Events

Interfaith Guided Hike

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Khaleafa.com is a proud supporter of the upcoming Greening Sacred Spaces - Guided Hike. This interfaith stewardship activity will delve into the spiritual perspective on environmental and ecological stewardship. Spaces are limited, so sign up early to avoid disappointment. Join Greening Sacred Spaces for a guided hike at Taylor Creek Park! Conveniently located near the Victoria Park subway station and free of admission, this exciting event welcomes young adults from every faith background.

On this hike, you can look forward to guides from different faith communities and former members of the Don Watershed Regeneration Council. Religious leaders will address the following questions: “How does your faith articulate the need for stewardship of water and trees? How is that reflected in contemporary society?” You can also expect to participate in stewardship activities such as mulching, weeding, and picking up litter. Refreshments will also be served!

The hike will begin promptly at 2:00 pm at the Victoria Park subway station. Please wear closed-toe shoes and long pants. It is also advisable to bring a hat and a reusable water bottle.

This event is sponsored by Greening Sacred Spaces.

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One Million Trees Campaign

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Help Evergreen improve wildlife habitat in Mississauga by joining us to plant native trees and shrubs in the Applewood Greenbelt!

Saturday, May 31 10am–noon

A planting demonstration will be provided, along with gloves, tools, and light refreshments. Event will run rain or shine. Please dress in weather-appropriate clothing, including sturdy (closed-toe) footwear, and bring a water bottle.

Evergreen supports the City of Mississauga's One Million Tree Campaign and will be entering the plant information on their behalf.

Location and Meeting Place: Applewood Greenbelt is located Southeast of Eastgate Pkwy and Tomken Road in Mississauga, and is accessible from Willowbank Trail between Lee Drive and Highgate Place. An Evergreen representative will meet you on the north side of Willowbank Trail. See map for more information.

If driving, parking is available along Willowbank Trail, as well as in designated areas along the other residential streets. Transit, cycling, walking or carpooling is encouraged. For a transit route near you consult the Mississauga Trip Planner.

Sacred Science and the Environmental Crisis

Dr. Nasir By: Muaz Nasir

This past weekend marked the 12th annual Reviving the Islamic Spirit Conference in Toronto, Canada. The conference brings together academics and scholars from across the world and engages participants in lectures ranging in topics from civic engagement to environmentalism from an Islamic perspective.

This year Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasir, prominent author, researcher and lecturer at George Washington University, spoke on the issue of Sacred Science and the Environmental Crisis. For several decades Dr. Nasir has called for the revival of the sacred sciences and has written extensively on the paradigm shift needed on how we interact with nature. Some highlights from his lecture have been summarized below.

The contrast between sacred and modern science is great, but not mutually exclusive.

  • Sacred science refers to a field of study that is rooted in the ancient sciences and refers to a world that is rooted in the divine.
  • Sacred science includes a hierarchal universe at the metaphysical level, such as Angels as referenced in the Quran. Modern science however is the negation of other forms of reality and reduces it to the singular sense. This leads to a universe that is truncated and eventually to a disassociation with nature.
  • Modern science does not deal with the nature of things as they are but interacts with it from a particular world view. In the west, the foundation and goal of science is power compared to the Islamic perspective which is wisdom.
  • This idea of power and control over nature is derived from an experimental design that is based on the controlled experiment rather than through observation alone. This creates a particular way of understanding nature through control.

Western science has inherent limitations that can only be overcome by incorporating the sacred sciences.

  • Modern science is not based on how nature is, but how it is controlled. The foundation of modern science begins with the denial of the non-quantitative aspect of reality which reduces nature to aspects such as force, distance, weight or measure.
  • All other factors such as colour, form or beauty are deemed as subjective and how we immediately react with the world is disqualified under the guise of modern science.
  • Modern science operates completely without the necessity of God and creation is decreed as irrelevant even as a hypothesis. We praise this science without even thinking what it means for Islam and without regard for the ethical/social ramifications.

The globalization of the idea of western science as the only way is destructive

  • Before modern times many societies cultivated science and held it to include the integration of pure/applied sciences with the social and spiritual constructs that incorporated faith.
  • Science was always related to the divine (sacred sciences). Human reason never operated independent to the presence of God.
  • Nature was always considered to be created and sustained by God  (to be an ayat or sign of God) and the Quran includes many messages appealing to the phenomenon of nature.
  • The secularization of the sciences has removed the ethical and social component and has yielded a narrow vision of how the field is applied.

The environmental crisis is real and is inextricably tied to the spiritual crisis the world is facing

  • Many acknowledge that there is an environmental crisis but do not make the connection that this is often tied to an inner spiritual crisis and our perception of the natural world.
  • The Islamic sciences need to be revived from an intellectual level where traditional knowledge is taught authentically and in a manner that integrates societies together.
  • The environmental crisis is an external sign of an inner crisis within ourselves. The externalization of the spiritual crisis within modern humanity cannot be solved without the removal of this inner crisis and coming to peace with God.

You can find more information about Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasir, including a complete listing of his lectures, courses and books on his website.

Interfaith Gardening Initiative Empowers Youth

Seeds Project Graphic Although it may not feel like we are entering the final stretch of April, Spring is definitely in the air and gardeners across the country are eager to get the planting season underway.

