People of Abrahamic faiths including Muslims attended a trail-blazing first national conference of its kind in Brisbane on 14 March addressing the global environmental crisis, identifying religious teachings as underpinnings of humanity’s role and how we need act to protect Earth upon whose health our own wellbeing depends.
The main message stressed that we live in one of the wealthiest countries but need to discharge the high duty God delegated to us as Custodians caring for Earth.
However, the market-dominated system promotes consumption of more goods than we need for a happy sustainable life. We should return to the simpler lifestyle exemplified by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (s).
Presidents of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC), Dr Ratib Jneid, and the Islamic Council of Queensland (ICQ), Habib Jamal, graced the event and gave their valuable insights.
Dr Jneid announced that he would be launching AFIC’s new Climate Change Policy in Canberra on 23 March.
An array of well-informed speakers addressed a diversity of topics.
Former sustainability advisor to the New York Mayor, and charismatic author of “Green Deen”, Afro-American, Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, was the first keynote speaker. He spoke on the problems of climate change resulting from ‘extractive’ modern economies and provided some solutions including sustainable built environments.
Engineer Peter Rooks followed with the Climate Reality “Truth in Ten” presentation developed by Al Gore, former US Vice-President, providing the scientific underpinning that while we face the reality of a human-induced climate crisis “the solutions are at hand.”
Second keynote speaker presenting via video, was Professor Odeh Al-Jayyousi, from the Arab Gulf University, Bahrain, and Member of UN’s Advisory Panel for the Global Environmental Program: “Islamic civilisation contributed in the framing of what constitutes a good life (Hayat Tayebah) as manifested in Waqf (trust funds) and Hima (protected areas) system.
The dominant global economic model which is founded on consumerism and an extractive economic model has led to high ecological footprints and the environmental crisis.
Islam should be viewed as a worldview and way of life to address the ecological crises. Islam offers a new perspective for defining sustainability and progress based on social justice.
What is important in this vision is to expand human empathy and optimism.”
Dr Daud Batchelor addressed the seminal question whether population growth or excessive consumption is the main culprit causing the global environmental crisis.
He convincingly demonstrated that the main driver is unrestrained appetites in advanced capitalist and rapidly industrialising economies, that contribute by far to anthropogenic carbon emissions.
Reverend Peter Moore, Chair of AngliGreen, spoke on “A Christian view of Creation and human responsibilities.”
Christians believe humans are given dominion over creation, to care for and live in harmony with it, and believe scientific evidence that humans are responsible for our failures and need to change to limit harm and reverse the damage caused.
Marks of Mission of the Anglican Communion include: “To strive to safeguard integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.”
Imam Ahmed Naffaa spoke on “The Role of Islam in Protecting and Saving the Environment” and identified solutions that Islam promotes including ‘walking gently’ on earth (reducing eco-footprints), reducing waste (israf), living moderately (wasat), treating God’s creatures with mercy (rahmah).
Living a sustainable life means recognising and respecting the perfect balance (mizan) in which Allah created the universe and living in balance with the natural world.
A Workshop most capably conducted by Mark Delaney, showed how individuals can make lifestyle changes to reduce their own carbon footprints.
The event was co-organised by the ICQ and supported by AFIC, ICQ, Council of Imams Queensland, The Climate Reality Project – Australia and The Pacific, Australian International Islamic College, Australian Religious Response to Climate Change www.arrcc.org.au , the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and the Griffith Centre for Interfaith and Cultural Dialogue.
Rita Markwell, Mohammed Hayat and Professor Shahjahan Khan moderated segments of the programme.
The conference was organised by a dedicated band of volunteers as an initial step towards establishing a new organisation dedicated to researching and resolving major issues from Islamic perspectives and through engaging the Muslim community.
It is anticipated that a dedicated subcommittee will carry forward to implement a number of the conference initiatives.
Participants agreed on a number of Resolutions, including that:
- The Conference recognises that the world is in a climate emergency.
- We encourage all levels of governments in Australia to recognise the climate emergency.
- It requests leaders and members of Mosques and Islamic Organisations to create awareness about the seriousness of climate change and educate and encourage Muslims to play active roles in the light of Islamic teachings – to reduce our carbon footprints and wasteful consumption.”
The ‘Time for Action’ is here and now.