Nature as Object and Symbol

By: Jakub Koláček  

If we look at texts of contemporary Muslim authors attempting to formulate appropriate ethical stance towards environmental issues, we can distinguish between two different notions of nature based on interpretation of the Qur'anic text. The first one is “objectual” and treats nature as actually existent entity present in the world and carrying specific qualities, being open to human discovery, encounter, use and management. The second one is that of a symbol referring to broader ethico-religious truths and meanings regarding the universe and creation. Whereas the first notion stands closer to modern scientific conceptualizations of nature and usually serves as a basis for linking of religion and science together in one pragmatic holistic approach towards the ecological questions, the second one attaches to nature more specific “sacred” quality which serves as a basis for more unique and categoric religious deontology. How are these two notions inferred from Qur'anic text, how are they employed in actual ethical statements and how are they combined together? Is there a relation between the preference of one of these notions and actual ethical stances towards concrete ecological questions? And is it, after all, possible to argue that one of these notions is closer to the original meaning of Qur'anic revelation than the other? The answer to these questions will be sought via discoursive analysis of contemporary ethical texts, textual analysis of Qur'an and theories of religious ethics of M. Weber, Ch. Taylor and T. Izutsu.

Islam, Qur'an, Islamic Ethics, Environmental Ethics, Nature
2019 Special Focus—Universal Religious Symbols: Mutual Influences and Specific Relationships
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Jakub Koláček

Research assistant, Department of the Middle East, Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic
Czech Republic

Born in Czech town Pardubice in the year of Velvet Revolution, 1989. Graduated at Charles University in Historical sociology and Arabic and Islamic studies respectively including two terms of schollarship at Cairo University. Now working as a lecturer at the Department of Middle East at Faculty of Arts, Charles University and studying Ph.D. in Middle Eastern history therein. Focusing mainly on the interaction of modern evironmentalism and contemporary Islamic thinking, Islamic ethics of environment. Presently working on publications on this topic. Other fields of interest include the Shi'a Islam and modern history of Iran. Languages: Czech, English, Arabic, Farsi, German, Russian.