Faith communities are also making preparations for their community gardens and are busy incorporating religious and spiritual teachings into the design and cultivation of their plots.

In keeping with the spirit of faith-based community engagement, Seeds, Sprouts & Scriptures: The Jewish-Muslim Youth Planting Project is set to take place on April 28, 2013.

This unique workshop will provide an opportunity for youth in both communities to connect with their spiritual roots and explore the ecological framework that are common in both the Muslims and Jewish traditions.

The goal of the event is meant to facilitate a discussion between both communities - to help Muslims and Jewish youth connect with their roots by planting seeds and learning more about what their traditions have to say about environmental repair.

The hope is that this initiative will help spark a commitment to meaningful dialogue, cooperation and sustainability among Jewish and Muslim youth.

“Exploring the natural world helps us see how deeply connected we all are, both to other humans and to all forms of life, big and small,” explains Shari Golberg, facilitator of the workshop. “I think that for many people, the intricacies of nature are signs of the divine imprint in the world, which is an idea repeated throughout the Quran.”

Sabrina Malach, Director of Community Outreach at Shoresh adds, “If a person believes in a Creator, then they likely acknowledge that nature is part of the Creator's creation. Nature is G-d's work and humans manipulate it for better or worse. When we are in contact with nature, we are arguably, closer to the Divine Creator.”

The workshop is divided into several portions, including a textual background of the religious scriptures, small group discussions about the teachings, and a creative planting component meant to apply the lessons learned.

The interactive format is meant to bring together the two communities around their shared beliefs and strengthen their connection to nature.

“The Prophet Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him, emphasized that human beings are stewards of the earth; our responsibility is to care for her well-being and all of the creatures that live here,” says Asma Ali, Outreach Director at the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) which is collaborating on the event. “We want to follow his example and adhere to his teachings, which is why we participate in these important initiatives.”

MAC has been a pioneer in implementing green initiatives at their centres and schools and has performed green audits and implemented recycling and waste reduction programs in a number of their buildings.

In 2010-2011, Olive Grove School was selected by EcoSource to be a “Green School” and the Rose City Islamic Centre has planned and budgeted for the installation of solar panels on its roof.

“Our plan is to foster environmental conscientiousness in our youth who will become leaders of our centres and activities in the future. We would like them to implement stewardship projects throughout our activities in the future, God-willing,” Asma added.

Those interested in participating in the workshop are encouraged to sign up online at: http://multifaith.utoronto.ca/Events-And-Programs/Seeds,-Scriptures.htm

The Seeds, Sprouts & Scriptures: The Jewish-Muslim Youth Planting Project workshop is a collaborative effort between Shema and Iqra': The Jewish-Muslim Text-Study Project, Shoresh: Jewish Environmental Programs and The Muslim Association of Canada, with the support of the University of Toronto, Multi-faith Centre. Khaleafa.com is a proud sponsor of this initiative.

 

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Muslims across the world to celebrate Earth Day by ‘Greening their Deen’

Mosque Entrance By: Muneeb Nasir

(April 14, 2013) – Muslims across the world will be encouraged to ‘Green their Deen’ on Friday, April 19th, 2013,  as religious leaders will deliver a sermon as part of the Annual Green Khutbah Campaign  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,” Muaz Nasir, the publisher of the Canadian environmental website, Khaleafa.com and one of the organizers of the campaign, told IQRA.

“This year’s ‘Green Khutbah Campaign’ challenge is to request all Muslims to commit to the 3 C  action plan – to consume less,  conserve more and care for the environment,” Nasir added.

The Campaign was launched last year and saw Imams across the North America and Europe deliver a message that reminded their congregations of the Qur’anic message to be stewards of the earth and its environment.

The ‘Green Khutbah Campaign’ commemorates Earth Day which will take place on April 22 and the organizers are hoping to extend the campaign to other Muslim communities across the world.

The Campaign has been picked up in other parts of the world with Muslims in Thailand and South Africa pledging to deliver a ‘green’ Khutbah.

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.

Environmental concern among the global public is on the wane, according to a GlobeScan which tracked public concern on six environmental issues in its annual Radar global poll.

The poll found that across eighteen countries, public concern about water pollution, fresh water shortages, natural resource depletion, air pollution, climate change and biodiversity loss is way down from its peak in 2009.

“The period since 2009 has witnessed the most sustained period of economic strife in most of the world’s major economies for the better part of a century,” wrote GlobScan’s Director, Sam Mountford, in an article on GreenBiz.com. “And bluntly, for many citizens, these appear to pose a much clearer and more present threat to their well-being than environmental jeopardy, which for most people remains hidden from view.”

However, 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,” 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 Khaleafa.com (www.Khaleafa.com/greenkhutbah) to support the campaign and Islamic organizations and well-known leaders are throwing their support behind the initiative.

Muneeb Nasir is a well-known community activist, writer and public speaker on religious and societal matters and is highly respected for his knowledge and involvement in religious and current affairs.

