We celebrate the Muslim environmental campaigner and green activist Ayman Ahwal (right) who passed away last week
I think it’s fair to say that Ayman Ahwal was not your average Muslim. A British Muslim convert, he worked tirelessly to support tree-planting projects in Indonesia, campaign for clean streets in his hometown of Birmingham in the UK and also joined the multi-faith convoy to Copenhagen. He was always ready to spread the word on Islam’s green principles and was a green Sufi Muslim to look up to. I am sad to say that I never got a chance to meet or speak to Ayman Ahwal, yet his legacy amongst many Muslims will live on.
He converted to Islam in the late 1960’s in the Moroccan desert following years of extensive travels and living in the wilderness. He told EcoIslam Magazine in an interview in 2008 that the time he spent wandering the desert made him aware of the interconnectedness of life and death and all nature. He also charts his love for the environment from his conversion to Islam: “My love of the environment, combined with horror at the way it’s being abused, began with Islam. When living with traditional Muslims living close to the land, I perceived a harmony between men and nature that I had not seen before.”
Although an advocate of the many ways that Islam can help protect nature, he was also disappointed at the lack of environmental awareness many Muslims showed. As he explains: “To be complete (insan al kamil) a Muslim should be as conscious of the natural environment as he is about other temporal preoccupations, as well as his nafs (ego), his ehsan (striving for excellence) and his ibadat (worship). The environment is about loving the Earth. To serve the people is to love Allah; to manage the Earth wisely is to love Allah.”
The following video is one of the few and most recent recording of Ayman Ahwal speaking at an event on the beauty of nature and duty of humans to protect it and preserve it from harm.
Here are some of the online reactions:
Sofial Jamil, Founder of ME: Muslims and the Environment
It was indeed a great privilege to meet the man himself during the 2010 World Islamic Economic Forum in Kuala Lumpur. I loved the way he was all fired up at our table during lunch and saying his piece to the guy sitting next to him (who happened to be working for an oil palm company… hehehehe.). May Allah Bless his Soul.
Sidi Ayman Ahwal was a remarkable human being. An environmental campaigner, globetrotting activist and a profoundly humble, spiritual man. He was as comfortable in the threatened rainforests of Aceh planting trees as he was addressing budding environmentalists at an inner-city church. He was indefatigable with boundless energy and a glint in his eye that told he was a few steps ahead of the rest.
:Image via Podnosh/Flickr.
For more on Green Muslims see: