In my last post I asked ‘What does religion have to do with sustainability?’
As I write this, Muslims around the world are currently fasting during the day as a major part of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
On this first day of the month, people around the world – not just Muslims – are also fasting: fasting for the climate.
Why? Fasting offers a way of re-thinking how we live our lives and of standing in solidarity with those who do not have enough to eat.
During Ramadan, Muslims increase their spiritual reflection and the effort they put into following the teachings of Islam.
One of Islam’s teachings is to ‘walk not exultantly upon the Earth’.
Caring for our precious Earth is a key message in religious faiths – and in the increasing number of statements from religious leaders, including Pope Francis’ recently released encyclical that is calling on all humanity to change how we live so that it is more respectful of each other and Creation.
I have previously suggested that Ramadan would be a good time for Muslims to undertake a carbon fast. It’s a great way to practice self-restraint and focus on the important things in life – like a habitable climate!
Wouldn’t it be great if Muslims around the world would dedicate the rest of this month of Ramadan to:
- praying and acting for action to solve the climate crisis; and
- connecting with the Earth and understanding more about how it and the stable climate it has provided in recent millennia sustains life as we know it?
Notable Muslims who are fasting for the climate include Tareq Oubrou (Great Imam of Bordeaux, France) and Ebrahim Saidy (Imam from The Gambia and Norway).
The simple and profound act of fasting and praying for climate change could apply pressure on politicians and other leaders to undertake urgent and substantial action on climate change – especially if we spread the word (including telling our political leaders)! It could also lift world consciousness around the world about the changes most of us need to make.
Assistant professor of classical Islam Joseph E. B. Lumbard has recently pointed out that:
the Prophet Muhammad is reported to have said, “The world is a green and pleasant thing. God has made you stewards of it, and looks at how you behave.”…
Given the state of the environmental crisis and the alarming increase in environmental degradation… The world and our children can no longer afford the cost of our failures. It is thus time that people of all faiths unite and in the words of Martin Luther King, “rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world.” [emphasis added]
If you are a Muslim – or know someone who is, I encourage you to:
- fast for the climate
- undertake a carbon fast during the rest of Ramadan (or any time! 😉
- Ask your local religious leaders and communities to join the global call for action on climate change. Especially encourage your family and friends, your local Muslim congregation and Roman Catholic community (if there is one) to protect our precious Earth. You could do this:
- in person
- by phone
- by letter
- using social media, for example:
Dear [insert name or Twitter handle of your church/leader] will you join Pope Francis [@Pontifex] and speak out about the moral urgency of climate action?
(#PraisedBe, #AllAreCalled, #encyclical, #LaudatoSi, #popeforplanet, #climatechange, #Ramadan are also good for connecting with others and getting messages and images to share)
- Urge your local religious groups to divest from fossil fuels. As Bill McKibben says, if it’s wrong to wreck the planet, then it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage. Over 45 religious groups have already committed to divest from fossil fuels. You can join a local campaign or start one in your own community by signing up with 350.org – they’ll send you the information you need.
- Join the groundswell of people of faith calling for strong action to protect our Earth. Good places to start are:
Till next time…be gentle to yourself and our world!
UPDATE June 2017: link to Fast For The Climate removed because the website is no longer operational.