He is the Managing Editor of the online magazine website, Iqra.ca, which provides a Muslim perspective on current issues  and a freelance contributor to a number of online web sites. He was the Managing Editor of the IMPRINT newspaper and Editor of the community magazines, AN-NUR and Al-Basheer

Photo Credit: peanut99

Green Khutbah Campaign 2013

Go Green GK Assalaamu ‘alaikum, wa Rahmatullah, wa Barakatuhu,

The annual ‘Green Khutbah Campaign’ has been scheduled for Friday, April 19 2013, InshaAllah, to coincide with Earth Day 2013.

We are kindly requesting you to join the campaign and encourage your Imam and Khateeb to devote their Friday Khutbah on this day to celebrate the blessings, graces and beauty of all of Allah’s creation and to raise awareness on the environmental challenges facing humanity.

The ‘Green Khutbah Campaign’ is aiming to challenge Muslims to become stewards of the environment by making changes to their daily routines.

Although the evidence of environmental damage is stronger than ever, the public is starting to tune out due to the recent economic crisis and a lack of political leadership.

But Muslims cannot tune out from the environmental damage - tuning out would mean that we are disregarding our moral responsibility to Allah’s creation.

Those who violate or abuse the Trust are described in the Qur’an as those who corrupt, degrade and bring ruin on earth (mufsidin fi’l-Ard). The corrupters (mufsidin fi’l-Ard) abuse the Trust (amana) and are in clear contrast to what Muslims must be - the stewards of the earth (khulafa fi’l-Ard).

This year’s ‘Green Khutbah Campaign’ challenge is to request all Muslims to commit to the 3 C  action plan:

1) Consume less, 2) Conserve more and 3) Care for the environment

Please visit the website, http://khaleafa.com/greenkhutbah/, for more information and where you will find links to resources which can provide you with sample Khutbahs and resources to engage the congregation.

Please let us know if your Centre will join the campaign and if you will be delivering a Khutbah on the environment on Friday, April 19th, InshaAllah.

We kindly ask that you sign up your Mosque/Center for the ‘Green Khutbah Campaign’ by responding through the form on the website; all participating Imams, Khateebs, Mosques, Centers and supporters will be listed on the website.

Wassalaamu ‘alaikum,

Muaz Nasir

Publisher/Editor – Khaleafa.com

 

Canadian Muslims join millions worldwide for Earth Hour

Earth Hour By: Muneeb Nasir

Canadian Muslims marked Earth Hour on Saturday evening in Toronto with a candlelit dinner and conversation about climate change and the current state of the environment.

“Earth Hour is a global movement that unites individuals in protecting the environment,” Muaz Nasir, Founder of the Think Green Khutbah Campaign and Khaleafa.com, told IQRA.

“The simple action of turning off the lights raises awareness of broader environmental issues that affect us now and have implications on future generations.”

The event, themed Lights OFF – Earth ON, was organized Saturday, March 23, by the up-and-coming civic engagement group, CivicMuslims, and the Muslim Students Association at the University of Toronto and held at the University of Toronto’s Multi-Faith Center.

It featured a showing of the popular short documentary, The Story of Stuff, and presentations by a number of environmental leaders in the Canadian Muslim community.

“To celebrate our organization’s first year we couldn’t have asked for a better event that brings this many people together to celebrate Earth Hour,” Mohamed Awad, Founder of CivicMuslims told IQRA.

“We’re spending a candlelit evening together and enjoying dinner but at the same time we’re learning about environmental issues and coming together over this cause.”

Earth Hour is a worldwide event organized by the World Wide Fund (WWF) and held towards the end of March annually.

Earth Hour first took place in 2007 and many other cities around the world adopted the event in the following year.

It aims to encourage households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour to raise awareness about the need to take action on climate change.

This year, it is estimated that people in more than 7,000 cities and towns around the world turned off lights for an hour from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. local time.

Toronto’s electricity demand is estimated to have dropped 205 megawatts, or roughly seven percent during Earth Hour.

This is equivalent to removing about 92,000 homes off Toronto’s electricity grid.

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Green Khutbah

The evening’s program began with a showing of The Story of Stuff, a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of production and consumption patterns.

Following the documentary, there were a number of short responses by panelists, Dr. Hind Al-Abadleh, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Associate Director of the Center for Women in Science at Wilfrid Laurier University; Afeefa Karim, Assistant Director of the Regenesis Project; and Aasiya Hussain, Founder of Ecohesian Inc. and Site Coordinator of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup at Finch Meander in Rouge Park.

“A consumer-based society, our business as usual activities, are forcing the natural equilibrium to shift in one direction only and that is the direction of depletion and pollution and weakening the whole system from self renewal and self recovery,” said Dr. Hind in response to the documentary.

“In doing so, we’re compromising our health and well-being and also compromising our future generations to meet their needs.”

Afeefa Karim, Assistant Director of the Regenesis Project, asked the audience to be aware of the effects of a consumption based culture.

“One of the most dangerous aspects of consumerism is its ability to create, sustain and impose norms on every aspect of our lives, from norms of how we should dress to norms about how we should work or about how we should feel, norms of social interaction, spending lifestyle etc,” she said.

“Be sure that we remember that it is not the material things, like the actual cell phones or computers that we have that are good or bad, but it is the priority that we have and the role that we accord them that is problematic and we need to be very critical of that.

“The theme of this event was devoted to environmental and social impacts of consumerism and the panel touched upon the importance of re-evaluating our purchasing habits and taking into consideration the entire lifespan of these consumer goods,” said Nasir, the founder of the Think Green Khutbah Campaign.

“There are several references in the Quran that warn us against waste and consuming in excess.”

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The annual Green Khutbah Campaign was also launched at Saturday’s evening event.

“The goal of the Campaign is to raise awareness of environmental issues within the broader Muslim Community,” said Nasir who founded the Green Khutbah Campaign last year.

“On Friday April 19th, 2013, imams are being requested to deliver a Khutbah on an environmental topic to raise awareness on the challenges facing humanity.

“We look forward to the second year of CivicMuslims and we hope to have more initiatives like these to raise awareness about issues in our community,” added Mohamed Awad, Founder of CivicMuslims.

Muneeb Nasir is a well-known community activist, writer and public speaker on religious and societal matters and is highly respected for his knowledge and involvement in religious and current affairs.

He is the Managing Editor of the online magazine website, Iqra.ca, which provides a Muslim perspective on current issues  and a freelance contributor to a number of online web sites. He was the Managing Editor of the IMPRINT newspaper and Editor of the community magazines, AN-NUR and Al-Basheer

Lights OFF – Earth ON: Candlelit Dinner & Convo

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Happy One Year Anniversary CivicMuslims! Celebrate with us at : 'Lights OFF - Earth ON' : a candlelit dinner and conversation in honour of Earth Hour. Turn off the lights at home and join in on a fun evening filled with food, reflections on protecting our planet, a short film screening, and connecting with great people over a delicious catered dinner from Paramount.

Confirmed speakers: Mohamed Awad, Founder, CivicMuslims Muaz Nasir, Founder, Green Khutbah Campaign

Event is open to all, so bring your family and friends and enjoy a candlelit dinner and a fun evening together. The catered menu features grilled meats (shish tawook and kefta), falafel, salads, hummus and appetizers.

Get your tickets now before they're gone!

Thank you to the UofT MSA for making this event possible.

To purchase tickets, please visit: http://lightsoffearthon.eventbrite.ca/

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.

Transportation:

  • 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.

Energy:

  • 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.

Food:

  • 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)

 

Let’s put ‘Eco’ back into Economics

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By Hind Al-Abadleh

On Wednesday October 17, 2012, environmentalist Dr. David Suzuki and economist Jeff Rubin brought their eco tour to Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo.  I had the pleasure of being among the hundreds who attended the evening, which was entitled “End of Growth: How to Achieve a Truly Sustainable Future”.  The event was hosted was CTV Provincewide’s Daiene Vernile.

Rubin is one of the first economists to accurately predict soaring oil prices back in 2000.  He started by reflecting on the histories of previous world recessions post World War II and told the audience that all laws of economics point to the fact that when oil and coal prices reach 3 digits a barrel or a tonne, we’re basically feeling the contours of the growth limits of world economies.  This translates to world economies slowing down not because the tap is closed on these natural resources, but because world economies can’t afford to continue to grow with prices in the three digits.  This is good news for the environment, he said, because when world economies slow down, they combust less, and emissions go down.  Rubin elaborates on his analysis in his latest book, The End of Growth.

Following Robin, Dr. Suzuki spoke and expressed his excitement for sharing the stage with a “real economist”.  As always in his unique and inspiring style, David reminded the audience that with the number of humans as a species, their over-consuming behavior, the nature of the global economy they invented, and the use of technology, humans on this planet have become a ‘force of nature’.  He said that our priorities are screwed: instead of working to protect the very elements that make us alive (air, water, and soil), we use them as dumpsters for the toxins generated from our efforts to grow and protect the ‘economy’.  He stressed that a paradigm shift is needed where humans recognize that they are dependent on nature and can’t afford to think of themselves as superiors any more.  He ended by saying, “Let’s put ‘Eco’ back into Economics”, and shared his observation that many young people are investing time and energy into urban farming and examining the sources of the food they eat.  In his latest book, Everything Under the Sun: Toward a Brighter Future on a Small Blue Planet, David articulates his hopes for the future and offers solutions to environmental challenges.

After addressing few questions from the attendees, Laurier’s president Max Blow reflected on what was said in the evening, and thanked the speakers for their thoughts and insights that align with Laurier’s vision to ‘inspire lives of leadership and purpose’.

At the end of the event, Daiene Vernile told the audience that both gentlemen agreed to come for an interview at Province Wide on Sunday October 21, 2012.

Dr. Hind Al-Abadleh is an associate professor of Chemistry at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, ON.  She could be reached via email: halabadleh@wlu.ca

Photo credit from The Canadian Press

 

Waste Reduction Week 2012

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This week Canadians across the country are marking Waste Reduction Week and are challenging their schools, businesses and governments to rethink how they consume and what they discard. The goal of the campaign is to engage and empower Canadians to reduce, reuse and recycle waste and calls on consumers to adopt more environmentally conscious choices. With many landfills in this province approaching capacity, reducing or eliminating waste is one solution to many of environmental challenges such as the loss of natural resources and water pollution.

