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Reading: Islam and Ecology: Southeast Asia, Adat, and the Essence of Keramat


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Islam and Ecology: Southeast Asia, Adat, and the Essence of Keramat


Bahar Davary

University of San Diego
About Bahar

Bahar Davary is Associate Professor of World Religions and Islam at the University of San Diego in California. She is co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures (Brill), co-editor and contributor to The Qur’an: An Encyclopedia (Routledge, 2006) and contributor to the Oxford Encyclopedia of Islam and Women. She is author of Women and the Qur’an: A Study in Islamic Hermeneutics (Mellen, 2009).

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The gradual “ecological genocide” of our times demands not only a transnational critical investigation but an ecumenical and interreligious query as well. In this paper, I will juxtapose the views of Lynn White (Christian) and Seyyed Hossein Nasr (Muslim) with respect to nature and religion. What the two share, is the analysis that the rift between culture (Western ethos) and nature is the cause of the environmental crisis. By way of reference to Malay adat, and the
example of keramat, this paper argues that the key component for the establishment of a harmonious ethos cannot be maintained without re-envisioning the sacred in nature. Within the context of South East Asia, the example of the Minanagkabau can serve as a model in which culture is shaped by nature. It is based on relationships that are neither anthropocentric, nor androcentric, one that is not based on dominion but on fostering nature-human-divine relationships. Participation in "The Half the World Symposium" at the Hobart and William Smith Colleges was generously funded by the Henry Luce Foundation.
How to Cite: Davary, B., 2012. Islam and Ecology: Southeast Asia, Adat, and the Essence of Keramat. ASIANetwork Exchange: A Journal for Asian Studies in the Liberal Arts, 20(1), pp.12–22. DOI:
Published on 02 Dec 2012.
Peer Reviewed


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