A toolkit to help Muslim leaders and communities around the world share the messages of the Islamic Declaration on Climate Change was launched on Saturday at the second Environmental Justice in Islam seminar hosted by Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW), The International Peace college of South Africa (IPSA) and Muslims for Eco-Justice. This forms part of a fast-growing international community of faith groups that are actively working to tackle climate change ahead of #COP21.
Saturday’s seminar at IPSA’s campus in Rylands saw an interesting line-up of speakers who all touched on the relevant issues regarding global climate change. Among them was the deputy principal of IPSA, Shaykh Dr. AK Toffar; the keynote speaker from Ankara University, Professor Ibrahim Ozdemir; the chairperson of IRW, Tahir Salie; the director of the Southern Afrcian Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC), Father Peter-John Pearson; the Imam of Claremont Main road Masjid (CMRM), Imam Dr. A Rashied Omar; policy advisor at the Green Fund, Dr. Najma Mohamed and IPSA principal, Shaykh Ighsaan Taliep.
There was an opening qira’a by Qari Haafith Muhammad Rafiq and a welcome by Shaykh Toffaa who then introduced the keynote speaker. ‘The Qur’anic Paradigm of Environment and Sustainable Development: The making and message of Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change’ was addressed by Professor Ibrahim Ozdemir.
“Just as the late President Madiba started a long walk to freedom on this land, so has the Eco-Justice movement, IPSA and IRW taken a new and humble step for a long walk to fight climate change, environmental challenges, poverty and all social problems,” Prof. Ozdemir said in his opening statement.
Prof. Ozdemir spoke about Global Climate Change by making reference to verses of the Quran, placing special emphasis on surah Al-Rahman and Hadith. He also touched on the views of nature before the Quran was revealed and later the effect the Quran had on the people’s perception of the environment.
”The Quran plays such a role in developing environmental ethics, consciousness, awareness and also how to respond to climate change,” says Prof. Ozdemir.
The Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him ) through his commandments and teachings, taught mankind many ways to save and conserve water and the environment.
”The Prophet (PBUH) taught us how to conserve water, to avoid wasteful consumption of resources, the proper use of land, the stewardship of trees, to have compassion for animals and birds and to kill or slaughter with goodness.”
After the keynote address by Prof. Ozdemir, Tahir Salie took to the microphone and launched the Global Climate Change Tool Kit. This declaration was launched formally in August at a seminar in Istanbul which Islamic Relief co-hosted. The purpose of the Tool Kit is to use as a guideline for individuals, masjids, ulama, community leaders and political figures, to try and practically implement changes within their own communities.
During the question and answer session, the question of getting the youth more involved in caring for the environment was raised.
”They need to be motivated to get involved in science, nature and animal biodiversity and also ecology studies,” replied Prof. Ozdemir.
”The youth needs to be encouraged to take part in the social revolution, in ecology. Then they will not be hijacked by extremist marginalised groups.”
Father Pearson then gave a brief introduction to the Encyclical on the environment and Dr. Mohamed then launched the Green Khutbah Book. The program then ended with the closing from Shaykh Taliep and signing the Declaration of Commitment.
According to Dr. Muhammad Hussein Ibrahim, the seminar was very informative but it had to be hosted at a bigger venue so that more people could attend and benefit from it.
”We have been extremely honoured to host the program which has become an annual feature. This is the second year we are having it. We are very honoured to have embarked on this process in a co-operative and networking manner,” says Shaykh Taliep.
The easy to implement 9-page document can be downloaded here (goo.gl/8UQ2ot)
VOC (Amina Waggie)