). Urbanization, Trafic Jam
and Bangladesh Environment, Dhaka: Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) and Bangladesh Environment Network (BEN), 2010.
Alauddin, Mohammad & Mosharaff Hossain. Environment and Agriculture in a
developing economy: Problems and Prospects for Bangladesh. Cheltenham, UK; Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar, 2001.
Alauddin, Mohammad & Samiul Hasan (Eds.). Development, Governance and the
Environment in South Asia: A Focus on Bangladesh. Basingstoke: Macmillan; New York, N.Y.: St. Martin's Press, 1999.
Aminrazabi, M. and Moris Z. (Eds.). A Complete Bibliography of the Works of Seyyed
Hossein Nasr. Malaysia: Islamic Academic of Science, 1994.
Asian Development Bank (ADB). Country Environmental Analysis-Bangladesh.
Manila: Asian Development Bank, 2004.
Bakar, Osman. “Civilizational Dialogue on Environmental Philosophy: Nasr’s ‘Man
and Nature’ Revisited” in The Beacon of Knowledge: Essay in Honor of Seyyed Hossein Nasr, ed. Mohammad H. Faghfoory. Louisville, Kentucky: Fons Vitae, 2003.
_______ Environmental Wisdom for Planet Earth: The Islamic Heritage. University
of Malaysia: Center for Civilizational Dialogue, 2007.
Bakar, Osman. “Nature as a Sacred Book: A Core Element of Seyyed Hossein Nasr's
Philosophical Teachings.” Sacred Web 40, (Winter 2017): 75-101.
Beringer, Almut. “Reclaiming a Sacred Cosmology: Seyyed Hossein Nasr, the Perennial
Philosophy and Sustainability Education”. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education 11, no. 1, (2006): 26-42.
Bhattacharya, Dipen; M. Feroze Ahmed; Nazrul Islam and Mohd. Abdul Matin (Eds.). Climate
Change and the Tasks for Bangladesh. Dhaka: Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) and Bangladesh Environment Network (BEN), 2009.
Bilal, Malik Gazi. “Islamic Eco-theology: A Religious Call to protect Ecosystem.” The
Companion (2017). Access on 15 June 2017.
Davary, Bahar. “Islam and Ecology: Southeast Asia, Adat, and the Essence of Keramat.” ASIA
Network Exchange 20, no. 1, (Fall 2012): 12-22.
Dien, M. Izzi. “Islam and the Environment: Theory and Practice.” Journal of Beliefs and
Values 18, no. 1, (1997): 47-57.
Department of Environment (DoE). Bangladesh Environment and Climate Change
Outlook 2012. Department of Environment (DoE) [Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh], 2012.
Faghfoory, Mohammad H. (Ed.). Beacon of Knowledge: Essays in Honor of Seyyed Hossein
Nasr. Louisville, Kentucky: Fons Vitae, 2003.
Flanagan, Sara V; Richard B. Johnston and Yang Zheng. “Arsenic in tube well water in
Bangladesh: health and economic impacts and implications of arsenic mitigation.” Bulletin of World Health Organization 90, (2012): 839-846.
Foltz, R. Environmentalism in the Muslim world. New York: Nova Science, 2005.
Foltz, Richard C.; Frederick M. Denny and Azizan Baharuddin. Islam and Ecology:
A Bestowed Trust. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Center for the Study of World Religions (Harvard Divinity School) with Harvard University Press, 2003.
_______ Animal in Islamic Traditions and Muslim Cultures. New York: One world
Publications, 2014.
Gottlieb, Roger S. (Ed.). This Sacred Earth: Religion, Nature, Environment, 2nd
edition. New York and London: Routledge, 2004.
Hahn, Lewis Edwin; Randall E. Auxier and Lucian W. Stone, Jr. (Eds.). The Philosophy of
Seyyed Hossein Nasr. Chicago and La Salle, Illinois: Open Court, 2001.
Hussain, Iqbal. 2011. “Wildlife Trust of Bangladesh Wins Conservation Award”.
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), 5 June 2011.
Islam, Md. Nazrul; Van Amstel and Andre (Eds.). Bangladesh I: Climate Change
Impacts, Mitigation and Adaptation in Developing Countries. New York: Springer, 2017.
Islam, Nazrul. Protecting Bangladesh’s Environment: The Role of the Civil Society.
