climate change

Campaign Challenges Interfaith Community to Take Action

Living the Change is a globally-connected community of religious and spiritual institutions, along with leading experts in the field of sustainable consumption practices. Through commitments in the areas of diet, transportation, and energy use, they seek to create a worldwide community of conscience and practice to drive lifestyle-related reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.

Living the Change Campaign

Living the Change began as part of the interfaith communities global response to the Special Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on "Global Warming of 1.5ºC", and continued through the opening of the United Nations’ climate change conference COP24 in Katowice, Poland. The first campaign was held between October and December 2018, and diverse religious and spiritual communities organized more than 100 local sustainability events in 25 countries across 6 continents.

We believe everyone can become part of the solution to climate change, and it will take all of us working together for our shared future. We know what must be done, and we have the ability to start taking action today. We are all environmental stewards, united in the responsibility and the blessing to care for our common home. We feel love and concern for the billions of living beings with whom we share this planet. We have the knowledge and skills to help make a healthier, happier future for all. During the most challenging times, we are reminded how truly we are all in this together.

Many notable Muslim leaders have joined the campaign including Imam Zaid Shakir, Dr. Ingrid Mattson and Imam Ibrahima Saidy among other prominent Muslim acamedics, theologians, community leaders and environmental champions. Over the next several weeks, Khaleafa will be featuring their stories, highlighting the importance to take action on climate change.

Interfaith Statement “Walk on Earth Gently”

During COP23, Living the Change published and delivered the Interfaith Statement “Walk on Earth Gently”. This call for climate action was signed by distinguished faith leaders, clergy, theologians, scholars, climate advocates, and community members. They represent many of the world religions: Baha'i, Buddhism, Christianity (Anglican/Episcopal, Baptist, Roman-Catholic, Franciscan, Jesuit, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist, Moravian), Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Quaker, Unitarian, and Zen.



Earth is a blessing. She supports life and is the basis of all our economies. She conveys beauty and evokes our recognition of something greater than ourselves. She is our temple, our mosque, our sanctuary, our cathedral. Our home.

Our actions now threaten the delicate balance of life on Earth, with climate change posing a most grave danger. Record numbers of severe storms, droughts, fires, and related catastrophes leave trauma and grief in their wake. Recent months have witnessed the tragedy of such occurrences in the Caribbean, the US, and India. We shudder over the enormity of this suffering and over what more lies ahead.

For thousands of years, our traditions have taught us to care for Earth. This responsibility has become urgent in recent decades. Our misuse of Earth’s generosity, while improving conditions for many, is not improving them for all and is fraying the web of life. The most vulnerable among us, those least responsible for this global threat, suffer the impacts of a warming climate unfairly and unjustly.

We have begun to respond, raising consciousness and starting to consume more sustainably. We have implored leaders to act. We have studied, prayed and petitioned, advocated, marched and mobilized. We have awakened to the urgent challenge and begun to change our ways.

However, we are at a crossroads. The Paris Agreement affirmed limiting temperature rise to well below 2⁰C, while pursuing efforts to a far safer 1.5⁰C limit. Our friends from Fiji and small island states, understanding the stakes and underscoring the science, have told us “1.5 to stay alive.” Yet we are currently headed for warming of 3⁰C or more, perilously beyond this limit

This challenge is both dire and urgent. It calls for us to act.

As religious and spiritual leaders, we are committing to make changes in our own lives, and to support the members of our communities in doing the same. Together, we come to you with an invitation to embark on a journey towards compassionate simplicity for the sake of the climate, the human family, and the community of life. For many of us, changes in three areas make the greatest impact: dramatically reducing emissions from our home energy use, adopting a plant-based diet and reducing food waste, and minimizing automobile and air travel. Because of the gravity of our situation, substantial and long-term changes in these areas are indispensable if we are to reach a 1.5⁰C future, particularly for those of us in communities whose carbon footprints exceed sustainable levels. We pledge our commitment to such change.

Through this collective effort, we look forward to creating a global community of conscience and practice in which we learn to put belief into action in relation to our own lifestyles. Our spiritual and faith communities will give us hope and companions for this journey. We will share ideas, materials, and stories of struggle and success. Our practices of mindfulness, spiritual discipline and prayer will enable us to grow. These ancient teachings and practices, and our renewed commitments and willingness to strive, will help us build pathways towards a sustainable future.

We wish to be clear that we understand that systemic change is required to solve this crisis. We will continue to advocate for the policies that are so urgently needed. However, we also believe that individual commitments and behaviors are as important in addressing climate change as they are in addressing poverty, racism, and other grave social ills. And we know that our spiritualities and traditions offer wisdom about finding happiness in a purposeful life, family and friendships, not in an overabundance of things. The world needs such wisdom; it is our privilege both to share and to seek to embody it.

We invite you to join the many others willing to walk this path by adding your name to this document, and by preparing to make commitments in the three areas named above. The diverse groups coming together in this moment will reach out to invite you to become involved in a programme of support and action which will take shape over the coming year.

Let us pray and hope we can come together in love for each other, those who suffer from climate change, future generations, and planet Earth.

National Umbrella Day

By: Muaz Nasir

Today marks National Umbrella Day; a day where we mark our appreciation for this useful invention. (1)

Umbrella’s are an innovative tool, that have been around for thousands of years. Evidence of their use can be found in ancient art and artifacts in Egypt, Assyria, Greece and China (2). Not only do they keep us dry during the rain, but they can also protect us from the damaging rays of the sun.

As a result, the umbrella has become a symbol for climate change, representing the dueling forces of floods and droughts that have rocked the planet in recent years.

Floods, Droughts and Climate Change

Water vapour, which is the source of rain and snow, primarily comes from two sources. About 60% is derived straight from the oceans, while the other 40% is evaporated over the continents. This is important to note because the rate of evaporation from the ocean increases as the world warms, and this contributes to increases in the annual amount of snow and rain (2).

