Its that time of year when Muslims practice both spiritual and physical detoxification. A time of inner reflection to improve our sense of humility, patience and kindness towards others around us – especially to those that are less fortunate. The holy month of Ramadan is a time when we demonstrate to ourselves that having less is more through increasing charity and enhancing community bonds.

But wait a minute,  here come the Ramadan Buffet promotions – “All you can eat, with free flow of  juices”. A spread of cuisines from various parts of the Muslim world. The cost: from as low as 15 bucks  in little restaurants to 140 bucks in fancy hotels.

In what way does this even demonstrate people having less and foregoing extras?

And why is there always a fraction of people at buffets that just need to rush for the food, and take two or three plates full, as if there were a scarcity of food? This strange tendency to do so is no exception during Ramadan Buffets.

Got enough shrimp, there?

Where is the sense of community and consideration here? Moreover, can you really eat that much after a whole day of fasting? Its often the case that while we are fasting, we feel like we could eat 2 cows. But come Maghrib time, our stomach can often only take in half of what we had initially set our eyes on.

One, of course, cannot deny the convenience that Ramadan buffets provide, especially when hosting Iftars for big groups of people with minimal preparation time.

But the issue goes beyond just Ramadan buffets. Reports have shown how the consumption of food and electricity (and inevitably wastage) have actually increased during the Ramadan season than other times in the year – from Egypt to United Arab Emirates to Indonesia. This also includes the tendency for people to cook or buy more, and also  includes the cultural tendency to provide excellent hospitality by ensuring that your guests have [more than] enough  to eat.

There is no quick fix for this trend, as habits are the hardest to change. Some countries have sought to reduce the wastage, but the extent of the issue requires way more than just government intervention. Consumers must be willing and proactive in reducing their wants first (as is the whole point of Ramadan). This is further complicated by the fact that we are often obliged to attend iftar invitations from family and friends. A refusal to attend an iftar on the basis of “Sorry, you’re serving too much food and it will go to waste” is clearly not going to put you in a good light.

It is therefore important that Muslims are aware of other options available to them during Ramadan, and also try innovative ways of celebrating Ramadan rather than go with the flow of consumerism. For instance, one could reduce patronage at Ramadan Buffets and opt to go to restaurants with ala-carte or set menus. By doing so, we would at least be able to control the amount of what we order and eat. After all, it was our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that spoke of the importance of a balanced diet and not to consume in access.

“Nothing is worse than a person who fills his stomach. It should be enough for the son of Adam to have a few bites to satisfy his hunger. If he wishes more, it should be: One-third for his food, one-third for his liquids, and one-third for his breath.”

– Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) via Tirmidhi & Ibn Majah

If time is on your side (or rather if you make time), then a home-cooked iftar would be the most ideal. Muslim brothers and sisters from Good Tree Village in Washington D.C. have  recently shared some tips on how to go about having a Green Ramadan, such as eating local or organic, using re-usables and encouraging your guests for iftar to travel green.

The ways of going green during Ramadan are endless, but just takes a sincere level of effort to do so.

Ramadan Kareem to one and all, and may Allah bless our deeds and efforts during this holy month.

I got this from a fellow Muslim sister, Alia, from the DC Green Muslims mailing list.  Found it lovely. Hope you do too.

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Asalaamu ‘Alaikum!

Have you ever wondered why there is so much evil on the earth? Why are there so many environmental problems, so many wars, so many famines and sickness?

