(Image credit marantzer)
Last Thursday fifty Muslim clerics gathered in Umm el-Fahm for a conference to raise awareness regarding environmental issues among imams. The first of its kind, the conference was an important stepping stone in improving the quality of the environment in Israeli-Arab towns.
Organized partially by the director of Environmental Quality Unit Northern Triangle and long term environmental and social activist, Mohammad Rabah Aghbarieh, the event was held at the Umm el-Fahm Science and Art Center.
In addition to helping organize the conference, Rabah Aghbarieh prepared materials together with the Environmental Protection Ministry that every imam took home. These materials included a poster with an outline of basic environmental guidelines to be hung in his mosque, stickers stating that environmental protection is a religious commandment, and a CD containing sources from the Koran and hadith supporting environmental issues, general environmental information sources, a movie about the ministry, and other informational resources.
This CD, which Rabah Aghbarieh worked on for a year, is unique in that it is currently the only resource of its kind for educating Muslim congregations. Environmental Protection Ministry Haifa District head Robert Reuven plans to send it both all over the country and all over the world so that the green message can effectively reach Muslim communities everywhere.
Rabah Aghbarieh himself, who declared the conference a success, said that “the conference’s purpose was for the imams to acquire skills, and we achieved that. They came, they received the materials and they were given a platform to raise their concerns with the environmental protection minister.”
Gideon Ezra, Israeli Environmental Protection Minister, made an unscheduled appearance at the conference and held an open Q&A session with the imams in Arabic for over an hour.
Environmental issues discussed at the conference included noise pollution, construction waste, sewage treatment, and water pollution. Some imams also expressed concern over the proximity of their villages to chicken coops in neighboring Jewish communities.
To hear an audio clip of an khutbah (Islamic sermon) by Imam Zia ul-Haque (based in northern Texas) about the connection between Islam and the environment, follow the link (the audio clip is in both Arabic and English).
Read more prophecies about the connection between religion and the environment, read The Qu’ran on the Environment and the Eco Rabbi series: