Obligations to Future Generations: A Shari‘ah Perspective

Actions of an earlier generation affect whether later generations will exist at all as well as the quality and type of life they will have. Discussions concerning the obligations earlier generations owe later generations have proven to be useful when thinking about the environment, economics, sustainability, and other issues.

Western thinking about obligations to future generations has become very sophisticated since the 1970s. Western ethicists consider it a litmus test for evaluating ethical theories, and expect it to be a main recurring theme in the new century.

The Shari’ah already provides the fundamentals for thinking about obligations to future generations. These basic fundamentals are not developed enough to shed light on these issues within the Muslim Community, let alone compete in the open market of ideas. Shari‘ah experts will need to develop these fundamentals before a Shari‘ah-informed conception of obligations to future generations can be offered.

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