From Jan-Aug 2010 alone,

  • Destructive earthquakes (Haiti: 12/01/10- catastrophic magnitude 7.0 earthquake killing almost 300,000 ppl and leaving 1.5mil ppl homeless, one of the WORST earthquakes in history),
  • Droughts (Russia: an estimated 10mil hectares of agricultural land has been devastated by the fires following the worst heatwave in Russian history),
  • Floods (Pakistan: covering 1/5 of the country, leaving more than 1500 ppl dead and 20mil ppl affected, THE WORST in UN history),
  • Heavy rains & landslides (China: Heavy rains have affected more than 300mil ppl and caused $1.7bn in economic losses across the country; more than 2,100 ppl are dead or missing across China due to floods and landslides; 12mil people have been evacuated from their homes nationwide)
  • Famine (Niger: is also suffering from severe food shortages following a prolonged drought. The UN estimated that at least 7mil ppl, more than half the population, are facing starvation in Niger.)
  • Drug war (Mexico: 26/08/10 – 72 bodies found near the US-Mexico border the biggest single discovery since the launch of a drug war four years ago)
  • Civil war (Sudan: 13 aid org’ns have been expelled from Sudan since the ICC issued an arrest warrant for President al-Bashir last year for reporting human rights abuses. The ongoing 7 yr conflict the UN estimates has left 300,000 dead and 2.7mil displaced.)
  • Oil spill: (Gulf of Mexico: up to 79% of the 4.1mil barrels of oil that gushed from the broken well and were not captured directly at the wellhead remained in the Gulf. Many species are currently nesting and reproducing in the area, and an entire generation of hundreds of species could be lost as a result. Countless marine birds could also be affected, as the area is a primary flyway for many species, currently in its peak migratory period. New information also reveals that BP is using 100,000 gallons of dispersants (1/3 of the world’s supply) on the oil, further contaminating the ocean with harmful chemicals. Unfortunately, the true environmental ramifications of this catastrophe won’t be known for years to come. Not only marine life and beaches are affected, but also the health of countless ppl are also at risk
  • War: Israel vs Palestine: 22 day War on Gaza 2008-2009- crowded into a strip of land 40km long and 10km wide, Gaza’s 1.5 million people suffer from widespread poverty, malnutrition and unemployment, a situation only worsened by Israel’s bloodiest assault on the territory in decades. 1,434 Palestinians were killed (235 were combatants, 960 civilians lost their lives, incl 288 children & 121 women. A total of 5,303 Palestinians were injured in the assault (incl 1,606 children and 828 women. About 100,000 Gazans lost their homes in the three-week war; the shooting at medical crews; the use of illegal munitions against a civilian population, including white phosphorus shells; the prevention of the evacuation of wounded; bombing and shelling of schools, hospitals, supply convoys and a UN facility. Israeli death toll: 13, 10 of which were combatants.

to just name a few if you weren’t aware….

It’s because of you. Yes, you. And me, and the rest of man.

Many times when we are struck with a trial or calamity, our first reaction is the thought: “why me?!” Yet the sad fact is that we do not realize these trials are a result of what our own hands have reaped.

Allah azza wa jal says in a monumental ayah for our times:


ظَهَرَ الْفَسَادُ فِي الْبَرِّ وَالْبَحْرِ بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِي النَّاسِ لِيُذِيقَهُمْ بَعْضَ الَّذِي عَمِلُوا لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ

“Evil has appeared on land and sea because of what the hands of men have earned, that He (Allah) may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return”. (30:41)

Allah ta’ala says ‘fasaad’ has become apparent. Fasaad means an imbalance and is the opposite of ‘islaah’ (reformation). Fasaad is when something decays, spoils and it is not as it should be. There are two types of fasaad: tangible evil such as famine, drought, wars and intangible such as bad manners and doing shirk.

This ayah does not only state that evil has appeared on the land, but it includes the land and sea. On the land, there is physical land pollution, drought, earthquakes and vegetation is scarce. There is also an imbalance in the people of the land. Such fasaad is also evident in the sea: the water is polluted, and certain species that live within it are nearing extinction.

How is it that we are the cause of this fasaad? Allah ta’ala says:

بِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِي النَّاسِ


because of what the hands of men have reaped.

The “ba” in the beginning is known as the ‘ba of reason’ or ‘ba of causation’, showing that it is through continuous sinning without repentance, disbelief in Allah and corruption that fasaad has appeared. Abu Al-’Aliyah said: “Whoever disobeys Allah in the earth has corrupted it, because the good condition of the earth and the heavens depends on obedience to Allah.”

Allah ta’ala only mentions the hands of men because most of our deeds are done by our hands and our hands represent action.

This fasaad has appeared:

لِيُذِيقَهُمْ بَعْضَ الَّذِي عَمِلُوا

that He (Allah) may make them taste a part of that which they have done.

The ‘laam’ here is known as ’laam of ‘illah’, of reason. The reason for the appearance of evil is so that we are made to taste and experience what our own hands have reaped.

An interesting part of this ayah is the word بَعْضَba’dha, which means “some” of the consequences. The fasaad on the earth is not a complete retribution of what people have done, rather Allah ta’ala only gives us a taste of the consequence in this dunya. Imagine, everything that is going on around us is only some of what man has done!

May Allah have mercy on Imam Sa’di who said in his tafseer of this ayah:

Then how Exalted and Glorified is Allah! He blessed through His trials and favored by His end results, and if He made the people taste the full consequence of what they earned, not even one creature would remain on the earth.

