Culture of Conservation Rooted in Islam


| May-June 2009


A centuries-old Islamic concept could be a modern solution to safeguard threatened ecosystems. Himas—or protected places—originated as a way for ancient tribal chiefs to reserve the best land for private use, reports Saudi Aramco World (Nov.-Dec. 2008). In the seventh century, the prophet Muhammad redefined himas as public assets, rich pieces of God’s natural world “in which all community members had a share and a stake.” This model thrived into the 1960s, when the emergence of the modern nation-state (and its attending bureaucracy) pushed the localized conservation model out of vogue.

Environmentalists working with the Beirut-based Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon (SPNL), however, saw the genius of a conservation model that encourages communities to become stewards of the natural world and in 2004 began working to reestablish himas in the Bekaa Valley and near the city of Ebel es-Saqi. These days, enthusiastic groups of citizens, local officials, farmers, and scientists meet regularly to monitor the status of their preserves. SPNL reports surges in biodiversity and the return of several endangered species. An all-around success, the himas have even attracted ecotourists, creating economic opportunities for local communities.






Pay Now Save $5!

Utne Summer 2016Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.

Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5 and get 4 issues of Utne Reader for only $31.00 (USA only).

Or Bill Me Later and pay just $36 for 4 issues of Utne Reader!




Facebook Instagram Twitter flipboard


Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, Kansas 66609-1265