Greening Hajj and Madina for the Muslim World

sustainable hajj

Hajj is either starting or it’s already over, and millions of participants have returned to their countries of origin or are starting to prepare to travel to Saudi Arabia.

But even before the pilgrimage began, representatives of major world religions met in London to try to use the power of faith to help reverse the effects of climate. Muslim leaders who were present at the November 3rd meeting, brought with them the idea of turning the Arabian holy city of Madinah into a green oasis; not only for future pilgrimages but as an example to the Muslim world to abide by the principles of Islam which is said to instruct Muslims to protect the earth.

The London event called Faith Commitment for a Living Planet, met at Windsor Castle, and speakers included UN Assistant Secretary General Olav Kjorven, HRH Prince Phillip, Nigel Savage, founder of the environmental Jewish charity Hazon, and others representing various religious faiths, including Islam, Sikhism and Hinduism, Taoism, and various Christian faiths.

Muslims in attendance brought with them ideas to create a number of green cities in Saudi Arabia, beginning with Madinah; according to an address by the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Mufti Ali Gomaa,  who told the audience that a number of measures are to be taken to improve the city’s environment, including reducing exhaust emissions for public transport, and reducing the number of plastic bottles used by pilgrims by improving the quality of tap drinking water.

We’d written last years already about the fast train to Hajj to reduce congestion and pollution.

“Pollution and global warming pose an even greater threat than war; and the fight to preserve the environment could be the most positive way of bringing humanity together”, said Mufti Ali Gomaa.

As we wrote earlier this year, there was much concern that this year’s Hajj pilgrimage could result in large scale outbreaks of contagious diseases such as the H1N1 flu virus; which was fortunately not as serious as Saudi health officials feared, due to a number of precautions taken before and during the week-long event.

In regards to making cities like Madinah more environmentally friendly, solving the transport problem in and out of the two main holy cites of Mecca and Madinah may be greatly benefited by the completion of a planned high speed train network which will link both locations with the main arrival and departure cities of Riyadh and Jeddah that will help reduce to large numbers of busses and private vehicles which carry pilgrims to and from the holy sites.

The Windsor event is said to have been one the major events dealing with climate change prior to the upcoming Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, otherwise known as COP 15,  scheduled to begin today.

Even though various projects have already been created in the Kingdom in regards to improving the environment, it should be pointed out that Saudi Arabia is still one of the world’s major suppliers of petroleum oil which is said to be one of the major causes of global warming and climate change.

It is without doubt that this will be brought up during the COP 15 Climate Change Conference next week (Lebanon’s IndyACT will probably be on the scene); and both Saudi religious and governmental leaders (including the Saudi Royal Family) should be aware of this fact when instituting measures to make cities like Mecca and Medinah more green.

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