From Rockstars to Recycling: Interview with Kristiane Backer – An Eco-Muslimah

“For me green living is part and parcel of being a good Muslim- it’s a spiritual requirement.”

Kristiane Backer has undergone various transformations in her life but none as big as the move from a rock and roll lifestyle as MTV reporter, interviewing the Rolling Stones and Lenny Kravitz, to an Eco-Muslimah promoting the green message of Islam.

A fateful meeting with famous cricketer Imran Khan at the pinnacle of her success in the late ’90s, drew her attention to Islam and also the realization that something was missing in her life. Inspired by the message of the Qur’an, travel to Muslim countries and the beauty of Sufi poetry, she decided to become a Muslim. Kristiane, who recently launched a campaign which highlights the Prophet’s respect for the environment, took time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions about what it means to be an Eco-Muslimah.

You recently launched the ‘Inspired by Muhammed’ campaign, how do you feel that Islam’s green message will encourage a more positive and balanced understanding of Islam?

KB: Islam’s message is so strong and clear when it comes to preserving the environment and respecting nature, these are inherent values of our faith. I think knowing this will at least make people think because the ecological crisis affects everyone. And any set of ethical principles that encourage green living, has to not only be respected but also looked into and encouraged for the common cause of saving the planet or living a life pleasing to God.

Tell us some of the core green principles inspired by Islam.

KB: Nature is God’s creation and a sacred space so respecting it is akin to charity- it is a way of remembering God. There are hundreds of verses in the Qur’an that speak about the earth, nature and its resources which tells us that the earth is a trust and we are its stewards which is a role we must fulfill responsibly.

The Prophet Muhammad was sent as a mercy to all creation, including animals and plants. He had a very close relationship with nature. He taught us to observe the elements, to marvel and draw teachings from the nature around us. And he emphasized that we must be careful in using its resources, not to waste water even if standing next to a running stream and if the last hour comes and we have a sapling in our hand that we should plant it.

That means till the very last moment we need to have hope and be involved in the renewal of life.

People’s relationship with nature are governed by an ethical and spiritual understanding of nature as God’s Creation and must be based on contemplation and respect. Even in war he taught us to respect nature.

How does Islam influence your personal environmental-awareness and day-to-day lifestyle?

KB: I try to live as environmentally conscious as much as possible- I recycle, hang my washing out weather permitting and cycle around my area. For me green living is part and parcel of being a good Muslim- it’s a spiritual requirement.

Do you think that environmental awareness in the Muslim world is lagging in comparison with the rest of the world? What could be done to change this?

KB: Yes! I think there are many more efforts to develop renewable energy in Germany for example than in the Muslim world. I think Muslims are largely ignoring this part of our faith. I went to the gulf the other day and was shocked to see many empty sky rises with all the lights on.

I think we need to realize that a green consciousness is equivalent to God consciousness. Living green is living according to God’s commands. Once we realize this, insha Allah (god willing) the rest will follow.

Kristiane Backer

There are certain environmental activists who argue that the practice of Hajj (air travel) and the Muslim world’s dependence on oil is incompatible with green principles. Would you agree?

KB: Well, the whole world is dependent on oil and urgently needs to develop sustainable energy as well as cutting it’s use of oil and other natural resources because it will run out. We are all in the same boat and need to collaborate for the common good, according to the Qur’anic principle: compete with one another in good deeds. I am sure ways could be developed to make the Hajj more environmentally conscious.

Finally, If you could get all Muslims to do one thing for the planet what would it be?

KB: Several things: Less pollution, more clean energy and much more respect and care for nature and animals.

Okay, so Kristiane slightly cheated and got more than one wish but who could blame her! Green Prophet want to thank her for taking part and hopefully we’ll be hearing from more Eco-Muslims across the world in future.

::Kristaine Backer’s Website

Read More on Green Islam:
Cambridge to Build Europe’s First Eco-Mosque
“Inspired by Muhammad” Is Islam’s Green Message to Break Terrorism
Tips for a ‘Greener’ Muslim Wedding
Water Conservation Values in Islam
The Muslim World Wants to Green Hajj

31 thoughts on “From Rockstars to Recycling: Interview with Kristiane Backer – An Eco-Muslimah

  1. Salman

    @David
    Did you ever reed what the Prophete did telling us about other things?
    He didn’t talk just aboud green environement.
    Reed de sentences of Muhammed en then can you tel us that.
    He gived to the woman , children en everthing hoe does living on this earth rights.
    An example, Prophet does NEVER touching a women ( beting of hearting ),
    and he sed , if someone of us does making mistake againt sombody [ muslim, kritain , juif, of other religion , its doesn’t mather where you come from of what you beleving in], God wil never vorgiving hem, until he apologized to the man/woman.

    Reply
  2. Al

    pretty hilarious that anyone would offer a “MTV presenter” as an example of a mentality we ought to pay serious attention.

    That experienced-in-how-biz Briton, Alfred Hitchcock, wrote: Actresses are cattle.

    Reply
    • Tafline Laylin

      Hey, Al: have you ever seen Kristiane Backer in action? I’m guessing probably not. Besides, I’d rather listen to what she has to say, given her message of peace and integrity, than pay any kind of attention to the misogynistic mentality that you are proposing. (I mean, what else can you call a person who refers to women as cattle?)

      Reply
  3. Aman Ul Haq

    Islam is the universal religion and believe in the well being of humanity. Prophet Muhammad ( Peace be upon him) always preached the message of love and peace. During battles when armies moved on a large scale he always instructed to avoid destroying crops and the trees.Islam even orders not to waste water even if you are sitting on the bank of a river. This whole universe is running according to a ecological balance and every human being should work together to save this earth for the future generations.

    Reply
  4. Sufipoet

    A precious stone wrapped in dirty pile of rags. Islam is the precious stone. Muslims the dirty pile of rags. Difficult to convince the value of the stone when they can only see and smell the rags. Muslims must clean/replace theses rags so that others can see the precious stone. – Quoted from a wise sufi master. Ramadhan Mubarak and May Allah’s love be channelled through you to all your loved ones.

    Reply
  5. Sufipoet

    what do the following have in common? Nazis, Hitler, Afikaan Apartheid regime, Ku Klux Klan,Reverent Paisley, Spanish Inquisition, Paedophile Priests, Anders Breivik, Serbians. Answer: They are all Christians! Fortunately, we don’t (and should never) blame Christianity for the acts of these people – their acts aren’t Christian-like. In the same way, please don’t judge the BILLIONS of muslims by the un-islamic acts of a few Muslims.

    Reply
  6. zalloum

    yah sure, Islam urged to take care of the environment around us, not to cut trees or waste water (even if we were on a running river)… Islam asked for all of this but forgot to ask not to KILL CHRISTIANS and bomb their churches…. don’t you tell me about Islam, i thank God everyday i had the COURAGE to leave it, though my BLOOD is shed now… who cares, i am a free man now! my mind is free to think, i don’t have to follow the rules, i simply follow my heart and mind

    Reply
  7. gzeini

    realy proud as muslim..the important thing all idea is from quran as moeslem. the question why all muslim is not innovator of all technologiest, scientist and develoveper nowdays, how difficults to find idea and develope it to find eco-environmental .

    Reply
  8. Umoja Abdul-Ahad

    As-Salaamu-Alaikum and Greetings:

    Al hamdulilah finding this information about our ummah being involved as environmental stewards, Allah u akbar!!!

    This is our web site http://www.IRecycleCampaign.org and all that view it can contact us at:
    PROJECT 2000, INC.
    614 West Hill Avenue, Suite 9B
    Knoxville, Tennessee 37901
    umojaabdulahad@yahoo.com
    (865)384-8054

    A BIT OF HISTORY:
    We have been educating and organizing public housing citizens about the VALUE & RESPONSIBILITY of GREAT ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP through and by RECYCLING for two decades.
    85% of Knoxville, Tennessee’s public housing residents became active recyclers; PROJECT 2000, INC. then transferred our technology to Durham, N.C. and Washington, D.C. getting 75% of the public housing citizens in those cities to recycle.

    We are planning and working to make our region “THE RECYCLE CAPITAL OF THE WORLD”!!
    JOIN US WITH YOUR DU’A & SUPPLICATIONS and pass our web site to other, insha’Allah.

    JazakhuimAllah karium.

    LET’S RECYCLE!!!

    Your brother in Islam,
    Umoja Abdul-Ahad, Executive Director
    PROJECT 2000,INC.

    Reply
  9. Helen Smiley

    I too am an ECO-Muslimah of 6 years, 911 is when I looked into Islam while a devoute Jehovah’s Witness of 30 yrs. I studied Islam to explain to people that feared Islam and Muslim’s, at the time of 911 I was working for a Muslim Dr. that was not in any way a terrorist and I too wanted answers to the accusations. Two years later I converted to Islam. Allah guided me to Islam and invited me to Hajj the end of that year, it was a faith strenthening experience.

    As an organic farm producer in my past, I am now in the commercial business to raise and process Halal organic livestock production, for I beleive in both my Islamic obligation of being a stewart of the blessings of our earthly envirionment and our Halal dietary requirements, our Prophet Mohammad(PBUH)recommended Halal meat because it would be clean and healthy for us. Today Organic Halal meats are truly Sabiha Halal because it is clean meat. Free from chemicals, hormones and pesticides and humanly handled and slaughtered properly by the sharia law.

    A 2 cents to the way woman are treated and the behavior of Islamic society around the world, is due to the cultures and their lack of Islamic education, and their ears and eye blinded by their lack of love and respect for the true teachings of Islam and the life of our beloved Prophet(PBUH). Islam is a beautiful religion if it’s practiced
    properly.

    Helen Smiley
    Texas International ECO-Farming Inititive, Inc.

    Reply
  10. Alan Kochavi

    “Finally, If you could get all Muslims to do one thing for the planet what would it be?”

    I think that I would have put elimination of “honor” killings, degradation of women, barbaric punishment such of cutting off hands and stoning to death for adultery, ethnic cleansing of Christians in Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine, mutual slaughter of Sunnis and Shiites, hatred of Jews, holocaust denial, persecution of the Bahai and Zoroastrians, “blasphemy” killings in Pakistan and jihadist ideology – a little further up the list.

    Reply
  11. David

    I’m glad that the prophet had a great regard for the environment. Too bad he didn’t have such regard for the rights of women, children, homosexuals, Africans, Jews and anybody in general who did not accept his message of peace and submission.

    Reply
  12. Hassan

    Some of the views expressed against Kristiane’s presentation smacks of prejudice.They are dissappointed that a muslim is not keeping to the stereo-type view expected of her.
    Please keep-on the good work Kristiane,dont be discouraged.

    Reply
  13. kamel

    @jubran killing the Christian in Iraq is wrong , what about the millions of Muslims killed since the invasion it doesn’t mater what religion you flow killing people is not what Islam is all about

    Reply
  14. Nadia

    Amazing, are you sure you talking about Islam?? So human right abuses, environmental degradation, animal cruelty, filty/human excrement in streets, noise pollution, lack of recycling/reusing, overpopulation, mediavel violence against women, stifling artistic creativities, etc.. etc.. in Islamic countries,under the banner of TRUE ISLAM (AND THAST IS TRUE ISLAM, not your Protestant version of it)must be an Israeli/CIA conspiracy. Islam is like Communism, sounds good on paper and from a distance, living under it is another story. I forgive you, you have just found sliced bread and you are excited, spare a thought for the millions who are not lucky enough to be A WESTERN CONVERT MUSLIMAH. Noone is cutting your nose and ears, or throat with a blunt knife. The day people swim across seas, pay pirates and struggle to reach Islamic countries for starting a new life, I MIGHT, repeat MIGHT give it a glance.you only visit the darkness/prison when it suits you. People like you make me feel sick in the stomach. Go and live in Afghanistan as a native for a while then we will talk.

    Reply
  15. Sulaymaan Cherif

    Bismillah,
    We are very proud to be our sister in Islam and to tell people about the prophet attention to the nature and the animals, it’s so nice of you and kindness of your speeches how you explain to the people de beauty of Islamic religion by given the words of the prophet muhammad how to protect the environment and to be good to the other either human being or animals.
    We thank you for your wonderful interview and the good attention to this religion by explaining to the world how your life change not up down but by the love of Allah from down to up with the iman and the truth coming from your mouth, again you are our sister and we need more sisters and brothers to enjoy islam and we ask Allah to open the people heart to become muslim and enjoy the beauty of this religion and spread the words of peace to others.
    May Allah protects you and give you more light and iman in your life to guide others to the right light of Allah.
    Salaam
    Your Brother
    Sulaymaan Cherif
    Albany, New York,USA

    Reply
  16. berrital ahmed

    chere soeur j’étais vraiment touché par tes paroles sur l’islam et par ta vraie comprhension de l’islam du vrai Islam et non pas de l’islam diffusé par les mass média européens qui font de lui une religion de terrorisme. quand je t’ai écouté à al jazira entrain de parlerde l’islam j’étais vraiment touché à tel point que j’ai compris que j’ai rieen fait pour cette religion que Dieu le Très Haut nous a dédié.j’espère bien avoir l’opportunité de participer à la traduction vers le français de ton oeuvre.

    je te souhaite bonchance
    cordialement

    Reply
  17. mourad

    peace be upon you dear sister,i had been lesten to you in aljazeera channel, your story had realy astonished me. your words about islam had deeply touched my feelings welcome to islam, from now on you are my sister.

    mourad from morocco

    Reply
  18. tariq

    Hello ,my dear sister ,i had beeb listen the conversations in jazeera prgram ,i so brout of you ,i thanks god for you ,so iam very pleaure and happy for our story of islam ,so i ahve to say for you something ,my hope of life to translate the islam for all people in the whole world,you have to work hard for that and i wish our god help you for knowing the real islam,and greates prophent mohammed for all people in the world.
    yours brother from sudan….tariq-living in k.s.a-riyadh

    Reply
  19. jubran

    hello i want ask you ?whatyou think about thousnds of christans in iraq were killed in 7years only because they are christian.and more than 250000 others they leave iraq and more than 50 cherch are distroyid . and i want to say i swer in god no any christian has done any worng agenst any body or any muslim .please iam weating your answer

    Reply
  20. Julie Kinnear

    The true is that we all are very dependent on oil. To cut down this dependency on oil is going to be slightly difficult. We will have to try to do our best, anyway… I agree that we have to pay much more respect for nature and especially water – the major sign of life.

    Reply
  21. Ms Rianne C. ten Veen

    Good on her! (and it was nice meeting Kristiane live as facilitator at ‘Islam & Environment’ debate hosted by the Radical Middle Way earlier this month; disclosure: I was one of the panelists). In peace, Rianne

    Reply

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