Allah azza wa jal then ends the ayah,

لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْجِعُونَ

in order that they may return.

SubhanAllah, the reason as to why there is fasaad upon this earth is so that we may return to Allah azza wa jal: from wrong actions to right actions, from disobedience to obedience, from imbalance to the balance of the earth.

Islaah, reformation, is a part of tawbah. Allah ta’ala says:

إِلَّا الَّذِينَ تَابُوا وَأَصْلَحُوا

Except those who repent, and do islaah: reformation to good. (4:146)

Take these signs around us as a blessing; how Merciful is Allah to let us see what our own hands have repead so that we may repent! Turn back to Allah and ask for His Forgiveness before it’s too late.

Shaykh ibn al-Uthaymeen rahimahullah beautifully said:

“By Allah, sins effect the security of a land; they effect its ease, its prosperity, its economy; and they effect the hearts of its people. Sins cause alienation between people. Sins cause one Muslim to regard his Muslim brother as if he were upon a religion other than Islam.
But if we sought to rectify ourselves, our families, our neighbors, and those in our areas, and everyone we are able to rectify, if we mutually encouraged good and forbade evil, if we assisted those who do this with wisdom and wise admonition- then it would produce unity and harmony”

Socio-economic progress has been one of the primary concerns of Singapore’s Malay-Muslim community. Over the years, efforts have been channeled to facilitating greater opportunities for the economically disadvantaged. This is further catalyzed when compared vis-à-vis other communities at the national level.  All and well, a section of the community has excelled in their careers and are part of what has been termed as the ‘growing middle class’ or perhaps even the new rich. While such achievements are commendable, there are nevertheless issues that are generally associated with increased wealth and disposable income that often go under the radar. Careless consumption is one of them. Such consumption is careless towards society and careless towards the environment.

While a consumerist lifestyle is inevitable in a highly globalised society, careless consumption is something that can and should be curbed. The notion of consumption, in some respects, is associated with indicators of success – the more money you have earned, the more successful you are and the more you are able to buy/consume to reflect your success. Such a perception would clearly ring bells in Singapore, where many in the rat race strive to achieve the 5 Cs: Car, cash, credit card, condominium and career.  In the meantime, as individuals work towards achieving these, other materialistic goods and services would suffice.  This article does not suggest that we should stop ourselves from enjoying the “better things in life” but rather reflect on how and why we seek to achieve them.

A motivating factor for writing this piece has been global trends of increasing consumption, which have had adverse social and environmental implications, many of which overlap and feed into each other – i.e. poverty and income inequality, resource scarcity and food insecurity to name a few. What we are witnessing is clearly the crumbling of the modernization theory, where the notion of economic development is paramount. Even so, many developing countries still seek to develop along the lines of western developed countries.

Increased economic wealth thus allows its people the ability to consume more, which drives production in the materials economy –  a linear system starting from extraction of resources to the production, distribution, consumption and finally, disposal of economic goods. However, according to Annie Leonard (director of the Story of Stuff project – www.storyofstuff.com), this system is unsustainable given that resources are finite and that forces of globalization only intensify the economic process while ignoring the various social processes at work. The United States, for instance, is said to be the biggest consumer worldwide. Although making up about 5% of the world’s population, it consumes 30% of the world’s resources and produces 30% of the world’s waste (and let’s  not forget all those carbon emissions).  Leonard further notes that if everyone were to consume at the United States’, we would need 3 to 5 more earths worth of resources to sustain it, something we certainly can’t afford.

Such facts have, no doubt, put consumerism in the hot seat and encouraged several movements worldwide to reduce one’s level of consumption, not only in terms of doing one’s bit for the environment, but also one’s own personal ethical development. Rather than thinking “Why can’t I consume more?”, consumers should ask themselves “Why can’t I consume more sustainably/ethically?”. All it takes is a conscious effort to do simple actions such as buying/eating what you need/in moderation, using the extra cash for charity/giving back to society or even reducing consumption of disposables. Such actions place emphasis on a principle which is often understated – the significance of small efforts that accumulate overtime and with everyone doing their part. Or as the Malay proverb goes Sedikit-dikit, lama-lama menjadi bukit.”

