About the Author(s)

Syefriyeni Syefriyeni Email symbol
Department of Aqidah dan Filsafat Islam, Faculty of Ushuluddin dan Pemikiran Islam, Universitas Islam Negeri Raden Fatah, Palembang, South Sumatera, Indonesia

Dindin Nasrudin symbol
Department of Science Education, Faculty of Tarbiya and Teacher Training, UIN Sunan Gunung Djati Bandung, Bandung, West Java, Indonesia


Syefriyeni, S. & Nasrudin, D., 2023, ‘The construction of environmental philosophy rooted in religiosity’, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 79(2), a8442. https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v79i2.8442

Project Research Registration:

Project Number: P.70/LP2M/2022

Original Research

The construction of environmental philosophy rooted in religiosity

Syefriyeni Syefriyeni, Dindin Nasrudin

Received: 11 Jan. 2023; Accepted: 14 June 2023; Published: 25 Aug. 2023

Copyright: © 2023. The Author(s). Licensee: AOSIS.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


One of the causes of poor human-environment relations is the separation of the study of natural philosophy and human philosophy. The awareness to combine natural and human philosophy has been sparked by thinkers such as Henryk Skolimowski and Fritjof Capra. However, both are seen as not showing clear root values. Meanwhile, Sayyed Hossein Nasr has brought the concept of value in the combination of natural philosophy with human philosophy. However, he describes it as a mystical concept that is too complex for many people to understand. Buya Hamka, with his monumental work on Al-Azhar commentary, has succeeded in combining natural and human philosophy based on clear values. Hamka is a multidimensional thinker with thinking characteristics that grow and blend into socio-cultural and religious so that many groups see it as more populist and can understand it. Hamka’s thinking way can be an alternative frame of reference for environmental problems. The Hamka concept constructs three main pillars: transcendent consciousness, caliphate and qana’ah. Transcendent consciousness is human appreciation based on religiosity. Caliphate is the role of humans to become mushlih (nature sustainer), preservers and guardians in efforts to beautify nature, and qana’ah encourages humans to take advantage of nature without exploiting it.

Contribution: This research’s main contribution is offering an alternative concept of environmental philosophy construction based on religiosity. This concept is seen as a very accessible paradigm in most people’s minds and is not complicated. This paradigm can be disseminated and applied to many people, including in the junior high school environment, as a form of concern for the natural environment and sustainable life.

Keywords: caliphate; environmental philosophy; transcendent awareness; al-Azhar commentary; caliphate; environmental philosophy; HAMKA; transcendent awareness; qana’ah.


Environmental philosophy has become a serious study that has been widely discussed lately, mainly because of the problem of an unbalanced way of thinking between the understanding of humans and the existence of nature (Berdimuratova & Mukhammadiyarova 2020; Lee 1999; Mathews 2014). Several theories of the inheritance of past thinkers such as Thales, Anaximanndros and Anaximenes still separate the study of natural philosophy and human philosophy (Murdiati & Rosa 2022). Splitting the study of nature and humans is also supported by contemporary philosophical schools such as existentialism, which carries solely on human excellence. The separation between the study of natural philosophy and human philosophy is seen as producing a partial and narrow understanding.

The modern wave of secularism exacerbates the separation of nature-humans, which emphasises the separation of knowledge from values (Taylor 2007). Even though the appreciation of knowledge is only based on physics, it is strengthened by positivism. This frame is seen as worsening human appreciation of the natural environment. However, lately, awareness of the error has been felt by some experts. Among them, produced writings that carried the concept of synthesis of natural philosophy with human philosophy. Likewise, there has been an acknowledgment that the presence of values in knowledge is necessary.

In an era fraught with environmental challenges, as is today, establishing a robust construction of environmental philosophy is imperative. The holy scriptures are one source that possesses depth and timeless wisdom in viewing the relationship between humans and nature. Through an approach based on sacred scriptures, we can find a holistic view of maintaining the balance of nature while fulfilling human needs. Holy scriptures such as the Qur’an, the Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, and others contain principles that teach unity, simplicity and sustainability that can serve as a foundation for building an environmental philosophy (Dwivedi 1990; Foltz 2003; Nasr 1993; Taylor 2010; York 2022). Hence, constructing an environmental philosophy based on holy scriptures can be one of the answers to facing increasingly complex environmental issues while also forming a collective awareness of the importance of preserving nature for the sustainability of future generations (O’Brien 2011).

We found that some thinkers tried combining natural and human philosophy with their thinking styles. Some of them were: Henryk Skolimowski, Fritjof Capra, Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Buya Hamka. This article aims to reveal and compare their thinking patterns.


This study used an environmental philosophy approach, with the material object being texted by a character. This research is qualitative in nature using two methods of analysis: (1) Holistic, namely understanding the characters’ philosophical concepts, which are seen in the framework of the overall vision of humans, nature, and God, as far as is found. (2) Method of interpretation that the character has lived with the reflection of his behaviour, religion, culture, social structure, awareness and goodness. Researchers try to approach it by reading it as a fact that can be captured as an expression and product of a character. The method interprets and understands the significance of values and intentions, along with other aspects that are intertwined with the characters’ lives, including their socio-cultural, religious, ethical, and aesthetic contexts. So that the intention of understanding correctly the product of the character’s thoughts is caught (Zubair & Bakker 1990).

Research findings

Henryk Skolimowski and ecophilosophy

Henryk Skolimowski (Warsaw 04 May 1930, Warsaw 06 April 2018), realised that the knowledge formation of environmental philosophy, which was separated from positivistic-based values, was one of the causes of the weakness of this knowledge. Therefore, he tried to find a new path.

Skolimowski carried the theory of ‘ecophilosophy’. Ecophilosophy is a new path that is offered as well as resistance to contemporary philosophy that has existed before. He was of the view that contemporary philosophy has many weaknesses. According to Skolimowski, contemporary philosophy is only a piece of mind analysis, only pursuing information, environmentally and ecologically forgetful, only concerned with material progress in the economic field, politically indifferent, socially indifferent, silent about individual responsibility, intolerant of trans-physical phenomena, not paying attention to health, only language-oriented and spiritually dead (Skolimowski 1981).

Skolimowski gave rise to an ecophilosophy with a variety of characteristic lines, namely: life-oriented, showing commitment to human values, nature, and life itself, etc. For example, in relation to life, he argues that life is not a ‘fatal cancer’, as some medical practitioners claim. Life is a positive phenomenon with its power and beauty. People who cannot admit there are positive things in life have resigned from life and allowed themselves to fall into a more profound abyss.

The values in the ecophilosophy concept are derived from certain cultural traditions considered adequate from a certain point of view. Skolimowski is seen as a thinker who incorporates the mysticism of pantheism into his transcendent perspective (Fiut 2009:13–23). According to Skolimowski, traditions from various cultures serve as treasure troves of wisdom. Within these traditions, the sanctity of the cosmos is honoured. They invoke a sense of wonder towards the natural world, which is considered divine. Rekindling the world’s magic through a fresh metaphysical perspective that integrates the finest elements of these traditions with the knowledge of modern science is the pathway towards the healing of our souls and the Earth (Skolimowski 1994).

Some views that possess environmental wisdom, according to Skolimowski, include the metaphysical perspective of dynamism, animism of indigenous tribes, mysticism, or beliefs of contemporary society that still recognise dynamism, and animism in certain areas or objects such as haunted trees. He refers to these perspectives as some that can be used to solve the problems concerning the natural environment, ensuring that it can still be maintained and preserved, even if motivated by fear of metaphysical phenomena. Skolimowski calls this the theory of ‘tolerance towards trans physical phenomena’ (Skolimowski 1981). Here, he acknowledges the existence of another path besides the physical one. Skolimowski recognises the complexity of defining this other path because the modern era has been dominated solely by the physical way. However, what he believed himself seemed to be unclear. It is regrettable considering that Skolimowski has almost synthesised natural and human philosophy into environmental philosophy as a new path. However, taking the values of their beliefs is not seen explicitly and clearly. He only explains the spirit in society in a trans-physical form (Skolimowski 1999).

Seyyed Hossein Nasr and ecosophy

Seyyed Hossein Nasr is a contemporary Muslim philosopher from Iran-Persia. He is a leading scientist in Islamic studies and comparative religion studies. He is also a spiritualist, historian and expert in music, art, architecture, literature and the environment (Maimun 2015).

Nasr’s concept of environmental philosophy stems from his critique of modern people. He said that they had made nature what they wanted. Science develops without value. Society has lost its metaphysical consciousness, and even religious people have lost their spiritual sense of nature in such circumstances (Nasr 2007).

According to Nasr, religion should be positioned as the key to understanding the universe and as a means for humans to make an inner journey from the lowest to the highest level. God is almighty. Religion is not just a belief, but is the reality of Divine Origin. Religion has an archetype in the Divine intellect and a level of meaning and reality like the cosmos (Nasr 2007).

For people to become works of sacred art or be themself, they must completely surrender and be devoted to the commandments of the Spirit or the sacred teachings. Only sacred teachings enable people to unmask the veils that hide their true nature from their eyes. The sacred teachings come from the Spirit and can be used as a source of ethics, aesthetics in the traditional sense, metaphysical doctrines and methods of realisation (Nasr 1990).

The teachings of the Qur’an show the harmony between contemplation (knowledge) and action, or between al-’ilm and al-’amal, that is, the harmony that Allah wills for Muslim society. In the Qur’an, every call to people to contemplate Allah’s wisdom, both in the universe’s creation and its metacosm reality, is always followed by a call to react correctly based on the principles derived from that wisdom (Nasr 2007).

These criticisms and views were finally resolved through his ecosophy concept. He invites people to see the problem in themselves. Mistakes towards nature must be seen in oneself; how the self understands nature as a phenomenon connected with transcendent or spiritual consciousness. The ecosophy concept is also called eco-Sufism. Humans [salik] who treat nature with wisdom reflect the awareness of eco-Sufism. The forms of appreciation, care and preservation of the environment around us are part of Suluk or Sufi practice.

The concept of Nasr is derived from the unity [tawhîd] concept, namely tawhîd wahdat al-wujûd (Suwito 2017). The existence of nature (cosmos) and everything in it is the theophany of God. Sufis provide the path to find the highest human consciousness and trans-substantial movement. Humans using the heart [qalb] are khalîfah and at the same time ‘abd Allâh. They are the ones who can understand nature as God’s theophany. Thus, destroying nature is the same as ‘damaging’ the appreciation of God.

This concept of Nasr meets the criteria in the realm of Sufism. To be understood by many circles as a solution to environmental problems is a bit complicated, although, in certain circles, it is fascinating. So that, spiritual awareness of the natural environment can only be understood and played by certain groups. However, it will be read vaguely to get down to the realistic ethics.

Fritjof Capra and ecoliteracy

Fritjof Capra, born on 01 February 1939, in Vienna, Australia, did much research in the field of physics and connected it with other fields. Based on his expertise, Capra is good at relating it to the concept of the environment. Environmental philosophy is divided into three concepts: environmental awareness, ecoliteracy and sustainable society.

According to Capra, building human awareness of the environment begins with building awareness of the relationship between the two. Humans are expected to be aware of the environment around them. There are two types of consciousness: cognition and consciousness. Capra called awareness of the surrounding environment or cognition the first level of consciousness (primary consciousness), a cognitive process involving the entire experience of perception, feeling and the five senses. This cognitive process occurs and is experienced by all living creatures (Capra 2004). While the second level of awareness involves self-awareness, that the subject is aware of and knows particular objects around them. Only humans have this ability in the context of abstraction and reflection on the cognitive experience that ultimately generates abstract reflective knowledge produced by humans (Capra 2004).

Humans who have reached a high level of awareness about the importance of the environment are called ecoliterate. The word ecoliterate is a combination of two words: ecological and literacy (Purwadianto 2004). Ecological is an adjective defined as an ecological principle. The ecological principles here need to be placed in a new perspective or paradigm for the future development of life together on planet earth. The word literacy can be interpreted as the situation of someone who already understands or has an understanding of something. Ecoliteracy can thus be interpreted as a situation of being literate, understood or having an understanding of the workings of ecological principles in living together on earth (Purwadianto 2004).

A society that is literate with ecological principles will create a sustainable society. According to Capra, creating a sustainable society is a big challenge today. Today’s people can meet their needs without compromising future generations’ ability to meet them. This definition of sustainability is an essential moral advice. He reminds us of the responsibility to inherit the world with the same opportunities our predecessors inherited for our children and grandchildren (Capra 2004).

Capra’s concept is not derived from the principle of awareness of religiosity. Even Capra realised and looked for it in the philosophies in the ancient Eastern tradition with his book entitled The Tao of Physic. However, he only came to the view that the mystics had arrived earlier and saw it as parallel to the achievements of modern physics. He took the spiritual nuance from many traditions; therefore, no standard value is used as a reference.

Hamka’s environmental philosophy: Transcendental awareness, Caliph, and Qana’ah

Hamka is an acronym of Haji Abdul Malik Karim Amrullah (Tamara, Sanusi & Djauhari 1983). He is a scholar who is popular in Malay-speaking countries. His father came from a family of religious scholar, and was one of the first reformers, especially in Minangkabau. His mother came from a noble indigenous family (Djamal 1975). Hamka’s works are diverse, ranging from romance, religion, history, philosophy, Sufism, autobiography and commentary. Al-Azhar book is Hamka’s Monumental Work which was completed when he was in prison during the Old Order. He is an expert in the field of Islam and is recognised internationally. No wonder he is regarded as the most famous Ulama in Malay-speaking countries (Akhavi et al. 1995).

According to M. Quraish Shihab, Al-Azhar commentary is literary in the style of social culture, namely a pattern of interpretation that explains the instructions of the verses of the Qur’an that are directly related to people’s lives as well as efforts to overcome problems. His commentary presents the instructions in a language that is easy to understand and beautiful to hear. Although the interpretation relates to the content of philosophy, theology, law, Sufism, and so on, it does not escape its characteristic features, namely trying to overcome society’s ills and encouraging worldly and hereafter progress based on the instructions of the Qur’an (Yusuf 2003).

There are many essential vocabularies about the concept of environmental philosophy as a result of the codification of Hamka’s thinking. It is in the realm of awareness and behaviour: transcendent awareness, caliph, and qana’ah [satisfied]. In this context, the three cannot be separated in awareness and behaviour understanding. People will not have the heart’s intelligence if no transcendental awareness of the Divine and the natural environment exists. They will not be able to carry out the functions of their caliphate, especially as a mushlih [nature sustainer] if their heart is not connected with transcendental consciousness. Therefore, if the functions of transcendental consciousness are alive, it will lead to mushlih [nature sustainer], and qana’ah [satisfied]. Qana’ah [satisfied], in this context, is not to over-exploit the natural environment and other living creatures.

The word caliph in this context does not mean the King specifically, but the human essence that was sent to manage the earth. It is more inclined to the meaning of the essence of the human principle that applies to every human being. The essence of human creation is to have an excess of intelligence from the functions of reason. It shows its superiority over other creatures, including angels; thus, humans are seen as more adequate to carry the burden of trust as caliphs. The vocabulary of the caliph, when associated with the natural environment and other living creatures, means preserving and beautifying. In Hamka’s interpretation, this word is addressed to the last human generation, namely the people of the Prophet Muhammad. Along with going towards the destruction of nature (apocalypse), the word custodian and who must beautify seems appropriate for the last human generation (Hamka 1999a).

Hamka gives an interpretation of the meaning of ‘caliph’ in the Qur’an Surah Al Baqarah: 30 as follows:

‘And (remember) when your Lord said to the Angels: Verily I want to make on earth a Caliph (based on verse 30)’. Before we continue to interpret this verse, we must first, with all humility and faith, hold on to what God has led in the third verse at the very beginning, which is about believing in the unseen. God has revealed the revelation to His Messenger that God once said to the Angels that God wants to raise a Caliph on earth. Then there was a question and answer between God and the Angels. How is it seated, where is it, and when is it time for questions and answers? It is not worth it for us to study until there. They say: ‘Do you want to make him someone who spoils in it and sheds blood, even though we exalt by praising You and glorifying You?’ He said: ‘Indeed, I know better what you do not know!’ (end of verse 30).

Hamka’s interpretation is quite long. It happened because of the addition of stories told by him. Moreover, he is good at telling stories. However, the significant point of the commentary can be interpreted as a relationship between faith (true value) and human existence on this earth. It is an essential thing. Human existence is not accidental but has a clear purpose from God.

In Hamka’s commentary, human existence is not an autonomous existence that stands alone. In contrast, the Western perspective sees human existence as the centre of existence and neglects other existences, including the natural environment. They give a pattern of study of anthropomorphism (White Jr 1967). This modern Western perspective based on secularism flows in every derivative of its concepts and vocabulary. It is as if humans are separated from their environment when talking about humans and their existence. This perspective is a fragmented way of thinking. As the famous study of human philosophy emerged in its time, it was seen as demeaning to other philosophical studies.

Hamka is different. When talking about human existence, humans are ‘independent’, but human existence is based on a command or design of God. If we talk about human existence, we do not have to look at it as ‘only’ that humans are the centre of existence or the centre of power (Hamka 1999a). Humans and their existence on this earth are not meant to stand alone. Still, it is connected with the transcendent, Divine, natural environment and other living creatures. Humans are not someone who exist and can take advantage of nature for granted. However, they have limitations as human beings with the mission they carry. When they take advantage of the natural environment and other living creatures, they must maintain the natural environment and other living things to carry out their role as caliphs.

The caliph is interpreted as the preserver of the earth. It follows the intent and purpose of Allah’s creation (the highest ultimate value) because one of the principles of human creation and its superiority is the existence of sense. With sense, humans can take care of the earth. The position of humans as caliphs is vital if it is associated with the word appreciation and awareness of the natural environment. Because living, realising and behaving ethically towards the natural environment are aimed at humans, the appointment as a caliph makes humans equipped with the concept of extraordinary creation, which is not owned by other creatures.

The caliph is also meant to be an extension of God’s hand, a preserver, and a guardian of beauty. However, in carrying out their role as caliph, humans must read the relationship among God, nature, humans and other living creatures, with several ‘readings’, namely, the relationship with faith and reckoning. Knowledge of every attitude and behaviour will be accounted for at the end of the day. Awareness of this reckoning will generate a responsible attitude towards the natural environment. At the same time, deep ‘thinking’ will return everything to its origin.

Another essential vocabulary related to the preserving of the natural environment is qana’ah [satisfied]:

Chaos appears in the land and the sea because of the evil deeds which people’s hands have earned, in order to make them taste the flavour of some of their misdeeds – in order that they may come back (Surah Ar-Rum: 41)

Hamka’s interpretation:

‘Damage has been manifested on land and at sea because of the actions of human hands’. (verse 41). We should pay close attention to this verse. Allah has sent humans to this earth to be the Khalifah of Allah, which means the executor of God’s will. Many Divine Greatness and Power secrets have become apparent worldwide because of human efforts. Therefore, being a Caliph should be a mushlih, meaning likes to improve and beautify.

So, do not be amazed to see the establishment of giant buildings, long bridges, high-rise buildings soaring in the sky, the Eiffel tower, and the arrival of humans to the moon in the second part of this twentieth century. Do not say it is development if the soul is further away from God. It is felt and complained by humans and the whole world today in the progress of this science that their lives are getting more miserable. Technological progress does not bring happiness but light. War is always threatening. Humanity lives only on the tongue, but evil intentions to destroy others thrive. (Hamka 1999c)

As caliphs, humans are allowed to take advantage of nature, but the principle of qana’ah [satisfied], and at the same time, they must be guardians of nature and natural beauty. If humans do not understand the principle qana’ah [satisfied] on using nature, it will cause destruction of nature. According to QS.30:41, because of human behaviour that does not carry out the mandate as caliph, namely the preserver and guardian of beauty as a mushlih [nature sustainer], they can destroy nature with their own hands. As a result, there will be damage to nature.

This verse should be the centre of human attention because humans are charged with the mandate as God’s caliph on earth, which means the executor of God’s will (Hamka 1999a). Through human efforts, many secrets of Divine greatness and power have become apparent in the world. Therefore, being a caliph should be a mushlih [nature sustainer], which means to like to improve and beautify.

In Surah Al-Ambiya verse 105, mushlih means the generation of the faithful of the Prophet Muhammad (Hamka 1999b). It is the Ummah of Muhammad who will inherit the earth because they are the ones who believe and do good deeds. They are the best of creatures among humans, and they are the ones who dare to speak out for good and evil, and believe in Allah.

In Hamka’s view, the teaching system brought by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is a system that leads to the achievement of happiness for all humans and can direct human goals to the perfection of life. The teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) came to humans after humans reached the maturity of their minds. The teachings are contained in a book that is always open to generations of descendants. His primary teachings do not change, but all generations can accept and adapt. They can accept and adapt to their life’s needs that constantly change based on their generation. The changes in context from generation to generation are well known to the Creator of humans because God is extremely delicate and meticulous.

Human behaviour towards the natural environment is divided into two categories: good behaviour and friendly to nature, and bad behaviour, without thinking deeply, becoming a destroyer of nature. In Surah Ar-rum verse 41, it is stated that humans are the destroyers of nature. It is addressed to some humans who misbehave towards nature. In Hamka’s view, behaviour that destroys nature starts from the heart, the intention. If you have bad intentions and run away from God’s will, you do not position yourself as preservers and guardians of nature anymore. Then a destructive nature will arise in humans. Even Hamka satirises that magnificent developments with towering buildings should not only be seen as world development and expansion. It should not only be seen in physical splendour alone. If the intention does not lead to the will of Allah, then it is destructive. It takes humans farther away from God. Physical advancement is sometimes used for bad things and intentions. As with human work, there are good and evil. Some physical development is based on good intentions, and some are based on bad intentions, such as nuclear and bomb advances used for war. Technological advancements in transportation facilities and factory machinery that cause air pollution can also cause bad things. Air pollution from motorised vehicles can cause damage to nature. If humans inhale dirty air, their lungs can become contaminated. Likewise, water pollution from chemical factory waste that flows through rivers to the ocean is increasing. Millions of dead fish washed up on the shores of the Johore Strait (also known as the Tebrau Strait) between the tip of the Malay Peninsula and the island of Singapore. The fish was probably poisoned. These are all examples of the result of human deeds.

At the end of the verse, there is a call for people to reflect: ‘Hopefully, they will return.’ The concept of returning carries profound meaning. It does not imply reverting to history, but rather returning to a state of introspection to correct intentions and repair relationships with God. It’s not just about contemplating personal gains, but also considering potential harm to others. One should not solely focus on profits, but also weigh overall harm, as underscored by his emphasis on avoiding damage to the Earth. The use of ‘hopefully’ at the end of the verse suggests that there is still hope (Hamka 1999c).

Appreciation and lifestyle awareness with the principle of qana’ah [satisfied] is appropriate with the sunnah of the Prophet SAW. Anyone who destroys the treasures of God’s creation, will feel punishment in this world. There is a belief that the punishment can be in the form of ‘hell symbols’. The symbols of hell mean humans who do evil to the natural environment and other living creatures and have an effect on other humans, then those perpetrator’s life is inevitably ‘hot’ in this world. This belief must be constructed for humans, a form of punishment other than positive punishment regulated by the state. This belief includes the transcendent awareness of humans of the Divine.


Skolimowski, Nasr, Capra, and Hamka are all philosophers concerned with environmental issues. They strive to explain environmental philosophy from their respective viewpoints. This study aims to uncover and compare the patterns of their thoughts. In this study, the author takes Hamka’s thoughts as an alternative environmental philosophy and compares them with other concepts of environmental philosophy.

Regarding Skolimowski’s ‘trans physical’ phenomena, Hamka argues that the belief in the trans physical is present in the metaphysical thought of the concept of God with all its derivatives and the practice based on the holy scriptures. Hence, the systems of environmental ethics awareness religiously have strong roots. Meanwhile, what Skolimowski refers to as ‘tolerant towards trans physical phenomena’, he himself is still hesitant between the physical and the trans physical. It is difficult for him to incorporate the physical (modern knowledge based on positivism) with the trans physical. What he means by trans physical phenomena (traditional) contrasts with positivistic physical beliefs (modern). On the other hand, in Hamka’s interpretation, there is no obstacle between physical and metaphysical or trans physical. However, metaphysics, in Hamka’s view, is not something vague like Skolimowski’s trans physical concept but something obvious, which is God.

Regarding the function of human stewardship, according to Hamka, it is the meeting point between the physical and the metaphysical, the intersection between the role in the worldly physical realm and the connection of that role to the magical belief in God. The functions of stewardship within the boundaries of qana’ah [feeling content with using nature according to needs], where nature is not exploited, symbolise human servitude to God. The same applies to the meaning of mushlih, which is only given to the followers of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), as those deemed capable of preserving the natural environment on this earth. Thus, the role in the physical realm, both as a steward [caliph] and reformer [mushlih], with tolerance according to need [qana’ah], is a manifestation of human servitude to the metaphysical God. Therefore, preserving nature is not motivated by fear of the trans physical as in Skolimowski’s vague perspective, but rather by closeness and certainty with the metaphysical. Believing in the metaphysical (God) in the context of Hamka’s interpretation is not a regressive (traditional) context, nor is utilising nature with the principle of qana’ah a regressive (traditional) action, but instead in line with the goals of ecological humanism desired by contemporary humans, which is the friendly use of the natural environment.

Furthermore, it is interesting for us to analyse when comparing the thought patterns of Nasr and Hamka. Although Nasr and Hamka are rooted in the same religiosity, namely the holy book of the Qur’an, and belief in the same transcendence, which is God, Nasr prioritises his interpretation of the concept of the embodiment of wahdatul wujud, as a theophany of God. The meaning of khalifa [steward] is only present in humans who can understand this theophany of God. Nasr’s concept of spiritual awareness is intriguing. However, it can be consumed and appreciated only by a limited group in the realm of practitioners of Sufism; not everyone can experience it. Hamka’s thought, on the other hand, emerged by offering a concept that is simple and easy to understand, and implemented by all walks of life.

In contrast to Skolimowski and Nasr, Capra, with his principle of eco-literacy, hopes that humans can develop self-awareness to reach an awareness of the natural environment. It is an awareness that begins with sensory experience and ascends to the attention of human existence in the form of understanding through deepening the cognitive realm, which produces abstract reflection. Unfortunately, the boundaries of the truth in this abstract reflection remain vague and require further interpretation. Skolimowski and Capra seem to have something in common, which is the level of conceptual awareness, or trans physical, but not in the orientation of achievement, especially in the realm of clear religious ethics. As for Nasr, although the metaphysical target in his concept is evident, with high-level language and conception, it is only digestible by certain groups, such as the Salik [Sufi]. This is where the critical point of Hamka’s interpretation lies, conceptualising with an understanding that is neither too high nor too low, and applies to most human cognition without having to undergo specific salik rituals. Clear religious bases (not averse to physical matters) connect physical knowledge embodied through the role of khalifa [steward] as a preserver [mushlih] of nature with the awareness of the transcendent Divine (God). Thus, it is appropriate to call Hamka a philosopher of the environment based on religiosity. In the author’s opinion, what Skolimowski and Capra are seeking is represented by Hamka’s concept.


The construction of environmental philosophy in the book of Al-Azhar consists of three principles: transcendent awareness, caliphate and qana’ah [satisfied]. The three are united and not categorised in appreciation. The attitude of qana’ah behaviour will emerge if the role of caliph and mushlih [nature sustainer] is created. The appreciation of the role will be straight if the heart is alive. The living heart will be formed if there is awareness of transcendence in the Divine, natural environment and other living beings. The word caliph is not a symbol of anthropomorphism, power or human centrality, but carries out its role to improve and beautify nature. Even if it takes advantage of nature, it is not destructive. The construction of environmental philosophy from Al-Azhar commentary by Buya Hamka has given rise to the concept of ‘values based on religiosity’. It distinguishes Hamka from other philosophers. The concept of Hamka as an alternative provides enough opportunities to be understood by many people and is easy to apply. The construction of Hamka’s environmental philosophy is much more friendly to human understanding in general and can be understood down to the implementation level.


Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no financial or personal relationships that may have inappropriately influenced them in writing this article.

Authors’ contributions

S.S. contributed to the main draft and idea, constructing the manuscript’s outline and working with the primary references. D.N. analysed the conceptual framework and re-examined the primary reference sources, as well as edited and reviewed the manuscript.

Ethical considerations

This article followed all ethical standards for research without direct contact with human or animal subjects.

Funding information

This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

Data availability

Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no new data were created or analysed in this study.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any affiliated agency of the authors, and the publisher.


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