New York City-native Ibrahim Abdul-Matin has his work cut out for him. Not because there is anything inherently wrong with his premise that Islam is eco-friendly at its core, but because Islam's image has been dominated these days by political matters and the threat of violence. Nevertheless, his comprehensive book, Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting the Planet (Berrett-Koehler Publishers), makes a strong case for responsible consumption and energy conservation - with Islamic principles firmly connected to them. It even got a fair shake on Fox News of all places, so there's hope that a more positive message will make its way through the headlines. Ibrahim speaks with us here about his book and what Islam and spirituality can teach us about our environment.
Tell us a little about your background – both religious and professional – and how it prepared you to write this book.
In terms of my professional backround, I come from an organizing background, working in social justice, with people of color, young people. Specifically what I've done is develop a directory of youth organizing in the United States, research for the Inner City Muslim Action Network on Muslims in New York City, gathering qualitative information about people and helping people make decisions on how they live their lives. I helped start an environmental high school in Brooklyn – the Brooklyn Academy for Science and the Environment in 2003. I've done a lot of work with bringing young people into the natural world, connecting them through courses, experiential education, and through Outward Bound, where I was an instructor. And then I've done some technology stuff, software, Web 2.0 – had some terribly failed adventures in that arena and learned an incredible amount about what it takes to successfully do a new media/social media project.
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