Bangladesh Environmental Network (BEN), 1999. Viewed on 15 June 2017. (
Islam, Naznin. Environmental Issues in Bangladesh: An Overview. Pakistan Journal of
Social Science 3, no. 4, (2005): 671-679.
Islam, M. Shahidul and Md. Khalequzzaman (Eds.). Costal and Marin Environment of
Bangladesh. Dhaka: Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (BAPA) and Bangladesh Environment Network (BEN), 2016.
Khalid, Fazlun. “Exploring Environmental Ethics in Islam: Insights from the Quran and
the Practices of Prophet Muhammad” in The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Religion and Ecology, ed. John Hart, 130-145. Oxford, UK: John Wiley & Sons Ltd., 2017.
Kinniburgh, DG and Smedley PL (Eds.). Arsenic contamination of groundwater in
Bangladesh. Key worth: British Geological Survey, 2001.
Masud (Md. Masud Rana). “Environment and NGOs in Bangladesh”, WIFIBD, 9
November 2011. Access on 8 July 2017.
Mevorach, Ian. In Search of a Christian Muslim Common Path from Desacralization
to Resacralization of Nature: Sallie McFague and Seyyed Hossein Nasr on the Ecological Crisis. (Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation). Boston: School of Theology, Boston University, 2015.
Mohamed, N. 2014. Islamic Education, Eco-ethics and Community. Studies in Philosophy and
Education, 33(3): 315-328.
Murad, Munjed M. “Islamic Environmental Stewardship: Nature and Science in the
Light of Islamic Philosophy”. Union Seminary Quarterly Review 63, no. 1-2, (2011): 145-163.
_______ “Inner and Outer Nature: An Islamic Perspective on the Environmental Crisis”. Journal of Islam and Science 10, no. 2, (2012): 117-137.
Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. Man, and Nature: The Spiritual Crisis of Modern Man. London: Unwin
Paperbacks, 1976 [1968].
Nasr, Seeyed Hossein. The Need for a Sacred Science. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993.
Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. Religion and the Order of Nature. New York: Oxford Universe
Press, 1996.
Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. Islam and the Plight of Modern Man. Chicago: ABC International
Group, Inc., 2001.
Nasr, Seyyed Hossein and Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. “A Religious Nature: Philosopher
Seyyed Hossein Nasr on Islam and the Environment”. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 71, no. 5, (2015): 13-18.
Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. “Islam and Environmental Crisis.” In Spirit and Nature: Why the
Environment is a Religious Issue—An Interfaith Dialogue, edited by Rockefeller, S tephen C. and Elder, John C., 83-108. Boston: Beacon Press, 1992.
Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. “Islam and Environmental Crisis.” In Islam and the Environment, ed.
A. Agwan. New Delhi: Institute of Objective Studies, 1997.
Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. “The Spiritual and Religious Dimensions of the Environmental
Crisis.” The Ecologist 30, (January 2000): 18-20.
Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. Islam and the Plight of Modern Man (Revised and Enlarged Edition).
Chicago: ABC International Group, Inc., 2001 [1975].
Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. “Islam, the Contemporary Islamic World, and the Environmental
Crisis.” In Islam and Ecology: A Bestowed Trust, ed. Richard C. Foltz, Frederick M. Denny and Azizan Baharuddin. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Center for the Study of World Religions (Harvard Divinity School) with Harvard University Press, 2003.
Nasr, Seyyed Hossein and Muzaffar Iqbal. “The Islamic Perspective on the Environmental
Crisis: Seyyed Hossein Nasr in Conversation with Muzaffar Iqbal.” Islam & Science 5, no. 1, (Summer 2007): 75-96.
Nasr, Seyyed Hossein and Ramin Jahanbergloo. In Search of the Sacred: A Conversation with
Seyyed Hossein Nasr on His Life and Thought. Santa Barbara, California; Denver, Colorado; Oxford, England: Praeger, 2010.
Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. God is Absolute Reality and All Creation His Tajallī (Theophany).” In
The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Religion and Ecology, edited by John Hart, 3-11. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2017.
Ouis, Soumaya Pernilla. “Islamic Eco-theology based on the Quran”. Islamic Studies 37, no.
2, (Summer 1998): 151-181.
Quadir, Tarik M. Traditional Islamic Environmentalism: The Vision of Seyyed Hossein Nasr.
Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 2013. ‬‬
Rahman, A Atiq; Rana Haider; Saleemul Huq and Eirik G Jansen (Eds.). Environment
and Development in Bangladesh, vol. I & II. Dhaka: The University Press Limited.
________ ; Haider, Rana; Huq, Saleemul and Jansen, Eirik G (Eds.), 1994.
Shah-Kazemi, Reza. “From Sacrilege to Sacralisation: Seyyed Hossein Nasr's Perspectives on
the Ecological Crisis in the Light of the Holy Qur'an.” Sacred Web 40, (Winter 2017): 103-111.
Salamuddin. “Seyyed Hossein Nasr’s Concept of the Relationship between Man,
Nature and God.” Karsa: Journal of Social and Islamic Culture 25, no. 1, (June 2017): 33-56.
Saniotis, A. “Muslims and Ecology: Fostering Islamic environmental Ethics.” Contemporary
Islam 6, no. 2, (2012): 155-171.
Schwencke, Anne Marieke. Seyyed Hossein Nasr: Traditionalism, Islamic Esoterism
and Environmental Ethics. (Unpublished BA Thesis in Religious Studies). Leiden: Institute of Religious Studies (Leiden University), 2009.
Schuon, Firthjof. Light on the Ancient Worlds: A New Translation with Selected Letters, trans.
Deborah Casey, Mark Perry, Jean-Pierre Lafouge, and James S. Cutsinger (translation edition) (Library of Perennial Philosophy). Somerville, Indiana: World Wisdom Publications, 2008.
Sayem, Md. Abu. “Environmental Crisis as a Religious Issue: Assessing some relevant
Works and Activities on the Field.” Asian Journal of Theology 33, no. 1, (2019): 127-147.
_______ “Eco-theological Understanding of Seyyed Hossein Nasr: Spiritual Crisis and
Environmental Degradation.” Journal of Islamic Studies 58, no.2, (2019): 1-26.
_______ “Religious Understanding of Nature and Influence of Geographical Environment in shaping Religious Beliefs and Practices: With special reference to Christianity and Islam.” KARSA: Journal of Social and Islamic Culture 26, no. 2, (2018): 195-214.
_______ “A Scientific World-View of Nature and Environmental Problems with a
special Concentration to Seyyed Hossein Nasr’s Understanding of Environmental Sustainability.” Journal of Islam in Asia 15, no. 2, (2018): 312-328.
_______ “Islamic Teaching and Practice of Environmental Ethics in Bangladesh: A
Case Study”. Quest: Studies on Religion and Cultures in Asia 3, (2018): 1-28.
Smith, A. H.; E. Lingas and M. Rahman. “Contamination of Drinking-water by Arsenic in
Bangladesh: A Public Health Emergency.” Bull World Health Organ 2000, 78: 1093-103.
Tucker, Mary E. and John Grim (Ed.). “Worldviews and Ecology: Religion, Philosophy,
and the Environment.” Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis, 1994.
Tucker, Mary Evelyn and John A. Grim. “Introduction: The Emerging Alliance of Religion and Ecology,” Daedalus 130, no. 4 (Religion and Ecology: Can the Climate Change?), (Fall, 2001): 1-22.
Tuhin, Farhad. 2008. “Sound Pollution – A severe Health Hazard”, The Daily Star News, 15
November 2008. Accessed on 8 July 2017.
United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP). Environment, Religion and Culture in the
Context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Nairobi, United Nations Environmental Program, 2016.
Wensley, Cory Lee. What was said to the Rose that made it open, was said to me, here,
in my Chest: The Influence of Jalal al-Din Rumi in Seyyed Hossein Nasr’s Sufi Diagnosis of the Environmental Crisis. (Unpublished M.A. Thesis in Theology and Religious Studies). Halifax, Nova Scotia: Saint Mary’s University, 1995.
Wersal, Lisa. “Islam and Environmental Ethics: Tradition Responds to Contemporary
Challenges.” Zygon 30, no. 3, (1995): 451-45.
White, Lynn Townsend. “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis.” Science 155, no. 3767, (1967): 1203-1207.
Widiyanto, Asfa . The Reception of Seyyed Hossein Nasr’s Ideas within the Indonesian
Intellectual Landscape. Studia Islamika: Indonesian Journal for Islamic Studies, 23(2), 2016:193-236.
World Bank (WB). Environment Matters (Fall 1996), 1996.
World Bank (WB). Annual Report 2015.