Towards an Islamic Philosophy of Consumption
A Research Paper
This paper is intended to reconsider consumption and sustainability from an Islamic perspective. In particular, it sets out to first establish a ‘radical reform’ methodology in order to analyse the question, and then sets about applying this lens to the issue of sustainable consumption. In doing so, it establishes first the interpretative frame, a subsequent re-reading of the sources, and a brief reconsideration of the history of encounters between Islamic societies and the question of consumption. It then suggests a toolkit for Muslims and activists alike to join the fight for a more just, ecologically balanced world in harmony with creation.
The world is facing unprecedented challenges, being brought to the brink of destruction by a nexus of capitalism, colonialism and consumerism. Muslim communities have the moral duty and the philosophical tools not to adapt to this oppressive reality but to transform and overcome it in the name of ethical liberation. This requires radical reform, this requires questioning the sources – usul-ul-fiqh and the aims – maqasid-al-shar’iah – of Islamic legal philosophy. Before doing this, it is important to establish the cosmology and the two books of the universe – how the Book of Nature relates to the Book of Scripture. Once established, we can begin to extract maqasid and begin the work of dismantling consumerism; of reorienting ourselves in not just a sustainable way, but one that establishes justice.
Martyn Rush (2018) Towards an Islamic Philosophy of Consumption, Humanitarian Academy for Development, Birmingham, UK.