Some may ask, would this really matter to Singapore’s Malay-Muslim community? Of course it does, for two primary reasons. Firstly, we do not live in a vacuum, nor are we immune to the market forces around us. To think that we are “the exception” or that we have other more basic issues like education and employability to think about, clearly misses the point and lacks foresight of preparing for future challenges. Our youth, in particular, should be made aware of these issues and be able to tap on the increasing opportunities arising from the green economy and other sustainable development activities. Such issues are already being discussed at the national and global level. It could very likely then still be the case that the Malay-Muslim community will still be playing “catch up” if it fails to curb a culture of careless consumption despite achieving its desired level of economic progress in the future.

In fact, there may already be signs of the culture of careless consumption arising in the community at this very moment. In Minister Yaacob Ibrahim’s speech during Aidilfitri celebrations in 2009, he expressed his worry that there would be a widening division between the haves and the have-nots in the Malay-Muslim community, where the former – with their new found wealth and independence – would not be giving back and helping society as much as they should. In this respect, curbing a culture of careless consumption would also indirectly facilitate a sense of humility. We should not forget of what it is like to “have a little” rather than “having a lot” or even “having a lot more”.

Secondly, curbing a culture of careless consumption is not alien to Islam, where principles of waste reduction and ensuring a sustainable environment are in abundance (but perhaps easily forgotten).

“O Children of Adam! wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer: eat and drink: But waste not by excess, for Allah loveth not the wasters”. (Holy Quran, 31:5)

“The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Prevention of damage and corruption before it occurs is better than treatment after it occurs….The averting of harm takes precedence over the acquisition of benefits.” (Majallat al-Ahkam al-Adliya)

Young AMP, through its recent activities, has gotten the ball rolling on this issue.  In  conjunction with International Day of Climate Action, Young AMP organised “Going 350: Muslims and the Environment”, in a bid to increase environmental awareness within the community.  One of the presentations during the event was by Ustaz Firdaus Yahya, who while presenting on Islamic principles on the Environment highlighted the issue of greed, which spans various aspects of our lives, and more so the environment that we live in. A small yet significant step, Young AMP looks forward to further sensitizing Singapore’s Malay-Muslim community on such contemporary challenges.

In conclusion, while it is critical that Singapore’s Malay-Muslim community strives to increase its level of economic development and success, let it not be a pre-occupation that undermines other intangible aspects of life, such as humility, happiness and a holistic understanding of our environment.

going350logo

So its finally happening! An event not only to commemorate International Day of Climate Action, but also to kickstart a process of reflection and action amongst Muslims on issues relating to the environment.

When? 1.30pm – 4 pm on 24 October 2009. Where? Association of Muslim Professionals (AMP) Auditorium , 1 Pasir Ris Drive 4, Singapore. Why? Because being green is not just a fad. Its a way of life.

Put simply, the environment is accorded reverence and respect in Islam. It’s among Allah’s marvelous master pieces. About 750 verses in the Holy Quran alluded to the many tangible and intangible benefits Man derives from it. Thus Man has a moral obligation to, not only appreciate, and sustain Allah’s blessings.

However, Muslim circles have not paid sufficient attention to environmental issues – especially in light of pertinent contemporary challenges such as climate change, and water, food and energy security.Environmental awareness amongst Muslims is low and while there may be various Muslim individuals that care for the environment, there seemsto be a lack of concerted efforts by Muslims as a community.

There is hence a need advocate for a greater sense of environmental awareness and action amongst Muslims – to complement and parallel national and global efforts as well as provide a basis of understanding Islam holistically amongst Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

This event seeks to bring together Islamic scholars, environmentalists and the wider public to further understand the various facets of environmental issues and thereby motivate them to take action – no matter how big or small – for a more sustainable future. The event will feature a panel discussion with the following speakers:

  • “The Environment in Islam” by Ustaz Firdaus Yahya Vice President, PERGAS & Director, Darul Huffaz
  • “Muslim Environmental Groups at Work” by Ms. Siobhan Irving, Anthropologist
  • “Championing Environmentalism” by Ms Nur Amira Abdul Karim, ECO-Singapore Representative at COP15.

This will be followed by a video conference with  Mr Wilson Ang, President of ECO-Singapore. Wilson will be joining us from Sweden, while he participates in other 350-related events there, and give us his thoughts on the way forward for the environmental movement in Singapore and globally.

Finally, we end off with some light refreshments (no red meat so as to reduce our consumption of natural resources) with the use of biodegradable utensils kindly sponsored by Olive Green.

We look forward to seeing you there. Kindly do RSVP to Shereen at shereen@amp.org.sg or visit our Facebook event page. And bring a friend or two, while you’re at it! 🙂

We would also like to encourage our participants to wear Blue or Green for the event.

This event is organised by the Young Association of Muslim Professionals (Young AMP) in Singapore with the cooperation and support of ECO-Singapore and Olive Green.

Click HERE  to view our flyer in pdf format. For directions to AMP @ Pasir Ris, click HERE to view a map in jpeg format.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens
can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
– Margaret Mead

In July, some 200 Muslim scholars gathered in Istanbul and formulated the first ever Muslim Climate Change Action Plan. This is indeed a milestone as it demonstrates a united front by the Muslim community in the need to be proactive in addressing contemporary global issues. 

Sheikh Ali Gomaa, The Grand Mufti of Egypt, speaking at the historic meeting in Istanbul.
Sheikh Ali Goma'a, The Grand Mufti of Egypt, speaking at the historic meeting in Istanbul.

However, I do have some reservations as to how this plan will play out. While the bulk of the plan does have significant initiatives to address climate change, one of it seemed to suggest that “Islamic environmental labels” should be created. Is this really necessary?

Global environmental standards, labels and mechanisms are already readily available; why then should “islamic” labels be used? Why waste our time inventing the wheel? This response is therefore inappropriate as it only serves further separate the Muslim community from the wider society. Moreover, creating more ‘islamic labels’ only serves to further emphasize rituals and rules, rather than a deeper and holistic understanding of islamic teachings on the environment.

It is only a matter of time till we see how this plan will materialize (if at all).

To view a related op-ed that I had written in 2007 on the role of the OIC, click the link below.

Climate Change and the Muslim World: The OIC can do with Captain Planet

As the month of Ramadan draws nearer, so does my proposed Green Iftar, which will be organised under the auspices of the Young Association of Muslim Professionals (Young AMP) in Singapore on the 5th of Sept. Its quite exciting as this would kickstart a drive of further environmental awareness amongst Muslims in Singapore.

I was pleased to have been sent an article from The Council of Islamic Organizatons of Greater Chicago website (via the DC Green Muslims mailing list) as it only serves to strengthen my resolve of further advocating environmental awareness amongst Muslims. 

In the article, Dr Zaher Sahloul highlights the opportunities of advocating greater reflection and concrete action amongst Muslims on their relationship with the environment. He also provides examples of simple practices that Muslims can adopt for an environmentally friendly lifestyle. The best part of it all,  these practices are simple and complement what has already been advocated in other environmental circles.  Below are a few lines from the article that brought a smile to my face 🙂

“Every person will leave an ecological and a spiritual footprint. Your ecological footprint is the total amount of carbon dioxide that you produce in life by using energy, especially fossil fuel, through transportation, use of electricity, consumption of certain food that require transportation and industrial fertilizers, waste and pollution. As Americans, our average ecological footprint is five to ten times that of a person living in other areas in the developing world. We use fasting in Ramadan to cap our eating, our drinking and our impulses, so why do we not use it to shrink our ecological footprint?

Why don’t we advance the concept of the Muslim footprint and educate our community to work collectively to shrink it?

Ramadan can be transformed to be a truly green month, and Muslims, with all people of faith, can live up to their responsibility to be the true stewards on earth and use Ramadan to help us reach that goal.

Ramadan is a once a year opportunity to tackle global issues like overconsumption, materialism, poverty, hunger, wars and yes, global warming.

To view the full article, please click on this link

Its just great to know that more like-minded people worldwide are wanting to make a difference in the Umma. Kudos and more strength to you all.

Ahlan ya Ramadan! Bring it on!

 

This article of mine has been featured in Visions 2009 – an annual magazine by the National University of Singapore’s Muslim Society (NUSMS)

9/11. Osama bin Laden. Iraq. Gaza. Media coverage and political developments on these issues have taken the Muslim world by storm, as the latter continues to struggle in coming to a consensus on how best to manage what is supposedly a dichotomy between Islam and the West. However, there have been a series of other events that require as much attention by the Ummah – Global Warming. “Natural” Disasters. Water Scarcity. Food and Energy Insecurity. These, too, have been a source of social unrest and conflict.

There is clearly a need for Muslims to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, as a means of encouraging a progressive train of thought and being aware of pertinent issues in contemporary times.

There are several reasons why the Ummah should consider climate change as a significant driver for ensuring progress from within. Firstly, Muslims – like everyone else – are victims of climate change. Whether it be issues of food insecurity, lack of energy resources or humanitarian disasters (which often overlap each other), these incidents ultimately feed back into a potentially vicious cycle of poverty – the root of all suffering in the Muslim world today.