"Each Canadian throws out about 1670 lbs. or the weight of over 8 adult men every year, and communities are struggling to find ways to dispose of that waste—much more than other countries of Canada's size and wealth," says Jo-Anne St. Godard, Spokesperson for Waste Reduction Week in Canada and Executive Director, Recycling Council of Ontario. "Waste Reduction Week is a campaign that asks Canadians to rethink what we buy, examine how we live and consider what we dispose of to landfill."

Reducing waste is inherent within the Islamic tradition. There are numerous references in the Quran that warn against all types of waste from food, to money to time.

O children of Adam, take your adornment at every masjid, and eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He likes not those who commit excess. (Surat Al-'A`rāf, 7:31)

 

Indeed, the wasteful are brothers of the devils, and ever has Satan been to his Lord ungrateful.( Surat Al-'Isrā', 17:27)

The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) also cautioned against wasting time, something that may not be as material but important nonetheless.

“There are two blessings which many people do not make the most of and thus lose out: good health and free time.” (Bukhaari)

So what can you do to establish waste-reduction habits? The Waste Reduction Week Campaign provides resource kits for schools, businesses and governments. Some of the suggestions provided by the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council include:

  • Buy only what you need. Before you buy any item, ask yourself if you really need it, or could you make do with what you already have?
  • The "throw-away" convenience of some products is not worth the environmental price that is paid. Avoid paper towels, plates and cups, throw-away lighters and razors, and disposable diapers. Purchase the multi-use alternatives instead.
  • Buy durable, long-lasting goods. Initially the cost may be higher, but in the long run you can save.
  • Buy for the contents, not the container. Some packaging is necessary — you can't carry flour home in your hand — but these days many products have unnecessary or excessive packaging.
  • Many things around the house can be saved and reused — string, plastic containers, glass containers, gift wrap, shopping bags. If there are things you can't use, consider giving them to others who can.
  • Instead of throwing it out, fix it up! Repair broken toys, furniture and appliances to extend their useful life.
  • Share with neighbours and friends those large expensive things that you use only once in a while, such as lawn mowers, other gardening equipment, and tools.
  • 20% of the food we buy ends up in the garbage. Keep track of what you've got on hand so that you use groceries while they're still fresh.

Collectively we all have a responsibility to ensure that we minimize waste and ensure that the blessings of Allah are not taken for granted. By evaluating our purchasing and consumption habits, it becomes easy for us to identify and change our behaviour, and safeguard our resources for future generations.

Waste Reduction Week in Canada is organized by a coalition of non-governmental, non-profit groups and government organizations from each of the 13 provinces and territories across Canada.

Photo credit from AmsterSam

The Story of Stuff

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This month, Noor Cultural Centre will be hosting a weekly reading and discussion series based on the highly-acclaimed book "The Story of Stuff" by Annie Leonard. The book follows the release of the thought provoking movie that traces the life cycle of consumer products and examines the resulting environmental impacts from a comical perspective. Considering a study released last week found Canadians waste 40% or $27 billion worth of food annually; this discussion series is extremely relevant.

This four-part series will cover the contents of the entire book, with each session consisting of a recap, analysis and discussion of the material

Dates: Sundays October 21, 28; November 4, 11 Time: 11:00 am - 1:00 pm Location: Upstairs Classroom, Noor Cultural Centre Admission (per session): $5/Program

Session 1: October 21 Reading: Introduction & Chapter 1 (Extraction)

Session 2: October 28 Reading: Chapter 2 (Production) & Chapter 3 (Distribution)

Session 3: November 4 Reading: Chapter 4 (Consumption) & Chapter 5 (Disposal)

Session 4: November 11 Reading: Epilogue & Appendices

This program will be facilitated by Khadijah Kanji, Program Coordinator at Noor Cultural Centre.

Toronto Mu­­­­slims join National Environmental Cleanup

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Greater Toronto Area Muslims came out on Sunday to take part in a national environmental program, the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, joining with other citizens who are seeking to reduce the harmful effects of litter on fragile aquatic ecosystems and their surrounding shoreline environments.

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“Shoreline cleanups are important because they are a tangible means to mitigate pollution, reduce threats to wildlife and ecological health, and reconnect people with nature to help keep our shared waters sustainable,” said Aasiya Hussain of Ecohesian Inc. and Site Coordinator of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup at the Finch Meander site.

At the Finch Meander in Rouge Park, located in the north-east of the city, a number of Muslim groups collaborated in the environmental cleanup, including CivicMuslims, Khaleafa.com, Canadian Muslim Fellowship of Scouting, Islamic Institute of Toronto and Pickering Islamic Centre.

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During the cleanup, participants removed harmful items from the shorelines of the Rouge River’s Finch Meander, near the north end of The Metro Toronto Zoo off of Old Finch Ave E, and recorded the type and amount of litter they collected on data cards.

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“From our rivers, to our lakes, to our oceans – water connects us all – and as Canadians, we have a strong connection with water,” added Aasiya Hussain. “Our nation has the longest shoreline in the world, 20% of the world’s freshwater, and 7% of the world’s renewable freshwater supply – we’re also blessed with breathtakingly beautiful and essential natural capital.”

In 2002, the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup emerged as a national program, providing all Canadians the opportunity to make a difference in their local communities.

Meanwhile, a group of students from the University of Toronto came out to another site at Cherry Beach to take part in the Shoreline Cleanup as part of a monthly program at the university that seeks to actualize virtues through a community service project.

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“Our Shoreline Cleanup was organized by the Multi-Faith Centre and Volunteering with Virtue, with help from a number of other organizations, including Common Ground Project, Hillel, Muslim Students’ Association, and Faiths Act, UofT,” said Ishraq Alim, one of the organizers.

Volunteering with Virtue is a once-a-month project that brings together students and youth of different faith backgrounds to discuss common virtues and to work together on a community service project,” added Alim. “This month’s theme was Environmental Preservation.”

Following the cleanup, the students reflected on the day’s project.

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“We discussed what we came out of the event,” said Ishraq Alim. “Some students were quite impressed at the efforts of Toronto Parks Services at keeping the beaches clean, while others were quite surprised by the level of small and unusual items that were left on the beach, such as cigarette butts, drinking straws, personal hygiene material and a coconut.”

Shoreline Cleanups started appearing in every province and territory, and by 2011, the Shoreline Cleanup celebrated its 18th anniversary with more than 56,000 volunteers.

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Over the following years, the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup has continued to expand its reach and influence, aided by the support of sponsors, donors, and partners, such as WWF Canada, who became a full partner of the Shoreline Cleanup in 2010.

Today, it is recognized as one of the largest direct action conservation programs, as well as the most significant contributor to the International Coastal Cleanup in Canada.

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In the west end of the Greater Toronto Area, Muslims also took part in the shoreline cleanup.

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“Faith of Life Network and Sayeda Khadija Centre volunteers were at Meadowvale Conservation Park last Sunday to participate in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup,” Imam Dr. Hamid Slimi told IQRA. “More than 60 volunteers showed up and cleaned up the shoreline.”

“The efforts of today’s volunteers and supporters were inspiring, bringing together government officials, ENGOs, civil society, the corporate sector, educational institutions, and faith-based communities” said Aasiya Hussain. “Our collective efforts became a tangible means to keep our shared waters and environment sustainable, while leaving a positive national legacy for generations to come.”

 

Water - A Sacred Resource

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Gray skies could not keep attendees away from the recent Greening Sacred Spaces event entitled Water – A Sacred Trust. The event held this past Thursday at the Islamic Foundation of Toronto drew over 50 attendees from a variety of congregations and faith groups. The goal of the seminar was to rekindle our connection towards the sanctity of water, provide proactive tips that faith groups can use to increase awareness within their congregations and to optimize the overall water efficiency within our homes and institutions.

Speakers at the event included Adrian O'Driscoll, Supervisor of Stewardship & Outreach Education at the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, Stan Gibson, Executive Director of Ecologos and Muaz Nasir, Program Officer from Toronto Water.

The seminar opened with a screening of the documentary One Water. This movie explores the value different cultures place on this resource, celebrates our relationship and analyzes some of the impending water issues. The film contrasts areas of the world where water is in abundance to regions where it is dangerously low and presents the issue of water quality. This was followed by an interactive discussion facilitated by Stan Gibson who encouraged the attendees to consider their personal relationship with water and the meaning of water to humanity.

Adrian then followed with a presentation covering the components of a watershed and why it is important to protect it. His demonstration on how much water is actually available to us compared to the volume of water on the planet resonated with the audience who were quick to point out that we are losing freshwater from the melting icecaps to the saltwater of the oceans. He also addressed stormwater runoff, sources of pollution that enter the natural system, and some of the community outreach programs available to residents and community groups.

The final presentation was from Toronto Water and provided proactive tips that congregations and homeowners could implement to improve water efficiency. He also provided resources that could be used as educational aids within their institutions and described some water conservation examples that faith groups could incorporate into their religious practices.

The seminar was well received with many more tuning in to watch a live stream of the event.

If you missed the seminar, you can watch a taping of the webinar and download the water efficiency slides at:

Water – A Sacred Trust Webinar Part 1

Watch live video from Islamic Foundation of Toronto on Justin.tv

Water – A Sacred Trust Webinar Part 2

Watch live video from Islamic Foundation of Toronto on Justin.tv

Water Efficiency Presentation Slides

Photos

A special thanks to CivicMuslims and Ecohesian Inc for their promotion of this event.

 

Rouge National Urban Park: How You Can Help

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By Aasiya Hussain - Environmental ethics are inherent in Islam, and we’re blessed with the opportunity to fulfill this sacred trust with a natural gem right in our backyard; Rouge Park.   Rouge Park encompasses 10,000 acres (over 40 km2) of protected park land in the Rouge River, Petticoat Creek and Duffins Creek watersheds of the Greater Toronto Area.  It is 5,000 acres  south of the Oak Ridges Moraine and is the only region linking the Ontario Greenbelt to Lake Ontario in the City of Toronto.  With this landscape, Rouge Park provides an essential natural corridor and is now home to one of Canada’s last remaining Carolinian habitatsrare and vulnerable species, a provincially significant geologic feature, 10,000+ years of human history, and is a source of our drinking water.

