Muslim initiatives in support of climate justice
[An extraordinary Iftar gathering sponsored by Faith & the Common Good, a national interfaith network, and Noor Cultural Centre and supported by a wide spectrum of partners from various Faith communities was held on Sunday, July 5 at the Noor Cultural Centre. The event highlighted the diversity and breadth of Canadian faith and spiritual voices in support of climate justice. The following is the presentation given at the event by Canadian Muslim environmental leader, Muaz Nasir, profiling his website, Khaleafa.com and the Green Khutbah Campaign].
Khaleafa.com is a website that focuses on reigniting the discourse surrounding the Islamic approach to environmentalism and what it does is that it draws upon the essence of these teachings, emphasizing the movement from a Canadian perspective.
In a nutshell what this website does is it brings together Muslims who share a passion for the environment and encourages them to be proactive and engage with the broader Muslim community – essentially it shares our stories of our challenges and accomplishments within the environmental movement.
Without going into too much detail – the results have been amazing over the last several years and we have been involved with several initiatives including:
- The Allhamdullilah series (Praise God) – which is a photography project that forces us to pause and think about the blessings of God
- The Ramadan reminder series – which takes a humorous look at some of customs of Ramadan and encourages Muslims to take a slightly green slant on them.
- The Green Leader series – that profiles some of the great work already taking place in the Muslim community and serves as a source of inspiration for others
- As well as a series of events ranging from talks, to hikes to community garden and planting events
But by far, the most successful campaign we have run is Green Khutbah campaign, which is now entering into its fifth year in 2016.
The Khutbah is Friday sermon that is delivered at mosques and is one of forums of spiritual learning within the Muslim community.
Several years ago we issued a challenge to Imams and encouraged them to devote the Friday sermon on or before Earth Day to an environmental issue.
Through a website we set up sample sermons, as well as a resource guide with both environmental facts and religious edicts that Imams could incorporate into their own sermon if they choose.
Initially in 2012 when we embarked on this it was prototype project. We wanted to see what sort of feedback we would get from the Muslim community. The concept of a synchronous khutbah campaign was relatively new and we set our sights on the mosques in the GTA for a test run.
What happened though is that the online campaign gained momentum and not only did we get participation from mosques in the GTA, but right across Canada and throughout Europe and Asia.
In fact we had the participation of 75 individual mosques and umbrella organizations committing to deliver the Green Khutbah and those were only the ones the reported back to us.
Looking back, what I think what made the campaign a success was the simplicity of the message. The focus was threefold:
1) Raise awareness about the current state of the environment
2) Highlighting the contributions Islam can bring to the environmental movement
3) Providing proactive tools that the Muslim community can adopt into their daily lives.
In 2015 we have just finished our fourth year – and throughout that time we have engaged with over 150 organizations/congregations in delivering the Green Sermon right across the world from South Africa to Malaysia; from United Kingdom to Trinidad. It has truly being a project where we saw tangible results.
What I like about the campaign is that it has morphed and evolved beyond what we initially conceived. Congregations are taking the concept and adapting it to environmental issues that directly impact them.
In Indonesia they choose to discuss deforestation while in the United Kingdom they discussed food security and the benefits of eating local.
Congregations have also incorporated their own activities such as tree plantings and community clean-ups around the sermon to reinforce the environmental principles that were discussed.
And what I like is that it has also gained traction in supporting other environmental organizations like the Islamic Environmental Group of Wisconsin and Green Deen in South Africa.
What are the next steps? – Where do we go from here?
Today many of you participated in the march for jobs, justice and climate – you rallied in the streets, you engaged with politicians and you made your voices heard.
In reality though it shouldn’t end there, it doesn’t have to end there – the momentum generated today can carry itself throughout the year.
In that thread, next year we look forward to working with you to participate in the Green Khutbah Campaign.
We would like to expand it beyond the Muslim community to include congregations of all faiths – coming together again and rejuvenating what was started today.
We hope that this interfaith initiative will form a better understanding of each others spiritual teachings and mobilize faith groups to work together towards a common cause – the environment.
More details will be released over the next couple of months, but I would encourage you to get in touch with Khaleafa.com – send us an e-mail, follow us on Facebook or give me a call.
On the note, I would like to thank you once again and end with an inspiration quote from Mother Teresa which I think captures the essence of today –
“I alone cannot change the world, but can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples. – By working together we can create ripples that will have a positive impact on future generations.”