Environmental Crisis, Concept of Sustainable Development, Islamic Values, and a Global Alternative

The Western tradition of human dominance over nature, whether based on religion or rationalist philosophy, is being challenged today. The complex and multidimensional crisis that the world is currently experiencing forces us to take a critical look at the paradigms that embody traditional systems of thought, such as humanism, rationalism, or positivism, to reconsider the content of the concepts that drive them (modernity, progress, innovation), and to broaden their definition and scope. After recalling the context in which the concept of “sustainable development” emerged, we will analyze the foundations of this paradigm and seek to understand why and how it is now deeply questioned by a part of the scientific community. The march toward “progress” experienced by the so-called developed countries over the last few centuries and the disregard for the problems linked to the unreasonable exploitation of our planet’s natural resources have forced us to become aware of its limits and to reconsider our conception of “development” and well-being. Our whole concept of education, our way of life, and our relationship with work are being called into question. In Muslim sources, environmental preservation, spirituality, and education are intimately linked. In parallel with an analysis of the concept of sustainable development and the criticisms it is subject to, and in a perspective of global mutation of modern societies, we will try to understand, from the scriptural sources of Islam, the role that spirituality can play in the emergence of an alternative model to the dominant model of development and growth, embodied by a new paradigm centered on the human values of ethics, peace, well-being, solidarity, and justice.