The Forgotten Sunnah; UK’s GreenUp! launch event

Climate change is a topic that has aroused an increasing amount of interest within the last decade. A recent article on the Guardian stated that 1 in 10 UK adults are involved in an Environmental group of some kind. The time has never been riper to discuss our impact on the Environment; with torrential floods in Pakistan almost becoming a regularity, unprecedented floods caused by a cyclone in Sardinia last week, and a number of typhoons hitting the US and more devastatingly, the Philippines in the last month.

The timely Warsaw conference on Climate Change led to bleak conclusions; with several prominent ‘Green groups’ including Greenpeace and Oxfam walking out and declaring the talks were “on track to deliver virtually nothing”. There is much talk about the private sector doing little to drive sustainability, and a call for far more public investment. Whilst lobbying groups and activists have been calling for international investment and policy change, the didactic truth is that we are in need of a revolution of mentality that will necessitate policy change and investment.

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The Muslim Agency for Development Education (MADE) has been working with the Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organisations (FEMYSO) to promote sustainability within mosques and Islamic communities across Europe as part of the ‘Green Up My Community!’ campaign. The first official event for the London campaign took place on the 30th November at the fitting ‘Ecology Pavilion’ in Mile End. The evening boasted a panel of speakers including prominent cleric Sheikh Shams ad Duha, journalist Myriam Francois, and Usman Ali, one of the leading voices behind Salford’s Eco Mosque project.

Over 180 people gathered on a Saturday night to hear what Islam has to say about the environment. ‘Ethical snacks and refreshments’ were served, including fairtrade tea, coffee, chocolates and cakes as well as Zeytoun almonds and dates. Among the highlights of the evening was the launch of the GreenUp! Toolkit – a free resource with scientific facts, Islamic references and campaigning advice in order to equip people with the adequate tools to make promote sustainability within their communities. This event also marked the launch of the ‘Green Up Award’ scheme for mosques across the country to compete with each other in reducing their carbon footprint.

Aptly titled ‘Signs For Those Who Reflect: The Forgotten Sunnah’, it was refreshing to hear much emphasis on personal action. Participants were encouraged to make at least one resolution, and to commemorate their pledges on a large canvas. This was true to the spirit of the organisations motto, which is a quote from the Qur’an,”…God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” MADE has already produced a number of educational resources for schools on topics like food waste, trade injustice, and global hunger. Their future promised a whole array of exciting resources that can be used to educate an entire generation on the importance of such topical issues.

After an animated panel discussion, a vibrant Q&A, spoken word poetry and presentations, the evening seemed to end on a very positive note. It felt like change was in the air. Many faith communities have already stood up for green causes; this solidarity can really be a game changer when working together to make a positive impact. As Usman Ali said, he hopes the Eco Mosque to be the new model for other eco mosques, eco churches and eco synagogues.

Spoken Word on Islam and Environment