Globally, the atmosphere is getting warmer, which means that it can retain more moisture. More rain may seem like a good thing, but too much rain, especially high-intensity, short-duration storms, can have a devastating impact. Flash floods have become common in some parts of Canada, where rain that falls as a violent downpour, quickly runs back into the rivers and lakes, rather than being absorbed and retained in the soil.

On the flip side of the equation, even though evaporation is increasing, the holding capacity of the atmosphere is not keeping pace. This results in dry spells between rain events, as it takes longer for moisture to recharge the atmosphere. This leaves parched soils which are unable to hold moisture during these severe storms, and further exacerbates the run-off of water out of the system when rain actually arrives (3).

Whether it's heavy rain or blistering sun, the humble umbrella will become one of the go-to tools in the toolbox in adapting to climate change.  

Kamal Badawi, a Saudi engineer from Makkah, explains the features of a smart umbrella to a pilgrims. (Source:  Al Arabiya)

Kamal Badawi, a Saudi engineer from Makkah, explains the features of a smart umbrella to a pilgrims. (Source: Al Arabiya)

What’s Next for Umbrellas?

Recently, Saudi engineers have re-designed the umbrella to assist Hajj pilgrims avoid heat exhaustion and dehydration at the holy sites where temperatures can climb to over 40°C. Known as a smart umbrella, it is solar powered and has integrated USB ports, a fan, flashlight and a GPS system to help locate lost family members and friends (4). Other versions connect the base to a water bottle which can deliver a cooling mist to pilgrims (5).

This National Umbrella Day, give your umbrella a tune-up before spring arrives and consider its new role in a world with climate change.


  1. National Day Calendar:

  2. The Climate Reality Project:

  3. Climate Communication Science & Outreach:

  4. Al Arabiya:

  5. Daily Pakistan Global:

Delivering on the Promises of Paris

Why the World’s Muslims Are Demanding Climate Action Now

Naser Haghamed CEO of Islamic Relief Worldwide, an independent humanitarian and development organisation with a presence in over 40 countries worldwide.

The global Muslim community - made up of around 1.6 billion followers from world leaders to academics, from teachers and healthcare workers to business people and investors - has incredible collective power. Islam is the fastest-growing religion: 1 in 5 people today are Muslim, and Muslims will make up around 30% of the global population in 2050. As the newly appointed CEO of the world’s largest Islamic humanitarian and emergency relief NGO, I have witnessed this collective power harnessed to achieve immense and noble things, from providing shelter and relief to victims of floods and earthquakes to supporting refugees from war-torn countries. However, one longstanding crisis constantly threatens to undermine our efforts to make the world a safer place to live in: climate change. With world leaders gathering in New York on April 22nd to reaffirm the commitment they made to end the fossil fuel era in Paris last December, it is time for a reminder of just how important it is that they turn their promises into action without delay.

We can’t fall into the trap of thinking that climate change is a problem for the next generation whose effects won’t be felt for years. Climate change is devastating the world. Now. Many Muslim majority countries are on the front lines: a recent report from the Asian Development Bank showed that in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country and the fourth largest country in the world by population, climate change and the floods it causes are turning the poor into the ‘ultra-poor’. Most of the Middle East and North Africa is expected to become hotter and drier due to climate change, worsening droughts and exposing millions to water shortages. These changes provoke migration to other countries themselves facing resource deficiencies aggravated by climate change, thereby increasing the risk of violent conflict. This, and the ever-growing death toll among the world’s poorest who have contributed least to greenhouse gas emissions, are unjust realities with which we are all too familiar at Islamic Relief.

Whilst more and more Muslims are experiencing the ravages of climate change first hand, more Muslims and governments are in turn starting to join the fight against climate change. Last August, Muslim scholars, experts and activists from over 20 countries called on the world’s Muslims to act on climate, with a particular demand to governments to move away from fossil fuel sources of energy and towards societies where 100% of energy is provided by renewable sources such as solar and wind - resources which many Islamic countries have in abundance - as early as possible. There is nothing radical in the claim that acting on climate change is a fundamental part of Islam: we know from the Qur’an that Allah has made each of us a steward (khalifah) of the earth - a ‘precious home’ with finite resources - in order to maintain its delicate equilibrium (mizan). The fossil fuels that once brought us prosperity are now destroying this equilibrium and our prosperity along with it.

Islamic Relief took to the streets in 2015 to demand an ambitious Paris Agreement

In January this year, the Islamic Development Bank agreed with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to use Islamic finance to combat climate change and food insecurity. Days later, in February, the world’s largest solar power plant opened in Morocco and could provide enough energy to power over 1 million homes by 2018. At the beginning of April, Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince announced the country’s intention to create a $2 trillion megafund to help it transition to the post-oil era. Islamic Relief has also done its bit, building solar-powered homes in places like Bangladesh - the most disaster prone country in the world - and installing water harvesting systems in Kenya. However, the scale of the problem is so large that it will require a huge increase in efforts from Muslims and non-Muslims alike in solidarity.

That is why, together with 270 faith leaders, I have today issued an urgent call to faith communities around the world to divest their money from fossil fuels and reinvest it in renewable energy solutions. Together, we will reduce emissions in our homes, workplaces and centers of worship, standing in solidarity with those communities already facing the severe consequences of climate change. Such is my conviction, that on April 22nd, the day that a record number of countries will meet at the UN Headquarters in New York to sign the Paris Agreement, Islamic Relief Worldwide will be helping to launch a global Muslim network dedicated to tackling climate change issues in the Islamic world and will present the Islamic Climate Change Declaration to the President of the United Nations General Assembly, H.E. Mogens Lykketoft. To show they are equally serious, countries must implement the Paris Agreement as soon as possible, phasing out the astonishingly high fossil fuel subsidies that the International Monetary Fund estimated would be $10 million every minute in 2015, and endeavoring to peak greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 to give us the best chance of going 100% renewable and to keep the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

We must urge world leaders to make a real difference to prevent climate change and help people of all faiths and none to adapt to the climate change that we are already experiencing, in accordance with Islamic teachings. Much is already being done by both governments and citizens, but we are not fulfilling our collective potential. With the World Humanitarian Summit taking place in Istanbul in May and the implementation-focused sequel to last December’s successful conference in Paris taking place in Morocco in November, 2016 has to be the year that the world starts delivering on its promises in earnest, before we lose further lives in the fight against climate change.

Follow Naser Haghamed on Twitter:

This article appeared in the Huffington Post on April 18th, 2016. 

2016 Green Khutbah Campaign

Muslims across the world to celebrate Earth Day with Green Khutbah Campaign

TORONTO, April 11, 2016 - Muslims across the world will commemorate Earth Day on Friday, April 22nd, 2016 with the Green Khutbah Campaign as religious leaders deliver a sermon to raise awareness on the environmental challenges facing humanity.

“We are encouraging mosques, schools, universities and Islamic Institutions to devote their Friday Khutbah to celebrate the blessings, graces and beauty of all of God’s creation and to raise awareness on the environmental challenges facing humanity,” said Muaz Nasir, the publisher of the Canadian environmental website, and one of the founders of the Campaign.

“This year the theme of the Green Khutbah Campaign is ‘Climate Change: Working Together to Solve a Global Challenge’ whereby we encourage Muslims to evaluate their contribution towards global warming and consider the implications for current and future generations,” Nasir added.

The Campaign was launched in 2012 in Canada and, every year, Imams across the world are encouraged to deliver a message that remind their congregations of the Qur’anic message to be stewards of the earth and its environment.

The Green Khutbah Campaign commemorates Earth Day that will take place on Friday, April 22.

The first Earth Day, held on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement.

More than 1 billion people across the world now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.

“Leading climate scientists now believe that a rise of two degrees centigrade in global temperature, which is considered to be the “tipping point”, is now very unlikely to be avoided if we continue with business-as-usual; other leading climate scientists consider 1.5 degrees centigrade to be a more likely “tipping point””, according to the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change released last year.

“This is the point considered to be the threshold for catastrophic climate change, which will expose yet more millions of people and countless other creatures to drought, hunger and flooding. The brunt of this will continue to be borne by the poor, as the Earth experiences a drastic increase in levels of carbon in the atmosphere brought on in the period since the onset of the industrial revolution.”

Muaz Nasir says that Muslims cannot tune out from the environmental damage.

“Tuning out would mean that we are disregarding our moral responsibility to God’s creation,” he said.

“Those who violate or abuse the Trust are described in the Qur’an as those who corrupt, degrade and bring ruin on earth,” Muaz Nasir added. “The corrupters abuse the Trust and are in clear contrast to what Muslims must be - the stewards of the earth.”

An extensive online resource has been created by ( to support the Green Khutbah Campaign and Islamic organizations and well-known leaders are throwing their support behind the initiative.


For more information, photos or to arrange an interview please contact:  

Umar Nasir,

Media Relations, Green Khutba Campaign


Climate Change to be Top Priority in Muslim World

Zafirah Zein - Environment Ministers from more than 50 Muslim countries have come up with a joint declaration on environmental protection and sustainable development. At the 6th Islamic Conference in Morocco, members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) convened to discuss ways to combat climate change and deal with obstacles to sustainable development.

In the declaration, countries were urged to commit to a number of key goals. These included pursuing green economies, raising awareness about the importance of eradicating poverty, creating a new energy operating system, and adopting standards for good practices in sustainable governance.

"Climate change is a serious threat, especially to the developing world. It is only through collective action that we will overcome one of the pressing challenges of our generation,” said OIC secretary general Iyad Ameen Madani, who is the former Information Minister of Saudi Arabia.

Global warming is due to have drastic effects in the Middle East. A recently published study in the journalNatural Climate Change predicts that countries in the Arabian Gulf and parts of Iran will be uninhabitable in the future due to extreme heatwaves predicted to sweep over the region after 2070.

Professor Elfatih Eltahir of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who co-conducted the study, said, "We would hope that information like this would be helpful in making sure there is interest [in cutting carbon emissions] for the countries in the region. They have a vital interest in supporting measures that would help reduce the concentration of CO2 in the future."

The OIC, founded in 1969, is the second largest inter-governmental organization in the world and includes some of the world's least developed countries. It includes conflict-ridden Afghanistan and Iraq and huge resource-dependent states such as Indonesia and Malaysia. Developing nations are most vulnerable to global warming, and while some wealthier oil-rich Muslim countries might be able to afford protection against rising temperatures, poor countries like Yemen will suffer.

Food security also remains a critical issue in many of the OIC member states. Famines have occurred in Somalia and Mali in the last five years, and environment-linked disasters have led to widespread poverty in Bangladesh, which was ranked by the World Bank as one of the 12 countries most vulnerable to climate change.

Conserving the environment has a distinct place in Islamic thought as the religion prioritizes meeting the needs of present and future generations without destroying natural balance or excluding any segments of society. A form of sustainable development within Islam that has gained traction in recent years is Islamic finance, in which financial institutions are governed by both Islamic law and regular banking rules.

At the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, Chief Economist of the Islamic Development Bank Savas Alpay said, "In mobilizing resources for the Sustainable Development Goals, non-traditional sources of financing need to be given due attention. In this context, Islamic finance is offering a very promising alternative."

The Bank announced in July that it would be increasing development assistance to more than USD$150 billion to support short- and long-term environmental, social and economic projects in member states of the OIC.

While the OIC declaration is not legally binding to member states, it is an important rallying call in a region that has not taken a strong lead in the climate debate.

This article was originally published on Solutions in January 2016. 

Dua: Bringing Faith to the Climate Change Discussion


This Dua was written by Imam Zaid Shakir, senior faculty member of the Zaytuna College in Berkeley, California as part of the Our Voices campaign.

O Allah, our Creator, the one who originated the heavens and the Earth,

There is not a moving creature but You have grasp of its forelock.

Verily You are our Sustainer, our Protector, the Watcher over us.

Forgive us for spreading corruption on the land,

And make us among those who spread peace and mercy.

O Allah, give light to the words of those involved in the climate change negotiations,

Instil wisdom, fairness, compassion and courage into the hearts of our leaders so that they

May lead us to a path of justice for the sake of our planet, our children and children’s children.

You have reminded us in Qur'an,

'Corruption has appeared on the land and in the sea, owing to the misdeeds of human hands. Thus do We give them a taste of what they have brought about in order that they may return.'

O Allah, bless our leaders and ourselves to return to the path of responsible stewardship of the earth and the limited resources you have blessed us to enjoy therein.


Dua for Climate

On the Recovery of the Ozone Layer

Climate Change
Climate Change

By Hind Al-Abadleh,

Reading the news headlines1 on September 10, 2014 about the start of recovery of the ozone layer over Antarctica cheered my heart as someone who teaches about the chemistry of the ozone hole and the role that chloroflourocarbons (CFCs) played in speeding up the destruction of this ‘shield’ gas up in the stratosphere.

To place this news in the context of environmental history:

In 1974, it was scientifically established that CFCs –used in fridges, radiators, spray cans, and air conditions- are agents that can destroy stratospheric ozone, and it was 13 years after that the Montreal Protocol was established for a total global ban on the production of CFCs by the late 1990s.

This protocol is one of a kind international treaty by politicians, hosted by Canada, that sent the right message to the people of the Earth that governments care about the ozone layer.  It also sent the signal to the industry that manufactured the CFCs that you need to innovate and come up with chemicals that have useful applications to society, but would not cause environmental degradation.  In effect, the treaty revoked the social and political licenses given to industrial sectors that made the CFCs.

We’re in 2014 now, 40 years after the science was established, and 27 years after the Montreal protocol was signed.  It is in September 2014 that reports of the first signs of recovery of the ozone layer are reported.  Why? Because CFCs have a very long lifetime in the atmosphere (140 years for CFC-12 known commercially as Freon 12 or R-12), even after stopping their emissions.  This is why we’re still experiencing ozone loss in Antarctica every winter and spring time in the Southern hemisphere.  While full recovery is projected to happen in 2050, the impacts from global climate change on ozone loss are still uncertain.

Take home messages:

  • Nature has its own recovery time that is on the order of decades when humans acknowledge their negative disturbance of natural equilibrium and gather the political will and courage to act and stop further degradation of natural ecosystems.
  • Governments take a relatively long time to formulate and enforce regulations on industrial emissions.  Why?  Because they’d rather (1) wait for a significant body of scientific data to come through rather than following a precautionary principle of ‘better be safe than sorry’ when new man-made substances are manufactured and dumped irresponsibly, and (2) have unsatisfied and frustrated citizens who demand action on environmental issues that affect people on the ground.

How could we use the above success story to understand the most pressing environmental issue of our time, global climate change?  Again, a bit of environmental history would be useful:

In 1957, increasing CO2 buildup was reported as ‘surprising’ by scientists at the Scripps Oceanographic Institute working on international geophysical year projects.

In 1979, the first major international climate science conference was held in Geneva, which led to the creation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)  in 1988.  In 2013, the IPCC started releasing reports on their fifth assessment of the status of the climate.  They announced that the planet has warmed about 0.8 deg C since the beginning of the 20th century, and that CO2 buildup is happening at a faster rate than previously projected.2

There is no debate among scientists that humans are the main driving force behind a changing climate. We are currently experiencing the disruption and impacts3: faster rates of melting ice caps, ocean acidification, depletion of fresh water resources, increased severity of storms, floods and droughts with impacts on crop production, in addition to rising surface and atmospheric temperatures.

One could argue that the success story of saving the ozone layer through the Montreal Protocol is hard to replicate for solving global climate change because the industries and consumer products that were dependent on CFCs represent a much smaller sector than the gigantic fossil fuel industry that underlies our current way of life in the 21st century.

This very statement could either depress us to no action, or motivate us to rethink our current value system to innovate our way out of a fossil fuel era.  After all, humanity did not transition from the stone age because of lack of stones!  Similarly, we have the potential to transition from a fossil fuel-dependent civilization without burning every drop of oil in the ground.  It was refreshing to read about a new fossil fuel divestment group in Canada, called “Fossil Free Faith-Canada’s Interfaith Divestment Network”4 that “aims to be a source of support and resources for Canadian faith communities and their members who are committed to or considering climate action, especially around fossil fuel divestment and clean energy reinvestment.

We’re now in 2014 (57 years after reporting CO2 buildup).  Governments of the world have met many times, 4 since 2007, in Bali, Copenhagen, Cancun and Qatar, and left with no concrete steps on how to move forward.

Determined not to lose hope and motivated to work to send a loud message to politicians, people from all walks of life will be marching on September 21 during the 2014 UN Climate Summit meetings taking place in New York City.  The ‘People’s Climate March’5 is being planned by hundreds of coordinated efforts among hundreds of social and environmental non-governmental and non-profit organizations.

Peoples Climate March
Peoples Climate March

Marches around the world will also take place outside the U.S. during September as well.  The demands are clear5: “a world with an economy that works for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities.”  The film, Distruption,6 features leading scientists, historians, activists and faith-based leaders and documents the planning and calls to join the largest people’s march for the climate in the history of human beings.

These critical times in history challenge us to rethink who we are, where we’re going, and what ideals and ethical principles we struggle to live up to.  It is incumbent that we stand on the right side of history as concerned people who are empowered by scientific knowledge and rich inherited and collective human wisdom.




3 ‘What We Know’ initiative on Climate Change from AAAS:




Hind Al-Abadleh is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, ON.  She could be reached via email:

Greening Islam


Earlier this year, Sarrah AbuLughod, a Green Muslims Board Member, was interviewed by a reporter with Symbolia Magazine and Showtime on climate change. Her story was captured in comic format designed by Audrey Quinn and Luncy Bellwood and can be found as part of the Years of Living Dangerously series presented by Showtime. Greening IslamGI2 GI3 GI4 GI5 GI6 GI7 GI8 GI9 GI10 GI11

Islam offers important lessons for environmental movement

Climate Change By: Syed Rizvi,

When I first heard of Obama’s most recent plan to combat climate change, I thought about the issue of the environment more broadly.Ninety-seven percent of scientists say climate change exists, and according to 18 scientific associations,humans are the prevailing cause for this change. Putting aside the inevitable political wrangling over such a plan, the environment is something that stands as a universal concern. The details of Obama’s plan may receive legitimate criticism, but cutting coal pollution is without a doubt a prudent course of action. Yet Congress and the American people are having difficulties coming together on this issue.

About 83 percent of Americans are affiliated with a religion, thus religion is a driving force for a majority of Americans. In addition, faith is the biggest authority on morality, and environmentalism is a moral issue. That is why religion can and should take leadership and provide political aid to environmentalism. It should boggle the mind of any conscientious person why environmentalists haven’t been able to team up with religious blocs, including Jews, Christians and Muslims. I don’t know the answer to that question, but I can speak on Islam’s articulated and well-documented beliefs on protecting the environment. Recognizing Islam’s position on the environment will help redefine a widely misunderstood and misjudged religion so that Muslims and non-Muslims can work together on tackling environmental issues here at the University of Texas at Austin and abroad.

To determine the ‘Islamic view’ on any certain issue one must reference Islamic jurisprudence, which is derived from two main sources. The first source is the fourth and the most holy of holy books, the Quran, and the second source is hadiths, or the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). It is important to note that while the beliefs presented here are held by a majority of Islamic schools of thought, if not all, there are still varying interpretations, and if a conclusion has consensus it may be reached by different means. In fact, there are four schools of jurisprudence in the Sunni sect of Islam and also a separate Shia sect of Islam.

In regard to the preservation and protection of the environment, Dr. Nasr Farid Wasil, the former Mufti of Egypt, or Sunni scholar and interpreter of jurisprudence, states that humans “must keep the universe as pure and magnificent as Allah [the Arabic word for God] has created it” because humans are the guardians of the world. One of the supporting pieces of evidence is Surah, or chapter, 16 verses 5-14from the Quran, which talks about humans being entrusted with the world and its bounties. Nearly 1,400 years ago, Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (peace and blessings be upon him), a divinely guided leader for Shiites and the father of the Sunni schools of thought, wrote extensively on the sciences. His writings warned that we should not pollute the environment, otherwise the planet would become uninhabitable. Surah 6 verse 141 supports Imam Jafar al-Sadiq’s (peace and blessings be upon him) scientific postulation with a stern warning to humanity not to be wasteful and harvest the land in consideration of its vitality.

In addition to the the Holy Quran and its teachers, Muslims look to the greatest teacher the Messenger, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Muslims find answers to many of life’s questions in hadiths. According to Al-Bukhari and Muslim, Sunni collections of hadiths, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said that “Muslims will always earn the reward of charity for planting a tree, sowing a crop and the birds, humans, and animals eat from it.”

With this brief introduction of Islamic jurisprudence on environmentalism, it is important to know that there is real work being done by Muslims in today’s world. Although without the force of law, the Indonesian Ulama Council, Indonesia’s top Muslim clerical body, made the unprecedented move recently of outlawing all activities resulting in wildlife extinction, and in Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, called for “all-out endeavors to protect the environment in Iran, and urged a halt to the environmental damage caused by the new constructions,” according to the Tasnim News Agency, an Iranian government news agency. In addition, there are Muslim organizations that strive to protect and conserve the environment like the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences.

However, this is not nearly enough. Here in Austin and more broadly in America, the Muslim community is not as concerned with environmental issues. For example, in recent history, none of the Muslim organizations at the University of Texas at Austin have hosted or organized an event with the purpose of supporting environmentalism. This may be a problem shared by communities of other faiths; however, as a Muslim, it is important not only to educate but to act. As Muslims, it is important to realize that protecting the environment is a part of our faith as clearly demonstrated, and for non-Muslims, it is vital to see the Muslim community as partners in the advancement of our world and its shared goals. Religious organizations on campus working together can serve not only to build on Austin’s environmental accomplishments but also to build mutual understanding, working toward a political unity that promotes a moral voice on issues like environmentalism, so that cutting coal emissions is not all that we do to combat climate change.

This article was originally published in The Daily Texan on June 12th, 2014. 

The “Muslim” response to climate change?


By: Hind Al-Abadleh

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) started releasing reports on their fifth assessment of the status of the climate starting in September 2013.  The latest report on adaptation and mitigation came out last Sunday, April 13.  The reports are the synthesis of scientific studies on climate science from field, laboratory and modeling work, which shows with greater levels of confidence that humans are the main driving force behind a changing climate.

Mainly, the high carbon, consumer-driven life style powering industrial civilizations and those aspiring to catch up are saturating the planet with the junk we continue to pump into the atmosphere.   We are currently experiencing the impacts(1): faster rates of melting ice caps, ocean acidification, depletion of fresh water resources, increased severity of storms, floods and droughts with impacts on crop production, in addition to rising surface and atmospheric temperatures.

I’ve written before(2) on how Islamic teachings provide an ethical worldview of Nature based on Quranic verses and traditions of Prophet Mohammed – PBUH.  Motivated by these teachings, and in response to the call of the IPCC for humanity to adapt and mitigate climate change, I believe that Muslims can take a leadership role in this arena.

The goal would be to reduce their carbon footprint by 40-80% as a community inspired by its faith by staring now through practical steps to be implemented in their mosques, community centres, businesses and homes:

1)    Energy conservation:  One old-fashioned way of adapting to climate change is to conserve energy.  We need to become more efficient in energy and material consumption.  In our minds and deep in our hearts, we need to connect being conscious of God (having taqwa coupled with internal accountability) with how many light switches we keep on or off and how long we keep the cars idling for no good reason.   We need to embrace behavioral changes that monitor our energy consumption everywhere we go.  Requesting energy audits to mosques, busineses and homes are necessary, and following up on the recommendations by improving insulations, and replacing old appliances with energy efficient ones, will not only save money in the long run, but also reduce carbon emissions dramatically.

2)    Smart and environmentally-friendly Sharia investments:  To keep global warming to 2 degrees this century, we need to keep 66-80% of proven fossil fuel reserves in the ground.(3)  This means that we need to burn about 20-30% strategically as transition fuels to clean energy generation.  Currently, Sharia-compliant investment firms invest in fossil fuel energy companies because oil is considered an ‘asset’ like gold and silver.  Well, if we are to truly live up to teachings of our religion, Muslim investment firms should be among the early birds in divesting from fossil fuels, and investing instead in emerging clean energy technologies likes solar and wind, and in technologies that aim to capture carbon from large point emission sources to prevent its addition to the atmosphere.

3)    Abolishing factory farming: Muslims are among the largest consumers of red meat and poultry around the world.  As a fast growing visible minority in Canada, the halal industry is expecting to grow substantially to meet their needs.(4,5)  It has been estimated that producing 1 kg of beef results in more CO2 emissions than going for a three-hour drive while leaving all the lights on at home.(6)  The root cause of the high carbon emissions is the factory farming practices driven by high consumer demands.  I’ve written before on Muslims relationship with food, and the need to care for animals’ well being and not only how they were slaughtered.(7)  This area of the economy that is driven by Muslims consumer demand for halal food present a golden opportunity to ‘vote with our wallet’ to abolish inhumane factory farming practices that are carbon-intensive, and to encourage natural and organic ways of raising animals for food.

Climate change is symptom of a disease that infected humanity at large and threatens its survival.  Inspired by a belief system that places the human being as a steward of the Earth and the rest of God’s creation, and by a rich heritage and history that embodies how a human civilization could thrive in harmony with Nature, Muslims ought to revive the spirit of their commitment to living by the message in the Quran and traditions of Prophet Muhammad –pbuh.  I sincerely pray that Allah make us from among those who reflect and follow the best of what is being said.


1)    'What We Know' initiative on Climate Change from AAAS:

2)    Through religious lens: combating climate change:

3)    Assessing “Dangerous Climate Change”: Required Reduction of Carbon Emissions to Protect Young People, Future Generations and Nature:

4)    Halal in Toronto:

5)    Canadian Halal Meat Market Study:$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/afu9886

6)    Meat production 'beefs up emissions':

7)    Our relationship with food – should we really care?’:–-should-we-really-care’/

Hind Al-Abadleh is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, ON.  She could be reached via email:

Climate Change: A Religious Perspective

album photo cefic.indd By:Mohammed Salarbux

Nowadays, two groups have mainly polarized the discussions about global warming and the Environmental Protection Act. On one end, the religious right and its pundits have been very active in denying climate change and making mockery of any meaningful environmental protection measures. On the other end, environmentalists, who are ignoring and/or ridiculing the role of religious upbringing in shaping people's attitudes toward the environment, are undermining the importance of spreading their message across a large group of people.

Science, religion and preservation are not necessarily mutually exclusive in their approach to this important subject. In Islam, seeking and accepting knowledge, respect to the environment, preservationism, and respect of other forms of life are part of the faith. There are no contradictions within Islam for Muslims to accept the scientific research of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW), and it is a part of its belief system that humans will suffer the consequences for any abuse of the earth's natural resources.

It is without doubt that had humankind practiced a balance between enjoying the earth's natural resources without being wasteful and preserving the environment for future generations, the world would be today a very different place. Furthermore, such a concept would have made it easier for the environmentalists to convey their messages to others. We would not have reached the edge today from run away Carbon Dioxide increases into the atmosphere that not only threaten our climates, but also our very existence. Pollutants and overfishing are destroying a great food resource, while gluttony and waste in food distribution further threaten a clean and healthy food supply. Food has now become an entertainment with non-stop television commercials promoting a lifestyle where people live to eat instead of eating to survive.

We are in a vicious adaptation to the needs of consumerism; everything must be fun and entertaining. This demand for convenient and immediate gratification has, for example, led to the mass production of petroleum based plastic products that not only leach PCB's into the food and water supply, but also create the ubiquitous waste of bottles and bags that swirl along our highways and have formed a giant whirlpool of plastic garbage in the Pacific Ocean further decimating wildlife and our food supply.

"Corruption appears on land and sea because of (the evil) that man's hands have done, so that He may make them taste a part of what they have done, in order that they may return." (Quran 30:41)

Contrary to other religious beliefs, in Islam, humans have to take full responsibility for their actions and not expect divine intervention to mollify their abuse of the world's resources. Sadly some environmentalists have failed to make the distinction that not all religions are inherently antagonistic toward exploring meaningful solutions to halt the degradation of our environment. The Quran teaches us that men are the caretakers of the earth (Quran 2:30), and are responsible for maintaining it. This belief is part of the Muslim tradition. While definitely not a part of the history of secular movements who tend to advocate, "Enjoy life as much as you can" which has contributed to the neglect of so many important aspects of our ecosystem. As a result our rain forests, aquifers, and waterways have suffered and cannot be expected to continue to sustain man's endless appetite for more "stuff."

Water conservation in Islam is more a matter of principle. The Prophet (pbuh) forbids wasting this precious resource even when it is available in abundance. He also cautions against its waste even while performing certain religious rites.

"Do not waste water even if you were on the bank of a flowing river." (Prophet Mohammed [pbuh])

Interestingly, one of his sayings was promoted by a water bottling company in Australia to stress the importance of conserving water. It is a developmental lesson with profound meaning that should be taught to all children. Just imagine our planet if we raised our children to respect the waters of our earth from the smallest springs to the mighty oceans. How much more would they appreciate the water flowing from the tap?

