Monday 09 February 2015 at 18:23Islam & Climate Change
by Tahmid Dewan, OurVoices volunteer
Last Wednesday, I attended a MADE in Europe roundtable at the London PWC offices entitled "Islam, the Environment, and Climate Change: Engaging the Muslim Community.” It was an occasion gathering people from various sectors—from scholars and activists to corporate professionals—to discuss how to engage British Muslims around the issue of climate change and the environment.
The day centred on the need of educating more within the Muslim community about climate change.
I was joined by representatives from NGOs such as Islamic Relief UK, Islamic Foundation for Ecology & Environmental Sciences, Faith Regen Foundation, and GO2015, as well as members from the Muslim Council of Britain and a spread across the corporate sector. We were also blessed to be joined by esteemed singer and songwriter Dawud Wharnsby on web link from Canada, as well as journalist Yasmin Khatun and Al-Qalam Trust founder, Imam Azizul Haq.
The stimulating discussion started with a presentation based on MADE’s experiential research in the sector—the challenges faced by understaffed Mosques and community leaders, as well as educating a community on climate change that is marginalised in other extraordinary ways.
Emphasis was placed on the youth and younger generations who will be the ones combating the issue in generations to come. It was agreed that it is important to teach children early on because they are more likely to be open and interested to joining eco-initiatives. Yet, from someone who is familiar with the work of Muslim NGOs like MADE for a few years now, the challenges lie elsewhere.
For me, our scholars and imams are vital to mobilisation efforts around the environment.
It was intriguing to learn of imams who want to make a change and speak out are often silenced by their mosques, as this is not a priority issue for these institutions and indeed, for many religious leaders.
As Salim Ahmed, Eco Ambassador and Chair of Enfield Deen and Education Trust mentioned, environmental activism can often be seen as a middle class, white dominated hobby, and therefore, even for Muslim organisations like MADE In Europe and others, it can often be difficult to engage with disenfranchised Muslim youth who do not associate with these causes or groups.
It’s clear we must rethink how to get messaging across regarding climate change that appeals to groups who are disinterested or not yet convinced. This is a difficulty faced by other faith groups who are working on climate change and environmental activism I believe. If we are to have a successful year campaigning, lobbying, and mobilising around the cause, this is a barrier that we must overcome.
I remain optimistic.
The roundtable introduced me to a diverse group of individuals keen to see improvement and progress around environmental activism. Many ideas and thoughts were shared, but now is the time to put these ideas into action.
Whilst we sit around a table, discussing plans and ideas, the clock is ticking, so the sooner we act and work together, the more likely we’ll be successful in our efforts.
Image via flickr user Preston Rhea