Green mosques are sprouting up all over the world. We brought news of the first eco-mosque in Cambridge, but now in the midst of the chaos and controversy surrounding the Ground Zero Mosque, organizers have revealed that the community centre will also be the first green-certified mosque in the US. The mosque, which has been renamed ‘Park51’ to reflect its green credentials, will be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, and in addition to building bridges between different communities, will spread the green message of Islam. Arwa spoke to Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, who first broke the news of the project’s environmental aspirations, to find out more.
Affront to 9/11
The plans to build a mosque in lower Manhattan have been dogged by problems and opposition from the very start. Some state that it is an affront to 9/11 to build a mosque so close to Ground Zero whilst others, including President Obama, have shown support for the project and the need to demonstrate religious tolerance and harmony.
Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, who announced the green aspirations of the project, is a local Muslim environmental organizer. He told Green Prophet that “The only information I have is that the organizers are committed to ensuring that this building is built according to LEED standards…What I do know now is that there are few green houses of Worship in NYC or around the country – so this would be a very pioneering effort and a model for all people of faith.”
Stewards of the earth
Author of ‘Green Deen: What Islam Teaches about Protecting the Planet‘, Abdul-Matin was eager to point out the oft-overlooked connection of Islam and environmental concern. Islam calls upon its followers to act as ‘stewards of the Earth’, to care for it and protect it from harm. However, this is not very well known amongst Muslims and non-Muslims alike, so the project creates an opportunity to spread that message and hopefully encourage better environmental awareness.
Abdul-Matin also pointed out that the mosque was more accurately described as community centre with a prayer space. “This is not just a mosque- it’s a community center. Think YMCA.” The new name ‘Park51’ is designed to remind people of this, as well as the fact that it will be green and open to the public.
Even so, there is still little information available about what level of LEED certification the project aims to achieve. Abdul-Matin added: “Right now, they are trying to dodge all this negative media attention and ensure that no other barriers are put up to the building plans. As soon as all of the building issues are cleared and actual construction begins, I will have more information about the efforts they plan to take and will be happy to share at that time.”
One of the major flaws of the LEED-certification highlighted in Grist is that it fails to take into consideration the location of the building site. Naturally, a building centrally located and well-connected to public transport is greener than one which is located in sprawling, car-intensive regions. However, Manhattan is well-known for being a compact, well-connected city, so this shouldn’t be an issue.
Whatever people’s opinions are of the Ground Zero Mosque, the news that it will be green is surely an occasion for all those who care about the planet to celebrate.
For more on Eco-Mosques and Eco-Islam: