Review: Green Deen

In his book, “Green Deen,” author Ibrahim Abdul-Matin combines his unique background as an environmental advocate and his life as a Muslim.

Abdul-Matin draws on the Arabic word for way or path, “deen,” highlighting the books focus on Islamic inspirations to address green issues. He argues that the environmental movement has room for the spiritually-inclined and that all communities will benefit from some of the ideas proposed from an Islamic perspective.

It is important to note that Abdul-Matin does not aim to proselytize non-Muslim readers. The intended audience of the book is the budding environmental activist. His writing speaks to the benefit of Muslim and non-Muslim audiences. His book brings a siloed conversation into the mainstream. He references important articles of the Muslim faith as a foundation for protecting the environment.

The style of the book is informal. The reader gets a sense that he or she is having a conversation with Abdul-Matin, who still manages to incorporate his style and shares his personal anecdotes with the reader.  Abdul-Matin discusses the positive impact that his relationship with his father had on his appreciation of the environment.

The mixture of a conversational style with pertinent references and information helps to carry the book when the central principles of waste, watts, water and food become slightly repetitive.

Ultimately, the book left me charged to act and to reflect more on my own personal values and spirituality.  It charged me to consider if my spiritual practice included room to protect the environment and to dramatically change my view of consumption and its impact on my value as a human being.

The book should be considered an important contribution to the American environmental movement, to the African American community and to communities of faith — especially the Muslim community.  It also offers a different narrative from a member of the Muslim community, one not often seen in today’s media. I welcomed a new insight into Islam.

At a local bookstore, it might be possible to find this cross-genre read in either spirituality or environment.

Abdul-Matin has achieved his self-expressed goal of writing a book before he dies. However, he has used his new-found platform to also do a series of workshops. I had the privilege of attending one, and he has truly used this work to masterfully organize, motivate and hopefully include another group of Americans into the environmental movement.

By Whitney Terrill

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