It has been counter-productive just to blame religion per se for obstructive solutions to rectify and address climate change, instead of focusing on the impact that consumerism has had on the ecosystem. The Quran has clearly laid down a balanced and commonsensical approach, wherein individuals are instructed to enjoy the good things of life, but not become intoxicated with their pleasures and abuse them. The "live as if there is no tomorrow" way of life only serves to further degrade our environment by encouraging everyone to consume more and more of the earth's natural resources. The Islamic position, however, (often not reflected in the Muslim world today) of believing in "life is a test" is overlooked as is the belief that we will be held accountable for our actions. Even a skeptic would admit the benefits of this concept, which should make one at least pause and be more conscious of the squandering of the earth's resources.

This article was originally published September 17, 2013 on HuffPost Green.  Photo credit from Phillippe 2009


National Preach-In on Global Warming

Preach in banner The issue of climate change has become more prominent in recent years. Large storms have wreaked havoc across many urban centres this past summer and a series of droughts throughout the prairies have resulted in spikes in global grain prices. At home, Environment Canada is in the process of re-evaluating its benchmark calculations for precipitation and temperature patterns to reflect the changing climate. These predictive figures are used in building infrastructure to forecasting the mosquito season and the projections paint a grim and costly future. In the absence of proactive policy from the federal government, faith groups have stepped up to voice their concerns.

The National Preach-In on Global Warming (February 8-10, 2013) is an interfaith campaign that focuses on how climate disruption is affecting different communities worldwide. It calls on religious leaders in the United States to raise the issue in their congregations through their sermons, by facilitating discussions on climate change and engaging their youth on the importance of taking action from a moral and spiritual perspective.

Global warming is one of the biggest threats facing humanity today. The very existence of life — life that religious people are called to protect — is jeopardized by our continued dependency on fossil fuels for energy. Every major religion has a mandate to care for Creation. We were given natural resources to sustain us, but we were also given the responsibility to act as good stewards and preserve life for future generations. (Interfaith Power and Light)

The campaign provides resources for congregations that are interested and includes faith statements from the Islamic perspective. As stewards of the earth, Muslims have a responsibility to respect the earth and to ensure a livelihood for future generations. There are multiple references in the Quran that condone tampering with the balance of nature (Quran 55:8) and causing mischief upon the earth (Quran 28:77). Disrupting the carbon balance by clearing forests faster than they can regenerate and our increasing reliance on fossil fuels as a primary energy source are two examples of how we are contributing to global warming.

While it may seem like a daunting task, there are small actions we can take to reduce our individual impacts on the environment. The David Suzuki Foundation provides tips for reducing your carbon footprint under four broad categories.


  • The next time you are looking to purchase a new vehicle, consider fuel-efficient options that are low in emissions. The prices for electric and hybrid vehicles have come down over the last few years and there are government incentives offered on certain models.
  • Consider alternative forms of transit during your daily commute; such was biking, walking or public transit. Some employers are now offering to cover environmentally friendly modes of transit for their employees.
  • Learn about the environmental impacts of air travel and use it sparingly if possible for vacation or leisure. This summer consider exploring the sights closer to home, or travel by coach or rail.


  • If you have older appliances or electronics at home, consider switching to more energy efficient models. The power consumption on older models can be as much as double compared to newer ones and many contain ozone-depleting chemicals that are no longer used.
  • Perform an energy audit at home to identify possible heat loss during the winter. Seal any cracks or leaks around windows and doors and increase the insulation in your attic. Also, take an inventory of electronics in your home and minimize the amount of vampire power that is wasted.


  • Choose products that are locally made and opt for seasonal produce where possible. The food on our plate may travel thousands of miles, contributing towards global warming.
  • Avoid wasting food. At least a third of the food that is produced is wasted through transport, spoilage or thrown away by the consumer. The carbon invested in growing, harvesting, producing and transporting these foods are wasted when food is thrown away.

Be Proactive:

  • Join The National Preach-In on Global Warming and urge your Imam/religious leaders to bring attention of climate change issues to your congregations.
  • Raise the issue of climate change and global warming with your elected representatives. Canada has pulled out of its Kyoto commitments because we as citizens have not made it priority for our politicians.
  • Lead by example! Encourage others in your social circle to adopt carbon neutral practices and educate them on possible alternatives.

Like many of the environmental issues that face us today, collective action plays a key role in alleviating the problem. Becoming more aware and educating others goes a long way in changing carbon-intensive behaviours that could adversely affects us as a society in the future. Irregardless of the faith, we all have a collective role to play in ensuring a safe and healthy planet for future generations.

Allah, in His Wisdom, appointed humans… to be His vice regents on earth. And while Allah has invited people to partake of the fruits of the earth for their rightful nourishment and enjoyment, He has also directed them not to waste that which Allah has provided for him—for He loveth not wasters. (Muslim World League)


Climate Change: It’s a Muslim Problem

By Sameer Zaheer

When one thinks of Muslim problems, places like Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan pop in the mind. Perhaps, Somalia and Darfur, if one reads beyond headlines. Certainly, Muslims in those areas are afflicted, but together these areas represent only a fraction of the Muslim world. However, there are a set of problems that affect a vast majority of Muslims in the world. One of these problems is climate change.

Climate change will adversely affect the world and Muslim majority countries are no exception. Decreased food production, as well as the melting of Himalayan glaciers and rise in sea levels will affect the lives of millions of Muslims. Economic difficulties, natural disasters and creation of refugees (due to disasters) can often disrupt the stability of a region. In fact, climate change has the potential of igniting armed conflict in much of the Muslim world.

Modern day climate change, sometimes called global warming, corresponds to the general increase in the earth’s temperature. Such a change will cause sea levels to rise (because of thermal expansion of water and melting of glaciers), and will alter the distribution of precipitation. Catastrophes such as flooding, drought, spread of disease, desertification of previously fertile areas are being predicted as a consequence.

Impact of climate change on the Muslim world Climate change will adversely affect the world and Muslim majority countries are no exception. Decreased food production, as well as the melting of Himalayan glaciers and rise in sea levels will affect the lives of millions of Muslims. Economic difficulties, natural disasters and creation of refugees (due to disasters) can often disrupt the stability of a region. In fact, climate change has the potential of igniting armed conflict in much of the Muslim world.

