Need some ideas to help inspire Muslims on environmental issues? Here are my ten top tips…
As much as I’d like to tell you that there is an easy and foolproof way to capture the imagination of every Muslim when talking about the environment, the reality isn’t so simple. Sadly, there’s no magic formula to dazzle every Muslim into going green or at least I haven’t found it yet! Fear not though, intrepid blogger, because there is something you can do to improve your chances of firstly tapping into a Muslim readership and secondly, encouraging them to green their way of life.
1. Do Your Research- While no one expects you to be an expert in Islamic jurisprudence, a basic understanding of Islam and Muslim culture will help you when you are writing or blogging. Doing your research about the topic you’re discussing and referring to Green Islamic principles will show the reader that you’re serious about green Muslims and consequently they’ll take your work seriously.
2. Do Keep Things Varied- From news, reviews and interviews keep things interesting with a diverse range of blogs that reflect the diversity of the Muslim readership. Remember to appeal to them on lots of diverse topics- whilst faith shapes many Muslim lives, they still have interests and passions so if you can appeal to them in these areas you will have a better chance of success.
3. Do Celebrate Green Successes- Highlighting the existing work of Green Muslims is an important aspect of blogging for a Muslim audience as it will appeal to them directly and also show them that there is a well established link between environmentalism and Islam. This will also help you build networks with the leading green Muslims. Just remember to ask them to keep you updated with exciting goings on and other Green Muslims worth talking to!
4. Do Use Social Media Networks – Sites such as Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook are vital for keeping ahead of the news, getting in touch with people and even getting pictures to use on the your blogposts. As evidenced by the recent Arab revolutions that made the most of the social media networks, the Muslim world really is online- so make sure you’re signed up and are kept updated.
5. Do Ask For Advice- If all else fails, just ask. We all learn through each other, so if after scouring the Internet you’re still not sure about a topic or issue then it may be worth dropping someone an email. The online Muslim community is pretty friendly and there are lots of people out there willing to help or at least try and help you.
6. Don’t Rely On Islamic Verses Alone– The green roots of Islam should be a starting point onto other aspects of the environmental movement and ways to green the Muslim way of life. If you are just going to repeat the reasons Muslims should be environmentally friendly according to the Qur’an and hadith over and over again, it’s going to get very boring and repetitive very quickly. Trust me.
7. Don’t Be Rude! – No, I am not talking about sex and swearing (Muslims are just open to these are the average person!) but certain topics which Muslims will be more sensitive about. Whether you’re reporting on topics such as the pilgrimage of Hajj or poisoned holy water, remember to apply a little bit sensitivity and care.
8. Don’t Be Afraid To Tackle Controversial Topics– Debate and discussion are at the heart of every blog so embrace controversial topics and remember that nothing is off-limits if it is done with care and is backed with research. There will inevitable be some topics that must be approached with care when blogging for Muslims but that doesn’t mean that they should be ignored altogether.
9. Don’t Preach– Avoid the temptation of seeing blogging for Muslims as an opportunity to teach them about being green and instruct them how to live their lives. This is a two-way street and there is probably a lot you can learn about being green from Muslims themselves. Listen out for their feedback and comments (you’ll be surprised how well informed some of your readers may already be) as these will also help you judge what blogs and topics attracted their attention and which ones don’t.
10. Don’t Forget To Have Fun! After all these do’s and don’ts I just want to remind you the blogger to have a little fun with it all, add your own personality and flair to your blogs and stay positive. Engaging with Muslim audience will put you on a steep learning curve which is as fun as it is hard work- you can expect a lot feedback and encouragement, so good luck!
Green Deen: What Islam Teaches About Protecting The Planet by Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, Berrett-Koehler Publisher, November 2010.
199 Ways To Please God by Rianne ten Veen, Upfront Publishing, May 2009.
Animals in Islamic Tradition and Muslim Culture by Richard C. Foltz, Oneworld Publications, December 2005.
The No Nonsense Guide to Islam by Ziauddin Sardar and Merryl Wyn Davies, New Internationalist, 2007.
Forum on Religion and Ecology- Islam Section: http://fore.research.yale.edu/religion/islam/index.html
Alliance of Religions and Conservation- Islam Page: http://www.arcworld.org/faiths.asp?pageID=6
Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences- http://ifees.org.uk/
:: Image via place light/Flickr.
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