This is evident as most Muslim countries are less developed countries, and are therefore highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. To date, there has been an increasing number of weather related disasters in Muslim countries (i.e. member states of the Organisation of Islamic Conference). According to the United Nations Relief Web statistics, OIC member states have experienced a total of 76 floods/flashfloods since 2006. This is 22 more than the period of 2001 -2005, and close to double the number of incidents in the period 1996 – 2000. Given the low capacity of governments in developing countries, it is often difficult to respond efficiently to these disasters. Moreover, the increasing frequency of weather related disasters complicates the situation, as states would have a reduced amount of time to recover from the previous disaster before the next disaster strikes.

The second reason for greater engagement in climate change issues by Muslim countries would be that they too contribute to climate change. According the World Resources Institute (WRI), gulf Arab countries such as Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Bahrain, are amongst the top ten countries with the highest level of carbon emissions per capita. Indonesia also contributes a high level of carbon emissions with its rapid rate of deforestation and land degradation – largely a result of illegal logging and the increasing global demand for biofuels. Wetlands International notes that if carbon emissions from land degradation were included in existing measurements, Indonesia would be the third largest carbon emitter after the United States and China.

Nevertheless, the Muslim World can provide solutions to this global challenge. For one, Muslim states should take advantage of the global mechanisms available to mitigate and adapt to climate change. One such example would be engaging in the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC)’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Under the CDM, less developed states would be able to acquire green technology from carbon emitting countries, as a means for the latter to reduce its carbon emissions. Although said to be one of the UNFCCC’s best achievements thus far, few Muslim countries have used this opportunity. Moreover, wealthier Muslim states such as the gulf Arab countries, Malaysia and Turkey, can play a significant role in investing in green technology and supporting the transfer of technology to their less developed counterparts. In addition to this, current international discussions on climate change also include the possibility of extending a carbon trade system to the forestry sector – ie. Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD). Forest rich countries such as Indonesia, therefore have a significant part to play by conserving its forests to act as carbon sinks. As such, engagement in global deliberations and actions on climate change would demonstrate their willingness to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

In light of the above-mentioned points, much of the work would have to come from governmental officials and negotiators in international climate change discussions. Civil societies in Muslim states must also provide support for their governments by promoting environmental awareness on the implications of climate change to the mass public. Often times, it would be difficult to change old habits, especially amongst older generations, who do not see climate change as a critical issue. A useful way of affecting change amongst the older generation would therefore be to speak to them – “in their own language” – such as with common shared values. Islam itself is a beacon of environmental principles, but is often not given much attention in Muslim circles.

Good work has been done in several Muslim environmental groups – such as the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences (IFEES) in the UK and Eco-Pesantren in Indonesia. These organisations have done their bit by engaging Muslim scholars, the public as well as local leaders to advocate environmentalism from an Islamic perspective (Islamic Environmentalism, for short). The point here is not to suggest that Islamic Environmentalism is distinct from the secular notions of environmentalism, but rather that it provides a useful tool to engage fellow Muslims on caring for the environment, and more importantly, encouraging them to think of their faith holistically.

In an upcoming book on Singapore Muslim Youth – under the auspices of the Young Association of Muslim Professionals (Young AMP) – a chapter is devoted to Islam and the Environment. In this chapter, a survey was conducted amongst Singapore Muslim Youths. The results were interesting as many were not consciously aware of the emphasis that Islam places on the environment. Moreover, more than 75% of respondents were of the opinion that Muslims would be more environmentally friendly if religious scholars/leaders played a more proactive role in advocating environmentalism. In addition to this, 90% of respondents mentioned that they would like to see more being done by religious scholars/leaders to promote environmental awareness.

What this survey has highlighted is that religious leadership still plays a significant role in influencing or shaping the ideas of the community. In this regard, community engagement – at best a collaboration of religious scholars/leaders, environmentalists and scientific experts – would be a novel way of further building awareness on the environment, as well as bridge the gaps between theology and science in a bid to generate progress in the Muslim community.

So I finally decided to embrace the New Media out of necessity.

It is necessary to ensure a more holistic understanding of Islam.

It is necessary to understand the debates surrounding climate change.

It is necessary to empower people to take a proactive role in caring for the environment.

It is, hence, necessary that I become sit in front of this computer screen to talk to you folks out there.

More to come, so stay tuned. 🙂