British Muslims went green this past Saturday, as Muslims from all over London took part in a 100 km cycle ride from Mosque to Mosque. Muslims pray 5 times a day from dawn until dusk, and each “Salah” prayer constituted a different stop at some of London’s most iconic houses of worship, from the East London Mosque, all the way to the al Manar Mosque in West London.
The ‘Tour de Salah’ challenge, organized by MADE in Europe, forms part of a wider campaign called ‘Green Up My Community’ supported by the City Bridge Trust and aimed at increasing awareness of environmental issues, as well as sustainable practice within the Muslim community.
MADE is a grassroots organisation serving to empower young Muslims to make change within their communities, through campaigns and education.
The Green Up Campaign is targeted towards Mosques, promoting awareness of climate change and its effects, as well as working with the Mosques to become beacons of environmental justice through efficient waste management and water and energy consumption.
One of the Mosques looking to take an active role on the issue is the London Central Mosque in Regents Park, which co-hosted the first Muslim-led Eco Fair with MADE.
As the third ‘Salah’ stop on the map, this was an opportunity for people of all ages, family and friends, Muslims and non- Muslims, to gather for a day of fun and activities, and learn something new about the environment that we all share.
With Mosques like Harrow Central, Kingston Muslim Association and the Palmers Green Mosque taking an active part in the cycling challenge, the future looks promising as more follow suit.
Environmental sustainability has become a topic of great urgency in the last few decades, and was cited as ‘one of the most serious threats we face’ by UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron.
In the latest report by the UN, the effects of global warming were dubbed to be “severe, pervasive and irreversible”. UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon has called world leaders to mobilise on September 23rd to discuss their commitment to reducing carbon emissions.
UK Muslims will march for the climate
On September 21st, people from different walks of life all over the world, including London, will be taking part in a ‘Climate March’ to demonstrate to their respective governments just how seriously they want their leadership to respond to this imminent threat.
Skirting responsibility, “To some extent, it is understandable that the Muslim community is not leading the Environmental movement simply because the Muslim world in the modern era wasn’t at the forefront of damaging it,” comments prominent Muslim theologian, Sheikh Shams.
He doesn’t mention the Muslim world connection to oil, ironically.
“However, now that we are aware of the issue, given what our deen (religion) teaches us, given the teachings of our Prophet, we need to quickly catch up and get to the forefront because our rightful position is to be leading on all issues of preserving the environment,” he adds.
The UK’s Muslim Eco Fair boasted a range of activities and businesses, ranging from the pedal-your-own-smoothie bike, to organic and eco-friendly soaps and cosmetics, to Fairtrade cakes, solar-powered phone chargers, and upcycling workshops.
The Imam of the Mosque, along with Sheikh Shams who was also cycling the whole leg, both stressed the importance of environmental activism.
“I think this is a much needed event in the Muslim community, because environment and sustainability are among the key principles in Islam yet the average Muslim probably doesn’t think too much about it,“ remarks Mikhail, a Science teacher from Leicester.
“I never realized how much of a contribution bottled water actually has on the environment. Since coming here, I’ve just been thinking that we need to make a change,” commented David Tsan, one of the cyclists upon arriving at the Fair.
“If there is one thing that we all have in common, it is the custodianship of this planet,” remarked Sarah Javaid, co-founder and acting director of MADE. “In Islam, we believe that we have been given the responsibility of caretaking the Earth as Allah’s vicegerents, and so we see no better cause to unite over.
“It is great to be working with Mosques, and to see them leading the way on such initiatives. We hope to continue our work with Mosques and really watch them pioneer sustainable change“
As the threat of global warming increases by the day, such initiatives are a welcome effort and a call for further action from both the faith and non-faith communities to stand united in preserving our planet.