Located in Canada's most densely populated region, Rouge Park offers an oasis that reconnects urban communities with nature and outdoor recreation.  Among these communities is a significant Muslim population residing in the Rouge, along with members of Canada's beautifully diverse multi-faith and multicultural social fabric.

As Rouge Park becomes Canada’s first national urban park, it needs our collective help now more than ever.  Please help leave a positive Canadian legacy that protects the Rouge's ecological health, natural capitalnatural and cultural heritage, and the rights of people in this region, including Canada’s Aboriginal peoples. Opportunities include:

Sept. 1,  2pm & Sept. 29, 9:30am  Rouge Park's Guided Walks. Explore the splendour of Rouge Park while replenishing your mind, body, and spirit.

Sept. 15: Tour de Greenbelt in Rouge Park.

Sept. 22: Friends of the Rouge Watershed's community tree planting in Bob Hunter Memorial Park, Rouge Park.

Sept. 23, 2:30pm: The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup at Finch Meander in Rouge Park. Help keep our waters and natural environment healthy and sustainable.  Spots are limited, please reserve yours by pre-registering today.

From now until Oct. 8, 2012: Help create The Rouge National Urban Park by reviewing the Park's concept and submitting your feedback on-line to Parks Canada before their Oct. 8, 2012 deadline.  Amplify your voice by sending a letter to your leaders for support.

Additional Resources:

UPDATE (October 10, 2012):

The following public meetings are now taking place to inform and seek input from residents regarding changes in the Rouge:

1)      October 11, 2012 from 6:30-8:30pm: Beare Road Park Master Plan Public Meeting at Blessed Mother Teresa Catholic High School.

2)      October 15, 2012 from 7:00-9:00pm: Rouge National Urban Park Community Meeting at the Scarborough Civic Centre.

Aasiya Hussain is an environmental steward, community catalyst, and award-winning socio-environmental entrepreneur. Her journey includes reconnecting people with nature as a certified hike leader and leading innovative conservation, stewardship, sustainability, and community development initiatives across Canada and abroad.  She is dedicated to collaboration for the common good and building bridges towards greater understanding.

Paint the Town Green

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Human Concern International Youth Action Program has teamed up with Amel Youth to host a unique initiative to raise awareness of environmental issues in the Middle East.

Paint the Town Green is a boat cruise that will host dinner and entertainment while sailing up the Ottawa River. This fundraiser will support a tree plantation project in Lebanon and will work towards improving the environment and living conditions in the Middle East.

This initiative has been youth-driven as both organizations felt that more could be done to improve the natural environment in Lebanon. Tree-planting was chosen as the preferred project because it tackled both air pollution and the urban heat effect whose impacts are compounded from a lack of tree cover within the cities.

Lebanon suffers from having an extremely low forest canopy and ground level pollutants such as particulates, ozone and nitrogen oxides are a reoccurring problem in the predominantly mountainous country.  Part of the issue stems from the dependency on cars as the primary form of transit, with the transportation sector consuming approximately 45% of the total petroleum products imported into the country. Daily-motorized trips within the Beirut area alone are expected to reach  5 million by 2015 while the total suspended particulate concentration in the air exceeds safe levels by as much as four times.[1]

There has been impetus for change though.

A 2010 Pew Global Attitudes survey found that Lebanon ranked third at 71% in the world in terms of the percentage of citizens who believe climate change is a very serious problem, up from 41% in 2007. Seventy percent also indicated that they were willing to protect the environment even if it slows growth and costs jobs.[2] This project builds upon a growing sentiment within the country that protecting the environment is crucial to securing the country’s future.

Depending on the feedback received from this initiative, the Youth Action Program will be looking at forming future partnerships with other non-governmental organizations to promote environmental projects and awareness throughout the Middle East.

For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit Paint the Town Green.

Human Concern International

Amel Youth

 

Upcoming Event: Water - A Sacred Resource

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Water plays an instrumental role in the foundation of many of the world’s religions. Whether it is used as part of ritual cleansing and purification or embraced as a symbol of growth and fertility, the concept of water management and conservation is integral to the religious practices of many faiths.

In Canada we are blessed with an abundance of fresh water and enjoy relatively easy and reliable access to it. This convenience however has allowed us to become disassociated with the true value of water as a life preserving force and a catalyst for growth both physically and spiritually.

Khaleafa.com is proud to support this initiative which will be taking place at the Islamic Foundation of Toronto on September 20 2012. The goal of this seminar is to rekindle our connection towards the sanctity of water, provide proactive tips that faith groups can use to increase awareness within their congregations and optimize the overall water efficiency of both our homes and institutions.

Admission is free and the event will be broadcast live online. Please RSVP at: waterasacredresource.eventbrite.com

Community Planting Initiative Supports Local Food Bank

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The ISNA Youth Food Bank Committee and the experts from EcoSource partnered up for the first ISNA Mosque Community Planting Day this past Saturday. The joint venture took place at the Iceland Teaching Garden in Mississauga and involved weeding the community garden, mulching and tilling the site and planting vegetables for the upcoming season. Participants also learned about planting techniques, integrated pest management and the importance of locally grown, organic produce.

Despite the rain in the morning, spirits were high among the youth who volunteered their time and energy for the project. The event was also attended by CivicMuslims, a grassroots initiative promoting civic engagement, who also contributed towards the promotion of the event. Members from the general community were also invited to attend and dropped by throughout the day to show their support.

This initiative is part of EcoSource’s Growing for our Good program whose goal is “to build volunteers’ skills in organic and sustainable urban food production through hands on education.” The crop that is grown will then be donated to the Eden Community Food Bank through the Mississauga Sustainable Agriculture Project (MSURA). This project parallels the mandate of the ISNA Youth Food Bank, which has grown to serve over 150 families in the west end of the Greater Toronto Area.

For more information about the ISNA Canada Food Bank and EcoSource, please visit:

http://isnafoodbank.ca/

http://www.ecosource.ca/

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CAIR Canada joins Black Out Speak Out Campaign

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The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Can) has joined hundreds of organizations across the country in a single unified voice for Canada’s nature, for human rights and for democracy. Bill C-38 has come under fire from environmentalists, social interest groups, policy development organizations and think tanks for its overarching reforms to the Fisheries Act, the Species at Risk Act, the National Energy Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. The Bill also repeals the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act and dissolves the National Round Table on Environment and Economy Act, the only advisory body whose goal was to develop “sustainable pathways that help preserve our environment while building a strong economy.”

The Black Out Speak Out Campaign is part of a concerted effort by environmental organizations, charities, unions and others to darken their websites on June 4, 2012 in defence of nature and democracy. This symbolic act of solidarity is meant to raise awareness about the bill and actions concerned Canadians can take to inform their Members of Parliament and their party leaders.

For more information about the campaign, please visit: http://www.blackoutspeakout.ca/

 CAIR-CAN is a national, non-profit, grassroots organization striving to be a leading voice that enriches Canadian society through Muslim civic engagement and the promotion of human rights.

Greening the Ummah with ISNA

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The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Canada held its annual convention this past weekend in Mississauga, Ontario. This year’s theme was “A New Era Unfolds – Rising to the Challenge,” and the goal was to provide an opportunity to address the many issues and challenges relevant to our Islamic identity.

This year the event incorporated a green theme called “Green for ISNA, Green for the Environment,” which included environmentally friendly practices as well as topics covered in the lecture sessions. This was guided by three principles integrated into the planning process including: to reduce the amount of garbage produced, to choose ethically and to support local initiatives and talent.

Hospitality features included recyclable paper cups and plates and a pledge to utilize reusable products where possible. The organizers also supported local artisanship and businesses, and ethical fair trade gifts were selected as tokens of appreciation for the speakers. To reduce the amount of disposable waste, water-filling stations were made easily accessible throughout the main lecture hall to encourage the use of reusable water bottles.

This year one of the attending speakers was Dr. Fazlun Khalid, the founder-director of the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Science (IFEES) based in Birmingham England. Dr. Khalid has worked with the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and has traveled extensively to raise awareness through environmental education about the Islamic duty and perspective towards conservation.

His keynote address was entitled “The Environment and the Challenge of the Emerging Order” and was jointly presented with Elder Cat Criger; a teacher and mentor from the Six Nations People of the Longhouse. The goal of the session was to discuss the importance of preserving, fostering and respecting the environment through linking current issues with the traditional prophetic teachings and providing practical measures to live a more eco-conscious lifestyle.

Dr. Khalid opened by providing context of the environmental issues plaguing the planet from the growing tar sands projects in the Canadian west to shrinking rainforests in the developing world. Muslims represent a considerable driving force on the world stage and can play a significant role in finding solutions. However, this consciousness starts and an early age and he calls for environmental education to be incorporated into the Islamic curriculum so that the younger generation can instinctively view elements of nature as signs from Allah.

From an Islamic perspective, the Muslims response to the environmental crisis should incorporate four elements.

1)      Tawhid – Unity principle

2)      Fitra – Principle of natural state

3)      Mizan – The balance principle

4)      Khalifa – The responsibility principle

Recognizing that Allah created everything on the planet and that we are all interconnected is imperative in Islam. There is originality in creation; however there is also a pattern in design which is a sign of unity between humans and other animals. There is also the intellect that Allah has bestowed upon us, that enables us to recognize the balance of nature.  Over-exploitation and waste upsets this balance and disregards the bounty provided to us. We all have a responsibility to maintain the planet as stewards and will be held accountable for our actions towards it.

Elder Cat Cringer reiterated several of the common elements between Islam and some of the beliefs of the First Nations People. There is a deep respect for Mother Earth, as all provisions are offered from the natural environment. Many of the First Nations cultures form matriarchal societies that hold a deep reverence to the earth similar one holds towards their mother as a nurturer and provider. Prayers or offerings are made before going on a hunt or cutting down a tree to thank their spirit for this sacrifice and careful attention is taken not to exhaust the resource or waste any portion of the gift. Cringer closed by sharing their belief of honouring the sun as a reminder to walk “on a good path.” Just as the sun nourishes the planet, we should take care to spread this warmth as we go about our day. The spirit of Mother Earth is always present and sees your actions, so the sun is a constant reminder to do what is good and avoid what is wrong.