Islam, Sustainable Consumption, and Consumers' Motivations in Nigeria

Islam, Sustainable Consumption, and Consumers' Motivations in Nigeria

AbdulGafar Olawale Fahm (University of Ilorin, Nigeria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0125-2.ch010
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The chapter considers the views of Islam, consumer, and consumption researchers on the compatibility and incompatibility of Islam with sustainable consumption. To this end, the author examine the consumers' motivations for consumption and critically evaluate their parallels within Islamic norms. Then, the notions of Islam and consumption are analyzed and evaluated in depth. The study also attempts to show the Muslims' perception of consumption and motivation. The findings suggest that Muslim consumers in Nigeria are motivated to practice sustainable consumption and are driven primarily by their Islamic understandings. This study, therefore, recommends the concept of moderation as a major Islamic motivation to consumption sustainability and if put in place could result in a compatible motivation to sustainable consumption.
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Sustainable consumption is one of the main objectives of the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The United Nations Environment Program characterizes sustainable consumption and production as an all-encompassing approach in limiting the negative natural effects from consumption and production systems, while advancing quality of life for all (Sustainable Development Goals Fund, 2016). However, resource can only be utilized efficiently if consumed sustainably. Furthermore, either from the demand or consumer perspective, the main goal of sustainable consumption is to meet the consumption needs of poor people and low income earners, and to redress unsustainable consumption issues among higher income societies.

For over a decade now, research on the influence of values on sustainable consumption shows the need for a systemic approach in order to maintain a sustainable economy in our contemporary world (Thøgersen & Ölander, 2002; Alkon, 2008; Vermeir & Verbeke, 2008; Young, Hwang, McDonald, & Oates, 2010; Phipps et al., 2013). In other words, this can be regarded as a change of values from narcissistic to generosity; from material to spiritual; and from social to sustainable consumption culture. A consumption culture seen as embodying self-sacrifice, spiritual and ecological values can be said to be in line with Islamo-spiritual and cultural values (Samsudi, 2017).


Contrary to current reasoning in addressing environmental consumption and crisis as an ecological emergency, some Muslim researchers and activists (e.g. Nasr, 1997) have observed the situation and concluded that the problem is more of a spiritual crisis (Nasr, 1997). Perceiving that the environmental crisis is not an emergency independent from anyone else, but rather a reflection of a spiritual crisis, the methodologies in managing the ecological circumstance will be unique. Therefore, this article aims to contribute to the literature on sustainable consumption from the perspective of Muslim consumers in a developing country, specifically, by identifying their motivations for sustainable consumption and how it is driven by the need to fulfil certain needs. The rest of this article proceeds as follows: First the relevant literature on sustainable consumption and consumers’ motivations for consumption is presented and the current gaps are highlighted and discussed. Next, Islam and consumption is introduced and discussed. Here the different types of motivations are identified and examined. Following that, consumption motivation in Nigeria is presented. Subsequently, the consumption motivation among Muslims are presented and discussed in Nigerian context. This is followed by a discussion of the findings and its practical implications within a wider regional context. This is followed by conclusion and future research direction.


Research Methodology

This study used qualitative data from in-depth interviews conducted on Muslim consumers in Nigeria. It adopted historical and descriptive approaches within the Islamo-spiritual contexts as its theoretical framework. This helps in elaboration and articulation of abstract concepts such as sustainable consumption or consumers’ motivation (Spiggle, 1994). The respondents were drawn from an urban settlement because they are more inclined to social and environmental issues (Carroll & Shabana., 2010). The respondents were educated consumers living in central northern Nigeria. These leaders were identified and selected based on a purposive approach in consumer research (Brunk, 2010). Data were collected through structured interviews as this facilitates assessment of their motivations. Getting hold of this people as well as their responses to the questions was quite challenging given their busy schedules. The researcher had to leverage on research assistants to overcome this barrier. In all 17 interviews were recorded.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Islamo-Spiritual: Islamic concept of spirituality.

Hadith: A compilation of narratives describing the sayings, practices and silent approval of Prophet Muhammad.

Biodegradable: A thing capable of being decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms and thereby avoiding environmental damage.

Sunnah: The body of traditional custom and practice of the Islamic community, both social and legal linked to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad.

Qur’an: It is an Islamic sacred book, believed to be the word of God as dictated to Muhammad by the archangel Gabriel and written down in Arabic.

Khalifah: It means vicegerent or steward. However, it is most often used for the leader of a Caliphate.

Uswatun Hasanah: Model of excellent conduct. It is often linked to Prophet Muhammad.

Israf: A state of being excessive or extravagant.

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