IIUM Repository

Introductory speech

Bakar, Osman (2023) Introductory speech. In: Islam-Buddhism Eco Dialogue (IBED): Application of Religion and Science to Ecology and Sustainability. Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM), Vajrayana Buddhist Council of Malaysia (VBCM), Tibetan Buddhist Culture Centre of Malaysia (TBCC), Centre for Civilisational Dialogue (UMCCD)., Kuala Lumpur, pp. 1-5. ISBN 978-983-3070-57-2

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Our planet Earth is currently in a state of ecological crisis with grave implications for the future of humanity. The crisis is getting more serious than ever, so does science tell us notwithstanding the fact that more and more people now realize that the future of all living species on our planet Earth on which human life itself depends is at stake. Scholars and scientists have been talking about the need to address this global crisis for more than half a century. But there seems to be a progressive deterioration in the quality of the environment and the ecological health of the planetary body of our Earth. The main reason for this unfortunate global situation is, I think, because people who are mainly responsible for the crisis do not want to listen to science. And they also do not want to listen to religion. They only want to listen to the whispers of their greed for more wealth and power through the exploitation of natural resources that are fast depleting! One of the main reasons why we have chosen the theme is that we would like to contribute to the popularization of the idea that religion and science should work together in addressing and overcoming the present ecological crisis. Particularly, this means that religious leaders and activists and scholars of religion should work hand in hand with scientists or the scientific community in overcoming the ecological crisis. Although there has been such collaboration here and there in our contemporary world, it has been confined to a few people. For too long, people mostly listen to the voice of science when it comes to the issue of the environmental and ecological crisis. Without hesitation, let us continue to listen to the voice of science, because when it comes to monitoring the ecological health of our planet, its voice is the most reliable. But for God’s sake, please also listen to the voice of religion. It is our belief that religion has a lot of things to say about ecology and the environment of our planet Earth. Let us be clear on the issue of the ecological crisis. While it is very clear that ecology is a biophysical issue and thus to be addressed by science, it is no less clear especially to religious scholars and authorities that ecology is also a spiritual and moral issue and thus to be addressed by religion. In short, the ecological crisis has both a biophysical and human dimension, which therefore requires the attention of both religion and science. Moreover, it is obvious to us that the biophysical and human dimensions of ecology interact with each other. The nature and extent of the interaction depends on the kind of attitudes we humans have towards Nature and on the kind of relationship we choose to have with the natural world. There is a stark difference between the relationship between man and nature in the pre-modern period and the corresponding relationship in the modern and contemporary period. The present ecological crisis has a lot to do with the kind of relationship that modern man has pursued with Nature. The IBED Conference would like to explore and understand how spirituality as the core of religion can play its constructive role in addressing the crisis in question. Some people have raised the issue of how can religions be an effective united front in responding to the ecological crisis when their respective fundamental teachings are so different from each other. This Conference seeks to show otherwise, that notwithstanding differences between religions, there are common grounds between them that would enable their respective followers to sit down together and discuss the problems of humanity. We the organizers think that the followers of the different religions would be even more at ease when dealing with environmental and ecological issues. Another significance of the IBED Conference with its theme is that we can show to the whole world that Muslims and Buddhists can discuss together substantive issues of ecology and sustainability from the perspectives of their respective religions. We hope to strengthen our common position on issues of ecology and sustainability. The conference is also attended by followers of other religions. This augurs well for the future of multifaith and multicultural approaches to the restoration of the ecological health of the planet Earth. Let me say a few words about the significance of this Conference for the current initiative and goals of sustainable development. We are aware of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations. Various institutions and organizations all over the world are pursuing the goals in their own ways, including in Malaysia. I would like to mention here the especially energetic programs currently pursued by IIUM under the leadership of its Rector, Tan Sri Emeritus Professor Dzulkifli Abdul Razak in relation to the seventeen SDGs. However, being an Islamic university, IIUM is concerned about the lack of spirituality in the content of the goals. To address this rather obvious shortcoming, IIUM added Spirituality and Sustainability as its eighteenth SDG. Of course, IIUM’s emphasis is on spirituality and sustainability from the Islamic perspective. However, this does not rule out a comparative religious approach to this specific issue. As a matter of fact, this is precisely what we are doing at this Conference. We will be comparing Islamic and Buddhist notes on the issue of sustainability among others. It is our sincere hope that this Conference will provide new spaces for exploring our commonalities on issues of global significance and thus strengthening our mutual understanding. It is also our sincere hope that this Conference will be greeted with enthusiasm by both Muslims and Buddhists the world over. It is also our hope that in the very near future IBED would be able to organize interfaith dialogues that would include members of the other faiths.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics > BJ1188 Religious ethics
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BP Islam. Bahaism. Theosophy, etc > BP1 Islam > BP171 Relation of Islam to other religions
BPG Islamic geography > BPG113 Environmental ethics/responsibility. Sustainable living.
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BQ Buddhism
Kulliyyahs/Centres/Divisions/Institutes (Can select more than one option. Press CONTROL button): International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization (ISTAC)
Depositing User: Prof Dr Osman Bakar
Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2023 12:36
Last Modified: 08 Jun 2023 15:45
URI: http://irep.iium.edu.my/id/eprint/104937

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