Decreased food production Since 1980, increased temperatures have already been causing a reduction in the global yield of wheat, maize and barley. The 2009 Report of the Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED) warned of depletion of agricultural land and spread of disease (e.g. malaria) in Arab countries.

Melting of Himalayan glaciers An increase in the melting rate of the glaciers of the Himalayas can have devastating impact on Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, home to 1/3 of the global Muslim population. Indeed the Indian Space Research Organization has reported shrinking glaciers, and a recent study found that the temperature there had increased 2.2 ◦C over the past 20 years. Subsequently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has predicted increased flooding over the next 30 years, and then a sharp reduction in the water supply that feeds these three countries.

Rise in sea levels The AFED reported that 12% of Egypt’s farmland is at risk due to rise in sea levels, while another UN study suggests 8 million people will be displaced in Egypt if the sea level rises by just 1 meter. A rise of sea level by a foot, which could happen as early as 2040, would render 12% of Bangladesh’s population homeless. The risk of rise in sea levels presents an even greater problem in island Muslim countries. Indonesia, the largest Muslim country, announced in 2007 that it could lose about 2,000 of its 18,000 islands by 2030. The problem is so bad in the Maldives, another island Muslim country, that the current government is considering purchasing land to relocate the country’s entire population!

Causes of climate change Modern day climate change is attributed to a number of factors, but one stands out above all others: increased greenhouse gasses as a result of human activity. Since the Industrial Revolution humans have been releasing an increased amount of greenhouse gasses such as CO2 and methane at an unprecedented rate. This only accelerated in the post-world war II period. While there are many sources of emissions, burning fossil fuels has caused 75% of these emissions over 20 years.

It’s sad that there are many who deny either global warming, or the human cause of it, or both, despite the scientific evidence. The current evidence on climate change was assessed by IPCC and hasn’t been challenged by any national or international scientific body.

While Western countries contribute disproportionately to the problem, the rest of the world isn’t without blame. As of 2006, China and India were amongst the top 10 CO2 emitters, while on a per capita basis, the top four emitters were Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Bahrain. And while Indonesia doesn’t directly emit a lot of greenhouse gasses, its destruction of its lush rainforests is making a huge contribution to CO2 emissions, since trees soak up carbon dioxide when they’re alive. Greenhouse gas emissions, the chief cause of climate change, are a problem worldwide.

What we can do about it Many approaches can be taken to solving the problem of climate change, and no one approach is necessarily superior. Let’s look at how we can use Islamic principles of simplicity, foresight, dialogue and prayer to tackle the problem.

Simple lifestyle If we look to the Sunnah of the prophet (peace be upon him), we see that he lived a lifestyle that was in accordance with the resources available, and one that did not exalt him above others. His bedding was crude, and he had few spare clothes. According to one report, there was hardly a day when the prophet had two square meals. During the digging of the trench, he starved just like the rest of his companions. Of course, the prophet’s intention was not inflict pain upon himself, it was only to conform his lifestyle with both the resources available, and so that his lifestyle was similar to everyone else.

Yet one of today’s problems is that some of us are consuming far more than others. These over consumers, then, tend to have a bigger carbon footprint (a measure of CO2 emissions per person). This overconsumption can be seen in our desire to constantly buy everything and waste much of it once we’re done. It can be seen when some of us will drive everywhere, instead of walking, biking, or taking transit as much of the world does. Ask yourself: if the prophet knew that much of Muslims and mankind was living with limited means, would he engage in such an extravagant lifestyle?

Foresight Whilst in prison, Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him) was inquired of the interpretation of a dream. He explained that there would be seven years of prosperity followed by seven years of famine. He then advised that the surplus food production during prosperity be saved to make up for the deficit during famine. Prophet Yusuf was advising people to not just focus on the short-term but also on the long-term.

One of the biggest excuses given for the lack of action on climate change is that it will harm our economy today. While it is true that cutting greenhouse gas emissions today is not the best for our economy, we can’t ignore the catastrophic consequences of such inaction upon our future. This useful lesson for our leaders can also be applied to our every day lives. For example, buying energy saving appliances today will help reduce the change in climate tomorrow, not to mention the savings in electricity costs.

Dialogue The Qur’an tells us to call upon people to do good, and for them to shun wrong. While this is an obligation upon everyone, Canadian Muslims are in a unique position for dialogue. As Muslims, we can influence the ideas of the Muslim world. Many of us are immigrants, and still have close ties with our family in our native countries. We can use these ties to educate them about the issue. But we also have ties to influential people. For example, Dr. Tareq al-Swaidan, who often visits Canada and speaks to Muslims here, is also influential in Kuwait, which is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gasses per capita. Perhaps Muslims can have dialogue with the eminent scholar so that he raises awareness for the issue in his native country.

As Canadians, we can lobby our leaders and politicians to adopt policies aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We can raise awareness about the issue by organizing talks, distributing literature, using social networking and in many other ways. Finally, we can act as good role models for everyone else by reducing our own consumption. There are many Muslim activists in Canada protesting against wars in Palestinian territories and Afghanistan. It’s high time we started protesting against greenhouse gas emissions.

Prayer In the Qur’an, Allah asks us to call upon Him in prayers and He promises to answer them. Given that mankind is dependent upon Allah in every way, we certainly won’t be able to stop climate change without our Creator’s assistance.

However, our prayers need to be accompanied by action. The prophet always made prayers, but he also strove in his missions as hard as could. We, too, need to work hard to fight climate change, while asking Allah for help in this noble endeavour.

After all, the Qur’an says: “Verily, Allah does not change the condition of a people unless they change their inner selves.” (13:11)

Sameer Zaheer is a Master's Student in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Toronto and currently writes for The Muslim Voice. Engineering has taught him the value of sustainability, and Islam has taught him to always remember those less fortunate than him.

Originally published online on March 21 2012 in The Muslim Voice, a publication of the University of Toronto - Muslim Student Association  (