The British charity MADE in Europe launched its eco-award scheme for mosques earlier this month, the first initiative of its kind, with an event featuring some of the country’s most influential Muslims.
More than 150 people gathered at the Ecology Pavilion, Mile End, to hear a host of esteemed speakers discuss the importance of environmentalism in Islam, and what British Muslims can do to reduce their carbon footprint.
The event, titled ‘Signs For Those Who Reflect; The Forgotten Sunnah’, is the latest step in the Green up My Community! campaign which MADE in Europe is running with FEMYSO across Europe.
The campaign is aimed specifically at educating and galvanising Muslims to become more eco-friendly in their choices of food, transport, and clothing. Given the risk of extreme weather conditions in homelands including flooding, droughts and typhoons, British Muslims of Asian and African descent have a close connection with climate change and the current environmental crisis.
MADE in Europe’s eco award scheme, developed with the support of the City Bridge Trust, provides a framework for mosques in the UK to work towards becoming more environmentally sustainable. Several mosques have already started taking action including East London Mosque, Palmers Green Mosque and Al Manar Mosque.
At the launch event, journalist Myriam Francois-Cerrah said: “We do get overly focused on minor issues and have not been concerned with the greater priority of protecting the environment. We see in the Qu’ran how elevated the natural world is, compared to our traditional cost-profit conceptions of it, and this awareness of the divine nature of creation implies that we should protect it.”
Shaykh Shams, an expert in Islamic Law, and one of the founders of Ebrahim College, offered a theological point of view on the importance of mosques taking action on the environment.
“Islamic principles teach us to shun the idea of living a life defined by materialism, in favour of one where we are less interested in the trappings of wealth, and more interested in moderation in every aspect of our lives,” he said.
Each of the attendees received a free copy of the “Green Up My Community!” Campaign Toolkit - an in-depth booklet that expands on the event’s key issues of local environmentalism, and contains the eco award scheme - and many were vocal in their support for the ideas raised by the panel.
Others discussed methods of raising further awareness in their own communities, and expressing their wholehearted support of the eco-award scheme for mosques.
Other highlights of the event included a short animation detailing the direct environmental and ethical impact of consumerist lifestyle choices – such as eating factory-farmed meat or buying from retailers tied to sweatshop labour - as well as spoken word poetry from MADE in Europe’s Shehroze Khan.