January 8, 2014

Charles le Gai Eaton On Consumerism and The Environment

Charles le Gai Eaton (also known as Hasan le Gai Eaton or Hassan Abdul Hakeem; 1 January 1921 – 26 February 2010) was a British diplomat, writer and Sufist Islamic scholar.

Having been passed over for military service during the Second World War, in the late 1940s and early 1950s he worked as a lecturer, teacher and newspaper editor in Egypt (at Cairo University) and Jamaica, before joining the British Diplomatic Service in 1959. As a diplomat, Eaton's postings included the Colonial Office outpost in Jamaica and the Deputy High Commission office in Madras, India, as well as others in Trinidad and Ghana.

In 1951, with the encouragement of the Sufi academic Martin Lings, Eaton converted to Islam. He was inducted into Lings' 'Alawi tariqa in 1975. Eaton was a consultant to the Islamic Cultural Centre at Regent's Park Mosque in London for 22 years. In 1996, he served on the committee that drafted the constitution of the Muslim Council of Britain.
An excerpt from, "Charles Le Gai Eaton obituary" by Reza Shah-Kazemi, The Guardian, April 19, 2010:
Within days of his death at the age of 89, the Muslim intellectual, writer and broadcaster Charles Le Gai Eaton, also known as Hasan 'Abd al-Hakim, was being hailed as "a towering patriarch of British Islam" and his death proclaimed as "the end of an era". One can imagine Eaton responding to such tributes by saying, quite simply: "Typical oriental hyperbole!" Such self-deprecating humour, combined with his unapologetic Englishness and his intellect, were among the main reasons why he became so respected as an elder of the British Muslim community.

For Eaton, Islam was neither abstract ideology nor sociological category; eschewing political slogans and visible badges of identity, he insisted that it was above all else a means of leading a spiritual life, a life that is not dependent upon any of the transient institutional forms assumed by religion. With wit and logic, he showed the extent to which Muslim extremism deviates from the principles enshrined in the Islamic revelation and upheld by the Islamic tradition.

As he made clear in his autobiography, A Bad Beginning and the Path to Islam (2010), published just weeks before his death, Eaton was something of a rebel by nature. He may have represented Her Majesty's government as a diplomat, but he could never take his official role altogether seriously. However ironic it may seem to some, it was Islam that tempered his rebellious predisposition, making of him a conservative upholder of all he considered best in British society. Refusing to conform to the dictates of any ethnic or cultural model imported from abroad, this impeccable Englishman showed far more effectively than any amount of theory that Islamic faith is fully compatible with British identity.
Video Title: Shaykh Charles Hassan Le Gai Eaton on Consumerism and the environment. Source: YouTube channel hali4100 hali4100. Date Published: March 27, 2013. Description:
The late Shaykh (may Allah SWT elevate his status in the hereafter) talks about consumerism plaguing our society, the footprint we leave behind after we're gone and how we need to be responsible and moderate beings.

The video belongs to Radical Middle Way and you can watch the whole lecture at -
Quotes from the lecture: 
"We today are constantly greedy and we're encouraged to be greedy, particularly by advertising, which tries to persuade us to buy many things that we don't need. We're even encouraged to be greedy by government authorities, who want us to spend, spend, spend, because that is good for the economy, or so it is supposed.

But the world is flooded today in the West with all sorts of unnecessary goods, which we are encouraged to buy. In fact, one reason that we have people, particularly in England, working appalling long hours with little chance to be with their family, little energy to be with their children, working as they say to make ends meet, but working also because they need the money to buy a better television, a better this, a better that, to buy things that are not essential and are not really necessary. Now, Islam is very clear upon this point. Excess is condemned. And excessive greed is certainly and very powerfully condemned.

But very often we don't even recognize that we have become greedy people. . . . We don't need these things, but in demanding them, in wanting them, in buying them, we are in fact contributing, in the small way, individually, to the depletion of the resources of this planet. And this is something that is easy to forget because we shall not see immediate disaster as the result. It is our grandchildren and our great grandchildren who are likely to suffer."    
"It is a matter for the individual sometimes to sit back, particularly when they see a very tempting advertisement in the paper at morning, something reduced price, something they don't need, but all the same, you know, buying a bargain is saving money, or so we often feel, and it is a matter of thinking twice, of thinking three times, before rushing out to add to our possessions which we cannot take with us when we die, and which for the most part are not really necessary to our well-being in this life."